Since the mid-1990 I have owned a number of small boats including a Devon Yawl, Cornish Shrimper, Cornish Crabber (Mk 1), Kingfisher 22+ (jink rig), Anderson 26 (lifting keeI), Golden Hind and Frances 26 (cutter). They all had their special qualities, but whether wood or GRP, not one had a particularly comfortable cockpit.
Having sailed Helene for a couple of months now, I have had time to compare, and I would say she wins the cockpit comfort competition hands down. But why is this?
The first thing I noticed was that I was orienting my body differently. With all the other boats I oriented side-to-side, usually with feet planted firmly on the opposite bench. This meant a 90 degree turn of the neck to get a good view forward. In contrast, with Helene I find I am much more likely to be oriented fore and aft. This seems to be facilitated by three things. First, the centre cockpit, which provides forward-facing support for the back at the right height. Second, that support is transformed into what I can only describe as ‘cosiness’ by the lovely curves of the cockpit combing at the aft corners, which very effectively cradle the back. Third, except in more blustery conditions, the helm is light enough to be easily controlled.
I wonder, is this also the experience of others who have spent more time than me in an Atalanta cockpit?