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From: Dave Wobser
Remote Name: 22.214.171.124
Time: 09:38:41 AM
The biggest cause for allowing the all-cabins aft design was better navigational gear. Early on, it was necessary for the captain to be up front to be able to hear and see where the vessel was heading. If you watch the Historical Perspectives in the News Photo Gallery, from time to time you will see the progression of the pilothouse. Early lake vessels had an enclosed wheelhouse which housed the wheelsman. The captain or pilot was located in the open air on top the wheelhouse, sometimes called the "monkey island". As time progressed the monkey island received an awning on top to help protect the pilot from the weather. Then you will see a canvas railing surrounding the island. All the while, the captain or pilot was standing out in the weather. He gave directions to the wheelsman thru a speaking tube that ran down through the roof of the wheelhouse. Did you ever noticed in most old pictures that the captains wore huge heavy overcoats. Probably due to no weather protection on the monkey island during cold weather operations. As the evolutions progressed, you will freighters, and some passenger vessels, with a two-story pilothouse. This was actually the original 'wheelhouse' below and enclosed 'pilothouse' above. Eventually the two were merged into what is now called the pilothouse or wheelhouse. Even with the technological advances, most pilothouses have the front window open in confined waterways. The captain is still responsible, and the open window allows him to see and hear better, and he can yell at the watchman on the bow. Modern radar, GPS, Loran and host of other innovations allowed the pilothouse to be moved to the back of the vessel. The first 730-foot boat saved $500,000 in construction cost by having all-cabins aft. It also allowed for some improved cargo capacity, ended walking the length of the boat for meals, and miles of cables and wires. The requirement still exists for a watchman to be posted on the bow in confined waters or reduced visibility situations. You will notice that many of the 1000-footers have a 'phone booth' on the bow to protect the watchman from the weather. Some smaller vessels also have them.
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