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Monday, April 6, 2015

Express vs Flybridge

Express vs Flybridge - a Cruisers Yachts 3870
Cruisers Yachts 3870 - Option #1
It is at last time for the Great Cruiser Debate: Express Cruiser, or Flybridge Motoryacht?

A quick scouring of the internet will bring up a multitude of digital conversations that expound the virtues of each - sometimes in a forum that becomes quite heated.  The vastly popular and easy answer is: 'it depends.'

But, for any discerning decision-maker who is on a quest for the perfect new boat, that answer simply can't suffice.  So, here, I seek to breakdown the argument into a succinct pros-and-cons list to see if we can get to the bottom of these boats once and for all.  Pun firmly intended.  

Maxum 4100 SCB
Maxum 4100 SCB - Option #2

PROS of a Flybridge 

Visibility Underway - with no blind spots due to an encroaching bimini, captains of flybridges generally enjoy 360-degree views from the helm

Views at Anchor - at rest in the marina or on the hook, the views from the bridge are stunning

More Living Space - the presence of a salon with glass windows means that a bridge turns the boat into a floating condominium
 
All-Weather Enjoyment - it is easier to enjoy the outdoors in inclement weather, or while cooking and lounging, in a salon

Engine Access - generally, engine access is far better in a bridge boat, with more open-able floor access hatches and more engine room overall

Reduced Engine Noise - at the elevated helm, you're distanced from the engines for a quieter ride

More Storage Space - with more room for living everywhere in the boat, that means more storage areas, too.

PROS of an Express Cruiser

Greater All-Around Access - it is easier for the captain to get around the boat in a jiffy should the need arise

Stability - with a lower center of gravity, express cruisers are generally more stable than taller boats

Built-In Furniture - al fresco dining and other lounging is made easy by built-in furniture in the cockpit

Privacy - retiring for the night into the hull of an express allows for complete privacy

Bridge Clearance - many express cruisers can fit under many closed bridges

Faster Speed - for weekend boaters looking to travel, getting to the destination fast is a huge plus

Proximity to Guests - with few places for guests to be while underway, the group stay together throughout the day

CONS of a Flybridge

Windage - with more surface area subject to the wind, docking can be tricky in certain situations

Stairs - climbing open-air stairs is a pain with food and drink, and just plain dangerous while underway, and ladders are even worse

Isolation - in inclement weather, for instance, the captain will often be left to her or his own devices on the bridge while the rest of the guests reside elsewhere; and, at docking time, the captain can't leave the bridge to provide quick assistance if things go wrong

Loose Furniture - oftentimes, individual chairs and tables are needed in the cockpit, requiring those items to be set up, taken down and stored whenever seating is needed.

Slower Speed - Comparatively, flybridge cruisers usually cruise at about 5Kts slower than their express counterparts

Out of Earshot - Since engines and often people are out of earshot of the captain, it is more difficult to ascertain whether all is well down below

Less Stable - with a higher center of gravity, bridges tend to be less stable in rolling seas than an express

Bridge Clearance - flybridge boats are always at the mercy of the opening of low bridges

Less Privacy - while express cabins lend to complete privacy, salons and their glass windows can be less private, even with blinds

Cons of an Express Cruiser

Noise - being closer to the engines means a noisier experience while underway

Engine Access - generally poor due to the tight constraints of having the engine room tucked under the cockpit

Visibility - due to canvas, radar arches, and a bow that extends out in front of the captain, visibility can be poor at times

Less Living/Entertaining/Storage Space - without the benefit of a second level, the helm and cockpit take up much more length overall than a flybridge

Smaller Galley - generally, the galley is belowdecks and takes up less square footage than on a a flybridge

Less Cabin Separation - an express lends to more of a 'camping' feel, while bridge boats tend to have cabins with solid, closing doors

Cave Feeling - without the benefits of glass, indoor views are severely limited (or nonexistent!), along with natural light

In Conclusion

This list is by no means exhaustive; in fact, the author and the First Mate are struggling with this very decision right now, between the two boats pictured in this post.  Unfortunately, there's no absolute answer to this historic debate, and the solution rests firmly in the hands of each captain and the specific uses she or he has in store for the vessel.

As for the First Mate and I, at the advice of a fellow boater (whose vote is 'flybridge,' by the way), we plan to get onto the vessels in question and let the boats speak to us.  

Which one will woo us into choosing it for our new summer home?  As soon as we know, we'll report back and put an end to this debate - at least until it's time for the next new hole-in-the-water!

What about you?  If you want to add to the discussion, leave a comment!
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