Trending Now: The Enclosed Bridge
by Jan Fogt
The enclosed flybridge sportfisherman is no longer the white elephant on the dock. In fact, this design is gaining traction among captains and owners that appreciate being comfortably out of the weather at the boat’s climate-controlled command center.
In the past five years, sales of enclosed bridge convertibles by Viking and Hatteras have been setting sales records. According to Hatteras executive vice president Bruce Angel, sales of large Hatteras enclosed flybridge boats are running almost even to open bridge convertibles in models where both designs are options. Even Roy Merritt—who swore he’d never build one—succumbed in 2012, adding a sleek enclosure on an 86 for a customer. More surprising yet, Merritt even liked the end result.
Enclosed flybridges are nothing new of course. They’ve been around for decades on yachts and party boats but on sportfishing convertibles, not so much. The first were “add-ons” created by Carolina charter captains who wanted to extend the summer fishing season into winter. This is undoubtedly where Hatteras got the idea to offer an enclosed flybridge with its new 60-foot convertible in 1978, the first sportfisherman with an air-conditioned enclosed flybridge. The naval architect was John Chadwick of Jack Hargrave Yacht Design in Palm Beach.
“I liked the idea but it was hard making a boat that size look good with an enclosed bridge,” said Dudley Dawson, who worked at Hargrave before becoming Hatteras’ in-house naval architect in 1988, designing the company’s 58-foot enclosed bridge convertible. “The challenge is making the bridge not look like bump up from the hull,” he says.
Viking never wanted its enclosed flybridge to look like it was added on, said company spokesman Peter Frederiksen. When David, and before him Bruce Wilson, designed a new Viking, they did so with the bridge enclosure in mind. “It’s an involved process,” says Frederiksen. “On the engineering side, you are creating a forward and aft command station and comfort features for the enclosed bridge like refrigeration, seating, heating and air, access from the interior salon and the mezzanine deck. Our designer David Wilson and his team works on both the open and enclosed bridge design simultaneously on new models, but the ‘first push’ is the open bridge,” he explains.
The key to building a successful enclosed flybridge sportfisherman is integrating the bridge design with the deckhouse below, says custom yacht builder John Vance of Jim Smith Yachts, who has built a handful since the launch of the 86-foot Patsea VII in 2008. “Proportionally, Patsea VII is the best looking enclosed flybridge out there,” says Vance, who……………. (To continue reading this article in digital or print click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.