Sailboat Deck Layouts

I'm going to use the Outbound 46 as a base to write about optimal deck layouts for sailboats. Information that will help anyone to either select a good deck layout when buying a boat, or fix a screwed-up one on a boat they already have.

Good Deck Layouts Are Rare

That last sentence may surprise many since it would be logical to expect cruising sailboats to have good and functional deck layouts, but as an ex-sailmaker and longterm racer, the thing that never ceases to amaze me is that most boats, particularly those marketed as cruisers, come out of the yard with the rig and deck gear set up so poorly that actually sailing them is nothing but a huge chore, and it takes years for even a knowledgeable owner to sort things out—just read Colin's trials and tribulations with the rig on his Ovni 435 to see what I mean.

This is so bad that I'm pretty sure that the popularity of in-mast and in-boom mainsail furling systems is in large part because most boats are so poorly set up for reefing that owners have been scared off simple and robust systems and toward complex, fragile, and expensive ones.

I will also write, once more, about speed. I know, we are cruisers, so why do we care? Well, up to you, but to me if we are going to really cruise under sail, rather than just motor around with an oversized flag pole and occasionally unroll a sail attached to it as we see so often these days, we might as well do it properly.

Seriously, a well set-up boat, efficiently reeling off the miles under wind power alone, is one of life's sublime pleasures, and knowing that we can control the rig and shorten sail quickly and efficiently without automation or brute strength is the cherry on top.

Let's look at how to do that:

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  1. Six Reasons To Leave The Cockpit Often
  2. Don’t Forget About The Sails
  3. Your Mainsail Is Your Friend
  4. Hoisting the Mainsail Made Easy—Simplicity in Action
  5. Reefs: How Many and How Deep
  6. Reefing Made Easy
  7. Reefing From The Cockpit 2.0—Thinking Things Through
  8. Reefing Questions and Answers
  9. A Dangerous Myth about Reefing
  10. Mainsail Handling Made Easy with Lazyjacks
  11. Topping Lift Tips and a Hack
  12. 12 Reasons The Cutter Is A Great Offshore Voyaging Rig
  13. Cutter Rig—Should You Buy or Convert?
  14. Cutter Rig—Optimizing and/or Converting
  15. Cruising Rigs—Sloop, Cutter, or Solent?
  16. Sailboat Deck Layouts
  17. The Case For Roller-Furling Headsails
  18. UV Protection For Roller Furling Sails
  19. The Case For Hank On Headsails
  20. Making Life Easier—Roller Reefing/Furling
  21. Making Life Easier—Storm Jib
  22. Gennaker Furlers Come Of Age
  23. Swept-Back Spreaders—We Just Don’t Get It!
  24. Q&A: Staysail Stay: Roller Furling And Fixed Vs Hanks And Removable
  25. Rigid Vangs
  26. Rigging a Proper Preventer, Part 1
  27. Rigging a Proper Preventer—Part 2
  28. Amidships “Preventers”—A Bad Idea That Can Kill
  29. Keeping The Boom Under Control—Boom Brakes
  30. Downwind Sailing, Tips and Tricks
  31. Downwind Sailing—Poling Out
  32. Ten Tips To Fix Weather Helm
  33. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 1
  34. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 2
  35. Two Dangerous Rigging Mistakes
  36. Rig Tuning, Part 1—Preparation
  37. Rig Tuning, Part 2—Understanding Rake and Bend
  38. Rig Tuning, Part 3—6 Steps to a Great Tune
  39. Rig Tuning, Part 4—Mast Blocking, Stay Tension, and Spreaders
  40. Rig Tuning, Part 5—Sailing Tune
  41. 12 Great Rigging Hacks

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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