A deck saloon yacht is just a sailboat with big windows, right? Wrong. While many sailing yacht builders may have you believe that adding a higher coachroof with bigger windows and putting ‘DS’ at the end of a model name is enough for a boat to qualify as a ‘deck saloon’, there’s actually a lot more to it than that.
A true deck saloon yacht has its saloon at deck level – the clue’s in the name. Sitting in the saloon, you should be able to look out at the world around you, which you can’t do in many so-called deck saloon yachts.
Some manufacturers are a bit more honest, calling their yachts ‘raised saloon’ instead. But while the saloon is slightly raised, it’s not raised to deck level. You still go down a companionway to get to the saloon, rather than just stepping straight in through a door.
A true deck saloon, like ours, is at exactly the same level as the cockpit, giving you the great inside/outside feel that you get on a cruising catamaran but with one spacious hull instead of two narrow ones. A real deck saloon has many benefits as we explain in this article.
A deck saloon offers a far better view
Would you expect a waterside holiday home to have windows so small you can’t see out of them? Neither would we. Yet many sailors have come to accept that seagoing yachts should have small windows. On traditional boats, in good weather most people prefer to sit in the cockpit, but as it gets cooler in the evening or it starts to rain, they have to climb down into the saloon. Many boats have no saloon windows at all. Some do have a few through-hull windows, but they are never at the right height for everyone to have a good view out, and being so low down, if you’re in a marina the only view you’ll get is of another boat’s topsides a few feet away, blocking out most of the light.
It’s even worse if you’re anchored somewhere nice. Outside there could be a pod of dolphins, an amazing aurora borealis or sea eagles plucking their dinner from the surrounding waters, but no one in the saloon would see it. Your yacht can take you to new lands and beautiful anchorages, and if you can’t see them it does beg the question, what’s the point in going there?
On a Sirius there are large saloon windows in every direction, giving you an uninterrupted 360-degree view out. Everyone gets a commanding view over the bay, harbour or anchorage whether they’re two metres tall or just a toddler.
But it’s not just in ports and anchorages that a deck saloon excels. It’s also better at sea. Whatever the weather or the temperature outside, you get the same view as you would from the cockpit, day or night. Whether you’re cooking in the galley, navigating at the chart table or just relaxing on a comfortable settee, you still get to admire the seascape (and keep a lookout) at the same time.
Steer from inside like you’re in pilothouse
To take full advantage of the warmth and shelter that a deck saloon provides, some Sirius owners have a second, inside helm installed at the chart table. There is a slight downside, the wheel does take up space, but it’s an option worth considering if you have long rivers or narrow channels to transit every time you go sailing. For most customers, however, we fit autopilot and engine controls at the chart table which allows you to steer from inside without needing a wheel. A small rotary knob on the autopilot display is used to correct the course by a degree or switch to “Power Steering” mode to steer the rudder directly giving “fly by wire” control.
You can also keep safe and warm at night and keep watch from inside. You can alter course, use the radar or chartplotter, make a coffee or snack and keep a good lookout in all directions while keeping safe and warm. No other yachts’ cockpit and position offer such a clear view around when sailing as the saloon of a Sirius looks out under the sails. When you do need to go out into the cockpit, to trim the sails, it’s just a few steps behind you.
It’s worth noting that glass deck saloon windows give a much clearer view forward than a sprayhood, except perhaps when the sprayhood is folded down or brand new. On a Sirius, even when sitting in the cockpit you get a crystal-clear view forward, looking straight through the deck saloon and under the genoa when sitting sheltered and low in the cockpit, and easily above when standing up or sitting on the coaming.
Safety and strength of our deck saloon
Many sailors still have an old-school view that large coachroof windows and through-hull windows on yachts are unsafe. There was some truth in that 30 years ago but materials and bonding technology have moved on since then. It may still be a valid concern for yachts that aren’t engineered for all-weather ocean cruising but the hull windows on a Sirius are literally bulletproof. Build quality, strength and safety are at the forefront of everything we do. The adhesive we use for our windows is the same as you’ll find in aeroplanes and helicopters. As good as a deck saloon is, we would not build this type of yacht if there were even the slightest concern about its strength or safety.
Our deck saloon windows are made from toughened security glass. They are up to 10mm thick, bonded with an areospace-grade adhesive and through-bolted in aluminium frames with hundreds of 6mm bolts. The recess the windows sit in is a 25mm wide part of the GRP deck, and the inner aluminium frame overlaps by the same distance. The only way to break our windows is to use a sharp pointed hammer (like you find in buses and trains), but even then you’d struggle to break them.
The same goes for the hull windows and large door between the deck saloon and cockpit of any Sirius yacht. It’s made from the same bulletproof material used for police and military cars. Unlike armoured vehicles, though, we use even thicker 12mm special-coated polycarbonate! It is, by the way, the material one would use to build shutter blinds to make windows and companionways safe for ocean passages on older yachts.
Many Sirius yachts have crossed oceans and none of them have ever had any problems with the strength of their windows or doors, even in the most extreme conditions.
Protection from the weather
How often have you been cold and wet while sailing? On a deck saloon yacht you don’t have to endure chilly wind or heavy rain, you can sit in the saloon with the heating on. You may enjoy the wind in your hair and the spray off the waves hitting you in the face and that’s great. But with a Sirius, you also have the choice to come in out of the cold whenever you want to. Helming doesn’t have to be an endurance competition, you can steer from inside instead. And when you do venture out into the cockpit, to trim the sails, for example, you can find a heater outlet in the wet locker that keeps your oilskins and boots warm and dry.
Having a warm, enclosed deck saloon enables you to sail further, for longer, as well as increasing the length of your sailing season. Because you’re not tired, you’ll make fewer mistakes and you don’t have to choose between navigating and keeping a lookout – you can sit at the chart table and do both at the same time.
If you’re worried about large windows overheating the saloon in strong sunlight, we do offer the option of sunshades and blinds but in reality, because our yachts are so well insulated (up to 80mm in the roof of the deck saloon), they don’t tend to get too hot or cold. We can also install air conditioning so that whatever the temperature outside, inside will be the temperature you want.
Deck saloon yachts have a more sociable layout than conventional yachts. If someone doesn’t want to be on deck, on a conventional yacht they have little choice but to either sit in the companionway or go down below. Once out of sight, they feel left out. Our deck saloon is on the same level as the cockpit and all that separates those inside from the rest of the crew is a large doorway and windows.
Deck saloons make great family boats. While the grown-ups are out in the cockpit the kids can be inside in the deck saloon, or vice versa. When it gets cooler and everyone wants to be inside, there’s more than enough room for the whole family to sit comfortably around the saloon table and everyone has a good view out. The layout of a deck saloon is simply much more versatile for family life on board, whether it’s morning, noon or night and whether you’re sailing, in port or anchored.
More living space
Because our deck saloons are a bit higher than most others, you get lots of useful extra living space beneath them. On many so-called deck saloon yachts, there isn’t enough headroom under the saloon so the space beneath it is effectively wasted. On a Sirius you can have a large midships cabin here, a workshop, an office or even a sauna! A true deck saloon has accommodation on two levels, increasing the typical floor space by 4-6㎡ (40-65sq ft), so you get a lot more interior for the length of boat.
Many builders like to boost interior volume by increasing the yacht’s beam. This affects the handling of the yacht under sail. As she heels the immersed hull shape becomes unbalanced, causing unpleasant handling traits. Instead, by using a true deck saloon we can enlarge our yachts’ interiors even further while keeping a narrower, better balanced and more hydrodynamically efficient hull shape.
One-level living in our deck saloon
One of the unique features of Sirius Yachts is one-level living. While our yachts are built on several levels to give you more space and options, in all of the communal living spaces you share the same eye height. Only the private spaces, stowage and technical areas are down below. So whether you’re standing in the galley, lounging in the saloon, navigating at the chart table or sitting in the cockpit, everyone is on the same level. No one feels higher or lower and it’s much easier to chat or just give a wave, a thumbs-up or a smile or see if help is needed. There’s no need to shout down the companionway or up from the galley.
Most boats aren’t laid out like that. Some have the galley tucked under the cockpit, others have the chart table there and the galley forward of the saloon, but at Sirius Yachts we believe everyone’s eye line should be at the same height. On a Sirius, when you finish making lunch you don’t have to climb a stepladder to serve it in the cockpit. Just a couple of safe, easy steps and your crew will get all you intended for them – without having to clean up what was spilt on the way out.
Some people worry about the height of a deck saloon above the waterline. With the saloon higher up than in a conventional yacht, doesn’t it amplify the boat’s motion at sea? It does, of course, but not by much – no more so than the cockpit. In a true deck saloon yacht, the saloon is at exactly the same level as the cockpit, and in fact both are significantly lower than the cockpit of a conventional yacht that has an aft cabin underneath. In centre cockpit yachts the cockpit is even higher. It’s also worth asking yourself what’s more likely to make you seasick: sitting in a bright and airy deck saloon with a clear 360-degree view of the horizon, or sitting down below in a saloon with no view at all, or just two tiny rectangles of sky and water?
Low centre of gravity
In general, Sirius Yachts have a much lower centre of mass than most comparable cruisers. We put all the heavy equipment and machinery low down and amidships, in the deep bilge right above the keel. Our huge main stowage spaces are down there too – in the workshop, beneath the bed in the midships cabin, under the sole in the galley. A low centre of gravity is important for several reasons: to minimise the boat’s pitching and rolling motion at sea, to help rather than hinder the righting moment of the keel, and to improve the boat’s performance (pitching slows you down). Most cruising yachts can’t lower their centre of gravity in this way because they only have a shallow bilge.
If a Sirius were to capsize, the extra volume and buoyancy of the deck saloon would make it very unstable while inverted and the yacht would right itself immediately
No negative stability
Unlike most other boats, there is no negative stability on a Sirius thanks to the shape of the deck saloon and decks. If a Sirius were to capsize, the extra volume and buoyancy of the deck saloon would make it very unstable while inverted and the yacht would right itself immediately. By contrast, many boats with a wide-beam hull and low coachroof – and all multihulls – are stable when inverted. When they capsize, they’re likely to remain upside down for a lot longer, or indefinitely in the case of a catamaran.
Try it for yourself
At Sirius, we specialise in deck saloon yachts and we’ve been building them for more than 30 years, much longer than other brands. We know they make the best cruising yachts because of all the advantages above, and we know we’ve got it right. If you’ve never sailed a true deck saloon yacht, contact us today and we can arrange to show you what you’ve been missing.