MOUNT DESERT — A veteran Northeast Harbor sailing family is the happy owner of Scarlett BEE, the first 48GT performance cruiser from Morris Yachts, delivered in August. The hull of the 48 is the same as an older-model Ocean Series 48. The GT stands for ‘Grande Touring.’
The boat’s owner also has an M36 daysailer, Laney Lu, the first of that model to come off the line in 2001. “He enjoys racing by himself and sometimes with crew,” salesman Prentice Weathers said. “He and his wife go out exploring around Pen Bay and like to spend the night on the boat. He wanted to extend both his cruising range and racing ability,” and the 48GT was the answer.
“The amazing thing about the 48GT is it marks Morris’ re-entry into the ocean series line of boats,” CEO Doug Metchick said. “The first 80 percent of our history as a company was in these performance cruiser boats, then we introduced the M-series and our line of daysailers. The company was mostly doing one or the other until now, when we’re active in supporting both.”
The interior of a cruising boat requires more amenities than can be expected of a daysailer. Scarlett BEE features a fresh water maker, air conditioning, drawer-type refrigerators and freezers, and “a ton of storage,” Weathers said. True to the Morris tradition of semi-custom production boats, the carpenters even made custom storage racks for the specific sets of dishes the owners plan to use while cruising.
While it uses the same molds as the Ocean Series 48, the hull of the new GT is stronger and lighter than its predecessor. “We took a bunch of weight out of the boat by fully infusing the hull,” Weathers said. “That let us add to performance without detracting anything.”
A bow thruster aids in close-quarters maneuvering. The navigation station features a swivel seat for the helmsman.
When the owner first described how he wanted to use the new boat, Weathers said, “it at first sounded like he might need two different boats. He came to us and said I want a boat my wife and I can sail ourselves down in the Bahamas, also race in Northeast Harbor and maybe consider Bermuda.”
A cruising boat has to be all about cruising interior, yet not exceed about six feet in draft. Racing requires a deep keel and a different sail plan.
The solution was one boat with two keels, able to be switched out in the yard, and rudders to match.
“Jim Taylor designed two keels for the boat,” Weathers said. With the cruising package, the owner “can sail exactly the way he does his M36. It will be very familiar to him and really simple to sail. A self-tacking jib is standard for the 48 GT.”
When it’s time to race, the jib can be switched out for racing versions, the largest of which has 55 percent more sail area.
Building the first of the new model kept the Morris production crew on their toes this year, but builders and owners alike are happy with the results. “The crew in Trenton really nailed it,” Metchick said.