Designing superyacht bridges
by Mark Masciarotte
Equally critical to the efficient and safe running of a superyacht, says Captain Emile Bootsma of Blue Moon, is the visibility provided by the bridge’s windows.
‘It is the most important consideration in bridge design,’ he says. ‘Navigation by day or by night is still very much a visual exercise, and I have seen too many bridges where the visibility is so poor that you could barely see your own bow, let alone any other ship that may be navigating in your vicinity.
‘Windows need to be as big as possible; the view angle needs to be as large as possible; consoles need to be as low as possible; and bridge furniture needs to be as unobtrusive as possible.’
Anderson agrees. ‘The ideal console layout is straight [athwartships] to allow the watch team to transit from side to side while also providing reasonable monitor visibility from any angle,’ he explains. ‘In addition, it should provide the watch team with direct access to necessary equipment and work space with unobstructed views, particularly for the officer of the watch on the starboard side.’
This refers to the requirements under the International Regulations for Preventing of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) that, if at all possible, a watch officer or helmsman should be able to see a vessel that is approaching in his vessel’s so-called ‘danger zone’: the sea area from dead ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the starboard beam. This is because vessels crossing from this sector have the right of way.
‘Safe pilotage does not have to be exclusive of aesthetics and guest enjoyment,’ Anderson notes. ‘Safe operation is impacted by layout, material selection, lighting and equipment selection, positioning and integration. The objective is to minimise distraction, confusion and fatigue while maximising awareness.’
Anderson says that when laying out a wheelhouse, he prefers placing the GMDSS station or radio room aft to starboard, and if space is available, he places a chart table directly behind the helm station with an equipment cabinet directly above.
‘Besides giving the pilot more readily accessible equipment controls,’ he explains, ‘it creates a useful barrier that also provides additional navigation workspace on the tabletop.’