A beautiful new helm, in Maine

K4_helm_cPanbo

Two days in the deadline mill and I’m tuckered. But I thought you might enjoy this rather gorgeous helm, bigger image here. It’s the custom Wesmac 50 I mentioned back in June, i.e. the boat on which I got a taste of my writing subject, Garmin’s new autopilot. So let’s forget about that for the time being and take a look at the ergonomics of this dazzling command and control center. My notes:

* The design totally violates my consider-the-future principal that electronics areas should be designed for change. But the carefully joined woodwork sure looks good, and everything is in easy reach. (Just pity the eventual owner who wants to change something.)

* Typical of most every helm I see, I still think there are too many doodads, despite all the design and function integration seen in the Garmin suite. Look close—there’s plotting, fishfinding, radar, satellite weather and radio, and autopilot on those color screens, and there could be fuel management, wind, and more. But then there are those drab Cummins grey-scale engine gauges; miscellaneous wiper, search light, and whatnot switches; and a rudder (jet-drive) angle indicator. In the future, all will be one, maybe.

*  The mullions between the windows are too wide, though the window size mostly makes up for it, and the standing/sitting view in front of or on the electrically controlled Stidd is pretty good. The most recent issue of Professional Boatbuilder, available online, has an excellent article on powerboat helm ergonomics.



*  What is this handsome new boat doing hauled out in the middle of September. Well, stuff happens, and you can see that it’s not the only one. In fact, if you look closely you can see cases of anti-freeze on several decks. A sad Maine state of affairs.

* Finally, below and bigger here is a wider shot of the helm actually in use. Included are John Neyland, Garmin’s Manager of OEM/NMEA Systems, and Peter Johanson, proprietor of the yard that did all the fine work. A tip of my beanie to both, despite the fact that they posed like they were being booked for having too much fun on the job.

K4_Neyland_Johanson_cPanbo

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

4 Responses

  1. Russ Cooper says:

    Ben,
    When I built my house, I intentionally built all my cabinetry into the floor/walls. If you make things flexible, you’ll constantly look for ways to exercise that flexibility.
    I’m a firm believer in; “make it as good as it can be, and if you figure out why it sucks, time to buy new.”
    I also believe that if you buy something that has flash bios and is software upgradeable, then it should satisfy my needs until the processor can’t handle the volume. I don’t know what processor the Garmin gear has, but I certainly hope its enough to handle the screens its giving us.
    Finally, if we had an MFD that could display all that you’d like, it would be so large you’d have to look around it to see the swell that’s going to sink you…;-] Where, for example, would your friend put a 3rd Garmin display to replace those smaller gauges? (well, ok, i could see one on both side of the two that are there.)
    BTW, what is the one on the left? Looks like the left-over from an upgrade…;-]
    Cheers,
    Russ

  2. Sandy says:

    Make that a two-in-one future; I think every helm position should have a magnetic compass if there is the remotest possibility of the vessel still being maneuverable after a dramatic failure.
    But when you think about it, electrically or hydraulically controlled jet drives for steering means one less basket for all your eggs. I can see there was a delimma trying to find a place for one between the magnetic fields from the wiper motors and the cute little latches for the Garmin SD card covers!

  3. Sandy says:

    Make that a two-in-one future; I think every helm position should have a magnetic compass if there is the remotest possibility of the vessel still being maneuverable after a dramatic failure.
    But when you think about it, electrically or hydraulically controlled jet drives for steering means one less basket for all your eggs. I can see there was a dilemma trying to find a place for one between the magnetic fields from the wiper motors and the cute little magnetic latches for the Garmin SD card covers!

  4. Jill Nadine Clements says:

    a Hello to Mr. John Neyland! very smart man 🙂 best wishes, from Kaua’i & Jill Nadine

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