When I yesterday took our new Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 from the rigger and sailed her for the first time, I had a small but very intense moment of enlightenment. It´s not a big deal, but I thing it´s a deciding detail and with it comes an insight in how modern cockpit layout is changing dramatically the perception of sailing these days. I want to talk sheet-mumble in the cockpit, which – at least for the greater part of a sailing trip – is a thing of the past.

Sheet mumble-jumble after getting the sails hoisted

See the picture above: That´s the salad of sheets and ropes on starboard side after hoisting mainsheet (inmast furling) and the Genoa. So here we have the two sheels, the outhaul-line, the main reefing line, the sheet-lead line for the Genoa and God knows which other lines. I took this picture right after I hoisted the sails.

New cockpit layouts and design feature details

Well, that´s the downside of having a modern cockpit layout: In the attempt to have all sheets and lines running aft to the helmsman so that he may be in full control of all lines (so that guests in the cockpit bench-area aren´t bothered by any ropes) the mumble-jumble of coloured lines immediately after a manoeuvre is inevitable. But, here´s the new thing …

That´s a clever idea: The sheet bag

With our Oceanis 46.1 – and on many new generation sailing yachts too – there are design features which may sound small or secondary, but they are not. They aren´t “fashion”, quite the opposite is the fact. One of these features is the “dedicated rope bags” on the Oceanis 46.1 which is an option on this boat but surely one that a real sailor will want to have. All sheets and lines, after getting coiled up loosely, will be placed in here nice and neatly.

Now that´s what I call a clean neat cockpit!

The rope bag is then “closed” by a folding GRP-lid that itself is as well an extension of the seating area of the cockpit. The great thing about it is that now the sheet ends disappear and are stowed nice and clean. Not just for the eyes the cockpit is now free of any jumble but in normal sailing, when trimming the sails and adjusting to changing courses and wind angles, the sheets can be left like this.

A praise for the new generation of sailing yachts

I found this practical demonstration of this small but deciding detail very convincing. That´s a real learning that modern yacht design especially in production boats is not always found on fashion, trends and fancy stuff but can as well have a solid foundation and put a real gain in sailing comfort for the skippers and the crew.

Clean deck: All running rigging disappears

Of course one can argue that having all running rigging been covered by GRP is a fashion indeed and makes maintenance and quick response to broken lines et cetera even harder, but for the normal sailing procedures I find it very practical and reasonable to having it. For my part, yesterday I understood what modern cockpit design and layout of running rigging can profoundly change the perception of sailing for both skipper and guests for the better. Never seen such a clean cockpit when sailing before!

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