You will find it hard to get objective opinions from owners, who tend to turn into “fan boys” and lose their objectivity. I will try to buck this trend and give you a frank view on Moody boats from the point of view of an owner who tries to never be a “fan boy” of anything.
Moodys are, as someone said, higher end production boats made from 150 years ago until about 2006, when they went broke trying unsuccessfully to compete with Oyster
. They have been designed by different designers, but since World War II most of them have been designed by three guys – Laurent Giles, Angus Primrose, and Bill Dixon. During the Laurent Giles era, Moodys were elegant, somewhat retro, and very, very expensive gentlemen’s cruisers, most over 50 feet, with a target audience similar to that of Hinckleys of the same era, except that Hinckleys are sailing-oriented and the Moodys of these era are borderline motorsailers, or even blatant motorsailers, mostly ketch
rigged and with high raised salons or pilothouses. Some of them even had twin engines. Moodys of this period are already decades old, but highly sought after and command amazingly high prices.
Angus Primrose (of Gypsy
Moth fame) started his work with Moody, in the early ‘70’s, with much smaller boats – first the Moody 33, then 30, 39, 42, etc., which led to increasing popularity and good times for the Moody company. About this time the hull construction started to be farmed out to Marine Projects in Plymouth, a high quality builder
(now Princess Motor
Yachts), with the fitout done at the ancient Moody yard on the Hamble. Then in 1980, Angus Primrose was lost
at sea in a storm in the middle of the Atlantic in his Moody 33 “Demon of Hamble” – died with his sea boots on. The Moody family
, remarkably, did not cancel the contracts with Primrose’s design bureau, but allowed Primrose’s young protégé Bill Dixon to take over – a remarkable vote of confidence. Bill Dixon set about with great energy working out his own idea of what a Moody yacht should be, and sales increased more and more. However – during this time, Moody had been going after ever more modest sailors, making smaller and smaller boats, without, however adopting efficient mass production techniques, so still having the cost base of high end boats. And so Moody was blindsided by the sudden rise of Oyster
in the late 1980’s, who gobbled up Moodys historic client base of gentlemen sailors. In the 1990’s, the Moody family
started to fight back, and ordered a set of new designs of “Oyster killers” – the Moody 54, 64, 47, etc. My boat was the prototype of the first of this new wave of boats, shown at the London Boat Show
in 2000 and commissioned the following year. These boats were lavishly specified, intended to beat Oyster at their own game
, but the Moody family, dyed in the wool boat builders for five generations, and clueless in the game
of creating the mystique of “luxury products”, failed, and went out of business in sort order. It didn’t help that Bill Dixon, although he is now recognized as one of the world’s great yacht designers, did not have the touch for the elegant line that say Kim Holman had, or Andrew Winch
design – for which a lavish specification is no substitute. The supposedly “Oyster killer” Moodys like mine are, frankly, a little clunky-looking compared to the best from Holman & Pye’s pens.
So when you are looking at used Moodys, a lot depends on the era, because they are very different boats from decade to decade. The Moodys of the 80’s are very much normal mass-market cruising boats, just much more expensive. Moodys of the 90’s and 2000’s are more like Oysters or Discoverys, only not quite as pretty and not quite as expensive.
Concerning the pluses and minuses:
One big plus, and one thing almost all Moodys share is very, very strong construction – Minaret would like them, I expect. They have extremely robust scantlings and the structures are built practically without compromise, with fully glassed-in and fully through-bolted bulkheads, etc., etc. Moody chainplates are legendary – they look not so much like yacht parts
, as components stolen from railway bridges. They are the strongest chainplates I’ve ever seen; the ones on my 54’ boat are larger and heavier than the chainplates on a 90’ Swan. The bow sections are reinforced and have heavily glassed-in watertight bulkheads behind the anchor
lockers, just to name one more construction detail. Yet they are reasonably light (my boat has D/L of less than 200) due to fully cored construction.
One minus already mentioned is aesthetic. The interiors are not as elegant as those of some other higher end boats, with some panels
having cheesy-looking molded curves, and some obvious molded plastic elements. That’s too bad, because I don’t think the joinery is actually cheap
to make. I haven’t found any chip board so far – everything is quality marine plywood
, with teak
veneer, and very good lacquer finish – so after 14 years of hard use, all the door and other elements of the joinery are in great shape. However – the hinges and latches
and unreliable. Spoiling the whole impression. Was just a bad decision – Moody managed to make the joinery look somewhat cheap this way, and causing trouble to owners, but without even saving any money
, as the panels
themselves are very expensive.
The Moody deck salon
boats also do not have the salon
high enough, that you can actually look through the front windows in the deckhouse. And you can’t open them for ventilation. Bill Dixon decided to keep the deckhouse just a bit lower, for less windage, and maybe to make the boat look better from the outside, and just ruined the whole idea of a deck salon. A big minus.
All Moodys are made for the English Channel
and North Sea considering the strong prevailing winds in those waters, and have modest SA/D ratios, 16.5 on my boat. That means they have just the right sail area for higher latitudes, but that’s a bit on the low side for the Med or subtropical latitudes. Moodys of the 80’s have the same heavy scantlings as all Moodys but have solid hulls, and so while sea-kindly and strong, they are not very fast. The last generation of English
Moodys have fully cored hulls and longer waterlines and are already much faster. By the ‘90’s, all Moodys have more efficient rudders with partial skegs, and have lead bulb keels.
Since the beginning of the Bill Dixon era, Moodys have mostly pretty highly specified rigs, so they are sailor’s sailboats. My boat has just about everything you could find in the Selden catalogue, with three-spreader mast
, 8 cockpit
winches, oversized traveler and jib
cars, and just every control you could want. A good bit of the running rigging
, as originally delivered.
Like nearly all cruising boats from the 1990’s, Moodys of this era are woefully short of deck storage
, with no sail locker at all. There are no cockpit
lockers. My boat has a nice anchor locker
, big enough to crawl into and almost stand up, and a fairly decent lazarette, but nothing else, which is not enough. There are plenty of oversized cleats
(8 of them), but despite the fact that the deck has nice, short bulwarks, rather than being flush, there are no mooring
fairleads – just some cheesy stainless strips screwed into the cap rail. Like most cruising boats, all Moodys have fru-fru vertical windlasses with no warping drums, no Sampson post, and nothing for serious ground tackle handling or mooring
. I supposed many hard-core cruisers will share my frustration with this, but it’s pretty hard to find a boat with anything else, unless you have it custom made.
is very well configured and has a powerful exhaust
fan. No complaints there.
systems are executed by Marine Projects and are excellent. Only what you see – in typical Moody fashion – is not as good as what is behind the panels. In particular, the panels themselves, which are just sheets
of powder-coated alu screwed with ordinary screws into the cabinet frame – wholly unsuitable for frequent access, as needed by tinkerers like me with complex electronics
. Much better is the Oyster system with quick-release latches
, and with lovely glass doors over the main electrical
panel. I’m going to try to find and retrofit the quick-release latches this year – one of my winter projects.
So there you have it. English
Moodys are a half a cut below Oysters in overall quality I would say, except for the structure, and the rigs, which are at least as good, and they are not as pretty and not as well laid out below. Moodys are maybe half a cut above Hallberg-Rassy, in my opinion, which have adopted many mass production design features in the construction and have somewhat lighter scantlings.
So in a nutshell, that is what I hope is a somewhat objective and unvarnished view. Neither the best nor the worst boats in the world, and boats specifically optimized for the English Channel
and North Sea with very strong hulls and modest sail plans. Which is why I think they were never marketed in the U.S. – different kind of sailing there.
At the time Moody went bust, it was the oldest yacht building company in the world. It’s somewhat sad that it all ended so suddenly, but the market is ruthless. Last year I had my boat lifted at Cowes for a scrub off, and the young man who wielded the pressure washer was – as he proudly told me – the son of the last MD of Moody & Sons, and the sixth generation of the Moody family. I guess he would be being groomed to take over the company, if the company had survived. You could see was proud to have his hands on boats, rather than behind a desk, however humble the work was. I reckon there’s not a single marketing
or business gene in that family – they were pure blooded hands-on boat builders.