Monday, November 17, 2008

Ergonomics is NOT a Dirty Word!

The role of ergonomics in boat design ...

"Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the interactions of humans with the designs in which they operate. Unfortunately, many naval architects and boat designers either skipped this course or flunked it. We all know that every boat is a compromise, and nowhere is this more true than when it comes to the ergonomics of a boat. As a new boat buyer you must be aware of a lot of things, and high on that list is the ergonomics of the boat.

Obviously boaters come in all different sizes, shapes and weights. Nevertheless, automobiles, furniture makers, bus and train builders and even commercial airplane designers know the parameters of what their equipment will be required to handle. Most do a fairly good job of it, including even airplanes up to about 220 lbs. and 6’1” passangers. However, boats are a different story, and perhaps always have been.

We were reminded at the recent Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show once again that when it comes to ergonomics, you can’t take anything for granted – even on a large yacht!

Here are some examples of challenged ergonomics, courtesy of Capt. Steve, author of the boating course that runs each week in the newsletter…

Capt Steve says…

Ladders to Flying Bridge…

"The first hint of ergonomic trouble came when I went aboard a fairly large convertible. I started up the ladder to the flybridge and bashed my head on the overhead where the ladder goes through. Obviously, I’m too fat at 170 lbs., so that's my fault. Had I been thinner, I’d have been closer to the ladder and thus would have fit through that tiny hole in the overhead where the ladder goes through. Maybe someday they’ll make a boat just for me and remove the back half of that overhanging bridge deck so I can slide right through, but for now… it’s 'step away from the donuts'.“

CC Head Access…

"Then there were the center console fishing boats. You know the ones with the door on the side of the console giving access to the head? To my credit, after working and wiggling, I was in. However, once inside, there was to be no room for 'remaining seated for the duration of the performance'. Note to self -- no solid foods the day before a fishing trip on that boat."

Table Stanchions…

"Let’s not forget the pedestals for tables in front of some settees and the tables themselves. I know the builders weren’t just trying to make the space look bigger when they mounted the tables so close to the seats, but I clearly was too large (read: FAT) to fit behind them without sitting on the outside edge of the seat and doing the 'butt scootch' over to get behind the table. Then there is the problem of getting my feet past the pedestal once my bottom was in position. Some of the biggest and most respected names in boat building have done this for years and continue to this day – do they think no one notices? The settees look great in the pictures, but who can sit there?"    (Continued via BoatTEST.com)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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