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Refit – OLOH’s New Helm Seats

We were spoiled.  When we purchased our last boat (new) we felt that the helm seat it came with was uncomfortable and substandard to the boat, particularly given how much we were spending.  Fortunately, we were able to negotiate an allowance for a proper helm seat and outfitted her with a spectacular STIDD High Back Slimline.  These are original equipment on high quality boats, million dollar yachts and fifty million dollar super-yachts.  It was spectacular.  It also spoiled us.

The original “spoiler” on our prior vessel.

When we purchased OLOH she was outfitted with a wonderful Pompanette Platinum Series helm seat in the pilot house.  No complaints there as Pompanette is a terrific, heritage brand and this seat is quite similar in many respects to the STIDD seats we loved.

However, the bridge featured two Pompanette P2000 helm seats that are a far cry from what we had become accustomed to on our last boat and we prefer to run from the bridge as much as possible.  Nothing against these seats per sé as they are an industry standard and have been original equipment on quality yachts around the world for decades.  But between the flattened cushions needing replacement and other wear and tear they had sustained from exposure to the elements over the boat’s thirteen years of existence, they did not provide nearly the comfort that we wished we had, particularly for long days on the water.  So “replace bridge helm seats” went on our “wants” list, although we knew their replacement would be far off given the cost of what we really wanted and the other “wants” that were a higher priority.

OLOH’s original, factory-installed helm seats. Time and tide had taken their toll.  Well, at least time and the elements.

For a while after buying OLOH, we’d scour Ebay and other sources in hopes that someone doing a refit would want to sell a pair of STIDD helm seats in excellent condition at a reasonable price (buying two of them new would cost around the same as a five year-old Mini Cooper).  Eventually we put it out of our minds as we focused on other projects until around fourteen months after owning OLOH when something serendipitous happened.  When we were on the hunt for our next boat before finding what is now OLOH, a Hatteras Motor Yacht was a strong contender.  I ended up spending a lot of time “lurking” on the Hatteras Owners Forum in search of information.  Even though we moved on from Hatteras, I found the site to be very useful for Motor Yacht ownership in general and would pop by from time to time.  So at a random moment one morning I tapped the bookmark for the site and as I scrolled down the page I saw those magic words, “For Sale: Two STIDD Admiral 500N Series Slimline Seats.”  Wow.  Surely they must already be sold.  No?  Surely they must be too expensive.  No?  Surely they must be in rough shape.  No!

From reading further on the forum it was clear that the seats were owned by a Hatteras owner who appeared to be as fastidious  as we are when it comes to how he cared for his boat and its equipment.  Without going into the details of why he was selling the seats, he had custom ordered them a few years prior and they had very little actual use.  Perhaps the best part… Pompanette and STIDD each have proprietary mounting systems for their seats in how they are bolted to the deck.  Swapping one for the other is no small feat… unless it is.  You see, this owner had ordered these seats specifically to do exactly what we wanted to do, replace a pair of Pompanette P2000’s.  So they were built with a pedestal that mated to the Pompanette base making it plug and play!  Woohoo!  They were also a color combination that really worked for our setup.  Making things even more perfect, he had tucked away the STIDD seats’ original boxes and packing material and was willing to ship them to us for whatever UPS would charge.  It was fate.  And it was barely a thirty second conversation with Tim who said, “make it so.”  And so our new-to-us STIDDs were soon on their way to meet us in Fort Lauderdale!  Our thanks to the previous “custodian” of these fine seats who could not have been more of a pleasure to deal with, an example of boaters helping boaters at its best.

The Installation

The first order of business was removing our old seats.  There are three bolts attaching the seats to their base and, not to our surprise, the old bolts were seized in place.  We then discovered the joys of PB B’laster Penetrant and after a few applications and some patience, the bolts were loose, the Pompanettes were out and it was time for the STIDDs.

The previous owner had carefully disassembled the STIDDs and repacked them as if they had come from the factory.  He included the thorough instruction manual which we followed to the letter.  And without great difficulty, these paragons of helm seat technology were installed at OLOH’s bridge helm, complete with factory covers to keep them in their pristine condition (he even included the original, factory-recommended anti-corrosion lubricant).  We brought the old seats to Sailorman in Fort Lauderdale, the world’s coolest emporium of new and used boat gear where they quickly sold on consignment and presumably helped out someone who had been on the hunt for exactly those seats at a reasonable price.

They’re not just boat bling – oh, far from it.  They are exceptionally comfortable and have seemingly endless adjustments – including the ability to sit much higher than we could in our previous seats for enhanced visibility while remaining perfectly stable.  Fatigue from discomfort underway and the frustration caused by our old seats has been eliminated.

Spoiled again.

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