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Old 08-04-2013, 00:17   #1
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advantages of a center cockpit - if any

hi, just inspected a 39' boat with a center cockpit.
It is a motor sailer. What is the advantage and disadvantage of a center cockpit?

with little experience I have, I found that I would prefer to have one large cabin, instead of two smaller ones. It also has two doors, which need to be secured and water tide.

Is it a safety matter while sailing single handed?
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Old 08-04-2013, 01:36   #2
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

Personal preference. I don't like them because I like to see the whole boat when I'm looking forward. Some folks like them because you steer from a higher area and have better visibility while docking etc..
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Old 08-04-2013, 01:44   #3
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

Center cockpit boats had a big boom period in the '70s. People were looking for separation between the cabins. Good idea if you are going to cruise with more than a couple. They normally have really large engine rooms.

Not such a good idea if you it's just a couple. The center cockpit gets more spray so is wetter than an aft cockpit. The widest, most spacious part of the boat is taken up by the cockpit. Ventilation in the aft cabin is an issue. Steering cables are extra long. Trying to get a good looking boat in less than 40' is a challenge.
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Old 08-04-2013, 03:43   #4
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

There are millions of discussions about this in the archives.

Short answers:

1. Fundamentally, a matter of taste. Center cockpit boats offer a different position and point of view, which is a matter of taste. They offer a different internal arrangement below -- ditto. Do you like an aft master cabin? Or forepeak master?
2. Aft cockpits dryer; center wetter, all other things being equal (which they never are).
3. Center cockpit boats have after-decks, a really nice spot on the boat, so more usable deck space. Also, it is easier to arrange a convenient mainsheet traveller in a CC boat.
4. Center cockpit boats don't work as well under 40 feet due to difficulty of arranging passage to aft cabin (some old boats have a separate companionway). So they are rare in boats under 40 feet.
5. Over 50 feet, center cockpit boats start to work really well (disadvantages of wetness and arrangement below disappear), so aft cockpit boats start to become rare as boats get over 50 feet.
6. Between 40 and 50 feet you can take your pick. Aft cockpit boats predominate in this size range among production boats, and among U.S. made boats. Center cockpit boats predominate in this size range among more expensive European boats.
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:20   #5
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

I sail a Targa 96 she's a shade under 32 feet and centre cockpit, I bought her because I was seduced by her lines. We sail as a family, the two kids get the aft cabin and are told to keep all their junk there. When they go to bed they are away from us and undisturbed. The cockpit is deep with a hard dodger which offers great protection from spray and can be fully enclosed offering dry space when the weather is bad or the boat is left. Going from cockpit to saloon or aft cabin is two steps, no reversing down a ladder which can be an issue with cc's.
This is the second CCpit boat I have owned the first being Bruce Roberts 45, the main difference between the two is the 45 has an internal walk through to the aft cabin.
If you want separation for privacy or convenience it's a great layout but I'd take anything that gets me on the water. Happy sailing!
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:07   #6
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We stay quite dry most of the time on our 42cc.

I have excellent 360 visibility. I've seen many an ac boat that is near impossible to see forward due to sitting low at the back with small dodger and life raft on the foredeck. When sailing the helmsman must sit out on the high side to steer. Cold & wet.
I've talked to many ac owners who could not fashion a full enclosure due to the config of their stern area. We keep warm and dry in cold rainy weather with our full enclosure. And with screens, it keeps the bugs out too!
But maybe you hardened old salts love to be cold, wet & bug bitten? I guess I'm just soft.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:09   #7
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thank you so much for the input

I ll try to search again, no hits when I did.
Yes, the one I inspected had no walk through, just an extra entrance and steps.
Really interesting how unique and different the boats are
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:17   #8
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

I wasn't looking for a center cockpit boat, but found one that we really like. Our 38-foot Finnsailer motorsailor has a hard dodger with windows over most of the cockpit, which is really deep. Not ideal for drainage, though we have never had water in the cockpit offshore, but provides very secure offshore comfort. There is no need to break out the foul weather gear until dropping the anchor. The center position provides for a very comfortable ride as you are near the center of pitching--which my wife finds most objectionable. Our aft cabin is reached via an inside passageway which has just short of standing headroom. The engine room is huge and makes working on the engine much easier, and the privacy afforded by the split arrangement is great with kids or guests. There is room to sleep in the cockpit, under the hard dodger, right next to the helm, which is handy when offshore at times or just for a snooze at any time. Visibility is tremendous from our cockpit. I would have a very hard time giving up the sheltered steering position now that I have one.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:28   #9
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With a CC you better have no truble with seasickness because the high position amplifies all rolling motion. Also need lifelines much more because of the same reason.

Ignore any comments about steering aft in the cold etc. because any serious cruiser uses an auto-pilot. Those who say this have converted their CC into a greenhouse-like structure which can be done with an aft cockpit as well.

In the tropics, you betterworry about shade and ventilation. A sloop with aft cockpit and bimini is pretty hard to beat.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:53   #10
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

There are a few exceptions but in the vast majority of aft cockpit boats there is not a good sea cabin (note I said cabin and not berth). The standard layout is a main cabin and forepeak aka sail locker and main storage area.

If you don't carry many spare sails or you have that 1 in a 1000 design that has an actual sail locker then the forepeak can be a cabin but in any kind of seaway the motion in the forepeak can be very uncomfortable.

The second option is making the main cabin your bedroom where the motion is easier but I feel like I'm camping out in the living room.

There are some boats under 50' that do have an aft cockpit with an actual master cabin like the Pearson 424. There are others that have sleeping cabins aft under the cockpit like some of the Hunter designs but they tend to be somewhat cramped.

So the most common layout to include a owner's cabin in a midsize boat is the center cockpit design.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:54   #11
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

what jedi said except i love my aft cockpit ketch....now to figger out a niice enclosure for under the mizzen......
i was always told the center cockpit is a drier place as spray doesnt usually make it up there, but there are so many different statements to each different difference.....
is all a matter of choice and taste--you like em, is good. if you prefer aft cockpoit, good also.
the advantage of center cockpit is the aft cabin. more living room inside boat.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:59   #12
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I wasn't looking for a center cockpit boat, but found one that we really like. Our 38-foot Finnsailer motorsailor has a hard dodger with windows over most of the cockpit, which is really deep. Not ideal for drainage, though we have never had water in the cockpit offshore, but provides very secure offshore comfort. There is no need to break out the foul weather gear until dropping the anchor. The center position provides for a very comfortable ride as you are near the center of pitching--which my wife finds most objectionable. Our aft cabin is reached via an inside passageway which has just short of standing headroom. The engine room is huge and makes working on the engine much easier, and the privacy afforded by the split arrangement is great with kids or guests. There is room to sleep in the cockpit, under the hard dodger, right next to the helm, which is handy when offshore at times or just for a snooze at any time. Visibility is tremendous from our cockpit. I would have a very hard time giving up the sheltered steering position now that I have one.


Couldn't agree more with all of that. Why would you want to be plunging up and down out at the end of the boat while trying to steer, when you could be positioned at the center of the pitch effort, staying fairly still? Huge difference. Ride the end of the see-saw, or sit at the fulcrum? Seems like a no-brainer to me...
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:07   #13
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

After being on my Rasmus for so long, every time I step on an aft-cockpit boat I go "Yikes!" that the ocean is so close to my butt. On 'zerk, I've always felt "in" the boat and not "on". Does make the main cabin pretty small for a 35 footer, though. No complaints. And that engine access thing is huge.
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:29   #14
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
With a CC you better have no truble with seasickness because the high position amplifies all rolling motion. Also need lifelines much more because of the same reason.

Ignore any comments about steering aft in the cold etc. because any serious cruiser uses an auto-pilot. Those who say this have converted their CC into a greenhouse-like structure which can be done with an aft cockpit as well.

In the tropics, you betterworry about shade and ventilation. A sloop with aft cockpit and bimini is pretty hard to beat.
Nick speaketh the truth concerning heat and ventilation. I had forgotten about that because I sail in a cold climate. In a CC boat, the aft cabin is under the afterdeck, so gets hotter than a quarterberth under the aft cockpit sole. A forward master cabin will have the same heating through the deck, but it is easier to arrange good ventilation.

Concerning motion -- a CC boat with a high cockpit will have somewhat more subjective roll, but dramatically less subjective pitch, than an aft cockpit boat, so I think it's six of one and half a dozen of another.

Another benefit of CC boats I forgot to mention is that it is easier to arrange good, accessible engine space, a quality which is especially important to anyone who sails a lot and does his own service and repairs. I doubt if I will ever sell my boat and buy a different one, but if I do, a full walk-in engine room would be near the top of my list of priorities, although my present engine space is a paradise (I may not be able to walk in, but I can at least crawl in) compared to my previous (aft cockpit) boats.

Concerning sea-berths -- I don't think there is any big advantage of either type here. Modern boats often don't have good sea berths. A typical forepeak master cabin as you find in most aft cockpit boats is unusable at sea. A spacious aft master cabin is not very good, but can be made to be usable with a lee-cloth in the center of an island bunk. Some CC cockpit boats, like Hallberg Rassey, have a dedicated narrow sea berth in the aft master cabin besides the double bunk for use at anchor. Many CC boats, especially larger ones, and some aft cockpit boats, have a Pullman cabin with excellent sea berths. Mine is just forward of the mast with stout lee cloths on the very long, very comfortable over-and-under single bunks. Otherwise, one has to make do with the salon, as most people do (I usually slumber in the salon myself on night passages, where I can quickly get on deck if needed).

My previous (aft cockpit, and not modern) boat had a nice pilot berth above the starboard side settee, with a lee cloth. It was a great sea berth except that it was always jammed full of stuff, its being such a great storage area. This boat didn't really have a master cabin -- the salon served that purpose. On a starboard tack, the main salon berth (a pulled-out settee), was a great sea berth, located very near to the roll and pitch axes of the boat.
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:40   #15
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Re: advantages of a center cockpit - if any

Like everything else, you pays your money and you takes your choices. My last boat was a Pearson 30 sloop that I loved. She was quick and handy and I could singlehand her with ease. Some of my favorite moments were running with the 35 and 36 footers while lounging in the cockpit steering with my foot over the tiller. We went lots of places together, from Lake Michigan to the Bahamas and I never had a complaint. She was a bit spartan and cruising her was more like camping but that was then and this is now.

My current boat is an Islander Freeport 41 center cockpit. She has a separate master stateroom with a full size berth for two, a full galley with a three burner stove and oven, a refrigerator with a freezer, heat and air conditioning. The PO claimed to have had a sit down dinner for 10 in the main cabin and I can believe that.

With her six cylinder diesel we can motor economically and in comfort. We once went from Newport News to Saint Augustine on a single tank of fuel. With the Pearson I had to carry an extra 5 gallon can of fuel to get through a day motoring and even that was close. Admittedly, the Islander has a 200 gallon tank against the 20 for the Pearson but still, it sure made planning the days easier. We went from place to place instead of gas stop to gas stop.

The center cockpit offers great visibility and comfort in rough water. The last time we left the Bahamas the dockmaster said "You are brave people, going out in this". I have to confess, my wife suffered from seasickness in the 8 foot waves, but we never once got wet. On the other hand, she's no rocket ship. My Pearson would give away about 10 feet of waterline and still win a race.

So, like I said, you pays your money and you makes your choice. My then was zipping around and going faster than the rest. Comfort was secondary. My now is comfort and relaxation. Several years ago there was a thread on this site where to original poster bitterly berated "motor sailers". Someone posted what I think is the perfect reply. I have to paraphrase but you'll get the sense of it. He said you fellows pass me with the lee rail down, wearing your foulies and going fast. I sit in my nice, dry cockpit with my grandchildren watching you as you go by, wet and cold. When I get back to the dock, everybody loves me because I HAVE ICE!

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