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Old 01-09-2011, 01:09   #1
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Centre vs Aft Cockpit

Probably been done to death but I'm new so be patient and I own a wooden boat so I may be mentally unstable!!! The question came up in conversation the other day about the merits or otherwise of centre cockpit configurations. I'm particularly drawn to both the Norseman 447 and the Westerley 43. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-09-2011, 02:25   #2
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

Done to death. A dredge of the archives will yield a wealth of information.

I think it can be summed up in a nutshell like this:

1. Like so many such things, a matter of taste, of course.

2. Aft cockpit dryer.

3. Center cockpit better visibility.

4. Center cockpit higher -- so more rolling moment and less pitching moment.

5. Center cockpit allows a nicer aft cabin.

6. Center cockpit allows you to have an afterdeck, which is a really nice space on larger boats.

7. Aft cockpit put the helm closer to the steering gear making it simpler and more robust.

8. Center cockpits work less and less well the smaller the boat -- some people think they don't work at all on boats less than 40' or so.

9. Center cockpits work better and better on larger boats -- few boats over 50' are aft cockpit.


That's just a nutshell. Have a go at the archives.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:17   #3
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

As said, flogged to death - but that true for most subjects...........

I have an aft cabin on a 30 foot GRP boat (1970) - sitting headroom and no walkthrough and a small hatch (couldn't fit an average sized American through ). At the moment it is a bit of a work in progress, but in due course it will be mainly a brilliant walk in locker / cum tool shed (I prefer the saloon berths) - albeit could easily revert to a cabin (with a double), if I ever get lucky

The biggest compromise (that matters to me - I don't care about no walkthrough or the headroom - and access is fine for a skinny fella like me) is that the cockpit is a couple of feet shorter than would be ideal, but the boat is set up for one (and the occassional 2 - so that is something I can live with, although it does annoy me now and again )......certainly I am happier having the aft cabin rather than the modern under cockpit coffin (in the US I think they are called a "State Room" )

I am not saying that an aft cabin on a 30 footer (or bigger) is the world's greatest thing, just a long winded way of saying that it really depends on what you want / consider important / are will to trade or compromise on.
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Old 01-09-2011, 21:25   #4
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

Centre cockpits are deemed to be wet, too high (and therefore more subject to roll and movement), hard to get in and out of, take up too much space, be impractical on boats less than 40 feet, etc, etc ..... mostly by people who have never owned a centre cockpit boat, but they just know.

Aft cockpit boats, in comparison, have superbly dry cockpits, excellent visibility, better control, better access, better use of space, more practical, etc, etc.

My own experience is that some aft cockpits are wildly uncomfortable, incredibly wet, waste a heap of space, are difficult to access and easy to be washed out of. Some are not. I've found some centre cockpit boats to be excellent designs and very practical .... some not so good.

It really depends on the specific design and what sort of environment the boat is designed to cope with. Like everything to do with boats there will be good points and bad about either set up and there will be compromises that may or may not make sense depending on what kind of sailing you're doing.
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Old 01-09-2011, 23:36   #5
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

My centre cockpit 40’ Roberts has fantastic access to the engine. Reckon I could even add a bunk or 2 above the motor there’s so much room there. Think most centre cockpit yachts are the same.
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Old 02-09-2011, 12:58   #6
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

An interesting thing I learned in Irene is that even when the wind blows particularly hard, there is usually one companionway that can be left open, allowing for plenty of comfort-inducing ventilation. (not an issue when at anchor, of course, but at the dock, when the wind comes off the stern or quarter, it's nice to be able to tuck into the aft cabin and leave the hatch boards out)

I suppose that isn't a sexy reason at all... just a pragmatic observation.
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Old 02-09-2011, 13:06   #7
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

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Originally Posted by kjames View Post
My centre cockpit 40’ Roberts has fantastic access to the engine. Reckon I could even add a bunk or 2 above the motor there’s so much room there. Think most centre cockpit yachts are the same.
He's referring to the fact that center cockpit boats usually have the engine mounted below the cockpit.

So the cockpit in a CC boat is impinging on volume in the middlish part of the boat where it is least useful for accomodation. It's true that this is an advantage. At least, on boats big enough that there can be a useful passage on either side of a usefully sized engine space.

On our boat, the genset is mounted above the engine, all stacked below the cockpit floor. To pull the genset or engine, you unbolt and remove the cockpit floor -- a great advantage compared to many boats (like my last one) which are practically built around the engine and which would practically have to be torn apart to pull it.
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Old 02-09-2011, 13:32   #8
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

The main difference is that people who own CC boats tend to be a lot grouchier than people who own AC boats. There are two reasons for this. First, they tend to get splashed a lot more because they're sitting so much closer to the bow. Second, they realize that they lose out on style points because CC boats don't have the coolness factor of AC boats. This is largely because they're not as fast.

Owners of CC boats often pretend that they prefer their boats, rationalizing that CC boats are superior because they have spacious aft cabins where the owners have plenty of room to pout about the fact that the fellow who sold them their boats didn't mention that the bow was the splashy end of the boat. And now the only way they can get away from the splashy bow is to go below and sulk.
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Old 02-09-2011, 20:56   #9
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

Sounds like only one grouchy person out there to me...
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Old 03-09-2011, 00:20   #10
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Personally I like the walk through on CCs, leaves a nice work bench & area (40'-50'). The large aft cabin is just a bonus. My anchoring / sailing ratio is 80/20, and I do all my own work whenever possible. Trying to accomplish that on the hook, to me, is greatly enhanced with a dedicated tool bemch, with a small anvil & mounted vice. It also gives me a nice space for the welder too. /02¢
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Old 03-09-2011, 14:22   #11
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

2. Aft cockpit dryer.
Not if sailing before the gale ...

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Old 03-09-2011, 14:33   #12
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

I like the aft-cc best: things like you can see on e.g. HR 352:
- good visibility on the passage,
- good protection when running.

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Old 03-09-2011, 15:23   #13
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
The main difference is that people who own CC boats tend to be a lot grouchier than people who own AC boats. There are two reasons for this. First, they tend to get splashed a lot more because they're sitting so much closer to the bow. Second, they realize that they lose out on style points because CC boats don't have the coolness factor of AC boats. This is largely because they're not as fast.

Owners of CC boats often pretend that they prefer their boats, rationalizing that CC boats are superior because they have spacious aft cabins where the owners have plenty of room to pout about the fact that the fellow who sold them their boats didn't mention that the bow was the splashy end of the boat. And now the only way they can get away from the splashy bow is to go below and sulk.
The trick is to get a boat that's big enough that the cockpit is far away from the splashy end. My 41 CC almost never sees a splash that reaches the cockpit and, even if it does, the dodger stops it. My aft cockpit 30 gave me regular unscheduled showers. In fairness, it didn't have a dodger.

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Old 03-09-2011, 16:12   #14
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

get pooped in an aft cockpit 37 ft low freeboard sloop. cold water on you in middle of night.
with my formosa the seas come over the waist of the boat instead of pooping me.
center cockpit boats dont have that problem either.
water doesnt come at me from bow either--is a benefit of a clipper bow.
nice , comfortable ride.
cool as can be. plus looks great....
ps i dont have a dodger, either....
oh,yeah--i sailed her 1500 miles in pacific ocean this way.
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Old 04-09-2011, 15:18   #15
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Re: Centre vs Aft Cockpit

Well, IMO it is mainly a matter of the usage of a fixed internal volume for any given hull size. There are no free lunches here: if you have a huge aft sleeping cabin, there is less available volume for the saloon, nav area, etc.

For me, I feel the saloon/galley area is where I spend most of my time whilst below decks, so an aft cockpit works best. I also prefer driving a boat from an AC, but I think that this is a personal thing.

As to the relative "dryness" of the CC -- I've noticed that in the long range cruising fleet, the majority of CC boats have constructed large (and to me ugly) structures enclosing the cockpit. I'm sure that this gives marvelous weather protection, but one suspects that if they were as dry as advertised, the CCs wouldn't need these structures... only a common spray dodger with perhaps a bimini in the tropics.

Anyhow, it really does come down to how you want to use the volume at your disposal, and for sure, YMMV from mine!

Cheers,

Jim
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