Gary Bell on the TrawlerWorld Power Cat mailing list recently brought up an idea concerning craft design that really hits home with me…

Just my opinion here, but it is based on many happy hours — and a few unhappy moments — boating in various boats with just the Admiral and similarly boating with guests aboard. You will find that whenever you are there all your guests immediately visit the pilothouse and never leave. I suggest that you design gracious pilothouse guest seating for five. When underway with just your Admiral aboard, a cozy one guest pilothouse might be just dandy. If you go that route, I very strongly suggest a great intercom, so you can summon help when someting gets sticky, or at least you can get a cuppa without abandoning the helm. However, with guests — like say two couples along for a boat ride — they are all going to absolutely insist on hanging out wherever you are. Recall how everybody follows the host/hostess into the kitchen at a party, strategically stationing themselves directly in front of the stove, sink, oven, refrig. and liquor locker? If ya banish yer guests to the saloon fer that three hour cruise ya just might hafta face a scurvy buncha mutineers. Lead by the Admiral!

I agree… people want to socialize together. Even if its just your family that’s cruising with you. I anticipate 3 of us (wife and child) for the most part, with the occasional short term guest. We’re not looking to be passagemaking (would love to, but not soon)… these will be river and coastal cruises. Lots of things to look at. People chatting, looking, pointing out the sites, etc. For this we need the conn and some seating "all together".

As much as I like the Dutch Barge look, I’m thinking that their true background of cargo carrying, which leads to the lower, less windowed cabins, will lead to unhappiness at not being able to see out. Maybe I’m wrong, and that I would never want to look out from anywhere but the wheelhouse, but I don’t think so.