Center cockpit sailboats, which have an additional cabin and deck space aft of the cockpit, are quite popular with cruisers who often bring guests aboard. By shifting the cockpit forward and placing a stateroom aft (and often a head), sleeping areas are separated and privacy aboard is greatly enhanced. The aft stateroom is typically, although not always, more or less an owner’s suite with standing headroom and more space than other staterooms in the boat. Sometimes they have a separate entrance from the cockpit, only, and on some other (usually larger) models there are walk-throughs from the main cabin.

The center cockpit design has some other advantages sailors appreciate: it offers excellent visibility as compared to an aft cockpit, both out to the sides as well as fore and aft. It also rings the passengers inside, as opposed to having the open back of many aft cockpit boats, which gives people a feeling of security and is especially popular with parents who have small children. Having gunwales all around usually offers good bracing for your feet when heeling over, too.

You’ll find center cockpit sailboats with all different sorts of rigs – ketches, cutters, and sloops – and in every size range. There are even some small center cockpit day-sailors which only have a stowage area and deck aft of the cockpit. Most, however, are large enough for substantial cruising. As a result, they also commonly feature lots of tankage, full galleys, and beamy hulls that are usually designed to maximize interior volume as opposed to maximum sailing performance. That said, there are a few out there which are designed to sail fast and have a bit less room belowdecks. Whatever type of sailing you do, there’s probably a center cockpit sailboat made to match.