Moody 45 DS – Getting in the mood

Thinking outside the square is never easy, but the designers of the radical new Moody 45DS have done just that, reports Kevin Green.

The Moody 45 deck saloon’s modern lines, angular hull and straight stem ensure this yacht receives plenty of attention wherever it goes, and Australian Hanse distributor Windcraft is understandably excited about the concept. Managing director Peter Hrones expects the innovative yacht to appeal to many boating types, including catamaran sailors, motorboaters and seasonal liveaboards.

The boat has an interesting pedigree, with the established British Moody brand, traditionally synonymous with solid cruising boats, bought out by Hanse around a year ago. A clever move by owner Michael Schmidt, who decided to target a new market for the successful German company. He wisely took on Moody chief designer Bill Dixon, who relished the challenge of putting some big boat ideas into a 13-plus-metre hull.

The result brings the motor-sailer concept right up to date. The beamy and tall epoxy hull contains a voluminous living space with an airy saloon and plenty of storage. However, the space is hidden well, partly due to the sunken cabin-top layout. The strongly built angular hull weighs in at a solid 13.6 tonnes and features a hard-chine ridge to aid stability. Its elongated keel comes in a standard draught 1.99m with a shallower version available. A lifting keel is also an option. Steering is by twin rudder and the shaft-drive 110hp Yanmar fitted to the test boat (75hp is standard) completed a well-appointed fit-out.

On deck
Stepping aboard via the fold-down transom/swim ladder epitomises the 45DS concept – user-friendly and inviting. With vision right through the patio-style doors to the saloon, the visitor immediately feels part of things. Boarding across the topsides is also easy because fold-down bulwark doors are another good feature. Twin wheels and wide beam give plenty of cockpit space, with ample benches on the transom allowing the steerer comfort yet enough vision along the gunwales. Twin Raymarine instruments at eyeball height on the hard part of the bimini are perfectly positioned and behind the cockpit table the E80 chartplotter can easily be seen from both helms.

Underfoot, a huge locker can store a rubber dinghy and the emergency steering shaft is visible. Similarly, in the saloon sole, a spacious climb-in engine compartment uses the entire beam to house the optional generator (Fischer Panda 4000 or 8000 models) and watermaker. Back in the cockpit, bench seats, shaded under the partly removable bimini, afford crew and guests weather protection and – if the optional barbecue is fitted into the cockpit table – cosy alfresco dinning.

The centre part of the bimini can be wound in, but the review boat had the optional electric sunroof, which is operated by a switch immediately forward of the saloon doors. With the mainsheet block-andtackle controls out of the way on the roof only twin electric Lewmar 54 AEST winches intrude on this otherwise motorboat-like space.

Thanks to Hanse’s trademark self-tacking headsail, there are not other sheets to fuss with. I can definitely see a lot of couples liking this area, especially if one of them is not a sailor and simply enjoys lounging. Moving around on deck would also be kind to the reticent sailor because the solid guard rails combined with the bulwarks reduce the feeling of vulnerability as you go forward.

Combined with the deck saloon top-mounted rails, there’s plenty of support. Quality touches include substantial pop-up cleats midships (six in total) and with shrouds inboard on the fore-cabin the layout is neat, further enhanced by the large flush-deck hatches. Anchoring would probably be the only reason to go right forward but nothing protrudes here – the 25kg Delta anchor swings out on a retracting gas strut arm for easy deployment, as sales director Bob Vinks demonstrated for me.

Rig
The review boat rig was functional with fully battened Hood main (though North Sails may be used in future) and slab reefed, with easy hoisting from the lazyjack-enclosed bag on the Selden spars. Walking out onto the solid part of the bimini helped deployment as well. With the design of this boat very much aimed towards comfort and accommodation, the below-decks area doesn’t disappoint. Combine this area with the walk-in cockpit, and you’ve got one of the most usable spaces I’ve seen on a sailing monohull of this size. “It makes sense when you consider 80 percent of the usage is in this area,” explained Bob Vinks of Windcraft.

Decor

The dark-stained mahogany comes standard (cherrywood an optional extra) and the finish contrasts strongly with the cream leather-finished upholstery on the longitudinal starboard couch and, with a similar fore and aft layout of the port galley, the entire area is uncluttered and functional. Surrounded by large windows and with the engine controls combined in the port forward navigation station, it’s a self-contained area.

For privacy, pull-down blinds on all windows ensure the saloon can be kept cosy. Galley space around the three-burner gas stove is good with plenty of storage in the L-shaped Corian-finished work area, which comes with deep sinks. Apart from the dual-opening fridge, a dedicated drinks fridge is located beside the glass patio doors and the standard of finish on all joints and drawers is top notch – something Hanse has always excelled at.

Good features include the fold-out main table, the pull-out drinks-holder drawer and general fittings.

Accommodation

Accommodation forward comprises three cabins. The spacious owner’s cabin is replete with island bed, large ensuite bathroom and a separate enclosed shower stall port side. Rectangular portholes and hatches give plenty of natural light and head height is very good. Either side of the small lobby are two guest cabins with double beds, and again good storage. A separate bathroom completes the well laid-out forward accommodation. LED lights all round and good electrical switchgear finish off things nicely with the same quality on the instrument panel at the navigator’s desk. With engine controls here and the use of the autopilot you can stay below while controlling the boat. The electrics are from Raymarine with the E80 plotter fitted here and outside on the binnacle. On the breeze Motoring out on a breezy Pittwater the 110HP shaft-drive Yanmar and its three-bladed feathering prop pushed us along at a maximum of 8.6 knots, showing 3200rpm. The engine was quiet and steering easy, with the prop wash passing clear of the twin rudders. “She will use four litres of fuel at seven knots with the 110hp engine,” Vinks said. Twin 300L fuel tanks keep the big engine supplied.

Sails up

Hoisting the mainsail proved pretty easy; someone unzipped the bag and the mainsail effortlessly scurried up the track on the Ruttgersen roller batten cars to be finished by a few dabs on the cockpit Lewmar electric winch to secure the halyard. Then the small self-tacking headsail was unfurled, set and forgotten about as we tacked our way out to Broken Bay. Performance was not something I was going to put great store into, given the compromises inherent in this design – relatively heavy hull, modest sail plan and high topsides and big cabin adding to windage – but I was pleasantly surprised. In the 15-18 knot breeze she tracked well, the steering felt comfortable and balanced with just the right amount of weather helm. Steering the 45DS proved enjoyable because the helms adjoin the gunwale for maximum vision, and helped further by a bulge in the guardrail that allowed the steerer to sit right out. With all lines neatly belayed through Lewmar jammers beside the cockpit, winched control of the mainsail worked well with its double-ended mainsheet used either side. Reflecting the voluminous and high backend and possibly also the twin rudders, gybing wasn’t done at lightning speed, but that would hardly be a criteria for this boat. On the plus side, stability was good and handling predictable despite the strong gusts. I noted 8.2 knots boatspeed in the 16-knot wind while on the breeze at 40°.

For fast passagemaking or light-wind sailing the optional cruising chute is worth having on board. Deploying the optional cruising chute from its sausage bag suited the 45DS well and moved her along nicely. The ease of handling combined with the twin thrusters and powerful engine will definitely attract a few buyers, and combine this with catamaran-like spaciousness, it all makes for a compelling boat at a price still below a catamaran.

The boat’s attraction was confirmed by prospective buyer Rob Lang, who’d joined us for the yacht’s first test sail. A Hanse 371 owner and formerly a keen offshore racer, Lang and his wife were now seeking something a bit different. “We were looking at some motorboats, and thinking about a Grand Banks,” he told me. But the specifications of 45DS made him reconsider. Like me, he was impressed by the boat’s performance and found the layout sensible. He liked the way all the lines ran astern in gutters to the enclosed back of the boat, and being a Hanse owner was fond of the self-tacking headsail. After spending some time on the helm he declared the 45DS “a perfect compromise for us,” which I think sums up this unique boat.

The base boat is priced from $799,000.

For more information contact Windcraft, ph (02) 9979 1709 or email boats@windcraft.com.au

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