Skip to main content

Moody 45AC

You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Moody Yachts: it takes some guts to build two 45-foot cruising boats that occupy opposite ends of the design spectrum. Yet it’s easy to see the logic behind such a strategy
45AC2

You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Moody Yachts: it takes some guts to build two 45-foot cruising boats that occupy opposite ends of the design spectrum. Yet it’s easy to see the logic behind such a strategy. The 45DS is a hyper-modern deck-saloon cruiser that demands attention—and elicits a reaction—wherever it goes, while the traditional-looking 45AC (aft cockpit) is much more understated. Each should appeal to very different buyers, thereby maximizing the company’s appeal.

I took the 45AC out for a test sail off Newport, Rhode Island, last fall to see how long-time Moody designer Bill Dixon and his team accomplished the difficult mission of reimagining the future while still staying true to the past.

CONSTRUCTION

The hull is cored with foam below the waterline and balsa above the waterline and is laminated with polyester resin and a vinylester outer layer to resist blistering. The deck is also cored with balsa. Solid structural components along with bulkheads and furniture modules are tabbed in place. The keel is cast iron, with a lead ballast bulb. The 9/10ths rig has two spreaders and the mast and boom are anodized aluminum.

ON DECK

45AC4

I did a double take when we approached the 45AC immediately after test sailing the 45DS. The lines of the 45DS are pretty radical, while the 45AC pays homage to yachting’s past. The more traditional profile of the 45AC also benefits from numerous small oval ports and carries minimal freeboard, so that it appears almost—dare I say it?—Herreshoff-esque.

Stepping aboard, I loved the enormous cockpit with its long, comfortable benches and sculpted helm seats. I also appreciated the way the drop-down swim platform is tastefully hidden behind the wide classic transom and the easy access afforded by the dual helms and split backstay. The low-slung coachroof offers clean sightlines in all directions, in contrast to the 45DS.

Other on-deck elements are pretty straightforward and very well constructed or installed. There are nice big cockpit lockers to swallow things like docklines and fenders, the built-in teak pulpit seats are both comfortable and classy, and it’s easy to go forward, thanks to the low coachroof and wide side decks.

ACCOMMODATIONS

45AC5

Stepping below, I found a wealth of varnished furniture and cabinets with classic rattan inserts in the doors that both aid in ventilation and lend the interior an ultra-traditional look. The U-shaped galley has a good-sized fridge, a two-burner stove, and plenty of stowage and counter space. The saloon has an abundance of stowage as well and a curved settee that is plenty long for stretching out on.

It’s hard to provide 6ft 5in headroom in the saloon of a 45-footer while keeping the coachroof profile low, but Dixon has done it. I did feel like I was “descending” into the hull as I entered the saloon, but that headroom has to come from somewhere. The small oval ports do not let in as much light as the big ports found on most modern 45-footers, but the large opening hatch helps out.

There are no surprises in the sleeping cabins. The master forward has a large double berth. It also has bench seat and an ensuite head. The berths in the guest cabins are on the small side, but are adequate. Overall workmanship and joinery quality is excellent.

UNDER SAIL

45AC3

I granted myself a moment or two during our 45AC test sail to appreciate the simple joy of sailing on a sunny autumn day in perfect conditions—12 knots of breeze and flat water. In reality, though, Mother Nature only deserves part of the credit. The fact is the 45AC not only sailed well, it made me feel good just being at the helm.

I’ll be the first to admit that “feeling good” is hardly a quantitative measure of sailing performance. But I think I can explain my “analysis” in more concrete terms as well.

First, as I said earlier, visibility from the cockpit is outstanding. And while the feeling of being connected to the environment that comes from an unhindered view forward is a precious commodity on any boat, it can be especially so on a big cruiser. The 45AC’s well-built windshield enhances this effect by providing good spray protection while much being easier to see through than the clear plastic windows on most dodgers.

Second, the boat has a wide upwind groove and tracks effortlessly. Boat speeds hovered in the 6-knot range, and the wake gurgling past as I sat at the leeward helm station was ever so satisfying. The boat was equally easy to handle coming about, thanks to its self-tacking jib and responsive helm. When the time came to trim the sails, the jib sheets and double-ended main were all within easy reach. Speeds stayed in the 6-knot range as we cracked off a bit, and the helm remained easy to manage. Ultimately, the boat did everything I asked it to with aplomb.

UNDER POWER

We hardly needed to start the 55 horsepower engine since sailing conditions were so ideal, but when we did, the boat maneuvered predictably and boat speeds hit 7.5 knots at cruising revolutions. Engine noise was noticeable down below, but not so much as to be a problem.

CONCLUSION

I’m sure Bill Dixon and his team had a blast designing two such diverse boats as the Moody 45DS and the Moody 45AC at roughly the same time. There’s no doubt that with the 45AC he succeeded in putting a new spin on the traditional “cruiser” look. If you’re the kind of person who likes a well-built modern boat that sails well and reflects yachting’s traditional side, the 45AC may be just for the thing for you.

Our Take

PROS

Excellent visibility from cockpit

Easy to sail/easy helm

Good-sized cockpit

CONS

Accommodations set low in hull

Not as much light belowdecks as on a modern cruiser

SPECIFICATIONS 

HEADROOM 6ft 5in

BERTHS 7ft X 5ft 5in (master); 6ft X 5ft (guest)

LOA 45ft//LWL 40ft

BEAM 173863ft 9in

DRAFT 7ft 2in (std); 6ft 1in (shoal)

DISPLACEMENT 26,895lb

BALLAST 7,386lb

SAIL AREA (100% foretriangle) 981ft2

FUEL/WATER/WASTE (Gal) 85/58/TK

ENGINE 55 HP Volvo (sail drive)

ELECTRICAL 2x150AH (house); 90AH (engine)

DESIGNER Dixon Yacht Design

BUILDER Moody Yachts, moodyboats.com

U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Berthon USA, 401-846-8404 berthonusa.com

PRICE $377,900 base

BALLAST RATIO 27

SAIL AREA-DISPLACEMENT RATIO 17.5

DISPLACEMENT-LENGTH RATIO 188

Related

00-LEAD-210918_11HR_AZIMUT48HRS_AMO_00411

11th Hour Racing Team's Green Mission

“I’ll admit, it’s still hard to watch the boat leave the dock sometimes,” says former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mark Towill. Since meeting during a Transpac campaign over 15 years ago, he and his teammate Charlie Enright have sailed thousands of miles together aboard two Volvo ...read more

D61_JKELAGOPIAN-3

Boat Review: Dufour 61

Dufour, long one of France’s most well-respected builders, has been producing sailboats in La Rochelle since the dawn of fiberglass boatbuilding. Having recently merged with another La Rochelle-based builder, Fountaine Pajot, Dufour has now joined other European mass-production ...read more

m138123_14_00_210609_TORE02_SE_2152_2504-2048x

The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean ...read more

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more

01-LEAD-AdobeStock_40632434

Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to ...read more