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Old 09-03-2016, 09:25   #1
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Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

Hello there!

This is my first post!

My family and I have been on the hunt for a good liveaboard sailboat for the last several months now.

Initially, part of our sailboat criteria was that the boat be in the 33'-37' range and that it have a full keel, with less than 4 ft draft.

Now that we've been looking a while, I feel like we're going to have to loosen up a bit on our wants in order to find a workable compromise.

For instance - I've come across a boat - a 79 Morgan 38' with centerboard. The boat is in good overall shape, and we can get into it for only 8k.

There's a lot to like about the boat, but there's one big problem that is worrying to me...

Here's the trouble -

The centerboard doesn't function and has been pegged up into the truck for the last 5 years or so.

Now, personally, my first thought is that I could just permanently cover the opening of the centerboard truck with fiberglass - essentially making the boat nearly a full keel (which I wanted anyways). I've read that the boat points pretty well even without the board down, so it doesn't seem like it would impact sail-ability that much.

To better explain my thought process - another boat that we've been looking into a lot is the Morgan Out Island 33. It's a full keel boat, and I've heard that it sails like a pig, but I'm actually alright with that because I'm more concerned with interior space and comfort over being able to sail super-good.

To me, I'm thinking that I could remedy the centerboard issue by converting it to a full keel, and basically ending up something like a 38 foot Out Island. Of course I do want to have the ability to eventually sell the boat, and I don't want to hurt the boats resale potential either.

... so many variables.

Anyways, I'm curious if this "center-board problem" actually represents an opportunity for us to get into a good boat at a low price, or if this is an issue that has a deeper negative impact that I'm not seeing for myself.

Any thoughts on the matter?



PS - I'm a forum virgin... be gentle if I make any weird posting errors.
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Old 09-03-2016, 09:34   #2
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

I would think you could just fix the centerboard with a haulout. I would guess the cable is broken and needs replaced.
Trust me, there will be many boat projects and this will just be one of them. It sounds like a real bargain... which means you should look very closely at all issues.... there's always a reason.
I think the Morgan 38 is a lot more boat and probably much more desireable to many people.


I don see any Morgan 38 listed on sailboadata for 1979 year..? Last one built in 1971...
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Old 09-03-2016, 09:49   #3
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

Thanks for the reply.

You're correct. The year of the boat is a 1970 - not a 79. My mistake.

What do you think of my idea of possibly glassing over the centerboard trunk so that I'd be left with, what would be, essentially a full-keeled boat?

At first, I thought of filling in the trunk completely, but then I figured that if I just glassed it nice and thick over the trunk opening, a previous owner could potentially convert it back if so desired.

Any thoughts?
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Old 09-03-2016, 09:56   #4
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

It seems to me that is more work than fixing the centerboard. But it could be done. You could glass it over and fill with concrete from the top. According to the pic I see it is a full/long keeled boat of sorts. The centerboard doesn't define that either way. It just allows the boat to sail to weather better.
It looks like a cool design, is it a yawl like shown here?
http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=1892
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:24   #5
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

No it's not. The one that I'm looking at has a single sloop-rigged mast.

Here's a question for you -

If I did decide to glass the trunk opening, what do you think of the idea of using some sort of non-solid ballast material?

Something like sand, gravel, steel nuts & bolts?

I ask because something like that wold allow the option of going back to the centerboard design.

Probably a dumb question: Is it a bad idea to glass the opening and just leave an open air-pocket?

I do imagine that could effect the balance of the boat having a large air bubble in the keel, but at the same time I suppose there could be a bubble trapped in the trunk anyways.
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:35   #6
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

Yeah , just leave it with nothing in there. But again, why not just fix it?
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:44   #7
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

You ask "why not just fix it"?

My mentality, especially since we're so new at sailing, is to have everything as simple as possible. My thinking is that even if I fix it, then I have a centerboard that I have to take care of and worry about.

To me, the centerboard just adds complexity, more things to break, and more to maintain. There's the centerboard itself, the cable, stuffing box, etc. That's a lot of components for something that I probably wouldn't use anyways.

At first, I wouldn't have been considering this boat at all for that reason, but now that I've been looking for a while, I've gotten the feeling that I've got to be less rigid on our requirements.

Maybe I'm worrying to much about it. Right now I'm just trying to do what I can to make the best choice on a boat that will set us up as good as possible for living aboard.

I'll report back once I've gotten eyes on the centerboard and have a better understanding of what I'm up against.

I certainly appreciate the insight thus far.
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:49   #8
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

Yeah, I hear you . Although once you rebuild it, it will likely be good for as long as you own it. But I understand.


However, to glass it over, you are going to have special blocking in the boat yard to work on the bottom of the keel. Grind to fresh glass, do layup probably laying on your back etc. Not sure.

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Old 09-03-2016, 11:03   #9
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

I'm with Cheechako on this one, I say get it and fix it. I doubt it is as hard as you imagine. It probably won't be much more time or expense to fix it and it WILL sail much better to windward, and it will sell better later, AND you'll have a great, ol' classic boat! If that is the only major issue and it is $8K, I too think it may be a really good deal. If I found a good one at that price I'd raid the piggy bank, but then I may be a bit unhinged when it comes to my fondness for the good old boats.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:07   #10
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

Thanks guys.

The feedback from experienced sailors like yourselves is gold - especially to a fella like myself who is just getting his feet wet.

I should be receiving more detail soon about this issue, and I'll post any new findings here.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:09   #11
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

You might check with these folks for info and advice before you decide too...
Morgan 38 Sailboat Forum

More important to me would be the condition of the engine!
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:12   #12
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
...it WILL sail much better to windward, and it will sell better later...
This.

If you want simple, fine, just don't use the centerboard. But I suspect that if you fix it, then one day you will use it, and you will be very pleased with how much better your boat points when the board is down versus up.

Regardless, come resale time, it will almost certainly sell more quickly, and for more money, if the centerboard is functional rather than glassed over.

Given that glassing it over--and doing it right--will probably cost at least as much, if not more, than just fixing the centerboard... To me, this is a no-brainer.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:22   #13
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

If you don't plan on using the CB why not just use it as is?

Later you might see the benefit and it will be a lot easier to fix without tearing out all of the work filling it in. Same for a future buyer.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:23   #14
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

BTW I am not necessarily a fan of centerboards either, I, like you, prefer simplicity. BUT for the Caribbean, Columbia, Morgan and Tartan built some nice strong boats with centerboards back in the 60's/70's that I would definitely consider if I were cruising there. The Tartan 34C is another boat with a centerboard and a cult following.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:27   #15
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Re: Convert Morgan 38 Centerboard To Full Keel?

Either fix it right or just leave it for now. The 'fixes' you described would turn out to be more work than just fixing the board so it works properly. If I were you I would just leave it for now and work on the other 100+ projects that you will find. As for an air bubble upsetting balance? No, it won't, even if the CB slot was full of air, which it won't be, it will make no difference on an 18,000# boat.
There's a Morgan 38 owners group Morgan38.org, I'm sure they could help.
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