Ideally, the cockpit should be able to drain itself if filled in just a few minutes... the shorter the time, the better...
Adding drains or enlarging the existing drains are both good ways to decrease the time it takes to clear, but going to large can be a problem too. If your cockpit drains are too big, you can drop stuff through them. Two-inch drains are the largest I'd personally go. A lot of stuff, like keys and such will fit down a 2" drain if you're not careful. Don't ask me how I know.
It also depends on whether you boat has a bridgedeck or not. The way my boat was originally designed, it had no bridgedeck, and if the dropboards weren't in place, any significant amount of water in the cockpit would lead to a lot of water in the cabin. This past spring I built a bridgedeck for the boat, and it's a big help in making the boat more seaworthy. Not only does it help prevent water from getting below, it also takes up five cubic feet or so of cockpit space—that's over three hundred pounds of water that can no longer fit on my boat—since each cubic foot of seawater is about 64 lbs.
Here's a photo of the cockpit prior to the bridgedeck
and one of the bridgedeck installation.
The bridgedeck is about an inch higher than the top step you can see in the left side of the top photo. The top of the panel going across the companionway is the same height as the original first dropboard and a tiny bit higher than the cockpit seat lockers are. The stern end of the cockpit is about two-to-three inches shorter than the cockpit seats, so any real pooping will start to drain rather quickly. There are also two inch cockpit drains on either side of the cockpit.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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