NINE POINTS TO BETTER COCKPIT DESIGN FOR THE RAKU CATS


The images on this page are from the Raku 44. The same design details will be applied to the Raku 48 and 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. 

 



COCKPIT FEATURE 1 - A BETTER LAYOUT FOR SAIL CONTROLS

 

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.

 

COCKPIT FEATURE 2 - ACCOMMODATION BELOW DECKS

The accommodation space in the aft cabin is affected to a large extent by the arrangement of the seating in the cockpit, which in turn is heavily influenced by the helm location. With the new arrangement we carefully located the helm and the seating arrangements with a view to maximizing the headroom over the sleeping spaces in the aft cabins.


COCKPIT FEATURE 3 - FLOW THRU VENTILATION IN THE AFT CABIN

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.Side decks on Raku 44 are wide enough to fit a Size 50 deck hatch.

4. HELM STATION WITH GOOD VISIBILITY AND ACCESS TO SAIL CONTROLS

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.



5.COCKPIT SEATING THAT WORKS FOR SOCIALISING, LAZY LIVING AND SAILING

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 seats are organized in a "U" configuration and there is ample space for the saloon table to be moved out into the cockpit for open air dining.


6. COCKPIT REFRIGERATION, COOKING, STOWAGE

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 can be removable, 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.


7. STYLING, FEEL, LESS DESIGN IS BETTER DESIGN

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 any 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.


8. EASY ACCESS IN AND OUT OF 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.

 



9. PATHWAYS FOR STEERING MECHANISM.

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.