Ergonomics of Boat Design
Ergonomics is not a recognisably
However, the principles are an important ingredient in boat
designers put a lot of effort into optimising
of a dining chair for the home.
On an unstable platform, such as a boat it is even more important to
furnishings that are not only comfortable but functional.
The furniture makers designing for the mass market have developed a set
average dimensions so their furniture will suit the average person.
These are a good starting point for anyone fitting out a boat.
However, like most things on a boat there will have to be compromises.
Seat depth from the front
edge to the back; 13-15inch,
Seat height at the front
The backrest should support
the middle of the back;
6-7inch, 150-180mm above the seat.
Arm rests want to be
8-10inch, 200-250mm above the
It will help stop the user
slipping off the seat if,
it slopes down towards the back by at least 10 degrees.
The backrest will be more
comfortable if angled by
be based on the above seating dimensions
The helmsman’s seat should
be high enough to
allow him/her to comfortably see over the cabin.
The cockpit seating
particularly on a sailing boat
should allow for the occupants to brace their feet.
If the foot well tapers
from 24inch, 610mm forward
to 18inch, 460mm aft this should allow most leg lengths to brace their
against the leeward seat.
there primarily to keep water from the side decks draining into
However a slope of 20-25 degrees on the
inside will increase the comfort for those sitting in the
“Go small, go simple, go now” (Larry Pardey)
To allow for ease of access the minimum size of hatches
to be 18inch, 460mm square, but preferably 24inch, 610mm.
hatches should be at least 24inch, 610mm square.
The head of the berth should be at least 22inch,
The foot end can be a narrow as 15inch, 380mm.
The average ergonomic length of a berth wants to be
3inch, 1905mm. Or three to four inches, 100mm longer than the height
of the sleeper.
For use at sea bunks need to be narrow with lee
cloths or boards.
The sleeper must be able to wedge themselves in.
There are numerous ingenious
building a bunk so that it can be converted from a narrow sea
going single, to a spacious double for use at anchor.
Sorry guys, but it will probably be best to sit
this one out.
Even if you do have standing head room in the heads, could you
guarantee you aim in a moving boat?
Even when sat, using the heads in a small boat at sea can be a
Provide convenient grab handles.
The following dimensions are just guidelines.
Head room above the seat 36inch, 900mm.
Ergonomic elbow room 24-27inch, 600-700mm.
For comfortable use the
height to the top of the hob
wants to be about 36inch, 900mm.
Clearance above the hob at
If possible allow for a
3inch, 75mm kick space under
at floor level.
Ergonomic leg room height
under a table needs to be
about 24inch, 600mm.
horizontally, for comfort should be
about 10inch, 250mm.
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