Helm ergonomics, Steve Dashew style

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

10 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    PS I recall a valuable discussion about helm ergonomics in Dave Gerr’s excellent The Nature of Boats…


    …and I also like this Eric Sorensen piece in Soundings:


  2. “somewhat tortuous” – that’s one way to describe it…. 🙂 If you could do that passage sitting down, I’d say they’ve succeeded.

  3. DougP says:

    Gee Ben, and here Victoria and I thought we were doing pretty well taking our two Dahon Mariner folding bikes off the boat in Solomons and going for a 300 mile RT on the GAP bike trail in MD and PA…. In our defense tho, we DID have Garmin cycling computers mounted that, like Steve’s displays, also did not block our view!!!!!
    We are obviously such wusses… We’ll try harder next time… 😉

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I just learned from Steve that he made more modifications since leaving Maine:

    “We are finally done with the layout, now, and things have changed somewhat again. I will get you a few pics when I get Cochise back The water a week from now.

    Ended up with four big screens. Once you get used to data sets on their own screens it’s hard to go back.

    We added a second NSO processor since you were aboard. This as both backup and it gives us the ability to have four individually controlled views of data. Each screen/processor has its Simrada OP 50 controller.

    The console itself is a touch larger and now has a switch/fuse panel for all 12/24v items easily accessible on its side.

    We added a second Simrad ST80 steering control to the port side of the console so you can run the boat from either chair.”

  5. Leftbrain Stuff says:

    As a former motorsport engineer I am constantly amazed at the ergonomic mess on most sailboats. A sailboat is a fatiguing workplace and full of trip hazards unlike most other environments.

    I designed a custom helm where all our instrumentation, controls and comms needed underway are located in one place. This exercise is not trivial but crucial to safe passage making and to ensure our situational awareness is optimized.

    Installing a custom helm to contain modern electronics, multiple levels of redundancy and routing wiring throughout a 1984 era vessel is no trivial undertaking.

  6. steve says:

    Your posts are always informative but this one was special. It really moves boats into the starship bridge in both imagination and capability.

    I agree with you about FBP, although I have only a virtual exposure IMHO if money was no object such a craft would be my vessel.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Steve Dashew claims that Cochise’s remarkable upper helm “is finally done (and we mean it this time)!” and he detailed the results here:


  8. Adam says:

    How do those big screens dim for night passages? While I understand that based on their position they would not reflect on the windows, I can speak from experience that consumer display backlights will ruin your night vision even if the screen is mostly black (e.g., on a Maretron display).

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