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Dennisail 04-20-2010 05:03 AM

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

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.


Dennisail 04-20-2010 05:04 AM

Link to boat

Dennisail 04-20-2010 05:06 AM

Jeff_H 04-20-2010 07:50 AM

In most ways, the North American 40's were prototypical IOR boats of their era. I think they are a Dick Carter design, and Carter's designs, while a little idiosyncratic were better sailing boats than some of the more extreme designs of that era.

The issue with a Pacific Crossing on one of these is the short comings of the basic design brief. IOR boats of that era were designed to be sailed with a large amount of crew weight on the rail, and while the NA40's were not as bad as later designs, that piece of their design brief (large crew requiements) makes them pretty marginal as distance cruisers. These are designs that do not have a large carrying capacity for consumables, although more than some might think since normal race crew weight would be somewhere around 1500-1800.

These boats require very large overlapping headsails and enormous spinnakers to get decent performance in light to moderate winds, but since they are a little tender, need frequent headsail changes as wind speed increase. The need for headsails on these boats that were so huge that you would not be able to get away with a more moderate headsail or with partially furling the sails on a roller furler.

These boats are positively scary dead downwind and at deep reaching angles (extremely large roll angles and excitation rolling which can lead to broaches and death rolls in the kind of conditions that you would expect on a Pacific crossing.

What I am really suggesting is that while it may be possible to cross the Pacific with a North American 40, the NA-40 would be a pretty poor choice. Think of it as taking an old race horse, that has been used for trail riding and trying to pull a carriage with it.


sailingfool 04-20-2010 08:43 AM

54 Attachment(s)
If a designer builds a 40' boat with this tankage:
Fuel Tanks: 27 Gal.
Water: 27 Gal
he is not designing a boat he expects to sail offshore, so very little of her design would be suitable, or none. Although not a bad looking boat for low-bucks around-the-bouys.

bellefonte 04-20-2010 09:17 AM

If you go, i will...

wunhunglo 04-20-2010 01:27 PM

Morgan NA 40
Despite being an IOR vintage design, there's nothing about the design itself that would stop it from being a good cruiser. It's what you do to prep it and yourself for a trip like that.

Some have highlighted some bad traits of older IOR designs, but this one has fewer of those vices. It won't need 12 crew on the rail if you are smart with having enough reefs in the main (e.g. 3 with the third being a reduction of at least 40% of the mainsail area) coupled with a good range fo heavy air headsails.

Heavy weather jibs and storm sails: a 100% foretriangle #3, an 80% #4 heavy weather jib (with grommets installed for luff ties); a 65% to 70% #5 hi-visibility heavy weather jib (with grommets, AND luff ties already installed); storm jib and trysail.

Cruising with winds between 15 and 20 knots, a 100% #3 will do fine for beating, and close, to beam reaching.
I think the #4 would be comfortable in winds between 20 and 35knots and the #5 between 30 and 40+knots. After that, it's whatever you are comfortable with in terms of boat handling and how the boat handles.

You might want to re-post your link. It doesn't seem to be working. There are 4 on Yachtworld at the moment. The one that seems to be the best prepped with deck hardware and sail inventory is the blue hull on the Great Lakes. That one may however have been raced hard, but if it's been well maintained with attention to detail, it still may be better than one that has sat at the dock

Compared to the others, it has good winches with respect to power ratios. Their placement may be more suited towards fully crewed racing efficiency, but as you will no doubt have an autopilot or self steering vane, it shouldn't be an issue. You might be more disappointed with lesser winches. A couple of the others on Yachtworld seem under-powered in the winch department, and have minimal and old sail inventory.

Tankage for that trip is very shy of what you should have.
A watermaker could be good but they sometimes pose other issues (clogged filters, power consumption).
Supplementing water tankage with flexible Vetus tanks is an option. Fuel may not need as much additional tankage if you are smart with planning electrical power consumption. Adding solar and wind generation should definitely be in your plans. An autopilot is probably your biggest power hog. A self steering wind vane would be the most efficient.

Having radar isn't absolutely essential for making the trip. AIS B would be a good addition.

It sounds like an interesting project. Pay a premium for the best surveyor you can find.

KeelHaulin 04-20-2010 01:53 PM

I suggest you chat with SimonV on this forum; he sailed an Ericson 39B back to OZ two years ago; mostly single-handed. The boat was already equipped for cruising; he made about 2k in additions (solar, tow generator, etc) and sailed from SF directly to the Marquesas. The most difficult part of his entire trip if I recall was sailing out along the coast of California where he was caught up in a gale.

I disagree with Jeff H; I feel that this boat is suitable if properly equipped. The water tankage issue could be resolved with a watermaker; and extra jerry jugs of diesel could be stowed in either the cockpit or lashed to the deck to serve as that extra rail meat (but I would move them to a safer place if heavy wind/seas were approaching). The long passages to Marquesas and on to Tahiti; etc are done totally under sail, so with adequate power generation you should not need to run the engine much unless you are stuck at the doldrums.

While I agree on the issue of downwind roll stability; I'd say that if you were to sail it DDW you would want a whisker pole and preventer setup; that would stabilize the sails from flopping and I'd venture to say that a wind vane would do a better job controlling the roll than a human at the helm. SimonV's boat had better roll stability once it was loaded with all of his equipment/food/booz for offshore passage. When we escorted him to the SF Gate his boat was only heeling about 10deg while we had 20 deg or more.

On the issue of making this trip with little time on the ocean; I'd say that you should consider doing the trip in stages. Simon sailed directly to the Marquesas; but he was much more experienced. I suggest that you do the Baja Ha-Ha (a cruiser oriented race/cruise from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas); then winter in Mexico cruising the Sea of Cortez. Then do the Pacific Puddle Jump over to the Marquesas in the spring. If you limit your search radius to Southern California or Mexico you will avoid needing to make a sail down around Pt Conception.

Other equipment you should have available would be SSB, EPIRB, weatherfax, and possibly an AIS if not on your list yet. You want to avoid storms and weather systems that bring 30 ft seas so daily review of the weather fax data would be important. If you go with other "Puddle Jumpers" you can keep in contact and talk about the weather conditions via SSB.

KeelHaulin 04-20-2010 02:24 PM


Originally Posted by wunhunglo (Post 595150)
Heavy weather jibs and storm sails: a 100% foretriangle #3, an 80% #4 heavy weather jib (with grommets installed for luff ties); a 65% to 70% #5 hi-visibility heavy weather jib (with grommets, AND luff ties already installed); storm jib and trysail.

I would reduce this down to a heavy Dacron 125% cruising jib (Quantum or similar cruising sail); on a roller -reefing- headstay (a Harken MK-III or newer). Then you can reef the headsail to any heavy weather configuration; or completely drop/stow and deploy a storm jib either on the foil (which you could later roll up) or hoist on an inner forestay if you know that a storm is approaching. Your backup would be a ~100% headsail in the event that the 125% was damaged; and/or the existing sail inventory.

A heavy dacron main with 3'rd reef would be my choice for the main. If it's bad enough to need a trysail; you might as well sail on the poles and hull windage. I would not risk removing the main from the mast track in heavy wind. Just my opinion; we have not sailed in these conditions.

wunhunglo 04-20-2010 04:47 PM

Roller Reefing Headsails
I have a hatred for roller reefing a headsail. No issues with roller furling i.e. all the way out, or furled all the way in, but a partially "reefed" headsail not only has terrible shape, but frequently, the associated gear typically isn't up for the job e.g. the furling rope gets snarled on the drum with the load, the furling line through the usually flimsy fairleads on the stanchions adds friction, you need to take it to a winch for a reefing application..etc etc...

Lastly, to handle a roller reefed situation, I think the headsail would have to be overbuilt, particularly the leech and clew. After all that, the shape is still generally not something you can seriously go to windward with in heavy air.

In storm conditions, a fully furled headsail adds a lot of pointless windage.

I prefer to use the right sized headsail with the right cut for the wind range, but that's just me. Day sailing for a few hours? Sure roller reef it, but offshore with heavy air for days on end? Not for me.

Edit: re: the trysail, a separate track should be added that goes down to the base of the mast at the coachroof, so that the trysail can be setup ready to hoist with the mainsail stowed on the boom and without having to strip it entirely from the mast.

Offshore makes you think differently. I would not rely totally on bare poles. I prefer to be sailing with some control and given that, not have a boom flogging around or getting buried to leeward in seas, hence the need for a trysail.

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