Morris M42 • Simple elegance and swift sailing make this new weekender some-thing special
During September’s Newport International Boat Show, we had the opportunity to go for an evening sail aboard the new Morris 42 Weekender on Narragansett Bay (R.I.). On board with us were Tom Morris, founder of Morris Yachts, and noted marine photographer Billy Black.
The new 42, which is the big sister to the successful M36 Weekender that was launched two years ago, has lovely traditional lines with long narrow overhangs. As we approached the boat on its mooring, the sleek gray hull, teak decks and tall fractional rig stood out among the moored fleet as a boat with superior pedigree.
The boat was not conceived by Morris Yachts nor designed by Sparkman & Stephens to be a long-haul, liveaboard cruiser. Instead, Morris wanted to offer its customers a true, sweet sailing weekender with enough space below for a couple to sail away for a few days or a week or two on their own. The emphasis was to be on beauty, simplicity and elegance in a boat that could be easily singlehanded.
The hull looks traditional. But below the water, the 42 has been given a thoroughly modern fin keel and a high-aspect spade rudder. Two keel depths are available, with the deep keel drawing six feet, 11 inches.
The fractional rig evokes boats from another age yet the spars are all carbon fiber (from Hall Spars), which reduces weight aloft to improve stability and reduce pitching or rolling. The boat we sailed had a Leisurefurl in-boom mainsail-furling system with a fully-battened North mainsail.
The 100-percent jib has been rigged to be self-tacking with a traveler fitted across the forward end of the cabintop. The sail furls on a Schaefer roller-furling system that has the drum and control lines recessed neatly into the bow.
Like the M36, the 42’s decks are remarkably clean. In fact, the impression is that there is no running rigging aboard, no control line from the furler, no jibsheets, no mainsheet. But it is all an elegant illusion.
Morris has worked out an ingenious system to run all of the sheets and control lines beneath the deck and aft to the cockpit where they emerge from the cockpit coamings to two pods sporting line stoppers and electric winches on either side of the helmsman.
You raise and lower the main while seated in the cockpit; you trim the main with a push of a button and you trim the jib the same way and from both sides of the cockpit. The rope tails all coil away neatly into open lockers in the bottom of the pods so you never have a tangle of spaghetti on the cockpit floor. The 42 is definitely set up for easy and very civilized sailing.
The high gloss of deep and flawlessly varnished teak lets you know at once when you climb aboard that you are going sailing on a yacht, not just another production boat. As you would expect, the joinery on deck and below is exceptional, while being both simple and useful.
The cabin has ample headroom and is finished in the classic white and varnished mahogany style made famous by New England builders. The galley is small and useful; the head, to port of the companionway, is large enough to be comfortable and has a neat system to form a shower stall.
The saloon has two bench settees with a large table between. The V-berth forward is open to the saloon so the entire space is one cabin. The space is broken up visually with vertical cabinets forward of the settees and with ingenious use of lighting, which can be used to give emphasis to various sections of the cabin.
The cockpit will seat seven comfortably for sundowners; the saloon will seat six; and the V-berth will sleep two with ample shoulder and hip room. As a couple’s coastal cruiser, these numbers are just about right.
SAILING THE 42
The wind was light the afternoon we sailed the 42, eight or nine knots of sea breeze blowing up the bay. We motored away from the mooring field and raised the mainsail (while sitting down). We fell off the wind to avoid a passing ferry and then rolled out the jib. With the engine switched off, we trimmed for close-hauled sailing, felt the keel and rudder develop lift and the 42 heeled slightly as it accelerated to 5.5 knots.
The 100-percent jib, trimmed with the push of a button, has narrow sheeting angles so the boat tacks easily inside 85 degrees. Even better, she tacks with no more effort than simply throwing over the helm—no sheets to trim as the traveler changes tacks by itself.
Once out into the bay, we took a long tack seaward and noted with pleasure that we were crawling to windward of the other boats sailing close hauled nearby. We got the boat sailing well in the groove with about five degrees of weather helm, making six knots in the now roughly 10 knots of breeze, and then locked the wheel. The 42 just kept going on a course as true as an arrow without one touch of the wheel for the next 10 minutes. Balanced, poised and packing plenty of power is how we would describe the feel of the 42 going to windward.
We found that rig worked fine at about 130 degrees off the wind. Farther off and the jib lost its punch as it twisted off at the top. A large reacher is available from Morris as an option and would have been a lot of fun in the breeze we had that evening.
After jibing several times we finally ran out of wind and had to crank up the engine to get home before it got too dark. The sails were quickly rolled way, and we then put the throttle down hard to see what would happen. The 42 squatted a bit at max revs and trailed a big stern wave, but we got the speedo up to 7.5 knots and the steering was as light and sure as a sports car.
The sea trial we gave the new Morris was essentially how the builders believe the boat will be most used—a few hours of pleasant sailing with friends on local waters. For that purpose the new 42 works wonderfully.
But the 42 can also be employed as a fine coastal cruising boat that has enough storage and tankage for a couple to be self-sufficient for a couple of weeks.
The 42 joins a growing fleet of large, elegant weekenders on the market and sets itself apart with its great sailing ability and inimitable Morris quality and style.
Draft (standard) 5’6”
Displacement (shoal) 14,362 lbs.
Ballast 5,500 lbs.
Bridge Clearance 56’8″
Base Price $589,000
PO Box 395
110 Grandville Rd.
Bass Harbor, ME 04643