The cockpit design is the most critical aspect of a sailboat.
Without a doubt the safety and comfort of the crew is a key element in the ability of a sailing yacht to go long distances. Fatigue is the major factor in accidents and navigational errors aboard boats. Experienced cruisers know that 90% of daylight hours in the tropics are spent in the cockpit. Therefore, the ability to sit, lean, lay and stand comfortably must be designed into a cockpit. The seats must have seatbacks high enough to support a person's back in a normal sitting position. The distance between the cockpit seats must be less than 30" so a person can brace themselves easily with their legs when the boat heels. The "Tee" shaped cockpits on the Shannon 43 and 47 have raised wings on the aft side of the fore and aft seats that provides another transverse seat back to sit and lounge while facing forward. The cockpit sole at the helm is angled to create a level place when the boat is heeling. The helm seat is curved to prevent slipping when heeled. The entire cockpit on Shannon's is surrounded by strong, high coamings to protect the crew from boarding seas.
There are no walk-throughs in the cockpit or transom to compromise the integrity and safety of the boat and crew. Opening up the aft end of a cockpit for a walk-through to the transom for swimming is fine for a yacht sailed in sheltered waters, but the potential danger to the crew in offshore sailing from following seas is considerable.
The cockpit designs on all Shannons incorporate a method of launching an emergency life raft without having to leave the safety of the cockpit.
Shade from the harmful effects of UV have to be a priority for any cockpit design. There are several bimini designs for owners to choose from. Finally, there must numerous scuppers to safely drain the cockpit.
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