Morris Yachts debuted its newest 486, Consulting Time II, at the Annapolis Sailboat Show this past October. At first glance, the new Morris may seem to be nothing more than a tweaked variation on two of Chuck Paine’s previous designs, Firefly and Reindeer, but a quick look around proves Consulting Time II is a very different boat.
I was invited along for the passage from Annapolis to St. George, Bermuda, after the Annapolis show, but my first opportunity to sail the boat came just after the boat show broke up. The owner, Doug Diehl, an experienced offshore sailor from Houston, attempted to test sail it for a photo shoot in the 35- to 40-knot Chesapeake breeze. With a double reef and a 150-square-foot storm forestaysail we did the best we could to put the boat through its paces — hardly the best way to experience a new boat. But despite our brief and windy sail, it was clear to me that the boat would be an able passagemaker.
The owner’s plans for Consulting Time II involve coastal cruising in Maine with winters in the Caribbean.
The challenge in designing the vessel was to create a hull that had Reindeer’s offshore stability, strength and performance — all with a bit less draft at 5 feet 10 inches, and greater displacement. (Reindeer and Firefly draw about 8 feet.) Paine accomplished this by pushing the keel forward and squashing the lead into the bulb, thereby preserving the righting moment of the hull. Although the yacht’s stern is conventional, in profile it is much broader than some of Paine’s other designs. This resulted in a powerfully driven hull, reduced the need to reef and made it possible for Consulting Time II to carry more sail. In addition, the bow was designed with a sharper and deeper forefoot, which helps to keep it in the water and reduce pounding in a sea. This was very noticeable during our passage. Whether the boat was being driven through 9- to 12-foot seas offshore or a nasty chop as we encountered at the mouth of the Chesapeake, it simply did not pound. The hull was balanced, stable and gave us a comfortable and amazingly dry ride.
Commenting on the smooth ride, Paine said that if he were blindfolded at the helm, he would not be able to tell the difference in handling between Consulting Time II and its sister Reindeer.
Main propulsion is a 72-hp Yanmar 4JH3E-TE with SD40-4T saildrive. There is also a set of Side-Power SP95T bow thrusters installed for tight maneuvering. The thrusters and Diehl’s superb boat handling showed their stuff as we maneuvered our way out of a crowded Annapolis boat basin on the morning of our departure.
Consulting Time II has a deep, balanced spade rudder that is a hybrid of carbon-fiber and fiberglass-reinforced plastic; the rudderstock is carbon fiber. The steering system is an Edson radial-drive wheel system mated to a Simrad AP20 type II autopilot. The autopilot worked flawlessly throughout our trip to Bermuda and proved to be extremely responsive and accurate.
The boat’s deck layout is clean and functional for offshore sailing. The dodger and the bimini can be connected to cover the cockpit completely and provide the helm with excellent protection against the elements without compromising visibility (there is a skylight in the bimini for viewing the masthead) or interfering with the rigging.
Diehl chose an “Intracoastal Waterway rig” with a 63-foot carbon-fiber mast built by GMT, Bristol, R.I. Offshore Spars built the boom of aluminum, and the spinnaker pole comes from Forespar Composites.
North Sails Northeast in Salem, Mass., cut the sails, which include a 568-square-foot slab reefed main, a 503-square-foot headsail, and a 872-square-foot Code 0. The headsails are bent onto a Profurl EC 4000 and a Code 0 furler. The storm forestaysail proved to be a terrific addition to the sail inventory and received its fair share of use during the trip. The sail can simply hank on to a high-modulus inner forestay and remain in its deck bag until needed.
When we arrived in Bermuda, I asked Diehl what he thought of the trip. He was clearly pleased with the way the boat performed, and his tick list of problems was on the short side. I also asked what he thought of the Annapolis show and of having scores of people checking out his new Paine/Morris collaboration. Diehl paused for a minute. He then said that while at the show he had been quietly standing at the helm, watching folks descend and emerge from the companionway. He heard bits of conversation laced with comments, including numerous ooohs and aaahs. As he stood there staring eastward, he said, thinking about the most recent weather briefing for the trip that lay ahead, one visitor looked up at him and commented, “It’s nice to dream, eh?” Diehl said he smiled and said, “Well, yes it is.”