The Best of Both Worlds: The Nelson/Marek Morgan 45 By Harmon Heed LOA LWL Beam Draft, fixed keel Centerboard Mast Clearance Displacement Ballast Fuel Water Auxiliary
45’ 36’9” 13’4” 8’ 5’9’ 63’ 22,500 lbs. 10,000 lbs. 100 gallons 200 gallons Universal 40 hp
Sail Area, tall rig (sq. ft.): Fore: 516.25; Main: 411.34; Total: 927.6; SA/Disp: 19.75
“BIG!”, “Fast!”, “Beautiful!”, “Strong!”, “Sea-kindly!” Those are terms inevitably used when describing the popular and enduring Nelson/ Marek-designed Morgan 45 sloop. I’ve crewed on Bill Senske’s Hallelujah for three years, and personally, I think they’re understatements. Hallelujah under sail.
he is a very big boat for a 45-footer, mainly because of her 13’ 4” beam, almost flush deck, 6’ 6” headroom below, queen-size aft berth and room for a racing crew of 10. She’s beautiful to look at, both inside and out. Her swept stem and stern with the cabin slowly rising over a straight sheer give her a profile of forward motion. Down below, there’s teak everywhere. She’s fast for a boat of her size and displacement, with a PHRF rating of around 96, depending on spinnaker and prop type. Both times that we raced her from St. Pete to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, we won our spinnaker-fleet class. She’s strong with a solid FRP hull, double spreaders and rod rigging. Bill has ridden Hallelujah through 20- to 30-foot seas with no fear. And she’s sea-kindly with her wide beam, midships tankage and almost half of her weight in the keel. In 1982, when Morgan Yachts was near the pinnacle of its success, it asked the team of Nelson/Marek in San Diego, CA, owned by Bruce Nelson and Bruce Marek, to design a cruiser that would be very competitive in the Southern 40
Ocean Racing Conference (SORC). “It was a very interesting project,” Bruce Marek told me. “There were very few production cruisers over 40 feet then. We designed a big, fast one. When it first showed at the 1982 Annapolis boat show, the crowds were wowed. Morgan sold 15 of them right there.” Morgan went on to build 178 of these big “performance cruisers.” Of the first 45, seven were pure racers, the “Grand Prix“model. They had “minimal, but adequate, below-decks amenities,” meaning pipe berths, mini shower, icebox, one head and tankage of under 40 gallons, combined. But on deck, they had a forest of 16 winches. The other 38 that were built, the 45-3 model, were fast but had complete belowdecks comfort. The second iteration, model 45-4 (that completed the production run), completed the amenities and made some changes in the spars. That’s the boat we see the most of, and there are quite a lot of them around the South. Being big and relatively heavy, the Morgan 45 isn’t a www.southwindsmagazine.com