Helm Station Design for larger cruisers...

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Grant Nelson, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. Grant Nelson
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    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    Hi, I seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out good helm station designs, in general for lager power craft... mainly what I don't get, is that in designs/boats I look at, the usually very deep seats are set quite far back from the wheel, probably because a) when seated knee room is needed, and b) when standing you need room to stand... (duh). But the result is that when seated you can not sit back and still reach the wheel and controls... and so forth.

    I have searched the internet, and asked helm seat and wheel vendors, but I can not find any studies around this area that seem to look further than what seems to be "uncomfortable" tradition. There is a mysterous coast guard paper from the "70s (CG-D-68-77) but I can not find any one who can provide it to me.

    What do others out there know / think about good helm design. Lets keep it limited to larger (power) cruisers - and NOT non-(semi) open cockpit / non-runabout cockpits, or at least discuss those in another thread..
     
  2. bhnautika
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    bhnautika Senior Member

    Grant If you can have a look at professional boatbuilder magazine No 48 for an article on wheel house design, also the No 96 cover has a good layout .
     
  3. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Grant,

    I'm not sure what you mean by "uncomfortable". If you want to reach the wheel "comfortably" when both sitting and standing, you will have to have your knees/legs extend beyond the wheel when sitting, just like in a car. I find that this can be very comfortable if there is an adequate footrest for the sitting position. I usually change positions from one to the other to relieve any possible cramping and wish I could this in our car as well. The space between the wheel and the seat need only be large enough for your middle plus a little bit. Of course this depends on the size of the gut in question. On my boat the space allowed between the wheel and seat is about 12 inches, which is ample for some bigger men than I.

    An alternative would be to have the seat on slide runners but it would be a bother to have to readjust it all the time.
     
  4. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Grant, I concur with your frustraion at the apparent lack of information on this subject. Indeed I have an entire text devoted to the ergonomics of boat design - and there's not a single dimension given regarding helm positions!
    If you do a bit of a search on these forums you will pick up a bit of info - there's a few drawings and the like, but again it's pretty limited.

    Tom - I think adjustable helm seats (and preferably wheels as well) should be incorporated into every boat - unless you only plan to have one person ever drive it...
    I mean, you would never buy a car without an adjustable drivers seat....
     
  5. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    The modern cruiser is steered mostly with an autopilot .
    Although in a docking the operator will usually prefer to stand to operate the controlls.

    The usual cruise is done feet on the console with the helmsman laid back and simply observing the progress and changing course with a hand remote.

    It is important that the seat can slide back enough to stand in front , and that radio VHF and AM-FM, beverage , autopilot and perhaps intercom is within EZ reach of the sitting helmsman. Radar , electric maps and engine instruments should also be visable while sitting.

    FAST FRED
     
  6. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Will, et al,

    I must admit I'm a bit puzzled. It has never occured to me that this was a big problem. I find my helm station to be comfortable whether sitting or standing. I do admit that if the helmsman has a large girth, he would need more room standing and that would indicate a long reach when sitting, so a sliding seat would be nice. While the space between my wheel and seat is only 12", there is 23" of fore-n-aft footroom under the footrest. No one has ever commented on a problem with it.

    Now I'm going to have to pay attention to how I drive the boat.:confused: Maybe I'm uncomfortable and did not know it. In that case, I'm sorry this was brought up.:(
     
  7. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    LOL - ignorance is bliss hey Tom ?!?:D
    Then again - you may just have hit upon the one-size-fits-all perfect helm !
     
  8. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    hmm - that sounded a little rude - definitely not intended Tom...

    What if I post a simple line drawing of a helm position: people could then add dimensions to the drawing and re-post it.......
     

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  9. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    No worries mate. Ignorance can be bliss but is no sin 'cause it can be cured with study. Stupid is permanent.:D

    Looks a lot like mine Will. Wheel hub 40" off sole. Seat base 32" off sole. 23" between bulkeads. 12" from wheel to seat. Seat extends 3" toward wheel beyond base. Foot rest set at comfortable height and angle. Seat level set to make eye level equal height sitting or standing for best visibility. Knees are much closer to the wheel and likely extend to the side a bit. Have to check that.

    I mocked it up before building it. Works for me but maybe I'm oddly made. I do have a book on human engineering, called ergonomics nowadays but not much has changed. Used to be 6' and 170# but am more like 5' 11" and same weight now.
     
  10. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    You get more profound by the minute!:D

    Ok - so I've got this -

    Anyone else want to chime in?
     

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  11. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Where do you plop your feet when the helm chair is reclined and little attention is needed?

    FAST FRED.
     
  12. Grant Nelson
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    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    Hi All, Interesting thoughts. I scanned issue 48 of Proboat. It fits with some of what I have read elsewhere - an arrangement so your leg can fit under the wheel is best. Thus a vertical wheel will not work. A wheel at 30degrees to horizontal is best, and the foot rest built in under is a must. The wheel can be around 39inches high. The seat shuold allow around 6 inches between the seat and the wheel edge. Thus it can be around 28 inches high. it should slide back and forth so you can choose to stand. up and down is OK too, but not required. When the seat is back, have a least 9 inches between wheel and seat front. 12 is better. also, allow at least 4 inches of toe space from the front edge of aft edge of the wheel forward to the bulkhead. Also, ABYC says you should be able to see to the water 4 boat lenghts ahead over the bow, or around 162 feet, which ever is less - at least when standing, but preferable when seated. Keep in mind that the average male can reach, from back to fingertips, 27 inches. If you have a seat that is 17 inches deep, leans back 3 inches, that leaves you 7 inches you can reach beyond the seat - if you want to be able to sit back and relax while steering. Or you can turn on the autopilot, grab a Bud, and go watch the wake for a while... Cheers, Grant
     
  13. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Fred's Helm :D
     

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  14. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Sadly, I'm not sure if I have Proboat going back that far - maybe you could scan the relevant page and post it Grant...?

    In the meantime, here's my take on your dimensions...
     

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  15. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    I just went out and tried my helm station. Used it for almost 7 seasons over many miles and never thought about it being less than comfortable. OK, taking a critical look, it could use some more cushion under my bum. Maybe that area is becoming more sensitive:D

    Will, in your illustration my knees would be spread apart and almost touching the wheel. Has to be that close to reach the wheel comfortably. Standing position is fine and don't know how it could be improved unless the pilot is a lot thicker than me. Even if I did not mind using the extra space, I would not go for a sliding seat. Not needed. Also prefer the vertical wheel.

    Forward vision varies from a few feet off the forward deck to about 30 to 40 feet right over the stem underway at any speed, sitting or standing. Vision in some well known boats gives me pains. Here is a photo of the station...maybe: http://www.bluejacketboats.com/Liz steering station.jpg

    I do not use an autopilot. A close friend's 28' sailboat was hit by a new 50' sport boat running fast under autopilot. It was a new boat being delivered by two licensed captains. Who knows where they were:( His boat was dismasted and damaged enough that he now sports a new Nonsuch 30.:)

    Edited to add that all instruments are in easy each also. The instrument panel hinges out to allow access to the backside for mounting/removal of instruments and access to wiring terminal connections. The main power distribution panel is just around the corner and is hinged also.
     
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