Aft Cockpit vs Center Cockpit - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 27 Old 11-04-2007
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And engine access

One advantage to the CC design I have not yet seen mentioned is engine access. My last CC boat the cockpit floor would lift out exposing the whole engine room. Made any engine work much less unpleasant to have full light and fresh air. Just had to make sure no one stepped into the cockpit while the floors were up. I did install latches under the removeable section in case of knockdown or worse so we would not lose the floor and flood the boat.

After owning the boat several years we had a mechanical problem that required pulling the engine out of the boat while down island. Did not even have to haul to do the job. We pulled up to the commercial dock and had a small crane lift it straight up out of the boat.

On a day to day basis as a liveaboard the biggest advantage to me was a private aft cabin. I just have not seen any boats under 45' or so that had a good arrangement for a private owner's stateroom except the forepeak (aka sail locker and roughest ride in the house when sailing up wind). The motion in the center cockpit never bothered me.
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post #22 of 27 Old 11-04-2007
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Good point Skipmac...mine had 360 degree access as well...you are right that such good access is rarely found on aft cockpit boats of the same size.
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post #23 of 27 Old 11-04-2007
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Well, you also have the other way to approach engine work. My engine is in the center of the cabin so I can work on it while sitting down in comfort without worrying about the weather outside or the lack of access.

But my biggest objection to center cockpit boats is the fact that a lot of things are happing behind you. In an aft cockpit boat you can see almost everything from sail trim to crew working on deck without worrying about something happing unnoticed behind you. Of course just my opinion for what itís worth and your mileage may vary.
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post #24 of 27 Old 11-04-2007
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This was a big factor for me, as well. Unfortunately, the aluminum roof to the steel pilothouse means I'll be doing more unscrewing this week than a dyslexic porn star, but at the end of it, I'll just put a hook on the lifting eye and up and out comes the engine, and down into the bed of the pickup for an exam and possible rebuild.

In the meantime, with an empty engine bay, I will replace water tanks, install dual filters, paint everything half a dozen times, and install new mounts, couplers, exhaust system and batteries, all while standing up...

I winterized the old aft cockpit boat today as the new "custodian" needed to see it done, and hunched over the engine with a dissembled set of companionway stairs behind me, I realized I like the 360 degree access very much now.
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post #25 of 27 Old 11-04-2007
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Robert, I would agree with you in some designs, but I have an "inside" helm in the pilothouse, and a "sailing" helm on the aft deck with perfect visibility and a very modest cockpit that is more a footwell, but which has two 3-inch scuppers running down and aft to the transom. Both helms run on the same hydraulic steering system, and I have the ability to disconnect that in favour of a tiller that can run on blocks to a windvane. Typically, I start sails from the pilothouse and then switch to the sailing helm when we switch off the engine and start sailing. The addition of a hard bimini over the sailing helm (plus a throttle/shifter on the binnacle, currently absent) will encourage us to stay out of the pilothouse entirely unless the weather is truly appalling.
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post #26 of 27 Old 11-05-2007
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In many ways Valiente you have the best of both worlds. But with the weather and temperature you have in your neighborhood (Toronto) you need the inside steering station donít you. One of the first things I did when I got my Tartan was to remove the dodger and bimini because I want unobstructed lines of sight in all directions.
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post #27 of 27 Old 11-05-2007
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Originally Posted by Tartan34C View Post
In many ways Valiente you have the best of both worlds. But with the weather and temperature you have in your neighborhood (Toronto) you need the inside steering station donít you.
Not really, Robert: We typically launch at the end of April and haul at the end of October, and we don't usually see weather that requires more than a Gore-tex rain suit. The pilothouse is more the "command centre" when under power, because I have the plotter/compass/radio in there, but I still typically open the forward glass windscreen to hear what's going on forward. My wife will usually keep a watch on deck, or I will if she's steering, but until I get a helm seat, she's a little too short to steer from the pilothouse safely!

When I install a second throttle/shifter, I'll carry a handheld VHF and GPS (if needed) at the "sailing helm" and I can't see that I'll spend as much time in the pilothouse. We transit under sail exclusively from the deck.

Where I suspect the pilothouse will come into its own is in night passages/dawn, when I might wish to motor (and thereby keep well-lit) during calms and the pilothouse is considerably warmer than "outside". This will be particularly true when I need to observe radar.
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