When I step aboard the Moorings 50.5, the newest monohull to join The Moorings charter fleet, two words come immediately to mind: functional and workmanlike.
Charter boats constitute the last large class of working sailboats; their worth derives not from their aesthetics or sailing characteristics necessarily but from hard economics. Ideally, the designs evolve over time as designer and builder incorporate feedback from those who charter, service, and own the boats. The Moorings, designer Berret Racoupeau, and builder Beneteau began their partnership more than 20 years ago with the Moorings 432. Their latest offering will appeal to charterers looking to combine monohull sailing performance with multihull carrying capacity and privacy. It brings together three essential qualities for charter success: a crowd-friendly layout above and below decks, straightforward controls readily mastered by inexperienced sailors, and simple, accessible systems.
Berret Racoupeau has designed spaces abovedecks and below that can accommodate a large number of people with minimal congestion by providing multiple paths through the boat and eliminating most choke points. On deck, most boathandling can be managed by a single person from behind one of the twin wheels without interfering with circulation from the swim platform forward to the cockpit seats or out to the side decks. The placement of the chart plotter on a ball mount under the aft end of the table ensures that it will always be visible to the helmsman, even with a cockpit full of people. The mainsheet attaches to an overhead arch, and all lines and sail controls are positioned in the forward and aft ends of the cockpit, eliminating the need for crew to dodge the mainsheet or traveler and to climb over one another to handle sails.
Down below, two double cabins at either end of the boat open off a central living space made bright and airy by 6 feet 8 inches of headroom, white liners, and plenty of natural light. The large seating area to starboard with a U-shaped settee and a centerline bench keep the eating and drinking crowd on one side of the boat while allowing passage fore and aft through the wide aisle running alongside the generous in-line galley. Each of the four double cabins can comfortably accommodate a couple and has its own head, increasing privacy and reducing interior traffic. There’s even a crew cabin in the forepeak that comes complete with a head and sink and is accessed through a hatch on the foredeck. The settee in the main saloon converts to a double berth, allowing this 50-foot boat to sleep up to 11 people without crowding.
Simple controls and powered winches and a windlass make motoring, sailing, and anchoring push-button easy. The diesel provides plenty of power; a bow thruster ensures precision during docking maneuvers. All controls for the traditional full-batten mainsail are led aft to winches on either side of the companionway; the one to port is powered. Lazy jacks, a stacking mainsail, and two jiffy reefs make for foolproof sailhandling. Electric primary winches within easy reach of the wheels allow the helmsman to tack or jibe the headsail unaided. The hydraulic linear-drive autopilot can be activated from the helm via a button. Even a neophyte can raise or lower the anchor on the well-organized bow platform using the handheld control for the electric windlass. One moderately experienced sailor could manage this boat, leaving the rest free to help or not, as they prefer.
The Moorings 50.5 includes as standard most of the luxuries now considered mandatory on charter boats: refrigeration, air-conditioning, a microwave, electric heads, a flat-screen TV/DVD, an autopilot, a chart plotter, and a generator to power them all. These systems will break, and when they do, they must be able to be fixed or serviced during a 24-hour turnaround. Beneteau’s simple, robust, and accessible systems installations facilitate such maintenance. Panels on three sides allow complete access to the engine, and well-labeled battery-control switches on the face of the double berth in the port cabin are easily reached and understood.
When it comes to sailing, the Moorings 50.5 offered acceptable performance in disappointingly light air, making 4 knots upwind into 6 to 8 knots of fluky breeze. The boat hit 5 knots with the wind on the beam. The sails will deliver plenty of power in the trade winds, and the easy sailhandling should encourage an inexperienced crew to keep the engine off and the sails up long enough to feel a thrill.
As a charter boat, the Moorings 50.5 has only a few flaws. The helm felt a bit heavy. The handgrips along the coachroof are too far inboard and don’t extend forward of the mast. And wind-driven rain from astern could find its way through the slatted wooden companionway doors, as could a determined intruder. But the basic suitability of this boat for chartering far outweighs these minor shortcomings.
The Moorings 50.5 is available for purchase through the Moorings Ownership Program, and owners will earn a fixed income that should cover the loan payment and the right to charter their boat or a sister ship at any Moorings location for up to 12 weeks each year while paying no operating expenses. At the end of the five-year period, owners may keep their boat in charter if The Moorings agrees, sell it through The Moorings in-house global brokerage business, or take possession of it. At that point, the boat will have been chartered for around 26 weeks per year. That said, The Moorings personnel can be expected to maintain the boat to a high standard. So, barring some serious accident while in service, the boat should enjoy its second life.
Overall, the Moorings 50.5 is a functional and workmanlike boat, an honest tool designed to do its job well.
Beth A. Leonard is an offshore cruiser, author, and CW_ Boat of the Year judge._
LOA 50′ 7″ (15.42 m.)
LWL 43′ 3″ (13.18 m.)
Beam 15′ 10″ (4.82 m.)
Draft 6′ 6″ (2.00 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 1,187 sq. ft. (110.28 sq. m.)
Ballast 9,500 lb. (4,309 kg.)
Displacement 27,954 lb. (12,680 kg.)
SA/D (100%) 20.6
Water 259 gal. (980 l.)
Fuel 105 gal. (400 l.)
Holding 42 gal. (160 l.)
Mast Height 63′ 5″ (19.35 m.)
Engine 110-hp. Yanmar
Designer Berret Racoupeau Yacht
Moorings Yacht Ownership