Self- Bailing Pilot House

When the fleets of little fishing boats were large here on the west coast we’d occasionally see a boat with the windows knocked out. “Occasionally” is to strong a word; rather, once in a great while we’d hear of it. Thinking back, you know I only remember one. The use of the “We” is not meant as an “Imperial We” like the way the English Queen uses the word, but rather, to cover everybody around, not me alone!
The thing is, while we all fear and try to prepare ourselves for terrible weather it rarely happens outside of definite seasons. It does appear that as the planet slowly warms up, these seasons are extending and the severity of storms is increasing. But we can’t say that for sure because ocean weather and seasons have only been tracked since the early 1800s, when an American Lieutenant had the idea that ships everywhere should record the weather conditions where they were every day. This info was forwarded to Washington. Later, when wireless communication was invented, this info was radioed in daily and by the 1960s, the “pilot charts” with their season weather averages were pretty good to rely on. I think they still are, but being no hero I would extend the averages out and try to be well on my way long before the “average” time of weather change.
That is the way the cautious cruiser should think, and when he/she/it (which shall from now on be abbreviated to the word “he” alone with no sexual or political undertones at all) does, he can cruise the planet and the odds are he’ll never experience seriously bad weather. This is different than commercial boats which frequently venture out when they really shouldn’t, or push on when they should heave-to. Back when I was a kid and the salmon fleet was huge, even then the rare boats that were lost usually “bought it” when coming in across the bar. The sea wasn’t their enemy; the land got ‘em.
Anyway, just the same if you worry about everything and try to prepare for whatever paranoia you suffer from, should it actually happen maybe you’ll get through it. Remember; “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they ain’t out to get ya....”

To me, the “seagoin” boat’s pilot house should be small and is not part of the main cabin. The cruising powerboats shown elsewhere on this site demonstrate what I’m talking about.
If I was building one of them I would make provision to install sailboat type “drop boards” in the passageway down to the fore & aft cabins. These aren’t water tight but they really slow down the flow. Let’s imagine the highly unlikely situation where the boat is knocked down, looses its house windows, and stays over for a few minutes. Or is pitchpoled and rolled. This stuff is highly unlikely but..... The wheel house would fill with water and in the average boat, the water would rush down the companionway into the main and aft cabin, and you’d sink. The drop boards give us time.
Then, I’d install four 1 1/2” or 2” cockpit drains in the wheelhouse floor, one near each corner. These would be piped with radiator hose down to through-hulls located at least a foot above the waterline. I wouldn’t want to even think about any problem should a thru-hull fail, as unlikely as that would be.
These two simple and inexpensive items will likely never be called upon, but installing them will give real peace of mind because you’ll know that if things get scary you can insert the drop boards and you’ll have a pretty good defense if or rather WHEN Goddess decides to take a swipe at you. I doubt you’ll ever need them in “normal” cruising but they can’t hurt to have!

 

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