I am interested in buying a 35 to 40-foot sailboat with a center cockpit. Are there any advantages or disadvantages to this cockpit?
Dan Dickison responds:
Whether or not you should get a center-cockpit model is mostly a matter of personal preference. You should know, however, that most center-cockpit designs segment the interior of a vessel so that there's somewhat less volume overall, but having the separated spaces might be something you like. And some center-cockpit arrangements put the cockpit slightly higher off the water than if it were located farther aft. The problem with the latter is that you can end up rocking and rolling a little more in a seaway.
Almost every naval architect will tell you that most decisions in boat design involve a compromise, and the issue of a center cockpit is certainly not immune to that. Nonetheless, having a center cockpit might be just what you want if you're looking to separate the owner's stateroom (aft) from the rest of the interior for the purposes of privacy. Also, having a center cockpit means that the steering station will be closer to the middle of the boat, which can be an advantage regarding perspective when anchoring and docking.
One practical aspect that you usually forfeit with a center cockpit arrangement is the opportunity to have the transom serve as a boarding platform. This isn't true in all cases, but it seems to be so with the majority of center-cockpit designs.
Beyond those considerations, it really comes down to what you want from a standpoint of practicality and aesthetics. I hope these comments are helpful to you. You might also want to solicit comments from sailors who own boats with center cockpits. To do that, log on to the one of the e-mail discussion lists hosted here at SailNet and pose your query. I'd recommend that Morgan owners list as a good place to start. (To join the e-mail discussion lists, simply log on to the homepage and click on "Join E-Mail Lists," which is one of the options you'll see on the bottom right hand side of the page under "Members.")