Layouts…arranging the interior spaces

There are as many variations in how the living space on a boat is apportioned as there are boat designers. To make it more confusing these layouts often are referred to by a speaker using the same names as we have used for boat types or hull types, like downeast, or trawler. I will discuss four basic layouts, or configurations, each of which could appear on a full displacement, semi-displacement, or planing hull.

Jock Williams 38

1. This is typical of lobster style cruisers and downeast express. Accomodations forward, followed by an enclosed or open sided helm deck, and an open cockpit aft. They can be from 20 to 70 feet long, have one or multiple staterooms forward of the helm with a galley on the same deck (galley down), an open or enclosed main salon on the helm deck, possibly with a galley (galley up), and  a cockpit of varying size. They may or may not have a flybridge. All of the downeast style boats fit into the configuration. Modern sportfish convertible yachts are a variation of this, although there are lots of folks in New Jersey and North Carolina who might disagree.


2. This is what many think of as a trawler layout because of its popularity on the Grand Banks 36 and 42, and their multiple imitators. Forward and aft staterooms with their own heads; a raised deckhouse, galley and salon amidships; and usually a flybridge on top of that. Larger versions may have a galley down in lieu of a second stateroom. Both the Grand Banks 42 in the Trawlers section, and the Newman 46, shown here, utilize this configuration. A feature is usually ample side decks and railings making it easy and safe to walk around.

Grand Banks 43EU

3. This is what Grand Banks and others have called the "Europa" layout, although I don't know why. It starts out as a #1 and carries the salon further aft, extends the pilothouse roof over the aft cockpit, and features a large upper deck & flybridge. It also picks up the walkaround feature of the second configuration. The best designs feature a single level from the helm through the salon and out onto the covered aft cockpit.

Classic downeast boats give away little to the side decks, resulting in a narrow walkway which requires hanging on to a handrail on the coach roof or cabin side while transiting from the cockpit to the foredeck. This is not a lot of fun as one ages and disconcerting trying to keep children or grandchildren on board. The Europa style combines the aft cockpit of downeast boats, the big flybridge, and side decks with sturdy rails. Side decks are crucial for many older buyers and anyone with a young family.

Cropped Profile 1

The beamier downeast style express yachts like Sabre and Grand Banks Eastbay provide for just enough space to walk around with robust handrails outboard to contain the less acrobatic, but do not continue the railings around the transom like a Europa, instead you step down into the cockpit.

To the right is a nifty small yacht in the Europa configuration, The Albin 36 Express Trawler. By placing the engine all the way aft with a vee drive transmission, a second small stateroom is tucked under the main salon. A lot of positive features: big flybridge/boat deck, big salon for its size, wide and safe side decks, and covered "back porch." This boat is just 33 feet to the transom, it is called a 36 because the hull continues under the swim platform. The owners are so fond of the features that they are currently looking for a larger Europa style yacht.

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4. Another frequently seen layout that has the spaces in roughly the same order of the Europa is the raised pilothouse, which often provides more space for engines and other machinery beneath the pilothouse. The Nordic Tug pictured previously is an example, as is the Loon Point to the left, a personal favorite of mine. She is a custom steel design by Scott Sprague, built in Washington in 1986. I have saved this picture from her 1999 listing, photographer unknown. I have a set of study plans I pull out from time to time.

The Nordhavn 46 in the passagemaker group is basically this layout with the pilothouse further aft. I think the great advantage of these boats is the extra room in the machinery spaces. There isn't much room for a flybridge if that is important, and the pilothouse isn't a continuous part of the social spaces.

© Peter Bass 2013-19