Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Props||24 x 26|
|Load||3 persons; 25% fuel; 50 lbs. gear|
|Climate||56 deg.; 43 humid.; winds: 10-15; seas: <1|
1 x 380-hp Cummins QSB 6.7L
1 x 250-hp Cummins QSB 6.7L
1 x 380-hp Cummins QSB 6.7L
Helmsman 43 E Pilothouse Captain’s Report
By Capt. Steve
The Helmsman 43E is a coastal cruiser designed for a cruising couple. With a single 380-hp Cummins engine doing the heavy lifting, she can cruise quite comfortably between 850 and 1380 nm. She was inspired by the popular 38 Pilothouse and offers more room, comfort, a second stateroom and serves as a response to customer feedback.
As a coastal cruiser, the 43E was designed to give a cruising couple the ability to travel and explore the various coasts of our world. While she doesn’t have a transoceanic range, she does have the legs to bring distance cruising to the table and allow for exploration on a grand scale and in absolute comfort.
· Low rise pilothouse
· Excellent transition through social zones.
· Two stateroom layout
· Increased safety and practically in adverse conditions
· Minimal exterior maintenance
· Remarkable fit and finish
The Helmsman 43E Pilothouse has a LOA of 45’ (13.72m), a beam of 14’2” (4.32m) and draft of 4’6” (1.37m). With an empty weight of 35,000 lbs., (15,876 kg), 25% fuel in three people on board we had an estimated test weight of 36,355 lbs. (16,490 kg).
With a single 380-hp Cummins QSB 6.7-liter engine turning a 24” (60.96 cm) by 26” (66.04 cm) propeller and run up to 3000 RPM our speed topped out at 11.3 knots. Now this is not a boat that one would run at full speed. Most will run between 7.3 and 8.2 knots where the fuel burn ran from 2.7 to 4.3 gallons per hour and range would run from 1201.2 nautical miles to 857.
The 43 was docked in a space with only inches to either side so it was very telling of how easily maneuvered this boat is. She has a big 24” (60.96 cm) x 26” (66.04 cm) prop so just a nudge in and out of gear sets her moving. That and the excellent thruster authority will have her maneuvering with ease and elegance. Just keep everything slow. When away from the dock, the prop and big rudder almost have her turning in her own length.
I thought bringing this boat away from the dock was easy but bringing it back in is even easier. She's a heavy boat so once you get her moving, she just keeps on drifting along on her own momentum, and then it's just a matter of controlling the direction of that momentum. So, when we were coming into the dock, I just put it in reverse get the motion going, and then used little shots of the thrusters to just steer it into place.
There’s good visibility from of the stern just by looking through the salon and then if I just stick my head out the window I can see the whole side of the boat. When you put it into reverse, she has a natural tendency to back to starboard, so tying up starboard side to, I was able to use that to put it in reverse it brings the stern into dock along with the thrusters. I’d also make sure that the wheel is centered so when you want to stop that momentum, a shot of forward doesn’t equate to a movement sideways.
The aft deck is an open space measuring 5’7” x 12’9” (1.70m x 3.87m). The extended overhead is 7’2” (2.18m) off the deck. There are gates to port and starboard, and optional twin gates 4’2” (1.27m) wide to the transom (single gate is standard) open the space up to the swim platform. There are removable staple rails to the trailing edge.
This wide-open deck lends itself to many options. Add a refreshment center, sink, bar, grill, freezer chests… the list is nearly endless.
A hatch in the deck leads to the lazarette. Inside there are two 87-gal (329.33L) stainless-steel water tanks. To port is the hot water heater and expansion tank. There’s plenty of room for storage all around. The steering gear is aft and to center and Helmsman supplies an emergency steering tiller.
Things we like
· There’s an opening window to the galley so we can seamlessly allow serving from the galley to the aft deck.
· The deck does not go all the way to the bulwarks, but rather, there’s a channel allowing water to be carried along and out the aft scuppers. This is an important quality in an offshore boat, particularly one that can handle rough seas being shipped aboard.
· Hawscleats are to the side and aft bulkheads of each quarter.
The bow is accessed from the side doors in the raised pilothouse. Safety is enhanced by the 32” (81.28 cm) high sturdy, and highly polished rails. The top of the trunk cabin is treated with non-skid panels. There are no lounges or pads… anything that will unnecessarily clutter up the bow, and therefore it’s easy to clean. Ideal for an owner/operator.
Ground tackle consists of a 20 kg (44.09lb) anchor on a polished stainless-steel roller. The all-chain rode leads back through a stainless Lewmar windlass. Just behind is a heavy-duty bollard. Foot controls are to the right of the anchor. Rode access is to the left.
Now from here we can see the top of the pilothouse and it’s here that there’s versatility. The overhead is channelled to carry water away and overboard rather than have it rain down from all sides. There are rails to the sides and we can add SUP Boards racks, kayak racks and even three solar panels to supplement the battery charging.
The salon consists of U-shaped seating aft and to port. There’s leather upholstery and storage under the seats accessed from drawers at the ends of the seats. A solid wood expandable table is on a hi/lo pedestal allowing for conversion to a berth in a pinch. Ahead is a storage bureau and forward of that is a day head.
Across to port there’s room for additional seating, perhaps an owner’s choice of swivel chairs or a loveseat to create opposing seating.
Things we like.
· Being that the dinette can convert to a berth, there’s a curtain that can be pulled across, separating the dinette from the galley area just across while still leaving a clear passage through the center of the room from the aft door. Naturally the many windows can also be shaded. All the windows are opening allowing for plenty of natural ventilation.
· The use of the dinette for a berth is further enhanced by the location of the day head and a small storage bureau that are all separated from the galley and passageway by the privacy curtain. This creates what is in effect a pseudo-private stateroom. All that’s missing is a shower since it’s a day head forward.
· The fit and finish is among the best we’ve seen. Everywhere we look there are examples of superior woodwork and joinery that is usually reserved for pricey megayachts. Teak is everywhere... veneer on the bulkheads and solid teak everywhere else.
· Storage is everywhere. It seems to be a theme carried throughout the yacht.
The galley is ahead and to starboard. It includes plenty of counter space in an owner’s choice of materials, Cesare Stone in this case. There’s storage both above and below and all the usual appliances are available.
Our test boat was owned and operated by a single couple, and as such they didn’t need the added seating behind and to starboard of the galley. So here, the galley was simply extended all the way to the aft bulkhead and a small L was also taken out that would normally separate the galley from the aft seating. It made for a much more useable galley and since the “L” was removed, more open space was created. It also added an option for a 36” (91.44 cm) drop down TV.
Normally we see the transition to a raised pilothouse being up three, possibly four steps. Here it’s up two because there is no stateroom underneath. It’s machinery space and that gives the 43 a lower profile overall, and therefore a lower bridge clearance. 13’6” (4.11m) with the antennae arch lowered in this case.
The pilothouse will surely be the focal gathering spot while underway, and as such, it’s outfitted for comfort and functionality. There’s an L-shaped settee on a raised platform 12” (30.48 cm) off the deck. It surrounds a solid wood table on a hi/lo pedestal. Storage is underneath the raised platform as well as in doors under the seat ends. A padded headrest is added to the aft bulkhead… first we’ve seen of that thoughtful touch from any builder.
Across to starboard and behind the helm seat, there’s a workstation with open counterspace, a storage drawer, generator controls and the ships electrical panel with the main battery switches across the top.
As for the helm, it comes with an open carbon-fiber panel, ready to be outfitted to a customer’s desires. Typically, this will consist of a 16” (40.64 cm) or 17” (43.18 cm) MFD (Multi-Function Display), a tri-data display and an autopilot while still leaving room for a VHF remote. A knob at the bottom of the panel, and a hinge at the top, tells the story of a panel that is easily accessed for those installations and no tools are necessary for such access.
A lower panel houses the bow and stern thruster controls, horn, windlass control and engine start stops to the left. There’s space in the center that could possibly house an engine monitoring display. To the right are the ignition and engine control. This panel also lifts easily for installations and maintenance.
Overall, the teak console is a showcase for the quality woodworking artisans at helmsman. It includes raised edges and a satin finish with impeccable joinery. There’s a vertically mounted teak steering wheel that looks like it should be mounted in a glass display. Below is a teak footrest. All decking is teak and holly. The seat slides fore and aft, includes a flip bolster and flip armrests. Across the companionway to port is a working surface with chartbook storage underneath.
Things we like
There’s so much that makes this a comfortable owner/operator’s yacht, and the easy access to the helm panels is just one of them.
· The three windshields are heavy-duty and made to take a pounding in a seaway. They’re angled forward to eliminate glare from backlighting at night. Each has an individual wiper. The center opens on an electric actuator for ventilation as well as more natural light. Two side windows also slide open for still more ventilation. There’s very little reason to keep a generator running on this boat.
· Opening side doors to port and starboard add even more ventilation and allow for quick access to the side decks for handling lines. The doors also have extended handles so there’s no slamming of the knuckles against the door frame when closing. Thoughtful touch there and speaks of a builder who is familiar with small problems that plague most boats. Just outside are a hawescleat, twin 30-amp shore power connections and a boarding gate.
· Drop down hatches to the overhead panel allow for more ease of installation for putting electronics or monitoring gauges overhead.
· Grab rails are mounted to the 6’7” (2.00m) overhead and there’s an opening hatch for still more ventilation.
· A 110-V outlet is to the side of the console for chargers.
· Just outside the side door, there’s a telltale for the exhaust so we can see if there’s cooling water flowing through without having to go all the way to the transom to see it.
Things we’d add…
· While there’s a grab handle just overhead, it’d be nice to have another at helm level for times when the going gets rough. Probably just ahead of the side door to the right of the console would be a good spot.
· There are no beverage holders in sight. Certainly, on a long passage, there’ll be a lunch of two served at this spot. Where to put that bottle of water…
A hatch in the pilothouse deck leads to the engine room. An ideal owner/operator’s engine room is uncomplicated and orderly and that describes the 43E engine room. The engine is a Cummins 6.7L 375-hp. There’s easy access all around for the checkpoints. Dual fuel filters are provided and there’s a crossover along with a suction gauge in the center.
The space runs well aft and as such, there’s another access hatch in the salon. Below this continuation of the engine room there’s a washer/drier and a 6kW generator. A see-through panel gives us instant viewing of the bilge and the dripless shaft seal. If selected from the options list, a SeaKeeper gyro will also go in this area.
The flying bridge is accessed from stairs to the starboard side, just out the starboard side door in the pilothouse. Gatherings will take place at the portside U-shaped seating that wraps around a pedestal table. Storage is underneath all the seats. A collapsible antenna arch is above and slightly behind.
Aft is a 12’3” x 9’6” (3.72m x 2.89m) boat deck that can also be populated with lounges. A crane can be added, and the aft railings are dipped to accommodate a tilted outboard. Elsewhere they top out at 26” (66.04 cm).
The helm is starboard side mounted, again delivered open for an owner’s choice of additions. To the left of the panel are analog gauges, thruster controls, engine start stops and the windlass control. The engine control is to the right. A tinted windscreen wraps around the whole area. The steering wheel is stainless steel and vertically mounted. A single all-weather helm seat is pedestal mounted.
The accommodations on the 43E are accessed via a center-mounted companionway at the forward section of the pilothouse. Even in this companionway there’s a small storage access door to the side. It’s just everywhere.
The master is fully forward and is laid out in the usual fashion of an island berth, accessed from three steps to both sides. Headroom here is 7’ (2.13m). That leaves 4’4” (1.32m) over the berth which measures 78” (198.12 cm) x 56” (142.24 cm). Storage is to the sides in hanging lockers, above in enclosed lockers and behind that in shelves with rails. Natural light comes from two opening portlights and an overhead hatch that can be closed off with shade or a bug screen. Clearly, natural ventilation is an important component of this yacht.
Things we like
· The owner of this boat wanted the berth to be mounted a bit lower, 34” (86.36 cm) in this case. That means only sacrificing one of the two drawers under the foot of the berth.
· The stateroom is accessed from a sliding door. This is a clever design feature, and it negates the need to supply room for a door to swing in or out. Also, it’s not a pocket door. It simply slides along the bulkhead. Tops of the frames are curved for added class.
The head is just to starboard and includes a separate walk-in shower with a teak deck and seat. There’s an opening portlight for ventilation. This will also be a shared head with the gust stateroom just across. A fair tradeoff since these guests will likely be transient rather than permanent, such as with the owners.
The guest stateroom is to port and accessed through another sliding door. It includes headroom of 6’11” (2.10m), 5’1” (1.54m) above the berth and 1’9” (.53m) in the recessed foot of the berth. The berth itself measures 56” (142.24 cm) x 76” (193.04 cm). As expected, storage is all around, and a full-length mirror is provided.
One notable thing about the Helmsman 43E that differs from other yachts in this size range. Most often, the builder will focus on jamming as many staterooms as possible in the design and the useable space suffers as a result. In this design, however, there are only two staterooms, and that allows for more open and useable space elsewhere. It’s shows a focus on the aspect that this is a cruising couple’s boat and once in a while there may be other guests. Not all the time.
These boats are also not production boats. There’s no assembly line. They’re made one at a time and no two are alike. So, for that reason, get in line and wait your turn. But in our opinion, these are worth the wait.
Aside from the hull being remarkably strong there are construction methods worth noting. For example, the decking. All of the area beneath the decks are open and accessible from several locations. That means the engine is right under all the day areas of the boat. Sound is not a problem, however. We measured a sound level at the helm of only 60.5 dB at idle and at full power, a setting that will rarely be used by the way, it was still only 85.2 dB. A look at any of the hatched reveals how things are kept so quiet.
Firstly, we see perforated aluminum. Above that is 2” (5.08 cm) of noise reduction foam. Then ½” (1.27 cm) of marine grade plywood. Then a layer of rubber. Then another ½” (5.08 cm) of marine grade plywood. And on top of it all, the teak and holly sole. All this weight can easily be felt when opening a hatch and for that reason, each had dual support struts to assist with the task in addition to holding all this weight in the open position.
As a bonus to this overbuilt decking, all are solid feeling as they are walked on. No loud echoes of footfalls and certainly no creaking while underway. Not a sound.
Inside the engine room, we’re moving about in a floating deck with removable panels that allow easy access to the components underneath. This is a nice departure from engine rooms that have us walking on the inside of the hull and over stringers to get where we need to.
As for the twin 30-amp electrical connections, we could run the whole boat on one system, and if we really start pouring on the power with air conditioning, washer, drier, dishwasher… etc then we can add the second line and split the loads. There are also battery isolators that come as standard and inverters so most systems can be run without the need for a generator and we’re also set up for differing connections at random docks, particularly international docks. We’re also ensuring against surges or dirty electrical activity. We can also add three 220-watt solar panels to the pilothouse roof.
There’s no one list for optional equipment on the 43E. Instead, there’s simply a wide range of options and customizations including: engine brand and horsepower selections, generators, galley appliances, exterior gel coat colors, upholstery and granite choices, custom cabinetry, bridge layouts, and more.
The helmsman 43E Pilothouse has a price in the range of $651,000.
Helmsman Trawlers prides itself on quality of build and that can be seen at every turn throughout our tour of the 43E. Additionally, there’s a large level of customization offered, as evidenced by our test boat having the full starboard side galley. This is definitely a cruising boat that a couple will feel right at home with, and if they have guests, so much the better. There’s room for another two couples, one in a private stateroom, but don’t let them get too comfortable. They may never want to leave.