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15 hours ago, Houston said:

What cruising cats besides Gunboats, some HH's, and Atlantic's have a forward cockpit/helm? It looks like a great feature to me, would love to know any of your impressions.

Terrible where I live.

Can't imagine how lame it must be to stand in a forward cock-pit in a sea-state doing 15 knots to windward in 25 knots of wind.

I thought it was almost the whole point of a bridge-deck cat, full shelter on a big racing boat.

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2 hours ago, bushsailor said:

yep,

bad enough going to the mast for a job, let alone operating the boat from there.

I can see the point of it for day sailing around busy harbours but off shore no way.

I thought that in day sailing you wanted wind on your hair and sun in your eyes. With forward cockpit you'll stay inside, away from sun and wind. https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/2017/maine-cat-38--3675966/

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Back in the 1960's Jim Brown designed his Searunner trimarans with the cockpit in the middle of the boat and the mast in the cockpit so that one could reef and do other sail handling chores from the safety of the cockpit. The galley and saloon were aft of the cockpit. Chris White adopted the same idea for his cats: sailing cockpit forward, mast accessible from the cockpit, saloon aft. I believe all the other cats that have this arrangement (starting with Gunboats) copied it from Chris.

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10 hours ago, darth reapius said:

Terrible where I live.

Can't imagine how lame it must be to stand in a forward cock-pit in a sea-state doing 15 knots to windward in 25 knots of wind.

I thought it was almost the whole point of a bridge-deck cat, full shelter on a big racing boat.

 

9 hours ago, bushsailor said:

yep,

bad enough going to the mast for a job, let alone operating the boat from there.

I can see the point of it for day sailing around busy harbours but off shore no way.

This may not be a good analogy, but I've spent lots of time beating into 25+ knots in ocean waves on both aft and centre cockpit 12 metre monohulls -- the centre cockpit is WAAAYYY wetter!!!

With the aft cockpit most of the waves and spray blow harmlessly over the bow, but with the centre cockpit you're getting the full blast of the waves and spray.

The centre cockpit boat had a dodger, but I was concerned we were going to damage it with the sheer amount of water hitting it. 

And of course there is more motion in the centre cockpit.

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On 7/30/2020 at 1:20 PM, Miffy said:

Maine Cats 

That might be debatable. Cockpit comes forward to the mast beam but is enclosed... unlike Atlantics, Gunboats, etc.  Forward enough to  work lines near the mast, but not outside forward enough...   On the plus side,  after owning two Mainecats, I kinda lost track of my foul weather gear.

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3 minutes ago, Veeger said:

That might be debatable. Cockpit comes forward to the mast beam but is enclosed... unlike Atlantics, Gunboats, etc.  Forward enough to  work lines near the mast, but not outside forward enough...   On the plus side,  after owning two Mainecats, I kinda lost track of my foul weather gear.

Heh I think that's as forward as one should want it - the other solution just seems to be an excuse to add more fittings and winches and make a bathtub

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I think many of you are missing the point of a forward cockpit + pilothouse on a cat. Having recently

completed a couple years wandering around the Pacific with my wife and early teens daughter I say this:

1) Easiest platform for the on/off watch to safely make passages without ever leaving the cockpit. Yes,

you can sleep in the pilothouse while your 12 yr old is on watch in squalls at 2AM, 10 feet away.

2) Visibility, especially forward, is excellent. Trivial to anchor/moor solo. You can watch the anchor drop

into the water and come up from the helm, under your control. You can see things and avoid them. You

will be doing a lot more anchoring than storm passages if you have any good planning skills and aren't

on a strict schedule.

3) If you are getting too wet or cold, go inside and close the cabin door. Lovely comfy helm chair that

is dry and arms reach to the galley and instruments. Foulies? Not worn for 99% of our sailing.

4) When you can sail 6+ knots under furling jib alone essentially all the time there really isn't much

"sail handling" that requires uncomfortable toughing out the elements... This Is Not Racing.

5) This all adds up to a boat that is much easier and more fun to handle alone, all the time,

no matter the conditions.

I wouldn't enjoy hiding behind an apartment building with a mast on top as my cruising home.

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@oysterhead has pretty much nailed it and this is the pretty much the exact concept that Gunboats we're originally founded on and still follow even in their new ownership: easy and safe short-handed cruising (and quick, but that wasn't really relating to the cockpit layout). 

I've done a number of long passages on a GB and we ran single watches because the layout (fwd cockpit with all controls plus the fwd 'pilot-house' helm) made it so easily achievable.

Also, I don't think there are any 60+ft aft helm catamarans that I'd feel as comfortable anchoring solo compared to a GB..

For racing it can turn into a very wet rollercoaster in that cockpit but they were never intended for this and it's why existing boats underwent after-market modifications and the new GB are accommodating similar mods during the build of new boats.

As for getting the wind in your hair - crack open one of the doors or central windows into the fwd cockpit and there is no shortage of airflow...

From a cruising perspective I'm a big fan of the layout and I think, as with many topics, it's often misunderstood and mis-represented. 

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On 7/31/2020 at 2:29 PM, ALL@SEA said:
On 7/31/2020 at 4:43 AM, jamez said:

Bob Oram has a number of sail and power cat designs with optional front cockpits.

https://www.boboramdesign.com/

Beat me to it - I didn't think anyone would've heard of him. His boats are a little out of the ordinary, and less complicated (and heavy) than a lot of modern cats. 

They are awesome boats.

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Only problem is after you tack you can’t look back to find your line and where the  sea turtle surfaces.

Also, you can’t smell or see the weather behind you in general.

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On 7/31/2020 at 1:44 AM, bushsailor said:

yep,

bad enough going to the mast for a job, let alone operating the boat from there.

I can see the point of it for day sailing around busy harbours but off shore no way.

Offshore with winds gusting over 50knots that's the only cockpit I would want.

Once you reefed a large cat (>55ft) going around the salon and onto the foredeck you'll agree. No way I'd let my 12 year old put a reef in solo. He does it all the time on our current boat.

On the Atlantic when we are beating to windward or it's seriously piped up and I have to reef, I bear off and simultaneously drop the main and pull in the reef line. From start to finish it's about max 2 minutes and is done without fuss, singlehanded. No need to wake anyone up (this type of stuff always happens at night) and there is zero safety concerns for that person putting in the reef. You're doing this from a deep cockpit with virtually no way to actually fall out unless you are hit with a tsunami. Unless it's raining buckets once you bear off, you get zero spray into the cockpit.

Most times our boat is on AP, so you're spending time boat inside and out. When offshore and the wind/wave state presents itself the dinghy is off the deck and hanging off the transom to allow full access to the aft deck and a nice workout space. You can go from the cockpit to the aft deck without needing to visit the side of the boat. Incredibly safer than any other option.

I would say that on offshore passages, that's it's my favorite place to hangout. I would say that in 20-25K miles on my current boat I've been forced inside, maybe 3-5% of the time. 

The other very interesting piece of the forward cockpit is that you are now in the center (fulcrum) of the boat. Very little rocking and so any tendency for seasickness is diminished. As others have more eloquently stated, the airflow is unparalleled. 

Now at anchor, it becomes my favorite spot, as it's always cooler up there (especially in the warmer climates) and the forward view is great. 

I'm a huge fan. My 57 will be for sale here soon and our next boat will also have a forward cockpit. Frankly it's the only way to go, especially on a multihull.

 

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19 hours ago, mpenman said:

I would say that on offshore passages, that's it's my favorite place to hangout

Nice weather = bean bag/sail bag and autopilot remote on the trampoline - you're still only a few steps away from all the primary controls...

Bad weather = inside with good forward visibility and the main salon and aft cockpit to wander around in...

God dammit I would love to be in the market for a 57...

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I love it when comparing the comments of folks who own and sail these boat and so have informed opinions, and the various couch Kings who have never been offshore in anything let alone a cat with a forward cockpit. 
 

Like some of the former I have sailed Atlantic cats with a forward cockpit and found it to be a great feature. I am sure there is somebody but honestly I have never met anyone who has actually sailed one of these boats who doesn’t like the forward cockpit. For cruising and especially ma and pa cruising it’s a great thing. 

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I dunno.  I've spent quite a few days tradewind sailing in a forward cockpit cat.  Any time the wind is 15 knots or more and you're heading even close to upwind, everyone in the cockpit will be soaked almost immediately.  Even in the topics where I live it gets cold and uncomfortable very fast.  Second problem: quick access to the mainsheet.  If you're in the pilothouse with the door closed because it's too wet in the cockpit, then you are 5 seconds minimum from the moment you go "oh, shit!" to the moment you can start blowing the sheets.  One of Chris White's big cats flipped in the Pacific because the crew was in the cabin and couldn't get outside to the sail controls fast enough.  I guess if you drop the main and only fly a small jib every time you move to the cabin, you're ok.  

Plus side, as mentioned above, is that standing in a secure cockpit at the foot of the mast makes line handling much easier.  And, of course, off the wind, unless you're pushing hard in a big breeze, the forward cockpit is a nice dry place to be.  Much nicer sightlines. I think the newer big cats have it right-- a small line handling "working cockpit" forward, accessed thru the pilot house, and a big aft "guest cockpit" behind the house with sheltered seating and a sunshade.  

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Ah ha! A forward cockpit thread! Haven't had one of these for a few years, or... weeks. My ears were burning, so happy to delve in a little. 

Firstly, I am by no means a forward cockpit convert or evangelist, just happen to have built a lot of boats with them, as well as aft helm boats - short answer is it depends what you want. However, I think the idea of the fwd pit/outside helm is often misunderstood. 

I deal with this question 50 times a day at boatshows and literally weekly online. People often think that interior helm boats are designed with the helm inside as the driving design brief and the cockpit secondary - yet the original vision that old PJ had on Tribe (Yes I know it was done before PJ), was to sail a fast, powerful boat shorthanded and with family in a safe way. That meant bringing all the controls to a central point - the mast makes the most sense.

It then makes sense to put the helm nearby and obviously you don't want it outside only, it would be uncomfortable at times. So they put it inside, where you can go into shelter when things get a little hairy. The major controls can be controlled from the helm and for anything else you're 1 step away. You don't need to stand there in 50 knots getting beaten up. Regardless, you'll be surprised how dry it is, and always relatively sheltered from the wind.

There's little argument that if you want to race, nothing beats being at the back, up high, exposed and in the breeze- hence the advent of tillers on these boats. Even cruisers love to be out there in nice weather, but both cruisers and racers will agree that in bad weather that is the last place they want to be. 

I like aft helm cats with "protected helms", but it is sad to see that the majority of them still have a winch at the rig or base of longeron. Walking outboard and forward to handle something is definitely not as comfortable/safe as having it all in one place or going through the boat to a fwd door. Even with the lines run aft, you're always going to have a port/stbd split in operations, assuming that anything with a little performance will have 2 helms. 

In summary the real success factor for a fwd cockpit is that it is a real "Central Command Station". Also, check out the latest Ultime "Sodebo" that have taken that to the next level.

 

2020-08-06_15h09_36.jpg

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15 hours ago, Greenflash said:

Regardless, you'll be surprised how dry it is, and always relatively sheltered from the wind.

WHAT?

We used to see green water through the bridge-deck windows regularly. I honestly felt like someone would have been washed out of a forward cockpit if our boat had one. 

Even better I think than our setup, which was Aft Cockpit behind a fully enclosed bridge-deck is the Stealth Catamarans Setup like on Java.

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On 8/7/2020 at 5:45 PM, NZK said:

I've definitely had a few of these moments in the fwd pit when we were pushing hard on a 66...

 

Ha, no of course if you're going fast then there will be a lot of apparent wind, let me clarify that statement: Because you have a wall behind you and you're tucked into a recessed hole in the boat, it is less windy that the equivalent exposed aft helm. Even on Allegra (APC Irens 78 footer), which have done an amazing job of designing a sexy and functional aft helm (They still have a forward cockpit though!), they put up little spray dodgers for sailing offshore - they reckon it is just really tiring without it. 

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i like the forward cockpit - but it is true that it isn't _always_ a dry place.

newer designs are drier than older designs - due to better hull shapes

one one of the GB's I sailed on, we did one-person watches offshore on deliveries- usually pretty depowered at night. the forward cockpit was a fantastic place to spend a watch - looking at the stars - totally safe even alone - all the sail controls right there -  and with the chartplotters and AP just a step or two away.

 

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2 hours ago, us7070 said:

i like the forward cockpit - but it is true that it isn't _always_ a dry place.

I like the forward cockpit, too. On passages I've found the forward cockpit on an Atlantic 42 is much more often dry than not. Most passages aren't hard on the wind into stiff trades and when they are slowing the boat down can make a very great difference. Having the sheets and steering all in reach is wonderful for single / short handed work. Reefing is more efficient. Having an unobstructed view forward is nice. Every choice is a compromise. Pushing upwind hard into a developed sea is going to be quite wet. Sometimes that's fun. Sometimes it's more pleasant to dial it back. YMMV.

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