The Portuguese bridge is a architectural element on motor yachts, which is a rather high side that encircles the front of the superstructure. Between this side and the wall of the superstructure on the deck there is space sufficient for walk. The Portuguese bridge is like a continuation of the side decks, closing them into a ring.
The main purpose of the Portuguese bridge is to create a safe area protected from water and splashes. And while most of us would prefer to remain in a closed wheelhouse during rough weather, there are sometimes situations that require your presence on deck, regardless of sea conditions.
This architectural element came into modern yacht design from fishing trawlers, so it is not surprising to see it on some Nordhavn and Selene models. And these are one of the few shipyards where you can find trawler yachts with a Portuguese bridge today.
The thing is that the interior space of motor yachts is valued much more highly. In addition, today you can have full control of the yacht without even leaving the captain’s chair. You will be much more aware of what is happening around the boat thanks to video surveillance.
Therefore, the absence of an additional forward deck makes it possible to increase the length of the superstructure, and for those who want to be outside, you can simply add a flybridge (although, of course, there are models that combine both architectural elements).
However, the Portuguese bridge is valued by some trawler buyers because it allows them to enjoy the open air without having to climb up and without the fear of being washed away by waves or simply getting their feet wet from the spray. And, of course, it is safer for children.
It’s hard to put into words, but there’s something romantic about standing facing the yacht’s course, leaning your elbows on the side of the Portuguese bridge, with a glass of wine or a mug of coffee. You can’t do this on the flybridge. Many of us will certainly find special value in this architectural element, especially on long-distance cruises.
The Portuguese bridge is sometimes found not only on displacement trawlers, but also on some planing yachts. True, this is becoming an increasingly rare occurrence now, since planing cruisers were originally created for calm seas and their owners value wide sunbathing sofas and plenty of space for guests in the bow part of the deck much more.