Updated on September 12th, 2023
While the advantages of a flybridge are obvious to almost all motor yacht owners, some buyers still doubt whether to choose such a boat model. In addition, the smaller the size of a motor yacht, the more difficult it is to make a choice due to design features, running characteristics and, in the end, because of visual aesthetics.
Let’s look at this question from different angles to understand why some yachtsmen will always be on the side of flybridge yachts, while others will never buy such a boat, invariably preferring sleek hardtops.
Advantages of flybridge yachts
In order not to beat around the bush, we can immediately say that the advantages of a flybridge far outweigh its minor disadvantages. That is why, most likely, once you buy a flybridge yacht, you will never return to classic hardtops. What can a flybridge offer you?
Firstly, this is an incredible place to control a yacht during a cruise, which cannot be replaced by anything. You’ll never get that kind of experience from inside a pilothouse. The best effect is achieved on planing and semi-displacement cruisers. Flybridge plus speed – that’s the recipe for your happy smile and good mood for your significant other.
In fact, the vast majority of flybridge boat owners say they have never operated a yacht from the inside. Only lovers of long continuous cruises sometimes go down to the salon to the navigation post when the weather becomes too unpleasant. And some are so unwilling to change their usual helm position that they simply dress a little warmer and set up a flybridge awning.
Considering that motor boaters sensibly prefer fine calm weather and, unlike sailors, can move quickly in any direction, it becomes obvious why the flybridge becomes the main helm station of the boat, and you will go down to the pilothouse only to go to toilet.
Secondly, the flybridge greatly expands the usable area of the yacht. Even if you are not a fan of meeting a crowd of friends on your boat, the extra space is never too much. Bicycles, water toys, tenders can all be placed at the rear of the flybridge without getting in the way of your boating or barbecuing.
Thirdly, you get an incredible 360-degree view, which provides amazing comfort when maneuvering in marinas and other difficult-to-navigate areas. Combined with remote controls, the flybridge raises the bar for ease and safety of mooring to a new level. Well, at least until a strong wind picks up.
Fourthly, the noise of the engine at the top is much less than in the wheelhouse or at the steering station in the cabin. This is especially true in small boats with direct shaft drive where the engine is located quite close to midships, which creates some noise isolation problems. Of course, we are entering the world of electric yachts at full speed, so this problem will become less and less relevant. Maybe.
So why are there opponents of flybridge yachts? Well, there are two main ideas here.
Disadvantages of flybridge yachts
Firstly, small flybridge yachts in most cases look like high ugly sneakers, which, moreover, have disgusting seaworthiness. The presence of a high superstructure creates an increased windage and a pendulum effect. Of course, there are exceptions, but basically the flybridge begins to harmoniously fit into the design of sedan-type boats with a length of 16-18 meters or more. It may be less if we talk about trawlers.
Secondly, today there are many excellent design solutions that provide truly excellent all-round visibility from the saloon or from the wheelhouse. In addition, the saloon sliding roof easily and quickly provides access to a pleasant breeze and sunshine when you want it. The roof can be transparent or even have several levels of transparency. In combination with panoramic glazing, this makes staying inside quite pleasant. When you add a flybridge on top, you automatically create a number of restrictions on the design of the saloon.
The flybridge is perfect for the Mediterranean. But if you live somewhere in the north of Europe or in Britain, then you can expect good weather for a cruise for a very long time. Quite often, rain and gray skies will be your faithful companions. And for many Scandinavian yachtsmen, even snow is not an obstacle for a Sunday boat trip. It is only natural that the higher latitudes you go, the fewer flybridge yachts you see.
Also, the presence of a flybridge adds to the cost of maintaining additional equipment, and the yachts themselves are slightly more expensive than hardtops. However, these nuances are not significant and never have any influence on the choice.
For small yachts there is a compromise
If you want to buy a small motor yacht for family trips on coastal and inland waterways, then in the European market you can find incredibly beautiful displacement steel cruisers with a control post located above the aft cabin.
In most cases, these will be Dutch, German or Belgian small, comfortable, reliable and very seaworthy trawlers, which not only surpass modern boats in many ways, but also cost reasonable money. And in the event of a resale, their price does not fall as much as in the case of sports GRP cruisers.
With this layout, you get excellent visibility, no steep ladders and low air draft. In general, in our opinion, this is almost an ideal design option for small motor yachts. But most importantly, you get a solid, very economical, perfectly balanced and visually harmonious boat, ready for any challenge. However, this opinion is completely biased, as we are very partial to Dutch cruisers.
What to pay attention to
Here are some important, in our opinion, points that need to be considered when choosing a yacht model.
- Some small boats have only one helm – on the flybridge. Yes, less maintenance, cheaper and increases interior space, but in inclement weather you will dream of a pilothouse.
- In rough water, being on a flybridge can be uncomfortable due to pitching.
- The flybridge can be either open or covered. Choose depending on the weather conditions in your area of navigation, as well as on the requirements for air draft.
- The open flybridge can pick up a lot of snow.
- The open flybridge prevents the possibility of placing solar panels.
- Extra height always creates extra windage. Keep this in mind.
- Not all flybridges are the same. Some of the designs are just awful, including the ladders, while others are very friendly and comfortable.