Can lines in the cockpit be avoided?
Yes they can, but in our opinion, lines in the cockpit are necessary with the servo pendulum gear and the disadvantage is very slight. Keep in mind that with the Monitor doing all the steering you do not spend much time at the helm where the lines are! You only do it when you set or change the course. You spend most of the time at more convenient places - at the navigation station, in your bunk, in the galley or under the dodger.
It pays to spend some time figuring out the best line arrangement. Tiller installations can be arranged with a flip over tiller that can face aft when the Monitor is steering and free up the cockpit completely. Lines to the wheel normally come in from one side only and leave the other side open. They can also go along the cockpit floor and up along the pedestal to the wheel. We recommend that both lines have a break and are tied together with a "Monitor special" knot as illustrated in the Manual (almost like a truckers hitch). This will make it very easy to remove and coil the lines when you are in port. More importantly, you will have an easy way to adjust tension for different conditions.
We strongly advise against going into the lazarette hooking the lines up directly to the quadrant or a short tiller under deck. On a normal tiller installation the pendulum lines should be attached 20– 30 inches from the rudder shaft. If you go inside the lazarette you might find room for a 10–12 inch long tiller but obviously you cannot steer a big boat with such a short tiller. In order to get enough power you would have to include some sort of purchase system. If you add a myriad of blocks you will introduce a lot more friction which is bad for performance. You also use up valuable storage space and operation of the vane will probably be difficult.
We experimented with this idea some years ago. It is easy to install horizontal blocks at the bottom of the legs on the Monitor frame. Instead of leading the lines through the frame they went straight forward through small holes in the transom directly to the quadrant. Lines in the cockpit were eliminated but performance and ease of operation were compromised.
It can sometimes be advantageous to use the blocks at the bottom of the legs and go straight forward to the bottom of the pedestal. We would only recommend this if the bottom of the Monitor legs are, more or less, at the same level as the cockpit floor.
This is easy if the boat has an open transom, but if you have to go through the transom we suggest that large diameter PVC tubes be glassed in and double as cockpit drains (you cannot have too many of these). The lines would then go up along the pedestal and attach to the Monitor wheel adapter.
Minimum friction with a total of 4 blocks, two at the bottom of the legs of the Monitor and two at the wheel adapter.
Will you still get good performance on a center cockpit boat with much longer lines to the cockpit?
A quote from a customer will answer this question:
"I especially wanted to mention that our original concern of the distance of the lines running from the binnacle in our cockpit to the Monitor, a run of 15 feet, is not a problem. We couldn't be happier."
Barbara Dresslar, Silver Dancer, TYLER 42
The boat with the most impressive Monitor record might be with the 50 ft AIRCO, which is a center cockpit boat.
The boat was called AIRCO when Mike Plant won the 1987 BOC. It finished two more BOC races under different boat names and with different skippers - SPIRIT OF IPSWICH/Josh Hall and JIMRODA/Niah Vaughan. In addition the boat and the same Monitor have crossed the Atlantic 14 times and we are still counting. Light air performance would have been somewhat better if the boat had an aft cockpit. In strong winds there is no difference.
Mike Plant Skipper of Airco Distributor, 50ft. center cockpit boat:
"Every one always asks about the downwind performance and my answer is always this: Airco Distributor's best 24 hour mileage was 240 miles and this happened during the qualifier when the boat was not equipped with an electric autopilot. To average 10 knots a 50 footer has to spend a good deal of time surfing. The Monitor obviously performed well under these conditions, the proof is in the mileage."
We have many center cockpit installations with excellent performance.