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Acameronp 10-29-2013 09:12 AM

Aft Cockpit vrs Center
Hello All,
My better half and I are about 6 month into researching what would be the "best" boat for us. Yes, that is EXTREMELY subjective. So, here is how we plan on using it...Coastal cruising a mid 1970s-1980s, 37-44 footer the eastern seaboard down through the Caribbean. Its just the two of us, living AND working aboard, and we plan on cruising very often. We realize there are a myriad of factors that go into picking out a boat, but I am curious to see what the cyber worlds opinion is regarding center cockpits and along with that, the importance of having a secondary landing spot to obtain a few moment privacy. Not really looking for a particular manufacture (although helpful with a 70K purchase budget) Thoughts and my thanks for your time.


Don0190 10-29-2013 09:47 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
When I first got interested in a sailbat to travel and live on I was drawn to the center cockpit boat for the walk around berth. But it seems that most really suffer in the salon layout to get that.

You need to decide which is more important to you a walk around berth or a more useful salon.

Acameronp 10-29-2013 09:49 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
Thanks Don0190. In what way do you find the salon is compromised?

capecodda 10-29-2013 10:15 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
We've on our 5th boat, boat 4 was a 52 center cockpit. All the others were aft cockpits from 22' to 38.

Center cockpits in our opinion get better as they get bigger. They do have the advantage of a separate aft cabin which can be very nice especially when guests are aboard. Also, we've found the aft cabin to be a reasonable place to sleep offshore. The galley is usually situated between the salon and the aft cabin, which is nicely midships and narrow with good support for offshore meal prep. If properly designed, engine access can be pretty good on all sides, but this can get messed up too as the boat gets loaded up with systems (as in any boat).

As the boat gets smaller though, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages in our opinion. You are driving closer to the pointy end of the boat, and are up higher. Can be wet and uncomfortable offshore. And then the extra cabin space and salon get smaller too. Generally, to make the interior work, they start looking more like wedding cakes (this is obviously subjective).

If you are considering a center, we'd recommend you buy something at, near or above your max length to minimize these disadvantages. If you are buying in the 30's, we'd definitely stay with aft cockpit.

All of this assumes you'll be doing some offshore passages to get to the Caribbean. If not, it doesn't matter as much, more a matter of taste.

PBzeer 10-29-2013 10:20 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
Usually, you're going to have more cockpit space with an aft cockpit. So if you intend to spend a lot of time "outside", that may be a consideration.

Some people feel more comfortable steering from the stern, than from the middle of the boat. Plus feel it's easier to get from the cockpit to the deck. (Obviously, subjective opinions)

CC's will generally have more windage and the foot of the main will usually be higher above the waterline.

The CC will have more "separation" of the interior and depending on the boat, may sacrifice some spaciousness.

It will probably be easier to find a aft cockpit boat in your price range.

Ventilation should be better in an aft cockpit boat.

eherlihy 10-29-2013 10:46 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
PB hit what is, IMHO, one of the key make or break points of center vs aft cockpits - especially for first time boat owners; windage.

If you plan to live aboard, and keep the boat at a slip, getting a center cockpit boat in and out of that slip with a breeze would be more of a challenge than with an aft cockpit boat. If you plan to sit tight at the slip when the wind is up, or if you want to keep the boat on a mooring, this may not be an issue. However, boat handling when leaving or approaching a slip was a determining factor for me (no pilothouse, and no center cockpit).

chucklesR 10-29-2013 10:53 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
I have no problem docking my boat, even in wind and I have a shoal keel (not really a full keel).
I have seats in my cockpit that are a full 8 feet long (so there goes the small cockpit thought).

Because my 38 is a 38 I do in fact 'loose' some in the salon - it's only 10 feet wide at the forward end and only 14 feet long.

CP, 70k gets you a lot of center cockpit from the 70-80's
I'm biased, but - best boat for living on - CC hands down.

Acameronp 10-29-2013 11:04 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
Wow. A few great points in there all. I hadnt thought about windage whatsoever in regards to docking. If there were an overall opinion here, it sounds like a CC should not be considered unless we are at 40+. My better half and I are both slightly claustrophobic, which is another reason we were leaning towards the CCs cabin. A bit more head room but definitely a sacrifice on overall space.

jimgo 10-29-2013 11:21 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
I'm not so sure I agree with the 40+ for CC's. Yes, I can see it being wetter in the CC than in an aft cockpit, but that's what dodgers are for. And windage is a problem on any CC, and even many non-CC boats. At Annapolis I was amazed at how many aft-cockpit boats sat just as high, or higher, than some of the CC's.

We wanted a CC this time around, but couldn't find one in decent condition that was also in our budget. If I could have, I'd have snatched up an S2 11 center cockpit. The 9.2 CC's are nice, but much smaller than you're considering.

Also, with respect to the cockpit size on a CC versus an aft, while this may be somewhat true, the area above the aft cabin looks like a FANTASTIC place from which to hang out, sunbathe, and otherwise enjoy the boat. That actually INCREASES the usable "outside" area, unlike an aft cockpit where you typically have the boom and jib keeping you from enjoying the foredeck for too long.

Regarding the interior space, you should look at the Irwin 38 like Chuck's. His is a beautiful boat with a great interior layout, especially for 2. Yeah, the galley may be a bit tight, but if only one of you is cooking, it shouldn't be that big of a deal. And the trade-off is huge as the rest of the boat is very comfortable.

welshwind 10-29-2013 11:24 AM

Re: Aft Cockpit vrs Center
We loved our 1998 Beneteau 36CC (center cockpit). We just traded it in for a 2012 Catalina 445 for more room as we hope to have our kids and grandkids (someday) on the boat with us. But if we knew it really would be only two of us, we likely would have kept it and done upgrades. You can purchase the boat for somewhere close to your budget.

The salon was really cozy and I mean that in the most positive way. It was NOT cramped, but cozy. We often had seven people around the table for dinner. One of things we are afraid of with the bigger boat is it won't feel as cozy.

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