Designing a cockpit for bluewater fishing, inshore fishing and other watersports.
For me, the cockpit is the space that offers the best opportunity to express a quintessentially Kiwi approach to vessel layout. In our view, it’s where many smaller passage-makers fall short, and is consistently the most personalised area of our Dickey Boats builds.
Embarking on a project like the Pacific 62, where the starting point is a blank sheet yet laden with numerous design inputs from day one, can be a complex journey. The design spiral begins with a set of parameters that need to be achieved, and from there, it's a matter of compromise or altering parameters, as achieving all desired outcomes can be a challenging feat.
Designing with vision
To illustrate the design process, consider a small open punt my son and I designed while working on a larger project.
We began with a clear, non-negotiable vision: both of us, at sea, fishing, each comfortably seated with a rod holder and cup holder nearby, enjoying a sunny day and a good catch. This vision, involving two comfortable seats on pedestals, two rod holders, and two cup holders, became the heart of our design, from which everything else evolved. We were prepared to alter other parameters before compromising that vision.
The Pacific 62
For the Pacific 62, the cockpit is the core. We began with a volume in mind, not an actual layout. The Semifly 45 we build has a cockpit that allows us to customise and modify it to suit various entertaining, boating, and fishing needs, and it remains generous yet connected to the rest of the vessel, even when only a couple is on board.
Although it seems like an easy starting point, for a vessel that relies so much economy as a key value proposition, the cockpit is beamier than our target beam-to-length ratio.
This conundrum necessitated some out-of-the-box thinking, and we devised a plan to keep the waterline narrow, have a secondary chine up the vessel, pull the topsides wider as we come out of the water in the aft sections only, and then pull it back in as we come up to the coaming. Now, we have a design that provides the space without detracting from other parameters.
Swim Platform: A balancing act between fishing and watersports
The swim platform is, for me, the first part of the cockpit. It's a tough one - for game fishing - all fishing in actuality - I'd prefer not to have a swim platform – but for everything else, it adds a lot of enjoyment and functionality.
We didn’t take long to decide that it was required for our boat. As a family, we spend a lot of time in the water, and access to the boat in the water is crucial when considering surfing, diving, foil-boarding, etc.
The railing is minimal, and we've installed the boarding ladder in the centre of the boat. It’s a small thing, but the centre of the boat is the most comfortable place to board in any sort of seaway, and the ladder can also be deployed easily from in the water. To improve backing down on fish, we've angled the base of the swim platform and covered the structure so that when reversing, we will get lift from the platform. I'm quite interested to see how this works as we don’t have a lot of draft in the stern and with our shallow shaft angle, the vessel should back up very cleanly with the platform providing a bow of sorts to the stern.
Bait Station and Transom Doors: A Fusion of Functionality
From the swim platform, we've opted for two transom doors either side of our bait station.
The central bait station, something we've refined over many years in our other boats, works incredibly well. Even when not being used for fishing, it still accommodates several functions that are beneficial:
• Two large rubbish bins – a great place to have them, and easy access.
• Davit sockets so that we can install our davit system to lift items in and out of the Lazarette storage.
• A practical benchtop that is great for loading the boat or working on things that are not kind to the sole or gunnels such as a rusty cray pot, or oily/dirty containers.
• The essentials - a live bait tank / wet locker with incorporated are four tuna tubes.
• Fresh water and raw water outlets and hose storage.
Inside the Cockpit: A Space of Transformation
Once inside the cockpit, it really becomes a space that can be configured in many ways.
We've kept ours simple, and I like space I can transform depending on what we are doing. While there are not many use cases we don’t want to cater for, designing for everything results in a layout that is too busy.
Our strategy at Dickey Boats is to use percentages to work out the top 80% use-cases.
We have a head in our cockpit – I'm not a huge fan as it takes up space and is not used very often but Tris did not want our kids running through the boat sandy and wet, so it became a non-negotiable. I did come around eventually and think it was a good idea to have a complete secondary black water system on long-range vessel. I also can see some advantage in wet storage.
Seating, BBQ, and Storage: A Considered Approach
We always wanted a seating area and a BBQ under the wheelhouse overhang. It is part of the Semifly 45 cockpit that was a success from day one. Additionally, we need to incorporate workshop access while maintaining the flow into the wheelhouse.
The BBQ is pushed away from the bulkhead and midships. You walk outboard to the flip-up seat that opens to provide access to the workshop. The seat over the workshop access is also at the same height as the seating in the dining area maintaining consistency through the spaces.
Aft of the BBQ, there is the back cockpit seat where we can fit three people. There will be a table fitted aft of this, and it may be fixed or removable.
There is a lot of different types of storage. Overhead for fishing rods. The Lazarette storage bins for all sorts from dive gear to spare parts.
We will have a storage bin just for deep dropping. One for sword fishing. One may be thermal gear stored while we are in the tropics. In another area, we will be storing coolers for fishing.
I have opted away from built-in kill tanks as they require constant maintenance and cleaning, preferring coolers with ice as they are easy to clean and eventually replace.
Flooring and Interior Finishes: Aesthetic and Functional Decisions
The final flooring choice has not been easy.
In almost all our vessels, we use Flexi-teak. It is a fantastic product that gives the look and feel of real teak but none of the environmental negatives. The light weight and lack of maintenance are huge positives.
However, on the Pacific 62, we were not sure it would achieve the overall lift we were looking for and wondered if it may look out of place with the decking products on the bow and roof, wheelhouse, and cockpit.
I will save the rest of this conversation for another day, but we are sticking with Flexi teak. A lot of other areas are going to be quite different.
Another aspect that we are exploring is bringing some of the interior finishes into the cockpit a little more than usual to soften the space and connect it with the interior.
In some vessels, we exaggerated the difference between the cockpit and the wheelhouse but in this vessel, I would like to see some balance.
We achieve it well in our Semifly range and I’m looking forward to exploring our options with the Pacific 62!