Tom and Cuyler Morris appear to have two runaway bestsellers in their M 36 and 42 daysailer/weekender designs. So why are they building another cruising boat that has much of the styling that got them started in the boat-building business years ago? “It just seemed like the right thing to do,” says Tom Morris. Morris observes that while Europeans are surrounded by historic structures, they like to build modern-looking yachts; Americans, on the other hand, are comfortable tearing down old buildings, but prefer traditional-looking craft.
Morris and his son, Cuyler, have a special fondness for classically styled yachts whose modern hulls and rigs can take a family on coastwise trips, a race to Bermuda or Halifax, or a voyage around the world. Designer Chuck Paine has provided these designs for years, and he’s done it again with the new 42, a replacement for the company’s 40-footer. Call it a restatement of the Morris roots.
The Morris 42 is a classic cruiser/racer that will resonate with sailors who love traditional looks, but want modern performance and amenities. While the yacht is not a pure custom project, Morris always personalizes each boat it builds and can make changes to the underbody, rig, and power plant by request.
Belowdecks, the immaculate varnished teak is set off by areas of white paint; the overhead is made up of flawlessly varnished strips. While they look like individual wood strips, they are actually a single unit cut to look nearly indistinguishable from tongue-and-groove planks. While a yachtsman of 100 years ago would have been stunned by the modern materials and systems contained in this yacht, the general configuration and dcor would have looked as perfectly natural 100 years ago as it does today.
I sailed the second yacht built to this design, which has a double berth and a sink in the forward cabin, a settee and U-shaped dinette in the saloon, and a conventional nav station and galley. The aft cabin and head are similarly conventional except in the level of finish and detail.
The lockers are finished inside with cork or are left bare out to the hull. All overhead panels can be taken off in easily manageable sections to access the wiring runs and the underside of the deck. The same feature applies to the cabin sole, which can be completely removed to access all the bilge areas.
Because this boat’s owner requested a conventional shaft drive, the engine is located amidships. A saildrive unit is optional and allows the engine and drive train to be located aft of the companionway; to maintain proper trim, the fuel tanks are moved forward. With the engine amidships, access is a bit tight on the port side, but this boat’s Yanmar engine has few maintenance points located there. Through-hull fittings are Marelon with conventional backing plates and bolts. All hoses are double-clamped and well labeled, another Morris tradition. Like the plumbing system, the electrical system is neat, secure, and is made from top-quality materials.
The first yacht had a spade rudder, but this boat’s owner wanted a skeg for directional stability and to protect the blade. Tom Morris has sailed both yachts and says they are nearly indistinguishable in handling and speed.
Coming aboard, the first thing you notice is the exceptional level of finish and detail. The second thing is the lack of winches. How can anyone sail a vessel this size with just two winches located at the companionway? As it turns out, it’s easy. The Leisure Furl in-boom system takes care of the mainsail, and a roller-furling self-tacking jib is easily controlled. The mainsail has a full-length batten located a short distance above the foot. When the sail is fully hoisted, its shape is full for light-air conditions. But when the sail is rolled down a few inches, the batten enters the boom and the sail flattens out nicely for breezier conditions.
The flattening reef was in last October when I sailed the boat on Chesapeake Bay in a 12-to-15-knot northeasterly. I enjoyed the yacht’s delightful responsiveness as we tacked easily through 90 degrees or less on the wind and then reached off and ran. Helm pressure was light but distinct, and the boat goes exactly where you aim it. Sight lines are excellent whether you sit to windward or leeward. The self-tacking jib was perfect for the wind strength. On a reach the yacht hit 7 knots with no fuss. When I was seated belowdecks I found the ride to be very quiet and comfy.
Under power the 42 is exactly what you’d expect from a Morris. The turning circle is just over one boatlength, going astern it is predictable, and the boat’s manners are perfect. With the engine loafing along at 2,500 rpm, I measured 6.5 knots through the water as we sliced through a light chop.
“Our customers usually start out with a smaller boat,” says Tom Morris. “But when they become passionately involved with the sport, they want more than just something off a production line, and they come and find us.”
So even though their elegant daysailers are filling their order books and one-off yachts like Firefly and Reindeer have given a bit of media flash to the Morris name, the proven formula of quality, tradition, and versatility is part of the pedigree of all Morris yachts. And that’s something that isn’t about to change any time soon.
Designer: C.W. Paine Yacht Design
Box 763, Camden, ME 04843
Builder: Morris Yachts
Box 395, Grandville Road
Bass Harbor ME 04653
LOA – 42′
LWL – 32′
Beam – 12’7”
Draft – 5’3”
Displacement – 19,400 pounds
Ballast – 7,178 pounds
Sail area – 789 sq ft
(100 percent foretriangle)
Auxiliary – 52-horsepower
Fuel – 50 gal
Water – 120 gal
Sail area-displ. Ratio – 16.79
Displ.-length ratio – 264
US Sailing Screening Value: – 1.9
(below 2.0 recommended for