Moody Yachts were built in Swanwick, England, on the banks of the Hamble River from the middle of the 18th century into the early years of the 21st, and Bill Dixon has been designing Moody’s cruising boats since 1981. But there’s nothing traditional about the Moody DS45. It represents a radical step into the future from this well-established builder, which is now owned by Germany’s Hanse Yachts. I jumped aboard in Jamestown, Rhode Island, to see just how comfortable this futuristic cruising boat could be—and how it performs under sail.
The hull is built with vinylester resin and fiberglass over a Corecell foam core and is stiffened with a solid fiberglass grid. The fiberglass deck is cored with balsa and is also set in vinylester resin. Overall construction quality is good.
A nearly plumb bow and squared-off transom maximize sailing length, and the stainless steel anchor roller extends well forward, almost like a mini bowsprit, to keep the hook clear of the stem.
Below the waterline the DS45 boasts a pair of shallow semi-balanced rudders to ensure good control even when the beamy hull is well heeled. Ballast is concentrated in a bulb on the L-shaped keel; draft is 6 feet 4 inches.
Where do I start? The stern and cockpit area, like that of a catamaran, is wide open and set low in the hull to provide direct one-level access into the main saloon. This configuration is markedly more comfortable when hanging out on the hook than narrower, taller more “protected” traditionally designed monohull cockpits.
The drop-down swim platform is huge, and as on a catamaran, the cockpit has a fully integrated “roof” equipped with a retractable canvas center section to increase mainsail visibility (or simply improve stargazing) while under sail. The wide side decks are protected by sturdy, nearly knee-high bulwarks topped with a stainless steel handrail. There are dual helms with wide helm seats, significant cockpit locker capacity and long, deep, comfortable cockpit seats.
The double-ended mainsheet runs aft through a pair of recessed races along with all the other sail controls to banks of clutches right by the helms.
Again, there are no companionway steps—you simply step through the full-sized sliding glass door straight into a saloon equipped with a large settee, forward-facing nav and helm station, a good-sized galley and—best of all—a wraparound view out of the outside world. Pretty cool. Headroom is excellent, and the settee is big enough to comfortably seat six. The smallish galley has decent counter space, and the interior helm station will be the place to be on any offshore passage. Like the cockpit, the saloon will also be a very comfortable place to hang out while on the hook, especially in inclement weather.
Two shallow steps (the only ones on the boat) lead from the saloon down to two guest cabins, two heads and a master cabin that together occupy the space forward of the cockpit. The hull’s wide profile allows the two guest cabins to be oriented either side of a passageway leading to the owner’s stateroom in the bow. Other configurations are available, but no matter which you choose, the guest cabins have decent stowage, comfortable bunks and access to their own head. The owner’s stateroom has excellent headroom, and includes a number of hatches and fixed hull ports for superior light and ventilation.
Due to those wide hindquarters that make the cockpit so lounge-friendly, I was not expecting the DS45 to perform brilliantly under sail. But in perfect test conditions—10-12 knots of breeze, flat water and sunny skies on Narragansett Bay—the hull cut a surprisingly clean wake, and the helm felt smooth and responsive.
Upwind the boat was well-balanced and almost sailed itself in a wide groove, with speeds in the 6-knot range. The self-tacking jib made tacking a simple singlehanded operation. Tacking angles were not stellar, but they were decent enough, given the superior comfort provided by the wide stern.
My only complaint was with the sightlines forward. I found myself constantly trying to look over or around the coachroof when steering, even when the canvas center portion was retracted. There’s no open view forward from anywhere else in the cockpit either. Instead, you have to look through the companionway and the forward-facing windows in the saloon to see where you’re going.
Many catamarans have similar cockpit visibility issues, but they also generally have their helm stations perched high enough that you can see over the coachroof and get a good view forward. That said, during a passage offshore I’d probably spend a lot of my time at the interior helm station, which has excellent visibility forward. Personally, the visibility issue would not be a deal-breaker for me, especially since I found the cockpit and accommodations to be so comfortable at anchor. Nonetheless, it is something to consider.
Motoring performance was spectacular. With the standard 106hp Volvo diesel and three-bladed folding propeller, I recorded 8.5 knots of boatspeed while motoring at 2,000 rpm. At full throttle we made 10 knots; maneuvering under power was positive and predictable, thanks to the boat’s twin rudders. Engine room noise was muted, even at full throttle.
Kudos to Bill Dixon and Moody Yachts for redefining what’s possible on a 45-foot cruising monohull. I loved the interior and cockpit spaces—especially at anchor—and was pleasantly surprised by the boat’s performance under sail. This boat’s not for everyone, but if you’re bored with conventional designs and want to own a piece of the future, the Moody DS45 may just be what you’re looking for.
Good sailing performance
Limited visibility from the helms and cockpit
Radical aesthetics may not be for everybody
HEADROOM 6ft 4in
BERTHS 6ft 7in X 5ft 5in (master); 6ft 6in X 5ft 5in (guest)
LOA 45ft // LWL 42ft 5in
BEAM 14ft 2in // Draft 6ft 4in
SAIL AREA 1,126 ft2 (100% FT)
FUEL/WATER/WATER (Gal) 158/211/26
ENGINE 106 HP Volvo with saildrive
ELECTRICAL 90AH (engine); 3 x 150 AH (house)
DESIGNER Dixon Yacht Design
BUILDER Moody Yachts, moodyboats.com
U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Berthon USA, 401-846-8404 berthonusa.com
BALLAST RATIO 30
SAIL AREA-DISPLACEMENT RATIO 18
DISPLACEMENT-LENGTH RATIO 178