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andersbro 12-10-2012 02:42 PM

Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33
Hello all,
I have two sailboats (at least of concern here) and I am wanting to develop the boat best suited to blue water sailing. One is a Southern Cross 28 and the other is a 1969 Morgan 33 keelboat (not an out islander). The thing is that the SC28 will need some bucks to replace rigging, sails, and someone has suggested the engine is a bit small so maybe... The Morgan on the other hand has new mast boom, rigging, sails, engine, winches... However the Morgan does require some major interior refitting.
Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks bunches,

CalebD 12-10-2012 04:05 PM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33

Just found this about Southern Cross boats; the SC 28' was used by Donna Lange on her circumnavigation a few years ago: Welcome

Sounds like the Morgan might need a bit less upgrading though.

Nice dilemma!

andersbro 12-10-2012 05:15 PM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33
Ya - Donna also has a great website describing what she had to do to her SC28 to get it us to the task, and it seemed to me that it was a LOT of work! (I mean fun) I am not sure if the required efforts were a result of the boat needing lots of TLC, or whether they were beefing up sort of upgrades to handle the knock downs, heavy seas, etc. The thing is, the $$! I figure it will take me about $10K-$15K to get the SC28 ready (new-resewn used sails, new SS rigging, new chainplates, a few refits below deck and a bit above deck as well. I would probably forgo the new engine), and yet only maybe $5K ("just" cabinetry below decks)to get the Morgan33 going. Being as the Morgan is much bigger in the cabin, and is faster (so where am I going so fast???) it may be preferable? I just sent an email to Charley Morgan, but I don't know why he should answer such a newbie as I, but heck it is worth the try! Again, Thanks for any thoughts. Anders

CalebD 12-10-2012 07:46 PM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33

I'm no naval designer or architect but Bob Perry is and he is a member of Sailnut who checks in from time to time. He might be able to give you insights that I certainly cannot. If you get your post count over 10+ you could send him a private message (PM) and ask him directly about your dilemma.

If you look at the world wide distribution of Morgan sailboats: Boat Database Statistics
you will see that while many of them are in the US there are quite a few in the Mediterranean and elsewhere - so they DO cross oceans in them. That distribution represents ALL models of Morgan sailboats though and not just the M33.

I think that a lot depends on how you want to use your boat and where you want to be able to sail to. If you want a bullet proof boat for doing a circumnav than I'd follow in Donna's steps and refit the SC double ender but for less adventurous pursuits it may not matter so much and the Morgan 33 might be just fine.

I'll send Bob Perry a PM and ask him to look at this thread for you.

andersbro 12-10-2012 09:04 PM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33
Caleb, Thanks again for the info. I have a feeling that link might be a big help in connecting with other M33 owners to figure out how she sails and handles the heavy weather. And thanks so much for forwarding my inquiry down the line. Very much appreciated! I thought I had heard a comment a while back that you can pretty much retrofit any boat to serve the needs of blue water sailing (within reason of course!) but I guess the question is how much ($ and time) it might set one back. I think that the thing I think of most is when all hell breaks loose in the form of one of those really nasty storms, would I come out alive with a boat that I could still sail? (ie from where ever I am in the large blue expanse to the nearest port so that I even have the opportunity to say to heck with it all - being too scared to continue!)
Thanks again,

CalebD 12-10-2012 11:57 PM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33
I can't seem to find Bob Perry's user id on this forum. I could send him a PM on another forum where I can find him (Anything Sailing Forum) or you could ask your post over there too. I did ask sailnet member Jeff_H to look at this thread as he is an architect and has a long history working around the boat building industry. He has also sailed a lot of different boats. Hopefully he will chime in.

From my own limited perspective (not familiar with Morgan build quality and design) my knee jerk reaction would be the Southern Cross, as the brand has a proven track record of crossing oceans. Smaller boats should be easier to single hand, if you will be single handing.

Heck, a guy who has the same model boat as I do (Tartan 27') did some extensive modifications to and took it from the US to the Marshall Islands in the S. Pacific. I guess that supports the theory that any decent boat can be refitted to do some blue water work. I guess it all depends on your wallet and your patience.

andersbro 12-11-2012 05:59 PM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33
Caleb, my knee seems to be jerking in the same manner that your does (ie tending toward favoring the SC28) I really would hate to go to all that effort of retrofitting the M33 and end up with a boat that is not good for racing nor blue water sailing!

When I was a kid I made a lovely kayak from wood and canvas. I made it to be nicely maneuverable (for white water use), which it was in spades. But I was chagrined to find that the construction was so light that the wooden stringers simply snapped on impact, making this kayak useless for anything but going around in circles in a gentle river or a lake! Thank heavens I didn't spend much on that project!

By the way, I do plan to sail solo. So far in the San Francisco Bay Area all of my excursions have been single handed, and I am slowly getting a bit more confident that I can handle the challenge.

CalebD 12-11-2012 09:08 PM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33
Sounds like it is racing AND blue water capability you are interested in - as well as being able to single hand.
I like using these simple spec sheets for comparing 2 boats:
SOUTHERN CROSS 28 sailboat specifications and details on
MORGAN 33 sailboat specifications and details on
There is also the sail calculator that will compare 2 boats for you: Sail Calculator Pro v3.53 - 2500+ boats

There are lots of conflicting data points you can look at though:
- The LWL of the M33 is about 24' while the SC28 is about 20' which should make the M33 faster
- The M33 weighs more than the SC28 by over 1 ton which may make her less nimble in light winds. It may also make her less tender in winds.
Then there are the SA/Disp, Bal/Disp and Disp/length ratios which don't help me too much viscerally. This is why I'm hoping that one of the guys with actual design credentials shows up to comment.

I have nothing against Morgans per se. The only one I was on was a M36 that was sadly in need of ... everything and was a mooring queen - before it lost its mast. A boat like that in top shape could go places I am sure.

I think that Donna Lange's circumnav proved that the SC 28' can do it - even though she had some serious set backs along the way - IIRC. It costs real money to re-fit a boat for the big ocean though.

For an ocean going vessel it seems one should have:
- life raft
- radar
- SSB or Sat phone
- storm drogue (Jordan Series Drogue or similar)
- good medical kit
according to ARC guidelines, all of which can cost a pretty penny.

andersbro 12-12-2012 07:47 AM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33

Thanks so much for being willing to chat about my dilemma! I really appreciate someone with whom I can explore ideas. It certainly helps solidify my thoughts. Thanks also for your links. I have bookmarked these for future reference as well as myu current needs.

I was very fortunate to touch base with one M33 owner, who had this to say: " ... I do feel the boat is basically sound for blue water sailing..." Apparently he has made quite a few modifications for coastal cruising in New England and seems to very much enjoy his boat.

Per the comparison of the Sail Calculator, the SC28 and M33 appear to be quite similar, with the M33 edging out the SC28 in a few places, but as you suggest, I am not sure if the numbers say it all. So yes, it would be great to have some on-the-water comments. I am hoping to strike up a conversation with the one M33 owner who has sailed his a fair amount.

As far as the Blue Water sailing equipment goes, I expect that these things would be required for whichever boat one settles upon. In my case, I have been slowly gathering the toys. I found a nice ICOM SSB radio (if it has not been stolen in the recent burglary of my home in CA) and I got one of those fancy broadband radars in a sale at thbe end of last year. So now what remains is a life raft.

Along these lines, the M33 is probably a bit better as it has much more room above deck than the SC28, with all that space to store stuff! As it is, in sailing the SC28 in the Bay Area, I have found the deck to be quite tight, allowing little extra space for spare fuel jugs, water jugs, life rafts, dingys, solar panels..... Even below decks the SC28 feels somewhat tight. Maybe this is good as in a blow, you won't be thrown about quite so ar, but I expect that it will be very difficult to fit all the goodies inside!

So now, with the one limited comment of the M33 owner, the Sail Calculator comparison, and these other considerations, the M33 looks a little better. No, I am not really headed toward racing (although I have heard that any sailor becomes a racer when he even gets close to another boat!), but the idea of having a 20% increase in speed means that you can go to 20% more places in a given period of time? I expect that after a few weeks on the rolling deck, the outlook of green rising up above the briny deep is a welcome sight! So heck , 10days on the M33 vs 12 on the SC28???

And then of course there is this question, what am I going to do with the M33 if I don't get her ready to sail? She is a beached whale right now and it will take quite an effort to get her down to the beach. If I don't tend to her needs, my guess is that she will end up rotting in the mountains - what a very BAD image!!!

andersbro 12-12-2012 07:52 AM

Re: Southern Cross 28 seaworthiness vs Morgan 33
Oh and I forgot, there was one other reply to my private inquiries. Although it was not personal experience of the writer..."I exchanged emails with Charley Morgan some time ago and he told me the 33 Classic (not the Outisland) was one of his favorite boats as far as its sailing qualities go. We had planed to use ours for cruising and while I am sure it would have been quite capable, I feel the interior space is a bit limited." So quite indirectly, I have the thoughts of Charley Morgan, but I am not exactly sure what "favorite boat" implies. Form the point of view of racing it might be fantastic, but it might be a bit low to the water and wet, not so good for cruising? (which is why the 33OI has higher top-sides?)

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