Steering wheel location?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Lawrence101, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Lawrence101
    Joined: Oct 2011
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    Lawrence101 Junior Member

    Hi ,First time poster here and first time builder :)

    This is prolly a no brainer but which side of the boat should I put the steering wheel on ? is there a preferred side or does it really matter ?
    ...and I'm right-handed and left-brained :)


    L
     
  2. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    And only a left hand brainer would worry.:D
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. cthippo
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    cthippo Senior Member

    I'm pretty adamant about dead center, but I'm not sure it really matters unless you have a specific docking configuration.
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Helm location depends on a number of things, but in small craft you have to assume the skipper will also be involved with docking and line handling duties. With this in mind the helm should be on starboard as right handed people most pull up and grab a hold of a dock with this hand. They can tie or let loose a dock line or fender, all while still sitting or standing at the helm.

    On larger craft the helm is located to port, as this is where the "action" will be best viewed. A port to port pass places the skipper in the best line of site and traffic or "action" will occur ahead or to the right of the skipper. Deck handling chores will be taken by crew to some degree, if not completely.

    On even larger craft, a centered helm is preferred, just because you have to look equally in both directions, for the size of the vessel. A centered helm on a small craft means no matter which side you bring a dock down, the skipper will have to leave his position (helm unattended) and handle a dock line, which isn't the best way to do things.
     
  5. Lawrence101
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    Lawrence101 Junior Member

    Thanx Par, I was thinking the same thing with the steering wheel ...oops helm on the starboard side for convenience sake and because it "looked right " for some reason, perhaps from looking at so many pictures of boats on the web.

    BTW im building a 16ft runabout, guess that puts it in the small craft catagory.


    L
     
  6. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    I've always heard the reason the helm is placed on the starboard side is to provide better visibility for the helmsman to starboard. A boat to starboard usually has right of way.
     
  7. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    Isn't that what Paul Gauguin wanted to know as he was about to sail from Tahiti-

    Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going to put the steering wheel?
     
  8. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    On a single screw vessel consider the propellor rotation . I prefer to be sprung onto a dock when arriving, then prop walked off the dock when departing
     
  9. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

     
  10. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Bear in mind that boats pass on the Port Side - like American drivers, so perhaps the wheel should give you a good view of approaching traffic. ?

    But, unlike cars, you are allowed to have more than one steering wheel.
     
  11. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Usually you position the steering station to maneuver the boat to best advantage when close in.

    With single inboard power the exhaust outlet will be on the opposite side to the preferred docking side and the helmsman. This keeps exhaust from dumping on bystanders , keeps fendering from plugging the exhaust outlet when alongside and keeps the helmsman out of exhaust fume when cruising.. Hence port side exhaust, helm station starboard or whatever your choosen layout.

    When navigating all is equal.
     
  12. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Again, it's a function of vessel size. A small craft, such as the one the original poster has (16') will require the helmsman to also participate in some, if not all of the docking duties. This being the case, the helm is to starboard, simply because 90% of skippers will be right handed and will steer with their left, as they loop a dock cleat with their right.

    On foredeck equipped craft (not a casting deck) of sizes somewhat larger then this, the helm is to port in this country, again because crew will work the lines from the cockpit and/or foredeck, plus the majority of action will take place to the right and forward of the helmsman, in addition to having a much better view of a port to port pass (the most common maneuver in right hand drive countries).

    Exhaust can be arranged to exit anywhere the owner desires and shouldn't be a consideration, if the vessel is well thought out in the design process.

    I can easily see the reverse being true in left hand drive countries, such as England and Australia, but the same guidelines apply, place the skipper in the best line of sight, of the majority of activity or with dock line in hand. In this vain I would think starboard helm locations would dominate in these countries for both small and mid size craft, as starboard to starboard passing would be the dominate overtake maneuver.
     
  13. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Prop walk, engine rotation, determines port or starboard helm.

    Port side helm with counterclockwise rotation drive gear. Forward gear will walk the port stern into the dock when arriving, reversve gear will walk the port transom off the dock when departing.

    On mid engined vessels, the engine room shall be laid out to share one side of the hull. Counterclockwise rotation mean starboard engine room with starboard exhaust dump.
     
  14. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    Michael,
    Dos'nt work that way on most all boats that I know of.
    On my boat the propeller is CCW in fwd gear. Reversing pulls the stern over to the float when I stop the boat while making a landing on the stbd side. Leaving, however requires manually pushing off from the stern ..very easily done w my 30' boat. My previous boat had CW rotation and I usually tied to port. Had a stbd helm and it was a bit difficult to see landing to port. DCockey has the most relevant answer to this issue and that's why most boats have a stbd helm. Outboard skiffs are also traditionally w helmsman on the stbd side. Don't know for sure but I'll bet it's because of the right of way rule. But the ideal boat in this regard is one w a CCW propeller in fwd gear, a stbd helm w her home port berth featuring a stbd tie. All others are fine ....just not ideal. All the above is only my opinion.
     

  15. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    Midships is always more comfortable with the least vertical acceleration from roll for the helmsperson. Wherever it is you need best visibility for the 'burdened' side (stbd) .
     
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