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  #1  
Old 12-27-2010
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Boat Cockpits

I was reading a thread that was posted that had a checklist of things to look for in a blue water boat. One was a small cockpit. So that got me thinking how do you measure a cockpit as being large or small? What boats have small **** pits?
I was looking at a Pearson Triton pic. It looks like half the boat is cockpit and I know they have circumnavigated the world many times over.
Can anyone explain what is the area/measurements considered large or small?
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Old 12-27-2010
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I think the plan is not to have a large area that can be swamped with great volumes of water. One strategy is to have an open transom to quickly dump the load. I've seen cockpits with high floor scuppered for a quick flow. I think the means to avoid being swamped is greater than any definitive dimension. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 12-27-2010
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Also, the idea is to be able to get to the sheets and lines easily, particularly if you find yourself shorthanded due to illness or injury. You want something to hold onto at all times and a large cockpit could require a step or long reach for the next place to brace yourself when you are trying to dump a sail quickly.

There are conflicting thoughts on open transoms. Some, as CaptainForce says, like the quick draining. Others dislike the potential swamping from behind in the first place.
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Good thoughts Captain and Minnewaska. But won't larger drains do the same as as a open transom with less danger of swamping?
I have seen on this sight how much people love large cockpits just to entertain at the dock. Now I like a good rum and conversation as much as the next guy but if it comes with a cost on the open water I would rather have safety then convenience not to mention a large cockpit takes away from the area of the salon. Which is a personal choice I guess.
So how small is to small and how large is to large? Are there any specs for cockpit design anywhere?
As I said a Triton looks to be 1/3rd of the entire boat but still a very sturdy boat to circumnavigate in.
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Cockpits

As an aside, I lke to have a bridge deck, too.
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I think the most important factors of any cockpit are a bridge deck and oversized drains. Size only matters if you can't drain it quickly when swamped or if it drains into the companionway. A lot of the CCA era boats had looooonnnnngggg cockpits, but they also had hefty bridge decks and scuppers you could use to dispose of a cat.
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Just to make this more confusing. Boats with large cockpits are sailed across oceans all the time. Just like boats with spade rudders. There is no ideal, I don't think. The issue is your contingency plans and qualification or number of crew.
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Old 12-28-2010
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All I can say is - when we're doing overnight passages I want a cockpit big enough to comfortably lie down in. When my wife is on watch, I usually nap in the cockpit. Of course, while I'm on watch, she goes down below into a nice lee berth. Anyway, you can have a decent sized cockpit as long as you have a high bridge deck and plenty of drainage, and the majority of the sail controls are no more than a lunge away. Our Passport 40 meets all of the criteria but many would term the cockpit big. Unless I was on a racing sled, there's no way I'd go with an open transom - there would be so many risks. Slipping overboard because of carelessness/overlooking tethering in. Big following seas flushing the cockpit. Dropping stuff on the cockpit floor and having it swept overboard... I like a nice enclosed cockpit thank you.
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One way I quantify a cockpit as large is if I can lie down along the benches. I am 6-foot tall. I think this is the dimension people primarily refer to. Beyond entertaining, a large (ie. long) cockpit is simply more comfortable. Let's face it - forget the interior accommodations - the cockpit is where we spend most our time when cruising. Being able to lie down is an attractive feature.

Now if you are doing serious offshore sailing, trading this comfort for a drier, smaller cockpit is attractive too. It is a trade-off that makes a lot of sense to make.

Of course there are all different factors like the depth, bridge deck, companionway sill, combings, etc. But to answer your question in a simplistic way, w1651, I think people consider longer than 6-foot cockpits large? At least that is a good starting point.

Really Large Cockpit: MacGregor 65
Really Small Cockpit: Stevens 40
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It is also relative to the size of the boat. 6 feet of cockpit on a 28' Triton is a larger percentage than the same size cockpit on a 40' boat. The weight of water when swamped is a huge hit on the small boat but less of an issue on a larger boat.
As posted a cabin that is waterproof at least to seat level by a bridgedeck and large scuppers are important. A small companionway is also better with parallel sides so the hatch boards don't come out easily. Less convenient but much better for offshore. It is usually not the first wave that is the big issue, but the second when you are already down at the stern and the first not drained away yet.
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