Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Hardin Voyager & Morgan Nelson Marek
First of all let me make one minor correction. Nelson- Marek did not design the Morgan 43. They designed the 454 (also called a 45) and they designed the 36. Both were IOR era designs. While you sometimes see the 43 ascribed to Nelson- Marek from everything that I have been able to dig up they had nothing to do with the 43. There is a Nelson Marek 43 but it is an IMS race boat.
As to your two boats in question the Hardin is a heavily construced character boat. They have their strong followers but from reading discussions with owners and watching them underway, I have concluded that they are neither great light air boats nor really good heavy air boats. Obviously at 33,000 lbs these are very heavy boats. This really hurts light air performance. At an approximately 25% ballast to displacemnt ratio, these are also lightly ballasted boats. Combining this light ballast ratio, the high center of gravity implied by wooden masts and their shoal draft, these are boats that do not stand to their rig as well as you would like for a true offshore design.
While there is school of thought that advocates lots of weight for going offshore, weight, in and of itself, does nothing good for a boat. It does not make it strong, or stabile, or comfortable in a seaway. In my mind the Hardins are the poster child for the weight does nothing good point of view.
The Morgan 43 are reasonably well constructed boats with a nicely modeled hull form. They appear to sail well in a reasonably wide range fo sailing conditions. At 23,000 lbs the Morgan will have a better light air performance and will be more easily driven. With nearly the same amount of ballast, the Morgan should stand to her sail plan. Neither boat would be my first choice as an offshore cruiser in this price range but I would probably lean toward the Morgan.
If I were looking for an offshore cruising boat in the gneral size na dprice range that we are discussing, I would probably be looking for Peterson 44 (Kelly-Peterson 44). To me these are about as ideal as they come in this genre. With an easily driven hull, higher ballast to displacement ratio, high density ballast, efficient cutter rig, lots of opening ports and hatches, enough fuel and water to go anywhere, and a layout that just about can''t be beat. That would be my first choice if I were going the heavier offshore cruising boat route with your budget.