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Center versus Aft Cockpit – Sailing – Sail Away Girl


Hello Sailors,

OK I’m going to hit on a touchy subject…Center versus Aft Cockpits. A group I am in posed the question and I was surprised at the responses. It seems the number one reason, and largely the almost only reason, to have a center cockpit is for the size of the master cabin and its separation from the rest of the living areas.

My friend Lana has said she really wants a center cockpit in her boat, but she never once mentioned the size of the stateroom as being a factor. She has always told me that she thought a center cockpit was safer and drier than an aft cockpit. Lana also wants a boat that’s at least 50 feet. 🙂

As a general rule, center cockpits are really only an option on boats of 50 feet or more, but there are some brands of boats that have center cockpits on boats of 37 feet and up.

Another huge argument for aft cockpits is aesthetics. People generally feel that an aft cockpit looks sleeker and more like a sailing vessel. A center cockpit design is frequently referred to as a “wedding cake” profile especially when the cockpit is all zippered in with its covers. I have to agree with this one. Looks like it has mini smokestacks to me. But that’s just me.

Sail Away Girl Center versus Aft Cockpits

I thought I’d list for you the pros and cons I ran across when researching this today. So here we go!

Pros of  Center versus Aft Cockpit:

  • Larger Aft Cabin
  • Better Visibility
  • More privacy aft
  • Easier close quarter handling
  • “Back Deck” the area aft of the cockpit is used a lot for entertaining
  • Ability to fully enclose cockpit (Hence the “wedding cake” look)
  • Aft deck storage space (For bikes, kyacks, dinghy and such)
  • Easier motion (there is controversy with this one – some say its worse)
  • More headroom in the aft cabin

Cons of Center versus Aft Cockpit:

  • Cabin by dock and noise in Mediterranean style docking
  • Less deck locker space
  • Harder to reach pilings when docking
  • Not as sleek looking ( I add this here again as it was mentioned soooooo many times)
  • Sometimes less ventilation in master
  • Smaller living salon
  • More windage due to higher center profile
  • More Ocean Spray
  • Helm is further from steering gear
  • Can’t keep an eye on the entire boat as easily as some things will be behind you
  • Worse motion (see pros)
  • Slower due to more freeboard
  • Less storage
  • More freeboard to negotiate in rough seas

I personally want an aft cockpit for aesthetics and storage. I could not find one single photo (that would not be stealing) with a center cockpit. Apparently photographers don’t think they are too photogenic either.

Sail Away Girl Center versus Aft Cockpits

Let me know which you would choose and why.

See you on the water,

Sail Away Girl


  1. Our Whitby 42 is a comfortable low aspect center cockpit. I like that it is dry and comfy. Because there is an entrance to the aft stateroom off the cockpit it is easy to wake someone done for a nap.

    • Thanks Gloria.

      I know the center cockpit makes a cruising sailboat far more homey. It’s so hard to choose when you have so many options to choose from.

      Since my boat will be less than 40 feet, my options for a center versus aft cockpit are greatly diminished.

      I love hearing from folks so thank you so much for giving me feedback!
      Sail Away Girl