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Old 05-01-2010, 07:10   #1
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Bluewater Cockpits

I'm presently in the hunt for my next boat, which must be a blue water capable vessel. My present cruising plans are for the grounds around the Caribbean; however, venturing out further is being maintained as an option. Consequently, I envision spending a lot of time in the cockpit (along with the family). Of course a small cockpit is desired in order to prevent creating a big bathtub but, as I indicated above, the majority of our time will be spent here in the planned latitudes. Therefore, I'm interested in what others have to say with respect to a desirable blue water cockpit. I look at a CSY and see a huge comfortable cockpit but also a potential vulnerability; I see many other cockpits that might be more appropriately sized but I have a hard time imagining cramming 4 folks in there for a long period of time.

Also, I just looked at a Chris Craft Caribbean and saw a smaller cockpit with short (vertically) cockpit coaming that I can't imagine is too comfortable to lean back against for a long period of time. In addition, it didn't seem to offer much protection. I'll be sailing with kids and, besides the use of tethers, I want to afford them some protection in a cockpit.

Looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks!

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Old 05-01-2010, 07:39   #2
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Alternatively you can look into having a center cockpit vs an aft cockpit. The center cockpit location provides better protection against heavy seas, thus allowing for a larger cockpit area.

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Old 05-01-2010, 08:32   #3
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Cpckpit size

If this is a major concern for you, look at boats with sugar scoop transoms, like the newer Hunters or Catalinas. These have large comfortable cockpits, which should in no way turn into a big bathtub. While many will bad mouth these productin boats as not being true blue water cruisers, the should be more than adequate for Carribean use. If planning a circumnavigation, I probably would not conside one. A center cockpit is pretty nice on boats in the 40 foot range, but smaller boats they don't seem to work as well.
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:53   #4
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I think it's all about what you personally need to feel safe. I spent a few seasons crewing offshore series on an Andrews 53. To save weight, that boat is completely open aft of the wheel, and by that I mean that you could run a skateboard from the wheel directly into the water without having to hop over any obstructions. During my first few races I felt intimidated by what I considered to be the lack of a cockpit, especially when the boat would begin planing on a downwind run under spinnaker. But I got used to it fairly quickly. Subsequent to that experience, the large "open" aft cockpits on cruising boats with sugar scoop transoms feel particularly safe to me.

By the way, large sugar scoop cockpits drain far faster than small conventional cockpits, and are less likely to be pooped in the first place. Again, it's all about your own perceptions of safety.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:25   #5
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You don’t mention length, but for a cruising boat, wherever you are going, you can’t beat a center cockpit. It usually offers a larger seating area, secure coaming all round, higher up and not so wet, easy to install a Bimini or fixed canopy, and side curtains which convert it into another room, and better all round visibility. On anything over about forty feet you will probably also get an aft cabin, and an after deck for sunbathing.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:33   #6
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What about a large cockpit with some watertight removable storage lockers to fill the space when you don't want it? Or lashed down jerry cans?
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:51   #7
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What I think is most important for an offshore boat is a cockpit you sit in not on. There should also be adequate drainage to recover from a boarding wave. Thirdly, there must be a way to secure the hatchboards from the cockpit and below. It is nice if the cockpit is long enough so that an off-watch crew member can sleep in the cockpit. We have weather curtains so that we can completely enclose the cockpit in bad weather and stay warm and dry.
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:56   #8
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Depends on your likes and dislikes, all have a negitive and all have a positive... I personall dont like center cockpit.. sailed on a 65 foot choylee and got sick from the sway from side to side in following seas.. I feel more comfortable in my rear cockpit where I'm setting only a foot or so off the water..
But you take Larry and Lin Pardey.. have probably sailed more miles than anyone on this forum and larry says he dosent like a cockpit at all, but then Larry dosent like a motor in his sail boat either..
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Old 06-01-2010, 11:20   #9
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I can get by with a small cockpit if the seats are comfortable. I know someone who sold his new boat after 4 months because he couldn't find a comfortable place to sit. Here's my personal spec:

Seat height (remember to add cockpit cushions height). 18" is about the max that's comfortable for my leg length.

Back height: Min 18"

Back slope: straight up for 4" then slope 4". This give lumbar support

Seat slope towards the back 1-2"

Smooth "corners" to brace in when healing

Foot room around the cockpit table legs

You'll have a lot of trouble finding a seat that meets even 1/2 of this list. The worst is the "looks good at the boat show" 8" hight seat back.

You also need to think about the bimini. About 10 years ago my wife laid down the law - no bimini means I sail alone. She's got a point. I'm sure many more sailors die each year of melanoma than drown. I know two. Although I hate the image of sailing with a bimini up, I like the "benefits". The challenge is to get a bimini that doesn't look god-awful (or at least less god-awful) and can stand a 40 knot gust. I'm allowed to take it down when the wind gets above that.

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Old 06-01-2010, 11:26   #10
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The boat on which we lived for a year, a Vagabond 38 had really nice stainless steel lifelines all around the cockpit to about 1/3 amidship. You never felt like you would be going overboard. The cockpit in that boat was medium sized. An almost equally important factor as cockpit size are the cockpit drains and their capabilities. I have heard of some people, when they go offshore keeping things like gas cans and tools and foam blocks lashed down and in the cockpit in order to reduce the potential containment area.
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Old 06-01-2010, 11:38   #11
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My cockpit is definitely seaworthy in the classic sense, but it sure would be nice to have a bigger one.

I think the modern, euro-styled cockpits with scoop transoms have excellent quick-draining qualities - I also think the "T" shape for the wheel is very good use of space. My only concern is that a flimsy lifeline seems to be all that separates the transom from the cockpit. I have a vision of getting pooped and then being washed out of the boat along with the rush of water off the transom.
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:03   #12
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For a cruising boat:

Long enough seats to lie down - at least 6'.

For sailing offshore with kids, you should sit in, not on, the cockpit. It should feel deep and secure.

Cabin top angled so you (or the wife) can lean back and read a book.

Snug fitting spray dodger with a center window that rolls up to allow breeze to flow thru at anchor. This should have a strong grab rail at the aft end.

For warm area sailing, a good sailing bimini with a filler piece that zips to the dodger. At the very least, a cockpit awning.

Bridge deck to prevent downflooding, and also as a seat looking forward under the dodger.

Serious drains.

Sturdy drop boards that can be latched in place for rough weather offshore.

Any lockers should have strong hinges and secure latches.

Comfortable coaming angle.

A sturdy folding table for meals in the fresh air.

Stowage for emergency throw ropes, miscellaneous bits of line, as well as commonly used sundries like sunscreen. Coamings are ideal, but should have drains.

The cockpit is the entertainment area of a boat, so it should be sized to comfortably hold the entire ships company. I was once on a 50' boat that slept 8, but barely had room for 4 in the cockpit. For sailing with kids, they will want to be reading, playing, doing homework in the cockpit.
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Old 06-01-2010, 14:09   #13
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I think if I was going to travel with kids I wouls want a center cockpit boat. When you're in it, you're in it.

On another note; how common is it really to swamp the cockpit? Seems we worry about it a lot!
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Old 06-01-2010, 15:02   #14

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I would agree with Sahara for general cruising.

On a personal note, our Harstad 31 is a center cockpit and a bit smaller than what most of you are talking about. Although a smaller boat, the center cockpit works really well and in rougher seas (10'-15') with 20+ knot winds, and the only thing that worried us was our lack of experience. She rode like a dream and we stayed dry!
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Old 06-01-2010, 15:35   #15
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Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post

On another note; how common is it really to swamp the cockpit? Seems we worry about it a lot!
Well rarely but once I had whitewater on deck.Well we were sailing in blue water but it wasn't blue and the water on deck wasnt white but it looked white before it washed the decks Anyway it lasted 4 days glad the cockpit drained well.

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