The cockpit is ground zero, where the anglers and crew share fame, fortune and those heart-stopping adrenaline rushes when the fish of a lifetime decides to eat. However, the basic layout of the cockpit and its features are essential to success, starting from the sole up. Teak decking provides sure-footedness and reduced glare, but a grippy molded fiberglass or painted sole is fine too. Take a close look at the deck itself: Hatch pulls and hinges need to be flush, easy to grab, and pose no threat to snagging lines or leaders, or of stubbing toes. Locking hatch pulls and thick gasket material are indicators of a thoughtful design, protecting the interior contents against air and water intrusion. Gas struts enable the hatches to remain open on their own while protecting against jammed fingers and hands; hatch gutters should be wide and deep enough to remove water quickly, and all drains should be directed overboard, never into the bilge. Equally important, a cockpit sole needs a modest crown to sluice water to thirsty-size scupper drains and ship it directly overboard. This is critical: A well-designed cockpit should drain water quickly and easily.