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Morris M46

2013 September 4

Here's a boat you can dream about owning from the Sparkman & Stephens design office and the Morris yard in Maine. That's not a bad pedigree. Again, we see another retro-styled yacht. If I were going for a sail on this 46-footer I'd wear my blazer and a tie like the old guys did. You might as well do what you can to complete the beautiful picture.

The D/L is 231, so by today's standards I would call this a moderately heavy design. I used to call a D/L of 250 moderate, but now I think 180 is closer to moderate. There is quite a bit of fore-and-aft rocker to this hull, as you would expect with more than 28,000 pounds of displacement on a 38 foot DWL. The big, spade rudder is tucked under the counter below the DWL to accentuate the overhang aft.

Distribution of beam is traditional with a nice svelte transom on a relatively narrow hull. The L/B is 3.89. If I were the picky type (oh right, I am) I might find a problem with the sheerline. The bow and stern shapes are fine, but the sheer that connects them is a bit awkward forward. Think of a nice classical piece of music, maybe a Haydn piano sonata. Towards the end of the movement Haydn sets your ears up for a comfortable resolution on a major D chord. But instead of a D major the pianist plays a D seventh chord. It works, kind of, but you sure weren't ready for it, and it does color the effect of the piece.

This interior layout is pretty much perfect. The build details are not quite strictly traditional, using a combination of styles including a pipe rail detail instead of a timber rail on the counters. I like it a lot. The galley is big with plenty of counter space on each side of the range. The reefer box is generous. The sink is inboard and handy so you can drop something down into it from the cockpit when you are busy. The aft cabin, with its large double quarterberth, has direct access to the aft head.

The only real compromise I see is that the nav station eats into the port settee. But the U-shaped dinette to starboard is spacious and has some nice corners for relaxing. My theory is that the human body seeks corners.

Forward of the port settee is a counter. Maybe it's a bar area, what the Australians call the "medicine locker." Forward of this there is a large head with a shower stall to starboard and locker space to port. The forward cabin has a centerline double flanked by small settees. Two couples will be in hog heaven on this boat.

"Dorothy, are you in hog heaven?"

"Yes dear."

The deck features a raised wedge forward of the mast to gain headroom below, but the effect is that of a flush deck forward. There is a big, flush skylight hatch over the forward cabin. The traditionally styled cabintrunk blends into a long, low coaming that wraps around the cockpit well short of the stern. This is an elegant look. The cockpit itself is ideal with long bench seats forward and high seat backs. I could nap there. There is a permanent centerline drop-leaf table forward.

Separating the forward part of the cockpit from the helm position is a short winch base where lines are led from under the deck. The wraparound helm seat is broad and the wheel diameter is large. I like a big wheel. It make me feel important and in charge. The pedestal for the wheel extends forward enough to provide a base for the mainsheet. The transom opens up with a hinged-step unit that makes a very nice swim step when deployed.

The tall, fractional, carbon rig has a SA/D of 18.18. There is a recessed track for the self-tacking jib. The boomvang and backstay are controlled by Navtec hydraulics. If you need some boost in light air you can fire up the Yanmar 53-horsepower engine with saildrive.

The promotional material is sprinkled with photos of the legendary old S&S yawl Dorade. Dorade is a boat that most sailors can only dream about ever seeing. I crewed on Dorade as a kid when the boat was owned by Franklin Eddy. It makes me feel old, and it makes me feel very lucky. The S&S heritage is very rich in countless fabulous designs. I look forward to seeing a Morris 46 in my area.