Boat Reviews

Getting Moody

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During the glory days of British boatbuilding, the Moody brand was always front and center. The yard, near the head of the iconic River Hamble on England’s south coast, began building workboats in the 1820s, branched into yachtbuilding in the 1930s, and remained in the Moody family’s hands until 2007, when the brand was bought by Hanse Yachts proprietor Michael Schmidt and the boatyard was sold to a marina group.

I sailed quite a few Moodys back in the 1990s and found them solid and competent, if somewhat unexciting, boats. The brand had a large, loyal and fairly conservative following, and you could almost hear a collective gasp when the first new Hanse-Moody design was unveiled—a radical-looking 45ft deck saloon cruiser, flamboyantly drawn by longtime Moody designer Bill Dixon. That was followed by a 62-foot version, as if to complete Moody’s metamorphosis from the cautiously conservative to the unapologetically avant-garde.

But it hasn’t proven easy to hang labels on the new generation of Moodys. The versatile Dixon took another tack altogether after the DS models, designing a handsome pair of cruisers with a big helping of retro flair. Moody aficionados unable to come to terms with the DS models have reportedly embraced the new 41 and 45 AC (Aft Cockpit) models, so it seems Moody has achieved the difficult feat of enthusing its core constituency while also broadening its appeal to a different kind of sailor.

The two AC boats share the same subtly powerful hull forms, with nearly plumb bows and lean forward sections leading to flared quarters. Styling is all but identical, with both boats showing long pronounced cabintops punctuated by oval ports, and Scandinavian-style fixed windscreens. The 9/10 fractional rigs can accommodate twin forestays—the outer (optional) carries a big overlapping genoa, the inner a self-tacking jib—and single-line reefing and backstay adjusters are standard. There is a choice of deep (6ft 6in) or shallow (5ft 5in) keels.

With a bewildering array of layout options, the 41 AC is almost a semi-custom boat. If you buy a 45 AC, on the other hand, you get to specify whether you want two or three staterooms, and that’s about it. Styling and trim belowdecks is understated, with a mix of light shades and solid and veneered teak imparting a traditional air to the accommodations.

A 45 AC and 45 DS will be on display at the major East Coast boat shows this fall, and they look like welcome additions to the ranks of Euro-imports.

Nautitech catamarans have had a low profile on this side of the Atlantic over the last few years, but a chat with owner Bruno Voisard revealed that the brighter economic outlook has got him contemplating another crack at the American market. He was excited about the yard’s latest boat, the Nautitech 441, which he thinks would do well here. Traditionally, Nautitechs have been built with twin wheels outboard of the cockpit to satisfy performance-minded owners. There is no doubt that helming from outboard stations is more rewarding, but Voisard knows full well that many people prefer a more protected helm. Hence the two versions of the new 44-footer—the 442 has twin wheels, and the 441 has a conventional single helm station in the cockpit. It is the latter boat that will be marketed in the States.

Although the boats are well fitted out with plenty of quality wood trim down below, weight saving is a priority. Composites clad in teak veneers are used extensively through the accommodations and the light-ship displacement is a whisker over 20,000 pounds, considerably less than some other cruising cats of comparable dimensions. Three- or four-cabin layouts can be specified and, with long-distance voyaging in mind, fuel and water tankage is generous. The latter can be replenished via a clever water catchment system built into the cabintop.

You would need a heart of stone not to be moved by the symphonic lines of the Sakonnet 23. This beautiful centerboard dayboat looks like it could have been built a hundred years ago, but it’s actually a comparatively recent design from Joel White, and nearly 80 have been launched. So why are we talking abut this boat in a column devoted to new designs? Well, the survival of such a pretty craft is all the excuse we need. For many years the Sakonnet 23 was produced by Massachusetts boatbuilders Edey & Duff, but when the yard closed its doors last year the molds were taken over by Marshall Marine, just down the road in South Dartmouth, MA. Marshall is best known for its catboats, which it has been building for a half-century, but thinks this shoal-draft daysailer will complement its range nicely. Not many sailors would disagree.

A carbon fiber wing mast carrying a big square-topped main is just what you’d expect on such a boat, and aside from a furling jib owners can kit the boat out with assorted sizes of gennaker and Code 0 sails. Vacuum-bagged composite epoxy/e-glass/foam construction keeps weight down to just over 1,500lb, and the boat folds for trailering, though you’ll have to keep an eye on where the 39ft-long mast is pointing.

Builder Oceanlake Marine wants to establish an international one-design racing class for this exciting speedster. Imagine how many races they’d be able to pack into an afternoon…

Like other European yards, Hanse Yachts has spent the last two years refreshing its line-up. The latest new boat from the prolific German builder is the Hanse 385, which succeeds the popular 370/375; over 1,000 examples of that model are on the water. A new hull with 20 per cent more volume than the 375 is the major difference between the two boats; the styling has been tweaked too, especially belowdecks, where there is more elbowroom all round and the dcor is aligned with that of the bigger boats in the range. The fractional rig with self-tacking jib, deep T-keel, clean deck layout and spacious cockpit are all Hanse trademarks.

And now for something completely different—a variant on the traditional/modern daysailer theme, this time designed in the USA and built in England. Maine-based firm Stephens Waring Yacht Design—who designed the W-class yachts—drew the Rapture 42 to appeal to “a gentleman sailor looking for high performance.” Well, that description fits a lot of us, I think.

Styling is bold, with a fixed sprit pointing the way for an aggressive axe bow, topsides that combine some purposeful flare with a pleasing amount of retro tumblehome, and an almost-flush deck skinned with teak. The shallow canoe body and deep-draft T-keel, driven by a lofty carbon fiber double-spreader fractional rig, promise good performance. Lines from the mast vanish under the deck to reappear by the large wheel, and the large cockpit will accommodate a healthy crew of daysailors.

The Rapture 42 is built in modern composites by Patterson Boatworks in the north of England. Interestingly, the boat’s public debut was not at a boat show, but at a supercar event near London.

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