Stowage: It’s always surprising the “stuff” that ends up around the helm, but it’s all essential. From binoculars to reading glasses, chart protractor to a cup of coffee, pencils to a cell phone, you’ll need a place for these items that is secure in a seaway. All counters should have fiddles to keep things in place, and drawers need positive latches too.
Safety: Thoughtfully placed grab rails, either around the helm or overhead, can add security when moving about while under way. The sole around the helm should be a nonslip surface, since your crew may be coming off wet decks.
Long Rangers: Being able to close off the helm area from the lights of the cabin at night is essential on cruising yachts to allow the crew to use the salon or galley without diminishing the skipper’s night vision. And having either a dedicated pilot berth in the pilothouse or a settee long enough for someone to sleep on while off watch is useful if the skipper needs a second pair of eyes. Last, having a head located close to the helm is a thoughtful touch.
Squadron 55: This sporty Fairline motoryacht has the helm station in the salon, with twin bucket seats (there’s space to walk between them) and a dashboard that backs up the digital engine instrumentation with line-of-sight analog gauges. A door to the side deck is nearby, and the touchscreen pilot ship’s monitoring system is at the skipper’s elbow.
Marlow 57C: This pilothouse includes a galley just abaft the helm area and a large settee with folding table to port of the helm. Two doors lead to the side decks and Portuguese bridge. A combination of upper and lower panels hold all the electronics, and the dining table doubles as a convenient chart table for the skipper. Sea rails on all counters and overhead handrails are seamanlike touches.
Grand Banks 72RP: Another pilothouse helm with galley, this version has a chart table with stowage in front of the companion seat and a well-arranged electronics panel. There is ample room to walk around both seats and for opening doors on each side.
Outer Reef 80: In addition to a counter to port (with grab rail) that accommodates a chart kit, the instrument console has room for four screens and the overhead cabinet handles even more systems. We liked the sea rails on the counters, and the bookshelves for holding guides and manuals. The large settee also serves as a pilot berth.
Offshore 64: In addition to the large instrument panel, an overhead console contains the ship’s monitoring system for easy viewing. Thoughtful touches include recessed panels to prevent accidental switching. The galley can be closed off for night running, and the settee converts to a pilot berth.