Would you cross the Pacific to Australia in a Morgan North American 40?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by DennisRB, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. DennisRB
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    DennisRB Senior Member

    I love these boats. There are a few for sale and I think they look great below deck and look to be a great performer under sail or power. I wonder why I can find so many for sale yet there were not that many produced?


    I would have to add some sort of dodger and canopy and obviously things like auto helm and wind gen. Would this design be a sea worthy vessel in a storm? What about the cockpit. It doesn't seem to be all that great to be sitting in when there are 60K winds and 30 foot waves. I would be sailing with one other crew.

  2. capt littlelegs
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    capt littlelegs New Member

    Looks very nice, too comfortable to take it anywhere! The boat itself would be fine, looks more of a racer but with only two crew would they stand the pace? Down below you'd need more hand holds and be able to wedge the chef in place when heeled over.

    The cockpit looks cramped and obstructed access by the large wheel. Personally I'm of an age where I like an enclosed wheelhouse with the heating on and a coffee pot close by when it's cold and rough!

    My view is it's more of a luxury yacht than a serious and practical long distance oceon crosser needing lots of mods, food and water storage etc. and for safety you need more than two crew all capable and qualified of doing every job and emergency likely on board so that you arrive safe and well rather than exhausted zombies! Having said that people do do it even in lesser boats. Anticipate the worst and plan well.
  3. Paul Kotzebue

    Paul Kotzebue Previous Member


    Littlelegs has some good points. I worked at Dick Carter's office in 1978 when he designed the boat. I can tell you it's intended purpose was to be a competitive racer under the IOR and still be a comfrotable family cruiser. Carter called it a "true dual purpose boat".
  4. DennisRB
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    DennisRB Senior Member

    Thanks for the replies. What other sort of mods would you do to this boat before doing such a trip for safety and comfort for shorthanded sailing? Would $10K on the boat itself cover it? I cant figure out what the anchoring arrangement is on it either. What would you do for a life-raft/tender? Strap inverted tender on the deck up the front? Make lift at the back which would also hold solar and wind gen?

    My plan is to purchase something in Americas and set sail by this time next year.
  5. capt littlelegs
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    capt littlelegs New Member

    You probably need to do a lot more research. Anchoring is the least of your worries in the Pacific but there should be some equipment for inshore. You need a proper sized liferaft onboard and anything strapped on deck could be a liability, remember there are coastguard regulations for minimum safety equipment that you must comply with or it could cost you dearly!

    I recommend doing a liferaft course where you are taught how to use them properly, it could save your life plus other courses that will help you keep going. What skipper/engineer/nav qualifications do you have?

    You'd need a generator or engine for nav equipment etc. such as radar with an alarm for when near shipping lanes especially if short handed where lack of sleep will be a problem for watches. Solar and wind generation will help with power.

    There are plenty of good books on the subject that will tell far more than could be done on a forum. Difficult to put a price on preparation without getting involved with it and depends on what you've got. You'd need one or two berths with lee cloths to stop falling out of bed when heeled for example and maybe storm sails etc. bigger fuel and water tanks. Not an easy job to do and cost could get out of hand. Best thing to do is make a full list and hope it can be reduced with existing equipment on board!
  6. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member


    Do you intend the boat to be a cruising boat for yourself, or an occassional boat like 99% of the worlds boats are.

    Horses for courses, the boat most likely would be quite happy coming here under her own sails, but if you look at the cost of a transporter, compared to the costs of setting her up to do a long ocean passage, the transport costs look good. If you intend her to be home for the next few years, go for it, cost of setup is irrelevant then cos she will be using all the gear you install on a regular basis.
    Only two on board will require an autopilot, not a toy either as you need a decent unit, cost will be about 5K installed.
  7. DennisRB
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    DennisRB Senior Member

    Thanks for the response. I will be doing a huge amount of research before I undertake this journey. This is only the beginning. I will read and learn as much as possible regarding ocean sailing as possible. Including rough weather sailing technique and yacht setup.

    My friend and I will be sailing it (whatever we end up getting) back and we will be partners in the a yacht. I may intend to live aboard her in Australia for a while and it will not be a harbor queen. You may have seen the threads on the Roberts Spray. Thats is my mates and we are fixing it up a bit to sell so we can buy a yacht with a good sailing ability. The trip is not only to save money on a purchase, but to do an exiting voyage. Any mods we need to do would be something we would want our yacht to have anyway. We would also intend to race her in some cruising classes in races like Sydney to Hobart and Brisbane to Gladstone.

    We both have minimal ocean experience but both grew up doing coastal cruising on the east coast of Australia in small boats. Last Christmas we sailed an aging Piver trimaran from Lake Macquarie to Yamba which is the longest passage we have done, around 300 miles of ocean. This included being caught in one gale through the night.

    Our navigation skills are basic including reading charts and plotting from GPS. But we have a sextant which we plan on learning to use. I also want to do a course/read the right books on navigation and meteorology relating to yachting. I probably spend over 2 hours a day reading up on what I can on the net regarding these matters. But I would love some suggestions of good books.

    I would certainly want storm sails aboard and the correct life-raft. We would also be using harness and personal EPIRB jackets etc. Safety would be a high priority and I would not leave unless the boat is well equipped.

    As for engineering qualifications. I am a qualified electrician and competent mechanic (not qualified), and my mate works repairing power boats for a living. I am excellent at repairing things and coming up with innovative solutions to problems. I designed and built my own street drag car on the cheap with no experience which was recently on the cover of a magazine so together we would have the skills to fix most probs. I would also want a good range of tools and materials aboard to perform makeshift repairs if need be.

    I would not go anywhere without radar, depth, autohelm, radios, and enough power production to support it. This boat has radar which is the most expensive of all these things. I also intend to make a thread regarding power generation for an ocean going yacht. My mate and I can install most of this gear ourselves given our skills. But given the cost of a lot of these items it would appear that getting a yacht with them already installed would be wise.

    Any comments are welcome, good or bad. I realize we should probably have a lot more ocean experience, but I won't go until I am happy that we understand as much as possible about the safe completion of such a trip.
  8. DennisRB
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    DennisRB Senior Member

    Paul. Does this have a skeg hung rudder? And do you know the head room? I'm 6.1 and my mate is 6.3
  9. Paul Kotzebue

    Paul Kotzebue Previous Member

    My recollection is the rudder was hung on a very slender skeg, which was typical of Carter's designs. I'm not 100% sure, but that is my recollection. I don't know the headroom.
  10. Milan
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    Milan Senior Member

    Different people - different needs, difficult to give universal advise.

    My two cents:

    First things first - concentrate on the essentials – make absolutely sure that your you boat is structurally sound, that keel stays where it belongs, water stays out, rudder and mast on their places, sails in order. Strengthen these if necessary.

    Learn how to maintain and repair rigging, sails, learn to work the ropes, splicing e.c.t. Get a big, heavy anchor and strong anchor gear with a looong rode. For a dinghy, proper rowing dinghy, don't bother with outboards. As a storage will be a problem, make it nesting.

    Install compass properly, adjust it, make deviation table if necessary, learn to use it and check it regularly. Good that you plan to take a sextant. It isn’t that difficult to learn noon sights, if you know more, even better. Buy 2 or 3 cheap GPS pocket models receivers. Have a lead line.

    Take a time to learn your boat thoroughly, get a feeling for hear behaviour in different circumstances - light winds, strong winds, close quarter manoeuvring... Balance her properly, get a windwane.

    So prepared and equipped, you can get very far, with a piece of mind, if you know your stuff.

    When you covered these basics, just then you can begin to think about nautical toys and luxuries. Get as much of them as you want / can, but don’t depend on them. They are nice to have, but not essential.

    Small boat on the long voyage shouldn’t depend to much on the electricity. Electronic gadgets are first to go. Keep it simple. If you don't, you will spend far to much time on the maintenance.

    If you are worried about safety, focus on the equipment and measures that would keep boat afloat and you on the boat.

    If you fall of the boat offshore, chances to get back are very slim. If the boat sinks, chances for survival in the life raft in the middle of the ocean are small.

    Boat is, even when damaged and partially flooded, much safer place to be in then a life raft. Don’t leave the boat if you are not absolutely sure that she is about to sink. (There are many cases of panicked crews that died trying to transfer to the life rafts thinking that their yacht is sinking, yachts found later, still floating).

    Instead of buying most expensive life raft, maybe it would be better to use that money to beef up basic hull structure around vulnerable places such as bow area around the waterline, propeller shaft, fin and rudder attachments. Maybe build in some watertight compartments, collision bulkheads, flotation inside the hull.
  11. Typhoon
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    Typhoon Senior Member

    You'll have a hard time putting a useful dodger on that boat with those winches on the cabin top like that.
    That and the cockpit design would turn me off it for short handed cruising.

    Regards, Andrew.
  12. woudaboy
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    woudaboy Junior Member

    Used to look after one when in High school Raced all over southern California. Had a small skeg-mostly for IOR considerations. I'm 6 ft and had plenty of headroom.

    This is an older IOR boat with those stability issues down wind. It may not be the most fun for short handed, long distance trip. Not sure how autopilot would set up. Our owner had a canvas "hatch protection/sea hood" and canvas wings that actually worked well.

    Great, solid boat. Our group had discussed doing some of the California distance coastal races with no worries, although that is much different from crossing the pacific. If I remember the owners group had some issues with the builder (Morgan), not sure if it was build or one design issues. Any boat you buy is going to be surveyed anyway.
  13. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

    If we´re talking a one-off cruise home then day or weekend sailing after that, she looks fine. It doesnt sound as thought she going to do 3 non-stop circumnavigations so based the risk of getting the yacht, home, from the pics at least, why not. Far less capable yachts have sailed oceans....
  14. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Fully concur! A boat for short handed passagemaking looks different. For some extended, active sailing around your homeport she seems to be a good choice though.
    To the original question:
    in short, ..no.


  15. u4ea32
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    u4ea32 Senior Member

    To answer the original question: Sure, you can easily make Australia with a NA40, and have a lot of fun doing so!

    Keep it very simple. Make sure all the sailing stuff won't break: sails, standing rigging, running rigging. Everything else is totally optional, and you'll probably have more fun and safety without it.

    Of the 160,000 miles I've covered at sea, the most fun voyages I've done were on very simple vessels. My friends who have actually done voyaging agree, that the simpler the boat, the more fun you'll have.

    Radar, generators, wind generators, backup systems, self inflating life rafts, ... Forget about all that junk. It costs you so much money, makes you paranoid, makes you work instead of play, and takes your eye off the ball. Distractions!

    Personally, I'd try and find a boat that's well set up to do what you want to do, because all boat stuff costs lotsa boat units (BOAT means Break Out Another Thousand). People who keep boats in really nice condition have a LOT of money invested that they KNOW they'll never get back. Those are the sellers you want to find, those are the only boats you should consider. There are lots and lots and lots of such boats.

    Never, ever, ever buy a project boat. Only buy pristine boats. They are by very far the cheapest boats to actually own and use and take anywhere.

    I'm a typical owner who keeps his boats in great shape. I've always ended up putting another 10% or 20% into a boat just before I sell it because I'm sure the next buyer just won't buy it unless its perfect. So, yea, I'm nuts. But there are a lot around like me.
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