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Home » Sailnet Boat Reviews » M - Boats starting with 'M' » Morgan

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Morgan 34
Reviews Views Date of last review
5 5016 Fri June 8, 2001
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 9.0

Description: Morgan 34
Keywords: Morgan 34



Registered: January 2000
Location: maryland
Posts: 1887
Review Date: Wed June 18, 1997 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


The earliest Charlie Morgan design, has solid bronze centerboard, poored lead keel, heavy quality fibreglass construction. Quality hull and design. Some poor interior quality such as icebox. This is an excellent boat to buy cheap and refurbish. Perhaps no more expensive than a new boat; and you end with a unique classic. I love it! But be prepared to spend.
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Registered: January 2000
Location: maryland
Posts: 1887
Review Date: Wed March 25, 1998 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


This is my first sailboat and I love it. It seems very easy to sail & and moves good (to about 7.5 knts). It rides very easy in rough water, feels strong and solid. I love the draft of only 39" (with centerboard up) - I'm able to get close to beaches, etc. with the long protected keel. It also tends to go "straight" (which I love as I had a I/O drive on a 28' Bayliner that needed full time steering to go straight!). I also almost always just leave the centerboard up - it sails great. Also seems to sail fairly close to the wind. Dislikes - the head is very small - about the only thing "wrong" with the design - as far as I can see.
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Registered: January 2000
Location: maryland
Posts: 1887
Review Date: Fri October 6, 2000 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


I have an older 1967 morgan 34 which has been upgraded to included new engine, ports and sails. The previous owners before me awlgripped the boat flag blue. All in all the most satisfying aspect of this fine yacht is her lines. The appearance of this boat rivals a hinckley 35. On many occasions I have been asked if she was a Hinckley.
The boat handels rough weather well, I feel. Sailing in moderate conditions I have been able to reach 7-7.5 knots easily. The centerboard aspect of the boat grants me the ability to get into places that most people cannot. I was able to secure a choice mooring area for the season that turned many green with envy.
The version that I have has wheel steering that as other reviews connote could be better, the space behing the wheel is small, and limits the lazzeretts somewhat from opening properly. This is a very small pet peeve.
Down below the morgan I own contains a great deal of teak and mahogany, no plastic. The combiniation of new ports which are bronze, a hanging brass trawler lamp and the wood have driven friends who visit to sell their boat.
I agree with other comments from this page that the head is too small, but this is a minor drawback, perhaps.
On deck after 30 or more years the boat does not have one crack or any sign of crazing that I can see. If you read Dan Spurr's new book Heart of Glass you will notice how Dan pay's tribute to the state of art factory that Charlie Morgan had. He is right and my boat is proof of this. This is an underrated boat that deservs more attention as a true classic plastic.
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Review Date: Fri June 8, 2001 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


If you buy a Morgan 34 and want to modernize it check out what I did. I took a 250 mile trip to the Dry Tortugas and got shook up on my shake down cruise! One painful lesson is that a shallow draft boat cannot carry much bilge water without it coming into the cabin! I put a small pump under the cabin floor and went pump crazy by putting in a total of 4 pumps. If you need to change a fuel filter and you have a R12 Raycor, good luck! The R12 drops down and it's very easy to spill fuel into the bilge. Then if the water gets into the cabin you will have fuel and water all over you. The cabin floor becomes a skating rink!
Trust me and make as many of these improvements as you can. My boat looks like a 3/4 scale version of the Hinckley Bermuda 40!
I am just finishing a extensive renovation of my boat. New windows,six new matching opening ports,5 S.S. cowl vents, teak dorade boxes, teak eye brows, Sea Frost fridge, Heat Shield insulation, 4 Trojan 6 volt batteries, 100 alt, inverter, B & G auto pilot and instruments, Garmin 180 GPS, New paint on entire boat;Petit Pro Poxie, New counter top, new center board cable, new Aquamet 22 Shaft, new three blade prop, new propane gas tank locker, She now has two electric and two manual bilge pumps, a big Raycor top loading fuel filter, cleaning hatches in fuel tank, Power T.V.antenna on the spreaders, Mast steps to the spreaders, a glass deck prism made in Grtmany, PYI dripless packing gland, New lights everywhere. These are most of the things I have done. The previous owners added two scuppers in the cockpit, new winches, extra sail tracks, Ran lines back to the cockpit, added a second hatch, and a new Universal M-430 diesel engine! I am like most of the other M-34 owners in that I am very proud of Saga and I am happy with her. I am taking her back to the Dry Tortugas in July and I hope to have a great time. No boat is perfect and I would love to have a bigger head, hot water, more fuel, and a water maker, but that will be for next year!
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Registered: October 2000
Posts: 2
Review Date: Sun August 8, 2004 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: great value, fine sailor, seaworthy, and attractive
Cons: limited stowage & interior room; most will need upgrades

The Morgan 34 was designed in the mid-sixties by Charley Morgan to compete under the CCA rule. I read somewhere that this design incorporates much of Charley's successful ocean racer "Paper Tiger" albeit in a smaller version.

The M-34 has a traditional appearance, graceful overhangs at bow and stern; very attractive, classic lines. LOA is 34'; design LWL is 24'9"; Beam 10'; draft with board up is 3'3"; with board down, 7'9"; designed displacement 12,500 lbs (when equipped with optional Westerbeke or Perkins diesel, this displacement increases, with corresponding increases in draft and LWL); ballast is cast, in-keel lead of 5,000 lbs; fairly low-aspect ratio, masthead rig; sail area is 550 sq ft; mast is keel-stepped; mast height above DWL is 44'9". Berths are 6'6", with headroom in main cabin of 6'3".

Originally, this boat could be ordered with one of three interior layouts. Mine has an aft galley. The oven and stove is immediately to port as you descend the companionway steps; the galley basin is to starboard, as well as the refrigerator just outboard of the basin. (Originally the fridge was an ice box so large that a former owner's wife was able to get inside. I understand she worked from the interior when they were installing the Adler Barbour refrigeration -- a real sweet installation and a great enhancement, by the way. Even with the addition of much insulation, the fridge is still quite large.) Forward of the galley, the salon has opposing settees, with the starboard settee serving as a decent-sized berth, and the port settee sliding out to make an even larger berth, with an ample pilot berth above and further to port.

Mounted to the bulkhead forward of the salon is a nice formica/teak table which folds down in front of the port settee. The table surface is actually double, the top layer being a leaf, hinged on the starboard edge, which, when un-folded reaches over the starboard settee, creating a full-sized table which can seat four adults comfortably. Forward of the salon is the head with basin to port (shower pan included, but we have not used it), with a hanging locker to starboard, and further up one finds the forward cabin with vee berth, shelves, etc. Ahead of the vee berth is a trangular forepeak, suitable for anchor rode, etc. As far as Morgan 34s go, this layout is encountered least often, but this is the best layout for offshore sailing (according to a 1966 Skipper magazine article published shortly after the M-34 made its debut). Charley Morgan once owned an M-34 with the same layout. I like the openness of this particular layout.

Other layouts included a port-side dinette setup (convertible to a double berth) where mine has the pilot berth/settee, with starboard settee and aft galley; and one had quarter berths in place of the aft galley, with the galley along the entire starboard side of the salon, opposite the dinette. This was the layout most commonly ordered (according to Charley Morgan), and, thus, the one most commonly encountered today.

Original boats lacked many amenities, but are easily upgraded. The pilot berth model, like mine, has berths for five (the layout with the starboard galley has berths for six, as there are quarter berths where my aft galley is located, and the dinette converts to a double berth). With bimini, dodger, cockpit awning, refrigeration, shower, hot & cold pressure water, etc., the M-34 can offer all the niceties of any yacht. Many have tiller steering, but a factory option was Edson pedestal steering (which mine has -- very tight, with absolutely no play, I might add). The 'destroyer' wheel is impressive, but, admittedly, it is difficult to get around the wheel without stepping on the cockpit seats (this concern is not unique to Morgans, however).

Original auxiliary was the Atomic 4, but Westerbeke 4-107 and Perkins 4-108s were factory options. Mine was factory powered with the Westerbeke, of which I approve, but, as this engine adds to the design displacement, the draft will exceed that as designed (which will naturally increase the draft and LWL). My actual LWL may be as much as a foot over original design specs.

Criticisms of the M-34 have included concern regarding the wooden spreaders. There have been reports of rotted spreaders, as these are not made of teak. I have seen it suggested that these be replaced with aluminum. My spreaders appear to be as sound as new. They really add a touch of class to the overall appearance of the boat; if I ever must replace them, the new ones will be wood. Hatches have been mentioned as a concern for offshore work. These are fiberglass and do not have the provision for dogging as securly as modern hatches might have (yet I know of one east coast sailor who says he takes his M-34 offshore annually without concern -- he uses duct tape on the cockpit hatches before heading into heavy weather, and reports that it works fine). Another complaint has been the limited size of the cockpit drains (which I find more than adequate for the Great Lakes), and the size of the cockpit. It has been said that the cockpit is rather large for offshore work. When one observes the modern trend toward large, crowd-friendly cockpits, that criticism seems a little hollow. In regard to the hatches and drains, these things can be remedied with reasonable effort.

The boat has been reported to be "bulletproof." I have owned mine going on four years now, and I have sailed her over three seasons, putting over two thousand miles under her hull. She is very stable, moves gracefully, and is responsive. We've had her in some moderately rough weather, in waves up to ten feet, and she took it in stride -- we remained comfortable and dry. I see no real concerns, even though she is 29 years old. Deck is still gelcoat -- no crazing, though there are a few insignificant hairline gel-coat cracks at a couple stress points. Blistering has not been an issue. On other lists I have heard some talk of rudder delamination and rudder shaft issues on older boats (not Morgans) -- mine is robust, tight and solid.

I must admit, I may be a little too obsessed with this boat to make a valid observation, but I am very satisfied thus far. I checked her out on Carl's boat calculator page at, and she compares very well with better-known blue water boats in the area of motion comfort, etc. (one must keep in mind that this is a theoretical calculation only -- and the relative position of the ballast, i.e., center of gravity, which would significantly affect performance, is not a component of the calculation).

In my conversations via e-mail with numerous Morgan 34 owners, I conclude that there are few inherent problems. One is the c/b winch system. Many report never having had problems, while those who have had problems might have prevented them with a modest increase in maintenance. The mast step is noted to be a concern, as it is frequently wet. The late Sally Morgan informed me that most need to be replaced, if they have not been already. Water penetration at deck mounted hardware sites can be a problem, but one can hardly get away from this (and the Morgans are no more susceptible to this than any other). Careful installation of deck penetrations and simple preventative maintenance is the key here. I have subscribed to several Sailnet lists (in addition to Morgan) and continually see more consternation over leaks into deck core and related problems with other comparable boats than I would ever expect from these Morgans. By the way, my boat's c/b winch appears to be in like-new condition (although it hasn't been changed in years), and performs flawlessly. My boat's mast step is very sound.

The Morgan 34 has limited interior volume compared to many popular modern boats. In this regard, one should consider the March 1999 Cruising World article touting the Morris 34. According to the article (pp 56, 57 Cruising World, March 1999) the Morris 34 was unanimouosly voted by 'boat of the year' judges as the 1999 "Overall Cruising Boat of the Year." The article states that, "The judges felt that this boat embodies many of the features that designers should be encouraged to promote." Especially relevant is the final point CW's writer makes: "The Morris 34 reminds us that the fundamentals of seafaring don't change with the styles. . . . If it defies current styling and the trend toward huge interior volume, maybe there's a lesson there." My point is this: My Morgan 34 (albeit a thirty-plus-year-old design) has more in common with CW's 1999 boat of the year than do most modern boats (even some of the most popular ones).

The Morgan 34 is one of the best kept secrets (and therefore one of the best bargains) in the sailing world. In my analysis, it may be the most underpriced boat on the market today. My hat's off to Charley Morgan -- he did good!
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