A classic cruiser gets upgrades that will keep it in the family for years to come
The more you sail your 1980 Morgan 382 the more you realize that there's no sound reason to spend big bucks on a new, or even newer boat. The handsome 382 is solidly built and does everything a more expensive boat would do, and it is paid for. Designed by Ted Brewer, the 382, and its slightly updated sister models the 383 and 384, were built during the waning days of Morgan Yachts, just before the company was purchased by Catalina. The boat is a study in moderation, and that is a good thing. The 382 does a lot of things well. Originally touted as a racer-cruiser, you use it primarily as a family cruiser these days. Yet with a moderate fin keel underbody and a generous rig the 382 is lively under sail and a pleasure to steer. It is also sure-footed in a blow, a good combination for the extended Down East cruise you're planning for next summer. Yes, it's time to spruce up the old boat and stow those new boat dreams awhile longer.
Like everyone else these days, you're monitoring your budget quite closely as you begin your winter retrofit project. The key to any retrofit is to prioritize your needs and your wants; you must honestly assess what's necessary and what is a luxury item. Safety and performance upgrades top your to-do list. Updating the rig and sail handling systems is definitely a priority.
Step one is to replace the standing rigging. Roger Underwood of Nance and Underwood Rigging and Sailmakers in Fort Lauderdale recommends changing the standing rigging every seven years, especially for saltwater boats. Underwood also suggests inspecting the chainplates, noting that crevice corrosion can render an otherwise shiny chainplate dangerously weak where it passes through the deck. Chainplates were an issue with the early 382s so you decide to change them out. Underwood can replace the backstay and shroud chainplates with duplicates made from 304 grade stainless for $300 apiece. The forestay is external and a visual inspection shows it to be in good shape. For the standing rigging, Underwood suggests using StaLok terminals on the lower wire ends which are subjected to immersion, and swage fittings for the upper ends. He also suggests using open body turnbuckles. His highly experienced riggers can complete the job in a day. The total cost for replacing the chainplates, the 1-by-19 wire, the terminal ends and the turnbuckles comes to $5,700. This upgrade represents a sizable percentage of your retrofit budget, however, there is nothing more important than making sure the mast support system is solid.
Having purchased new sails a couple of years ago, you forgo the desire for a new main and headsail. Instead you decide to add pieces that will make your sails easier to use and more efficient. The new Harken headsail cruising furling systems are very appealing: a nice mix of Harken quality and a very affordable price. Although these units are designed for owner installation, you decide to let Bob Pingel of Custom Line Splicing in Milwaukee do the job instead. Pingel has installed many of these systems and estimates the cost of the project, including the Unit 2 furler designed for boats from 35 to 46 feet, will be $3,000.
The next upgrade on your list is replacing your line-and-tackle vang with a Yacht Rod solid vang from Forespar. The medium unit is perfect for the 382 and can be ordered from Defender Marine for $479. The unit comes complete with Spectra line and more than doubles the purchase of your old 4:1 tackle. Adding the mast and boom fittings, the total cost including shipping is $775. This is a do-it-yourself job. Knowing that much of the passage to Maine and Nova Scotia will be a deep reach as you race before the prevailing southwesterlies, you realize that you need a whisker pole. Once again you turn to Forespar. You choose a heavy duty, two-section extendable aluminum pole with line control. The 13- to 14-foot model works well with the 382's J measurement. Fortunately you have a track and car on the mast already and only need to add Forespar's vertical mast chocks to stow the pole up the mast, making it easy to deploy. Total cost, $1,400, including shipping.
At this point you have spent just less than$11,000 but you have significantly improved the 382's rig and sail handling capabilities. Next you turn to safety items. A close inspection of your safety gear reveals that it needs updating. Although most of your summer voyage will consist of coastal and daysailing, there will be several open water passages. You need a life raft. You choose the Switik MD 1, a top of the line, six-person raft from an industry leader. This single tube model is designed for use on coastal voyages. It includes an international orange canopy and tough urethane-coated nylon inflation tubes. It also incorporates Switlik's ballast bags that help keep the raft upright in rough seas. Rafts are not cheap and you are happy to find a sale price of $4,100 through Directboats.com.
Should you ever need to deploy the raft you will need to transmit an emergency response. You order a 406 EPIRB from McMurdo/Pains Wessex through Defender Marine. You choose the fully automatic SmartFind model with a built-in GPS. It will transmit up to 48 hours continuously and will operate submerged to 33 feet, although hopefully you won't need this function. The cost is $900. You also decide to add an updated flare kit to your emergency bag, purchasing the Orion Offshore 25mm Alert Signal Kit. Finally you add a pair of pre-made 35-foot jacklines by Wichard to the order. Made with heavy-duty nylon strapping, they lay flat on the deck and are secured to through-bolted padeyes with stainless steel snap hooks and sell for $125.
Now that the boat is ready to perform, and the safety gear has been significantly upgraded, it is time for a few luxury items to make the summer trip more enjoyable. It is time to replace the refrigeration compressor. Your Waeco Adler Barber system has been very reliable over the years, however it is old and needs replacing. You like the simplicity of the Danfoss compressor and the ease of installation. It just does not make sense to replace the compressor and not the evaporator. You decide to purchase a complete new Super Cold Machine. This includes the Danfoss BD50 compressor and the large vertical enclosed evaporator. Because you will be sailing in cool climates, you do not include the optional water pump. With all the electrical bits and pieces the total cost is $1,400. You clear a day for the installation; it's a big job but not a complex one.
Finally you are ready to take a look at electronics. There are many intriguing gizmos available, but you know the item of most importance is the autopilot. For years you have coped with a wheel-mounted unit that is just adequate. It is time to bite the bullet and install a below-deck unit. You chose the well respected and widely used Raymarine unit. The autopilot comes in three main parts, the control head, the drive unit and the core pack, or course computer and fluxgate compass. To save space and money, you opt for the ST 6002 basic control head. You opt for the Type 2 linear drive unit, a little larger than necessary but it is the hardworking member of the team. Finally you opt for the SPX 30 core pack, which will be more than adequate for the 382's easily driven and balanced hull. This installation is a bit beyond your capabilities. You order the parts through your local boatyard, Spring Cove Marina in Solomons Island, Maryland. The total cost, including installation, is $5,500.
The final item is a new chartplotter. You have had good success with small Garmin handheld units and decide to stick with Garmin for a fixed-mount plotter. You chose the simple GSMAP420 plotter. It has 5.7-by-5-by-2.7 screen and the resolution is superb. It is preloaded with U.S. marine charts and can be updated with Garmin's BlueChart V2 Vision series charts offering 3-D and other amazing viewing options. The cost is $500.
Your retrofit is complete. You have spent just over $23,000. Yes, that is a lot of money to pour into an older boat, but the upgrades will pay dividends for years to come. The Morgan 382 is a very capable boat, but who knows, now that it is retrofitted for serious bluewater sailing, maybe an Atlantic crossing might be the next big summer project.