Morris 48

by George Day

Blue Water Sailing
April 2008


close window

"Next Generation" world cruising boat

A sailboat really tells you what it is all about when you are under sail and you gradually start to round up from a broad reach and trim steadily through a beam reach and a close reach until you are sailing close to the wind with the main and genoa trimmed and the telltales streaming
evenly aft.

How does the boat feel going through this simple maneuver? Like a barge that leaves you wishing for an engine? Or like a skittish mare that has the crew hanging on for dear life as the rail disappears beneath the water?

A true performance cruising boat will do something special: as you power it up, as you engage the sails, the rudder and the keel with all of their hydro and aerodynamic potential, the boat will have you saying aloud simply

Everything you need to know about the boat’s sailing and cruising characteristics lies in the harmony between sail power and hull design. As the boat rounds up and puts its shoulder down, you feel that balance as the
boat slides into the groove where it will virtually steer itself upwind.

The first time you take a new Morris 48 out for a sail trial, you will find yourself repeatedly muttering “Yes.” The boat’s sailing characteristics are superb and its manners, as you handle the wheel and sheets through tacks and jibes, are refined. Everything about the 48’s sailing qualities tells you that this is a boat with a long and distinguished sailing

But that is certainly not the first set of qualities that catch your eye when you climb aboard a new Morris 48. Standing on deck you are bound to notice a steady glint from the bright surfaces—the stainless steel of the dorade vents, stemhead fitting and deck cleats, the brightness of the highly painted spars, the ice-deep glisten of the varnish on the toe rails and cockpit coamings. You know you are looking at tradition that has been married to the most modern looking hull and deck layout anywhere around. And like the sailing qualities, the glints and glistens have you nodding in acknowledgement and muttering “Yes.”

The design
Designed by Chuck Paine, the Morris 48 was conceived to be a fast and capable offshore cruising boat for owners who want to explore the earth’s four corners and compete successfully in offshore point-to-point races such as the Newport to Bermuda Race. In 2008, two Morris 48s are set to sail away on round the world cruises.

The hull shape was optimized for all out speed under the IMS and PHRF rules yet in Morris and Paine style, the boat has been given the hull form, keel shape and displacement necessary to make it sea kindly and safe at sea. The 48, like the Morris 45, is part of Morris Yacht’s “next generation” cruising boats that bring a lot of modern design thinking and state of the art construction techniques into play to create premium yachts that offer premium performance.

The 48’s hull is built for extreme durability, stiffness and moderate weight. The compromise of strength to weight lies in the engineering and materials. The hull laminate is laid up using unidirectional E-glass with Kevlar reinforcements over a Core-cell high density closed cell foam core and infused with Hydrex® vinylester resin. What that means in English is that the structure of the hull has an impervious outer skin to prevent the ingress of water, a light but extremely strong glassfiber structural grid, a panel-core that makes the structure incredibly stiff but light, and a resin infusion that optimizes the ratio of resin to structural glass fiber. The net result is a hull strong enough to go to the Arctic, durable enough to last a lifetime and light enough to be competitive.

The keel is an efficient foil shape with a ballast bulb. This enhances stability and improves windward performance. Owners will be reassured by the boat’s 145-degree limit of vanishing stability, a calculation that indicates how far the boat will heel before capsize—145 is very good.

Sailing far and sailing fast are the 48’s main objectives but the rig has also been designed to make the boat easy to sail as well. The triple-spreader mast has swept-back spreaders and a wide chain-plate base so the mast is light but very well supported and the passageway up and down the side decks is unimpeded.

By increasing the mainsail’s size and reducing the headsail to a 105-percent genoa, Morris has almost eliminated the need for a lot of winch grinding every time you tack. In moderate breezes, you will be able to tack and trim without breaking a sweat. That makes sailing more fun, which in turn means you will sail more often and will reserve the engine for docking or anchoring.

Serious sailors will equip their boats with storm sails and downwind sails and hardware for reaching and running. And those heading offshore for extended passages may want to add a demountable staysail stay and staysail. Tricked out with sails, the Morris 48 will be a lot of fun for the whole family to sail, race and take offshore.

The floating home
Because the Morris 48 is intended to sail offshore, like her Morris sisterships, the interior plan has not been laid out for huge dockside cocktail parties but instead for a crew that will be spending many days at sea between parties. The difference lies in the size of the open spaces, the placement of furniture and handholds, the shape of the galley and access to lockers, storage and machinery. In a good sea boat, you will always be able to hold on or brace a hip or knee while moving about or working below. And, you will always feel secure in your bunk. The 48 provides this seagoing comfort and security in every cabin.

The raised deck saloon design allows Morris to offer two interior plans, one with the galley up and the dinette down forward and the other vice versa with the dinette under the raised coach roof. Both will serve owners’ needs.

The galley up version may be the more conventional layout since it keeps the galley and the chart table near the companionway. This keeps them convenient to the cockpit, where cruisers spend most of their time in fair weather. And with the dinette down a step going forward, the saloon becomes a conventional space with a table to port and the bench settee and pilot berth to starboard.

But the galley down version also has a lot of advantages. With the dinette and chart table under the raised deck, you can sit there and have a full view of the harbor around you. And, with the galley down and forward, it lies right over the boat’s center of gravity where motion at sea will be the least.

Large deck saloon windows may be of concern to those sailing offshore since they present a large, flat area to waves breaking on deck. To enhance the coach roof design and improve the strength of the large windows, Morris has the big side windows cast with a crease at about mid height. This looks great
and improves the stiffness of the glass panel by 86 percent.

The owner’s cabin lies forward where you will find a queen-size centerline bunk, plenty of storage space, two small seats and an en suite head. The guest cabin aft has a double berth and plenty of drawer and locker space.
This cabin will be a great sleeping position when at sea. The other great sea berths will be the settee and pilot berths forward.

The glisten and glimmer that caught your eye as soon as you stepped on deck was only a preview of the finish work throughout the Morris 48’s interior. While owners may select from a range of interior finishes, the standard today is all cherry, which is a light, attractive wood with enough grain
to look interesting.

The Morris standard is what has become known as Bristol or Herreshoff styling below decks. The bulkheads are white and other large vertical surfaces may be white, while all built-in furniture is varnished wood. The Herreshoffs would have used mahogany or oak. But, today, with a wide range of woods available,
owners can select the density and grain pattern that suits them. Owners who want a slightly different approach may opt to have the bulkheads covered with cherry veneer to match the furniture.

The craftsmanship that goes into a new Morris 48 adheres to the best Maine traditions. Drawers are solid cherry boxes with cherry faces. Door frames are solid cherry with arched tops and mitered corners. Doors are solid cherry designs with flat panels. All the hardware through the boats is high quality stainless steel with positive latches on all doors and lockers.

How Morris achieves the varnish finish throughout the boat is something of a trade secret. There are very few shops in the world that can create this flawless, deep look to the coating. Suffice it to say that sitting at the dinette table under the raised saloon, you can look down into the table’s surface as if looking into a clear pool through a crystal clear sheet of ice.

The Morris 48 sets a very high standard among cruising boats for its sailing qualities, advanced engineering and construction and for the builder’s attention to detail. It also sets a very high standard by offering wandering sailors and offshore racers a floating home that is a very practical, very beautiful work of art.

A sailor’s company
It is no accident that Tom Morris, the company’s founder, ended up on Mount Desert Island in Maine building custom and semicustom cruising boats. He and his family before him, who were Philadelphia natives, had been sailing in Maine during the summer for many years and Tom had grown up sailing and racing the well known A boats that were popular in this area in the last century.

In 1972, Tom launched his first Chuck Paine design and over the next 35 years he and his son Cuyler Morris, an Olympic sailor who joined the company in 1996, have built the business into America’s premier builder of custom and semi-custom sailing yachts from 34 to 62 feet. Morris Yachts also operates two service yards, in Bass Harbor and Northeast Harbor. And the good news for yachtsmen who are looking for uncompromised service and workmanship is
that they welcome all boats, sail and power, Morris and non-Morris built boats.

Cruising boats, called the Ocean Series, have always been the company’s staple and they now offer designs to fit just about any cruising couple’s needs.

Several years ago, they launched the new M Series line of luxury daysailers and weekend cruisers. Designed by Sparkman & Stephens, the M36, 42 and new 52 are classic yachts with long overhangs, sweeping lines and large cockpits. Their fractional rigs are self tacking and can be managed by a single person. Accommodations are simple but elegant. For sweet sailing and pleasant cruising (since the 42 and 52 have comfortable, convenient accommodations below deck) with family and friends, the new M Series boats are terrific.

The Morris tradition of boat building once fit in nicely with the old traditions from the New England coast. And the Maine coast still produces many of the finest yachts built anywhere in the country or the world.

With the evolution of the “next generation” of cruising boats, like the 48, in the Ocean Series, and with the development of the popular M Series, Morris Yachts has pushed the art and craft of boat building steadily into the future by capturing in their boats the best Maine traditions and the latest in high tech design and construction techniques.

At the helm of the Morris 48 or any of the company’s range of Ocean Series or M Series boats, you can feel the quality and the pedigree of the craft beneath you, a sensation that always spawns an emphatic “Yes.”

LOA 48’9”
LWL 42’10”
Beam 13’10”
Draft 6’6”
Displacement 32,000 lbs.
Ballast 10,700 lbs.
Sail area 1,018 sq. ft.
Water 175 gals.
Fuel 90 gals.
Morris Yachts
Bass Harbor, Maine
Ph: 207-244-5509

back to top





Beneteau 43