You have in my opinion asked one of the best questions I have seen on this forum for a long time. I have owned my pilot house for over a year and just beginning to appreciate all the benefits of the boat. I have always sailed smallish open cockpit boats, and remember being cold and wet in stormy weather on the Chesapeake when a forty-something would go by with the amber glow radiating from the cabin port lights and thinking "how nice would that be". Well that all came back to me the other day when sailing here on Charlotte Harbor, and was being shadowed by a Catalina 22 when we had a mild rainstorm. The four in the cockpit quickly turned into two, and I suppose the third was too embarrassed to leave the helmsman by himself. I just slid the window closed and watched from my nice dry seat in the cabin. Love this boat, but it's a waste to use just as a daysailor. It is a great little cruiser.
I had never considered a pilot house for myself, but having been forced to give up my Corsair 24 because she wouldn't fit within the maximum size limits of the marina where we are now, I had to find a suitable cruiser under 26 feet. This was my best choice for a boat capable of more than weekend cruising and really shallow draft. Keep in mind that 23 isn't big and there is a lot of accommodation in the cabin. My wife and I are of small stature, and I don't think this is a suitable boat for a tall person. It is also a bit too small to cruise with more than two. We use the quarter berth as a fantastic easy to get to storage area. I would think that the 27 would be a perfect platform for a pilot house big enough for tall folks or those that just need a little more elbow room.
I have yet to steer from the cockpit, no need. The visibility is far superior from the inside steering station as you are positioned much farther forward and higher. The ventilation is excellent and you are protected from the heat of the direct sun, as well as excessive UV radiation. While cruising I use the tiller pilot a lot to relax and watch the scenery or whatever else needed on longer stretches. The cabin isn't big, but well laid out and standing headroom with the exception of the V-berth. You don't feel crunched up or stuck in a confined area. There is plenty of light and ventilation in the cabin so it's a nice place to be while sailing, and the view is great. I like the table remaining in place so it's always ready. There is a good bit of storage under the steering station and under the sink. The built in drawer is perfect for dinnerware and cookware. I have installed a Sea Swing stove converted to propane for use while underway and have a two burner Coleman propane stove that fits perfectly on the platform for the steering station and use it when anchored.
As far as performance, well I hope everyone understands that these boats aren't designed as race boats, but how many people buy a Corvette to haul the family around in, it's more often a minivan that works best for that purpose. If you step back from the boat show bravado of how fast every boat is and focus on the really important aspects of a family boat you'll understand why so many people love their Com-Pacs. From the classic 16 on up, they all do what they were designed to do and do it well. This boat is no exception, being adapted from the well proven 23 hull, and a well thought out use of the pilot house it does what it is supposed to do with grace. As a cruiser, sailing on your ear isn't necessarily a high point, it makes you have to sit in odd places and spills everything on the floor. With the Deisel engine weight low and close to mid-ships instead of hanging on the transom you get a more balanced and stable boat. Keep in mind when comparing the 500 lb. difference in weight to the standard 23 outboard, it does not include the weight of the outboard motor, so the actual weight difference is less than first assumed. Because of the pilot house height the main is shortened by about a foot so the main has a bit less area compared to the standard 23. This has two advantages, the first being less tendency to heel over in a gust and less weather helm. The boat will still sail hull speed but with less heel. With the rig dimensions this is a boat very easily handled by one and sailed properly she will never go out of control. This is "low stress cruising in comfort". I will be adding a Tides Marine Strong Track system this spring to make the hoist from the cockpit easier and for the sail to fall into the Stack Pac without my having to go on deck. How much better can it get? They are not priced with the boat show beauties but earn their money on the water. If you have ever sailed some of these boats designed to attract buyers at boat shows, you will really appreciate the sailing manners of a well designed boat and the pilot house is no exception.
Yes, there are times when you would love a bigger boat, but in my case there are many more times that I enjoy the benefits of a small boat, and the pilot house is one more reason.
P.S. I have just removed the MSD and replaced it with a C-Head composting head and so far the results are really good. No smell, no pump out, no lugging a porta pottie, and no hauling around of dead weight in the holding tank. I think she is just about the perfect pocket cruiser - Hello Florida Keys and Bahamas.