The images on this page are from the Raku 44 and the 48. The same design details will be applied to the Raku 52, and possibly to the Raku 40 as well.
The cockpit is the nerve centre of a cruising cat. It's the centre of activity when you're sailing, when you're socializing, when you're just relaxing, and it has to serve a complex range of functions. Designing a cockpit layout that does justice to all of those functions is a complex task.
Some boat owners like the helm station forward on the cabin bulkhead, others prefer it further aft, close to the traveller controls on the aft beam and to the side of the main seating area in the cockpit. So for Raku we initially offered two options. But each of those options involves compromise. Just deciding which layout is the preferred option is a complex task in itself.
We decided to take a close look at what the respective compromises are, and to see if there was a better solution. We identified a list of nine important functions and features that we wanted to incorporate in the cockpit layout. The result was a lot of analyzing and experimenting; testing of new ideas and tossing out of old ones. Eventually a completely new cockpit layout for the larger catamarans in the Raku range emerged. The new layout ticks all of the boxes in our nine point list and the Raku cats now have just one standard cockpit arrangement.
Sail Controls for minimum friction, minimum hardware, minimum cost and weight.
An efficient layout for the sail controls with less hardware and less corners to negotiate has three significant advantages. Less hardware to buy and fit, less weight, and less friction. Sail controls coming aft from the mast on Raku make only one 90˚ turn. There is allowance for two halliards or reefing lines each side, and additional controls for the sheet for the self tacking jib to starboard. Dagger controls and furling lines come directly back to clutches along the outboard deck edge and the screecher sheets through organizers to the primary winch in the cockpit.
One of the goals for the new cockpit layout for the Rakus was to optimize the ergonomics and functionality in the cockpit without compromising the cabin space below decks. Keeping the raised helm station while moving it aft from the bulkhead was key to achieving this. We've gained headroom over the berths and a more spacious feel in the aft cabins.
Berth widths are 1.44 metres at the base of the mattress in the 44 and slightly wider in the 48. The inboard side splays out quickly above berth height. In the starboard cabin we've moved the berth back from the bulkhead 500mm to create more between the berth and the centre bathroom. In the port cabin the berth is right up to the bulkhead.
Coaxing airflow through the cabin is an important factor in getting a good night's sleep in the tropics. Unless you have the power reserves to run air conditioning all night the best strategy is to place a deck hatch as far forward in the cabin as possible, locate it outboard of the cabin so it catches the breeze, and provide an exit at the aft end of the cabin to draw the air through.
The Raku cockpit layout places the helm station high enough for good all round visibility, but also in close proximity to the mainsheet and traveller controls without creating congestion in the general seating area of the cockpit.
We probably spend more time socializing or relaxing in the cockpit than we do sailing, and so the layout of the seating and access points is critical to encourage social interaction without impeding flow through the cockpit and serving as a functional space while sailing.
The width of the cockpit seats can be adjusted to the owner's preference. Options are provided for the width of the companionway doors allowing for a good deal of flexibility in the layout of the saloon and cockpit spaces.
A good cockpit arrangement provides space for stowage of buckets, ropes, lifejackets and other medium sized items. It should also provide spaces for an icebox or freezer, a BBQ or grill (which may be removable for stowage), and a trash locker. Lastly one or more lockers reasonably well protected for smaller personal items such as sun glasses, caps, sun screen and cell phones.
The aft beam below is a Barefoot 40 catamaran.
Dieter Rams is renown for his Ten Principles of Good Design. Principle number 10 - "involves as little design as possible".
It's a nice idea and sometimes the solutions just fall into place. However in my experience solutions to complex design problems start out with a collection of workable ideas that look untidy and cluttered. The hard work is in fitting all the elements together in a fashion that doesn't look forced or unresolved.
A good solution to a complex design problem should look like an obvious solution and an observer should wonder how it could have been an effort at all.
For Raku we use beams under the cabin top to avoid the need for support columns and encourage an uncluttered look and feel from on off board viewpoint as well as onboard.
Mechanical items like tiller link bars stay below decks for a clean look.
The number of corners and angles are kept to a minimum and we've used clean lines and open spaces wherever possible to encourage a spacious feel in the cockpit.
We keep the cockpit open to the transoms for easy access when you're boarding or loading supplies, and to make access to the dinghy or the swim deck easy while you're cruising. . We have to take care of floor levels to ensure there is no chance of a collision between your head and the cockpit shade roof.
Fast and easy access to the foredeck is also important, and that access should not include the possibility of hitting your head on the cabin roof as you step up out of the cockpit as you go forward. There's a step for forward access just below the hatch in the aft face of the aft cabin bulkhead.
The Raku cockpit arrangement allows us to fit an efficient mechanical link steering mechanism that doesn't intrude on the sleeping space in the aft cabins.
The steering equipment is totally enclosed below deck with the link bar connecting port and starboard helms through the aft beam,
The standard helm shown is 800mm diameter. There is space for a wheel up to 900mm diameter.
Rudder bearings, tillers and drag links are all readily accessible for maintenance through a locker in the top step.
We've used Jefa components to build the steering system.
At the end of the cockpit design process we came up with a couple of advantages that were not on the list of required design, features but which were enabled by the new geometry.
One of them was a reasonably practical and simple way to extend the area under shade while on anchor or at the marina dock.
Here's a quick concept for a way to extend the area under shade in the cockpit of the Raku catamarans. The frame can be alum. alloy or carbon tubes which can be stowed in separate tubes or stirrups mounted under the cabin top. For assembly the two main tubes fit into sockets in the cabin top are joined by an elbow with sockets. The frame may need a vertical support at the outer corner depending on the stiffness of the tubes and the depth of the sockets.
The cover can slide into a track in the side of the cabin top and be attached to the tubes with velcro loops. The frame can also support clears down to the deck to further protect the cockpit from sun and rain while at anchor. Strip it all down and pack it up in just a few minutes and you’re sailing again.