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Old 11-05-2010
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Ideas to modify early 70's cruiser/racer to singlehanded

I've got a 1970 Morgan 42 MK1 cruiser/racer. I'm starting the list of requirements to convert it to singlehanded operation in order to come up with a cost of conversion vs cost of buying a purpose built shorthanded offshore capable craft of similar size.

As the Morgan is a typical early 70s with large overhangs...also interested in the possibility of hull modifications to improve speed and downwind stability in a seaway....adding a "chin" up front maybe?

I've got lots of toerail leaks so the deck is going to have to come off...therefore I can make some major deck modifications. Money is tight, all above assumes I'll do most of the work myself.

Do a google on Morgan 42 and you'll see what I've got.
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list so far:

1) add anchor pulpit & winch & spin tack.
2) roller furling headsail & self tacking staysail.
3) dinghy storage in front of mast (like to avoid rear davits for cosmetics or is this unrealistic?)
4) Add enclosed/semi protected helm station (pilothouse?)
5) all control lines lead aft
6) convert from wheel to tiller for easier auto pilot
7) add autopilot
8) open up transom to self bail????
9) replace all winches with self tailing.
10) convert from pole to furling asy spin
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Old 11-05-2010
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honestly........

sell the boat and buy a newer model with the items you want in place. It would be cheaper, more sound etc etc.

Then again, for some the boat is not to sail, but to build or remodel.....in which case, have fun!

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Old 11-05-2010
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That's a pretty boat... On the face of it I'd agree with Marty that unless your primary aim is the project, if you're not happy with what you've got sell it and move on.

The scope of work you're contemplating includes structural issues and would require some skill and experience to properly execute. Despite the best of intentions you run a real risk of ending up with some kind of oddball boat that may not perform as hoped for. Resale and/or any sort of residual value would be suspect as well.

I'm guessing you got this boat as a 'steal'... as you'll see there's really no such thing as a free boat.. or a 'good cheap' boat either.

In any event, best of luck with this.
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Old 11-05-2010
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First of all, I always suggest that when a person considers a major restoration and adaptation, that the boat in question should be the best 'platform' that they can afford that also potentially meets their long term goals so that the results will justify the efforts. in a general sense, the basic design of the Morgan 42 makes it a less than ideal single-hander. Boats like these did not track well and require comparatively large sail inventories to accommodate the full range of wind speeds likely to be encountered and so require more sail changes than is ideal for a single-hander (furlers really do not cut it on designs like these). While you may be able to adapt this design to be an acceptable single-handed coastal cruiser, it will never be an ideal single-handed cruiser especially if a large percentage of offshore work in your plans. As a serious and frequent singlehander as I look at your list of modifications intended to try to improve the Morgan as a singlehander, I would suggest some are improvements, and some make the problem of boat handling worse.

Things that make sense to do to convert to a single-hander:
  • add anchor pulpit & winch.
This is a mixed bag. Having efficient and easy to use ground tackle management equipment is important for a single-hander. You need to be able to raise and lower an anchor in any conditions by yourself.

As a singlehander, you are not really able to control the engine and steering from the fore deck, but given the limitations of the design of your boat, it would not be easy to install a set up where you can reliably raise and lower an anchor from the cockpit either.

Part of this is a limitation of the boat. Boats with long ends do not tolerate a lot of weight on the foredeck or hanging out over the bow. Going to full chain, would impact the motion of a boat significantly adversely and really begin to hurt sailing ability in a chop so you would ideally want to locate the windlass and chain storage aft of your waterline point of entry. That may be doable but often the interior layout of a boat will preclude that possibility.
  • roller furling headsail- Convenient but may not be the right answer. You may do better with reefable headsails with a downhaul.
  • all control lines lead aft- A must!
  • convert from wheel to tiller for easier auto pilot- This one is very complicated and may not be the right answer in your case. I don't have the time to discuss the pro's and con's.
  • add autopilot- A must!
  • replace all winches with self tailing. This is a good idea but more importantly the strategic placement and ergonomics become critical on a singlehander. Organizing your deck is one key and comparatively inexpensive component of adapting a boat to be a better singlehander.
Things not to do:
  • Add a chin or alter the under water configuration. These were actually some of the better sailing boats of that era and altering the bow or underbody configuration would be likely todo more harm than good.
  • self tacking staysail- These boats have very small SA/D's. Any staysail that you would add would be too small for most sailing conditions that you are likely to sail in. Because of the narrow beam and foretriangle configuration, it is hard to make a successful cutter out of these boats and adding a permanent jibstay would only make tacking the big genoas these boats need more difficult.
  • Add enclosed/semi protected helm station (pilothouse?)- as a singlehander you need to be able to steer and trim sails at the same time. Visibilty and proximaty is critical, and having control lines lead to a position that is easy to reach is important. A pilot house greatly complicates those issues.
  • open up transom to self bail- There is no practical way to do this. Big drains hopefully above the waterline are your only answer, but given the low sheer on your boat (like mine) it is hard to do that since the cockpit deck is so close to the waterline in order to allow a reasonable depth cockpit.
  • convert from pole to furling asy spin- Assymetrics are great when they work, but they are much more prone to getting wrapped around the forestay during a jibe. This is no big deal with a bigger crew like you find on a raceboat, but it is an impossible situation on a singlehander where it is more unlikely that you can haul yourself up the forestay to clear the tangle.
Jeff
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Old 11-05-2010
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Thanks for the replies. I have the Morgan so it is more a matter of calulating the cost of conversion vs buying X and evaluating the tradeoffs.

What I like about the boat is the size, heavyish D, fin keel and skeg hung rudder w/enclosed prop. She moves pretty well for a short LWL and although it's a beast to hoist and manage the spinnaker now she will really fly once its up.

But as pointed out other aspects of the boat leave a lot to be desired when contemplating short handed work.

With retirement coming soon I'll be ready to graduate from racing a 20ft sportboat to living a more serious singlehanded lifestyle. What is not clear for me is if blasting up and down the Ches Bay will be enough to scratch my itch or if I'll need to go farther.

Maybe a good plan would be to make some of the easy & inexpensive & reversable changes to tackle etc. that would make it an "acceptable" short handed coastal cruiser for a year or two. Then either stick to the coast or sell it and move to X?

X being a high(ish) performance, spartan, shorthanded offshore capable boat around 40 ft. Any suggestions?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoomee View Post
X being a high(ish) performance, spartan, shorthanded offshore capable boat around 40 ft. Any suggestions?
An Olson 40 would be at the top of my list.
There are not many available, but they usually
come on the market at a resonable price.
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Spot on COOL, the Olson 40 fits...but with only 29 hulls it might be tough to find.

Maybe some of the Classe 40s from late 90s could be found too. I often wondered if you followed the racing classes if you could find last years sails & rigs at a steep discount?
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Ideas to modify early 70's cruiser/racer to singlehanded-picture011.jpg

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Old 11-06-2010
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Have you considered the C&Cs or Cal? Also, a good reefing system (preferable from the cockpit).
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