Three coats of white Imron and two coats of clear are the secret to the shiny topsides on Liberty, our 1980 Morgan 46 sloop. These were the finishing touches of the total refit we completed in 2001.
Other than the fiberglass hull and aluminum spars, we, and her previous owners before us, replaced almost everything from the plumbing and wiring to the sails and standing rigging. We fitted modern electronics, a powerful refrigeration system, two 16,000-BTU reverse-cycle air-conditioning units, a 1,000-amp- hour battery bank, and a 3,000-watt inverter. To eliminate this model’s penchant for leaks, we replaced the original plastic ports with more seamanlike stainless-steel ones, teak handrails with stainless steel, and the teak toerails with aluminum, which also meant less teak to varnish.
Both the engine and the generator are fully accessible, located in an engine room large enough to crawl around in. Adding proper sound dampening is all it took to turn this space into an engineer’s dream. A pretty boat with a sweeping sheer line, short overhangs, and a low-profile coachroof, the Morgan 46 is an excellent bluewater cruiser. Wide decks allow ease of movement, and the comfortable center cockpit keeps the crew dry. Below the water are a modified-fin keel with 6 feet of draft and a skeg-hung rudder.
The 46 was built to handle Caribbean trade winds, and our boat is stable and steady in a 20-knot blow; nevertheless, despite her 15-ton displacement, Liberty moves out smartly in 10 knots of wind and comes into her own when the breeze picks up over 12, often reaching 7 and 8 knots on a close or beam reach. At the same time, the Morgan 46 offers plenty of cruising comfort. The galley is roomy enough for two to cook up a meal side by side, with ample refrigerator and freezer space for an extended passage. The spacious saloon makes the boat look wider than its 13-foot-6-inch beam. The fresh veneer on Liberty’s cabinetry and her new teak-and-holly sole give her interior a cheery glow. Fourteen opening ports and seven opening hatches make her bright and airy.
Sailors familiar with the Morgan 46 often identify it as “that boat with the bathtub.” As part of her overhaul, we tore out Liberty’s tub, along with the whole aft head, and built in its place a more functional fore-and-aft computer desk. The large aft cabin now has a king-size bed and enough room to dress and move about with ease.
The boat’s voluminous interior affords ample storage in cavernous compartments under the aft bunk and V-berth and in smaller cabinets and full-length lockers distributed throughout the boat. With capacity for 300 gallons of water and 130 gallons of fuel, Liberty is ready to carry her owners far from home.
Over a period of about six years beginning in 1978, Morgan Yachts produced several versions of the Morgan 46, including one for bareboat charter. Today, they list at prices from well under $100,000 to over $200,000. Time has proven the design, and Liberty’s refit shows that with dedication and adequate money for upgrades, you can bring a 25-year-old vessel up to par with more recent models.
Suzanne Giesemann (www.libertysails.com) is a cruiser, speaker, and the author of two boating books, Living a Dream and, just released by Paradise Cay Publications, It’s Your Boat, Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water.
LOA 46′ 6″ (14.17 m.)
LWL 39′ 3″ (11.96 m.)
Beam 13′ 6″ (4.11 m.)
Draft 6′ 0″ (1.83 m.)
Sail Area (sloop) 912 sq. ft. (84.7 sq. m.)
Ballast 8,400 lb. (3,818 kg.)
Displacement 30,000 lb. (13,636 kg.)
Engine Perkins 4-154 diesel
Designer Charley Morgan and Henry Scheel