The wheelhouse is much more than just the room where the captain spends the majority of their time. It provides some of the best views out across the ocean and is the perfect place for adventure plotting. With high-tech gadgets and touch-screens galore, we pick out some honorable mentions...
Taking inspiration from the look of smaller, sporty yachts with raised pilothouses, the wheelhouse on board Heesen’s 51-meter Irisha is half a deck up from the upper saloon level and sits beneath a 2000kg glass canopy. At the touch of a button, a portion of the canopy and the rear glass bulkheads slide open, linking the bridge to the sundeck. Irisha was designed to be used as a day boat and the wheelhouse is an extension of its social spaces, complete with a big sofa and table perched behind the helm station with its Besenzoni carbon fiber helm chairs.
The owner of the newly refitted Istros decided to keep the original teak wheel in what is now a paperless wheelhouse. Children, he thought, would get a kick out of turning it, but he did not care if it worked. The shipyard could not abide the idea of a decorative wheel, so they rigged it to work with the modern electronics. “It works flawlessly; that’s the only thing we used on sea trials,” Feadship project manager Pieter Dibbits says. “All the captain has to do is to make sure he disengages it when the kids play with it.” The traditional teak wheel is an eye-catching piece in the otherwise white pilothouse.
Incat Crowther’s 66-meter "floating toy box" Hodor is packed with some of the coolest kit money can buy. On deck she boasts an Airbus H145, nine-meter Metal Shark landing craft, and a 120-knot 288 Skater race boat with two enormous cranes for launch and recovery. Below, there’s a submarine, four Yamaha TW200 trail motorcycles, two Yamaha ATVs, and the biggest beast of all, a 17-meter Nor-Tech 560 Sport center console. It’s a pretty serious operation, to say the least, and at the heart of all the action lies the bridge. Here, the interior forgoes the flashes of orange across her exterior and opts for a calmer blue, with a walkaround main helm console and equipment by RH Marine.
M/Y I Dynasty
The wheelhouse on board the 101-meter Kusch Yachts masterpiece I Dynasty boldly goes where no helm design has gone before. Step into the Starship Enterprise-style bridge and you can almost hear the captain say: “Warp speed, Mr. Sulu.” In reality, I Dynasty boasts a more leisurely top speed of 17 knots. The wheelhouse is a masterwork designed by Rolls-Royce and the client’s captain after he spent substantial time in the Rolls-Royce bridge simulator. Two custom high-tech helm chairs slide back and forth on rails to suit the preferences of the helmsman. Each of the chair arms are fitted with controls and the ability to switch any combination of information displays to the center LED screen. There are also full control stations port and starboard on the console and, of course, wing stations outside. A large navigation area is behind the con to port with a monitoring station to starboard. The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System station and a night-time working area with night-vision-safe low-level illumination sit aft of the bridge proper.
Scout’s fantastical interior sits somewhere between Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 film Metropolis, and its wheelhouse is no exception. Capt. Kynan McDonald had free rein to design it and opted for a ship-like arrangement with a floating console. Not only does this give critical visibility at night but it means all of the equipment can be easily accessed from the rear. A large chart table separates two raised sofas for guests or an extra watch.
Feadship’s 83.5-meter Savannah is one of the most decorated superyachts in history after scooping three ShowBoats Design Awards and a World Superyacht Award in her first year. Her seafoam exterior and crisp lines turn heads wherever she travels and her underwater Nemo lounge is the first of its kind. Teal leather chairs and parquet flooring make for a swanky wheelhouse and its panels are made to match her silvery exterior. In year one, Savannah cruised 14,000 nautical miles without a hitch. “The boat rides like a dream," said build captain Ted McCumber. “Everything that is on Savannah has been done before, but never all in one vessel, and this is what makes her so special."
One of the biggest jobs of Genesia's almighty conversion was to give her a proper yacht wheelhouse — but one that would also match her ship’s credentials. The original bridge configuration was typical of a tug — small and narrow with front and rear steering stations. The space was completely rethought and built anew with a transversal orientation, which allowed positioning of an integrated bridge by Böning/Furuno in the center between two internal wing stations. Typical of many commercial ships, instead of wipers the bridge window is fitted with a clearview screen to deflect rain, snow, or ice. The center part of the circular screen rotates at high speed to prevent rain or snow from sticking. The panorama from up here is optimal and a comfortable banquette allows guests to enjoy the view. “My favorite area,” says the owner, “is the wheelhouse because I like to navigate. It’s dramatic and fantastic.”
The 69-meter Benetti Spectre sports a sleek carbon-fiber-clad paperless bridge by Team Italia with foldable screens and a large digital chart table. The I-Bridge system adapts to each captain’s preferred set-up with interchangeable views with high-definition screens that tilt up and down or lay flush in a console. Another impressive component is an IMO-approved 46-inch chart table, which is multifunctional and interactive and allows the sharing of trip-planning information and “infotainment” with guests. All controls are neatly organized and condensed, including three redundant 4K 32-inch touch panels for steering and onboard safety systems such as sprinklers, watertight and fire doors, and three multifunction controls with joggers, trackball and OLED systems used for radar, electronic chart display, CCTV, and thermal cameras.
The thing that stands out most about Zeus - other than her destroyer-style hull - are the windows. They curve, quite dramatically, and are the brainchild of designer Martin Francis. The idea came from curved Parisian windows, which are designed to limit internal reflections. Their installation on Zeus didn’t serve any practical purpose — it’s all about style — but the effect they have on the view from inside is dramatic. Even the wheelhouse features these massive bubble-like windows.
M/Y Cloud 9
Cloud 9 is the second 62Steel hull to hit the water is one of Sanlorenzo’s biggest launches to date. Its wheelhouse is located high up on the third deck ensuring the best visibility for maneuvering the yacht in all conditions and is fitted with an integrated iBridge by Team Italia. The space is simple but sophisticated — a theme that continues throughout the rest of the interior.
M/Y White Rabbit
There are a number of superlatives attached to the mighty 84-meter White Rabbit. Delivered by Echo Yachts in 2018, she is not only the largest trimaran in the world but the largest yacht to ever be built in Australia. At just under 3,000 GT, White Rabbit is a serious piece of machinery, commanded by her wheelhouse that almost stretches the yacht’s entire 20-meter beam. White Rabbit is the first project installed with Navis newly redesigned state-of-the-art panels used for a fully integrated remote control system. Despite her size, she’s blissfully quiet and efficient too, powered by a diesel-electric engine with a range of 5000 nautical miles.