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sailingfool 11-19-2006 01:03 PM

Center Cockpits
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I am thinking about buying the retirement boat in the next few years, for use cruising the Carribean, something along the lines of a Bristol 43.3. These are available in center and aft cockpit configurations. I would appreciate comments from owners of center cockpit designs as to the pluses and minuses of that configuration. I've never owned such, but they look comfortable for live aboard. What's the reality?

camaraderie 11-19-2006 05:09 PM

For living aboard a center cockpit is wonderful. We've now had 3 and 2 aft cockpit boats and would never go back.
Like: Aft cabin and big bed & privacy, makes boat seem smaller when steering and visibility is excellent all around. Can fully enclose cockpit for a "sun room" . Lots of storage space below.
Dislike: Less on deck storage/lockers. Can't handle dock lines from the wheel. Tougher to rig wind vane. Tend to be a bit "clunky" looking under 40+ feet...though boats like the Bristols and Passports & Tayanas show that a pretty shear line is not an aft cockpit exclusive!
Many people talk about increased windage or a wet ride but I don't find this to be the case in terms of the boats I've owned. I see a lot more Condo-Aft cockpit boats sailing at anchor than Bristols!
The only thing I didn't like about Bristols was the centerboard for Blue-water. Not that lots haven't done it...just my own preference.

nelsonsmoody 11-19-2006 05:35 PM

I must agree with Camaraderie, I now have Moody 425 and could never go back. Similar threads on this subject:http:

tdw 11-19-2006 05:57 PM


Originally Posted by camaraderie
Tougher to rig wind vane. .

In general I prefer the look of an aft cockpit and I prefer skippering an aft cockpit but for long term cruising a plus 40' centre cockpit has some great advantages. Privacy on a small boat is never easily found but having the shed out the back is a good step on the way. Under 40' centre cockpits with decent sized aft cabins can look like a floating brick while the better looking ones have next to useless aft cabins. Only major point I'd make about this debate is about security at anchor. When I bought my previous boat she had an undersized Danforth anchor with only about 5 metres of chain. Before I got that fixed we dragged a couple of times. Sleeping up front I heard the dragging anchor so all was well but doubt I would hear it if I was 40' further back.

That said, Cam, how did you overcome the wind vane self steering problem or did to just go electric ?

camaraderie 11-19-2006 07:36 PM

TDW...Good point about the anchor noise. I find that unless the chain itself is playing out...I can't hear it even in the salon with the usual noise of radio/tv/chatter. I find that when conditions are rough enough to possibly drag me...I'm up in the cockpit anyway cause i get too nervous to sleep!
On the self steering...presently I am electric but we had our stern ladder moved to port/starboard stanchions last year so we could put a vane on when we wanted to. It is possible to run the steering lines up through turning blocks and to the wheel but the bimini/enclosure complicates things so we haven't done it yet. There are vanes that can work via the quadrant but our displacement/size rules these out. For now we rely on Mr. Simrad.

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