View Full Version : Offset console on Simmons Sea Skiff 18

11-22-2011, 08:09 AM
Since Mr. Simmons original design placed the helmsman forward on the starboard side I surmised a minimalist console placed in roughly the same position should be workable. The offset console provided easy access forward and aft and with two people aboard it was never a problem balancing the narrow hull.

But what about those occasions when the skipper is by himself?

I had incorrectly assumed that, once on a fast plane, the uncentered weight would be barely noticeable. No, the helmsman MUST stand near the centerline. Reaching the wheel wasn't a problem but that put the skipper out of reach of the engine control. Move the control to the port side of the console? That was one possible solution but instead I decided to cut the console loose from the starboard side and move it out to the centerline.


In order to keep the control cables and wiring intact I also moved it aft one foot. You can see where the left side panel used to be located. The move shifted the console about 14 inches to port and 12 inches aft. Here I've got the main components in place:


11-22-2011, 08:29 AM
The almost finished project:


Two people can change ends at the same time if needed: the old man (moi!) takes the easy route around the port side and the agile youth simply steps up and over around the starboard side.


I've incorporated an oiled bait cutting board cum step. It's a bunch of 1 inch by 1 1/8 inch vertical grain fir held together by battens underneath. I don't know yet how well it will hold up but can easily take it apart and put it back together with an adhesive if necessary. This piece lifts out for use wherever it's needed. When it gets nasty with bits of shrimp or fish it can be dunked overboard to clean it up.

All that's left is to secure the control cables and wiring up and mostly out of sight. The heavy steering cable will have to stay right about where it is.

11-22-2011, 08:35 AM
Cup holders too! Now all you need is a lawn chair.

Good work.

Bob V
11-22-2011, 08:37 AM
I wonder if the problem could have been solved with some well placed ballast for when you are alone or if you had it to do all over again would you leave it offset and move the engine controls closer to the center line? I like the idea of an offset console for access to the forward end. The other question that comes to mind is trim fore and aft. How critical is a weight shift aft in terms of how it affects ride and bow angle? I used to paddle a rather long skinny kayak and had the opportunity to try the same model with a sliding seat that could be adjusted while you were paddling. This was an 18 ft boat also and it was amazing what a difference it made to move your weight forward just a few inches.

I think what I need when I get to that point is a console on the centerline that is something like a jet ski saddle and the whole thing is on rails like an airline seat that you can shift forward and aft just a bit. Then in front of the console is a fold down seat to face forward for those who like bugs in the teeth. I do like a properly balanced boat and I know what it is like to be badly out of trim because I haul large dogs in a whitehall and they refuse to sit in the proper locations and remain seated while underway.

Good luck with your adjustments. I'll be waiting for the report after sea trials.

11-22-2011, 10:13 AM
The move 12 inches aft should actually improve the handling. Until I changed the trim of the motor we had 4 incidents where the boat found it more "comfortable" to run on her side. In all such incidents there were two of us, one behind the wheel and the other just forward of the console. Moving those same two people (400 pounds total) aft 12 inches reduces the chance for a repeat. We won't know how it affects top speed until we remember to take the TomTom along. We got 29mph before the console move so that will be the benchmark.

An adjustable console would certainly be the bees knees but it would take some clever (and expensive) engineering...probably requiring all controls to be either hydraulic or electric.

Moveable ballast isn't really a good option since that ballast would need to be about 200 pounds to realistically represent the missing person.

Robert Meyer
11-22-2011, 01:00 PM
I believe you have added a windshield to the console. Looks good. If you constructed it what material did you use and what thickness?

11-22-2011, 06:10 PM
Yes, the windshield was added several months ago. It has painted poplar corner posts which join three panels of 5mm Lexan--smoked. It was obtained from off-cuts I've been storing here and there since the late 90s. It's still bullet proof so the attachment to the console is via 5 screws with spacers right through the bottom edge of the Lexan. It can be flipped down over the helm by removing one screw and loosening two others.

12-19-2011, 04:41 PM
Hello, At the risk of changing the direction of this thread, I'd like to know if a proclivity to run on its side (which I take to mean run with a severe list with the chine substituting for the keel) is endemic to Simmons 18s. The Simmons Sea Skiff 18 is one of several boats I'm thinking of building. This is the first I've heard of any such problems with listing either in the original configuration or with a console configuration. Any input from experienced Simmons users would be appreciated.

John P

12-19-2011, 09:03 PM
I had not heard of this phenomena before I experienced it for myself but after I 'fessed up several people chimed in to say it is not unheard of with power dory hulls, not just the Simmons. Since I changed the tilt of the motor I've not experienced a repeat, but I'm keeping fingers crossed.

12-20-2011, 07:31 AM
When I was getting to know my Simmons I had issues with what I call "chining." She would lean hard and dig in. Weight distribution didn't seem to be the issue as I have a side console and with two people the result was the same as by myself. I also found trim to be the solution. I assumed it was 'hook' related, the hook forcing the bow down and causing the chine to dig in. The mention of this behavior on other dory hulls is a relief.

BTW, I have a bench with the side console and usually positioning a cooler or livewell on the port side would compensate for my weight on the starboard. Occasionally though sliding my butt a tad closer to center is necessary to level her.

12-21-2011, 03:35 AM
I recently installed Lenco electric trim tabs on my boat (not a Simmons Sea Skiff), and they make a world of difference. People and dogs can move about freely, and I can raise or lower the bow for different sea conditions.

I'm guessing that if you had originally built your Simmons with a center console, all the wiring and cables would have ran below the floor?

12-21-2011, 06:19 AM
Yes, and that is one reason I started with the offset console--simpler cable runs. While planning the console move we contemplated moving the cables to the bilge but I did not want to start drilling holes in such critical and hard to reach structural members.

12-21-2011, 07:12 AM
Sorry. Didn't realize I crossed the line. ;) They work great though. Easy to install too.

12-21-2011, 08:44 AM
Hey Erster, I like the layout of this interior..can you send me any other views? :-)
And about the Face Panel, doesn't that just make the gunnel a nicer place for the waspers to live?

Bob V
12-21-2011, 10:26 AM
Erster, I also like you interior layout. I am building a sss18 and have a long ways to go before I get to the interior layout. Which size of Simmons is that in the shot (looks big).

12-22-2011, 11:17 PM
I love the work y'all have done on the Simmons sea skiffs. They are one of the dream boats I plan to build some day.