why don't sailboats have wheelhouses/cabins?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by thaikarl, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I don't understand how putting a wheelhouse-extra weight- over seated people lowers the center of gravity. If the crew caused more windage, race boats would all have wheelhouses. There are no restrictions in the rules about it. Actually it is the opposite, openings have restrictions for ocean racing.
     
  2. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    I'm with Brent and the original poster here. Pilot houses or wheel houses are really nice to have on an ocean voyaging sailboat, or any boat that goes out in either really hot or really cold weather. When you are day-sailing or just putzing around, planning to be back to shore soon (like, within a couple of days or a week) you do nicely without. But for offshore voyaging, pilot houses are VERY desirable (he said, speaking from thousands of miles of experience WITHOUT a pilot house.) I wrote an article for SAIL magazine on just this topic back in March, 1981--my very first SAIL article, actually, I have it around here somewhere. It covers basically all the points about comfort, weight, CG, that have already been pointed out so far in this thread.

    My Globetrotters all sport pilot houses with inside steering. I have found that below about 40' Loa, it is really hard to make a pilot house work, particularly if you also want an aft cabin as well. Although, I have seen some nice arrangements in a Vancouver 32 and an Islander 36. My Globetrotter 45 has a nice split pilot house where the back end is open to the cockpit, and the forward end has the inside helm and nav station. Going up in boat size from here really opens up the possibilities. On my current design, a Globetrotter 66, we have the main saloon, the galley, and the nav station with inside helm in the pilot house, which actually is more like a sort of high deck house. Longer boat length allows more length and width in the pilot house.

    Count me in on the yes side on this one.

    Eric
     
  3. Chuck Losness
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    Chuck Losness Senior Member

    Count me in on the yes vote here too. A friend has a Shannon pilot house 38 and I helped him deliver it from La Paz to San Francisco. It was great. Never had to put on foul weather gear, never got wet and rarely had to even get out of my slippers. In hot weather we just opened the windows in the pilothouse and closed them when it was cold. But the best part was that you had a comfortable chair/seat facing forward to sit and keep track of where you were going instead of looking where you have been as is the case in you typical sailboat when you are hiding behind your typical dodger. They don't call them a dodger without good reason. I sure wish my Gulfstar 37 had a comfortable wheelhouse. I also wish my gulfstar had a cat ketch rig for ease of sailing but that's probably not possible. I might talk to eric about it one of these days.
     
  4. TollyWally
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    TollyWally Senior Member

    I fished a Skookum 54, which is a motorsailing boat first designed for an aborted Midway tuna fishery in the late 70's. While the Midway thing didn't pan out they are splendid boats in their own way. Skookum didn't quite get sailboat rigging I don't think but these were solid boats built of fine materials. Ended up being splendid boats for pirate halibut fishing in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska before it went IFQ. (Not us LOL)
     
  5. Brent Swain
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    Brent Swain Member


    People seated in a low wheelhouse are seated lower than the same people seated in a cockpit. The extra stowage of gear below a wheelhouse floor more than offets the weight of the wheelhouse.
    Calculate the number of square ft of windage on a crew in an open cockpit, then calculate the windage on a 12 inch high wheelhouse. Simple math. Excuses for the lack of wheelhouses on sailboats are based on myth, which have gone unchallenged for too long, and wont stand up to open debate.
    In a knockdown , if you are in a wheelhouse you stay in the boat, in an open cockpit you are overboard.I know where I'd rather be.
    When was the last time you heard of anyone being washed out of a wheelhouse, or suffering hypothermia in one? In open cockpits it is common.
    Racing masochists, in rough water, are up to their necks in cold water , being jacuzzied along the decks, while cruisers are warm and dry in their comfortable wheelhouses. So why would anyone take racing as the guide for intelligent cruising?
     
  6. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Makes sense to me, but maybe just not practical on every sailboat.

    Neither do I. I assumed what was meant was, the buoyancy of the wheelhouse assisted self-righting after a knock-down and tended to discourage a total capsize.

    Hm... a crew of N is going to have less windage than a wheelhouse capable of housing all of them, even if N = 1. If a boat's design allowed crew to function in a wheelhouse only 12" high the a cockpit could be deep enough that only the crew’s heads would be exposed to the wind and only if all of them were looking. If there are many crew on deck in a storm they are working on more than the helm.

    However, while I reject your math, I vote for the wheelhouse-equipped boat! I don’t think a wheelhouse needs to be justified by this kind of argument, it is safer and more comfortable.

    Racing boats would have them if they went faster with them; can’t argue with that kind of math ...
     
  7. Brent Swain
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    Brent Swain Member

    Racing boats used to have bendy masts because that was the only kind that would work. Then the Kiwis showed up with a stiff mast and kicked everbody's ***.
    There was a time when big mains and tiny fore triangles wass the only thing that would work. Then it was tiny mains and big headsails , then it went back the other way. So much for the infallibility of racers logic.
     
  8. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I can't see how people are going to be seated lower because you build a house over them. They are at the same height, where the cockpit seats would be, but with a structure over them. Ergo, the center of gravity is higher. As for the heavy stuff accumulated under the sole, it would be there anyway. Whether it is desirable or not is a different question, but the claims of lower center of gravity don't make sense. As for the floatation to help on a knockdown, that only works if it is a waterproof wheelhouse. Many are open and would be a hindrance when they flood for the boat to right itself.
     
  9. mdcf
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    mdcf Junior Member

    It appeared in the last vendee globe that a significant proportion of the boats had something coming close to a wheel house. Of course it would never be called that :)
     
  10. capt vimes
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    capt vimes Senior Member

    you mean the nav-station/pantry/saloon/berth/head&showers thingy of them? :D
     
  11. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    After all it boils down on your preferences - like sailing suits :D
     
  12. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    is the character on the boat mooning us?



    afterthought - or worse ...
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  13. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    Cant enlarge the image to check - posting thumbnails as thumbnails should be forbidden:!:
     
  14. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    You absolutely right.. silly me, what was I thinking :D
     

  15. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    And that takes us back to basics... Sailboats shouldn't have only a wheelhouse. They should have a can in the wheelhouse :cool:
     
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