The build quality, comfort and seaworthiness of the Moody 36 MkII makes her a popular family cruiser, as Duncan Kent discovers
Moody 36 MkII: a centre-cockpit cruiser that’s practical and fun
The Bill Dixon-designed Moody 36 combines practicality, comfort, sea kindliness and high-quality build, making her an ideal cruising yacht.
The Moody 36 MkII might be described as a family coastal cruiser, but she has a performance not previously seen in Moody’s centre-cockpit range of yachts and is easily seaworthy enough to cross oceans – as many have.
A development of his earlier 35, the Moody 36 MkII had a slightly slimmer hull and longer waterline, which resulted in a noticeably quicker and better-balanced boat.
Though most owners buy Moodys for the considerable comforts they offer, they were meticulously constructed and have excellent sea-keeping abilities too.
Design and construction of the Moody 36 MkII
The Moody 36’s near-plumb stem, attractive retroussé stern and pleasantly rising sheer line with teak-capped bulwark give her a classy, yet modern look.
She carries maximum beam a long way aft, providing sufficient internal space for her trademark roomy aftercabin and offering way more useful stowage than is available
in many of today’s popular cruising yachts.
Built at Marine Projects in Plymouth (now Princess Yachts), a total of 118 Moody 36 MkIIs were constructed to Lloyd’s 100A1 yardstick.
Hulls were laid up by hand, using mat and woven rovings with waterproof isophthalic resins.
They were stiffened with balsa-cored frames and stringers, and finished with bonded floors and bulkheads for additional strength.
The deck is balsa-cored, but with hefty plywood backing plates laminated in under winches and deck gear.
Finally, the hull-deck joint was through-bolted and then bonded over, before being capped with smart teak.
A choice of bilge, shoal (bulbed) or deep-fin keels was offered and her large, semi-balanced rudder is supported by a half-skeg, making her more resistant to steering damage from floating debris and stray lines.
Some sailors like centre cockpits, some don’t.
They tend to be a little small compared to aft cockpit boats but many owners prefer being high above the sea and love the extra-large aft cabin it enables.
Downsides include more movement in rolly seas, a higher boom and centre of effort on the main, and poor visibility ahead to leeward with the genoa unfurled.
The cockpit layout is straightforward, with all sail controls led aft through clutches on the coachroof.
The genoa winches are within reach of the helm, as is the mainsheet behind, making single-handing easy.
The large sprayhood provides good protection and easy access to the winches.
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A split backstay and wide rail gate give good access to the transom steps, although it lacks a deeper platform for deck showering and unloading the tender.
Her decks are wide and clear thanks to inboard chain plates and coachroof-mounted genoa tracks.
The foredeck is clutter-free and includes a deep chain locker with a windlass plinth.
Six large mooring cleats are mounted on the bulwarks, making them dead easy to access when coming alongside.
The decks continue all the way aft, where two deep lazarette lockers house most of the loose deck gear.
Below decks on the Moody 36 MkII
Because of the centre cockpit, the companionway ladder is necessarily tall and steep.
The saloon is spacious, warm and cosy with plenty of nicely finished solid wood trims.
Headroom is just over 1.83m/6ft, but watch your head going aft through the corridor.
Set well forward, the saloon is slightly narrower than many, but well compensated for by placing the settees well outboard and making the overhead lockers fairly shallow.
The convertible, U-shaped port settee offers seating for six around the table while thick settee cushions and abundant teak joinery provide a luxurious ambience.
The dropleaf table doesn’t have a fiddled centre, which is irritating, but does have excellent bottle and glass drawers.
A small step down improves headroom in the forecabin, which contains a decent vee berth with reasonable floor space.
There is ample stowage under the berth, as well as two hanging lockers with shelves, plus a further six lockers above the berth and a large forehatch.
Moving aft, the L-shaped galley is well-equipped, but arranged a little awkwardly.
The worktop area is generous, especially with cooker and sink covers in place, but having the cooker under the cockpit sole limits both light and ventilation.
Both the cooker and fridge are large and there’s storage galore for food, crockery and pans.
Behind the companionway steps is a central ‘pod’ that provides extra worktop and stowage, as well as housing the fuel tank, battery switches and washboards.
Opposite is a well-appointed nav station with large, forward-facing chart table, its own seat, a comprehensive electrical panel, and plenty of room for nav instruments.
Two corridors lead aft. The starboard one contains a single bunk; the port corridor houses the head, also accessible from the aft cabin.
There’s plenty of elbow room and a separate shower but headroom in the heads is only 5ft 10in.
It’s well organised with good stowage, a large hatch, and a deep sink.
The spacious master suite aft has always been a popular feature with any centre-cockpit Moody.
Although only 1.83m/6ft long, the Moody 36’s centrally-mounted berth is a luxurious 1.40m/5ft 4in wide.
Headroom is limited to 1.75m/5ft 9in, but the cabin boasts a wealth of stowage plus a dressing table.
Natural light is surprisingly good, with a large overhead hatch, opening side ports and a portlight above the bed head.
Access to the 40hp Volvo diesel engine beneath the cockpit is particularly good, thanks to all-round removable panels, and the steering gear is easily reached under the aft bunk.
Both water and fuel tanks are a good size for cruising too.
Rig and sailplan
The Moody 36 MkII is masthead-rigged with a thick-sectioned, well-supported twin-spreader Seldén mast, boom and gas-sprung kicker.
A triple-reefed, semi-battened mainsail was standard, with luff and leach reefing lines for the first two leading into the cockpit.
The standard headsail was a 125% furling genoa with coachroof-mounted tracks, giving a tight sheeting angle for increased pointing ability.
With the exception, maybe, of the ‘S’ models (31S & 38S), which are reasonably swift, Dixon’s CC Moodys are steady cruisers with conservative sail plans.
All are capable of a respectable pace in open seas, however, where they offer a particularly sea-kindly motion.
Thanks to the inboard genoa tracks they are also pretty close-winded, but they will lose speed rapidly if pinched too tight.
Her fastest point of sail is 50° off the apparent wind, when she surges forward relentlessly, almost oblivious of the sea state.
The Moody 36 MkII is simple to sail single-handedly, with all the sail controls within easy reach of the wheel, and her excellent balance results in little or no weather helm.
She also boasts a healthy 35% ballast ratio and even with the shoal draft keel she is reassuringly stiff thanks to her weighty ballast bulb.
On a reach with a fair breeze she will easily average between 6.5-7.5 knots in all but the choppiest conditions.
Downwind, she requires a good size spinnaker or chute to keep her flying.
Moody Owners Association (www.moodyowners.org)
The Moody Owners Association (MOA) aims to serve as custodian of technical information; provide a forum for owners’ experiences; promote social and sailing opportunities and provide a point of contact for prospective owners.
Owners experiences of the Moody 36 MkII
S/Y Cantata (2000)
Dick and Angela Holness bought bilge-keeled Cantata in 2015 to replace their Moody S31, primarily for the extra accommodation.
She came pretty standard but since buying her they have carried out myriad upgrades, including new instruments, AIS, MFD, Navtex and VHF extension, now all networked via NMEA2000.
They have also added new batteries with a monitor, gas alarm, sound system, electric windlass, kicker strut, Autoprop, solar panels, electric toilet and new sails, which must make her one of the best-equipped Moody 36s around!
Asked if they’d had any problems, Dick says: ‘One fault at purchase was a leaking rudder stock housing, apparently a common problem on these boats and something I found I could largely fix myself. Also, some 36s, including mine, had a particular type of stanchion fixing through the toe rail that made them prone to leaks.’
Dick, who is co-author of the East Coast Pilot, started sailing dinghies at the age of 12 and continued to race them for nearly 50 years.
He started cruising around 25 years ago and has owned a Hunter Horizon 26, Sadler 29 and the Moody S31.
Based on the River Swale in Kent, Dick and Angela sail predominantly up the East Coast, with occasional trips across the Channel.
‘Under sail, Cantata is quite docile really and probably under-canvassed,’ says Dick.
‘She’s not good in light airs, being quite heavy, but her sea-going qualities are impressive if we get caught out in worse conditions than expected. With 15-20 knots on the beam, though, she gallops along with a smooth, easy motion.
‘Although I occasionally single-hand, Angela and I usually sail together, which is reasonably easy, although as we get creakier, I confess to doing rather more “genoa only” sailing than we used to. However, the change to a fully battened main has made life a fair bit easier. I would guess that the majority of 36s have in-mast furling and, bearing in mind our age, perhaps it might have been wiser to have found one with it. Cantata is very seaworthy and hasn’t really got any vices, although her high freeboard can catch the wind when manoeuvring in marinas.
‘She is very comfortable for long periods on board as there’s bags of space. But if we were off long term, I would probably upgrade and better insulate the fridge, plus install dinghy davits. I haven’t fitted heating yet as it’s so difficult to retrofit hot air ducting.
‘We did a long cruise down the French Channel coast a few years ago. Both crossings of the Dover Strait were wilder than expected but the boat just coped with it all. And with only 1.2m draught she’s a very capable ditch-crawler.’
S/Y Ellen Marvel (1998, HN 61)
John and Lesley Oldham, 73, have owned the shoal-keeled Ellen Marvel for 19 years.
‘Being the show boat at Ijmuiden, she already had a high specification, including leather upholstery and extra opening portlights, but the first owner also had heating and a bow thruster installed.
‘Our first successful improvement was to remake the aft cabin berth with a deeper mattress and underlaying slats. Venturing outside to secure the gas also became tedious, so we fitted an electric valve/sensor. I also replaced the fridge with a modern 12V model and installed a holding tank. Finally, we increased the battery capacity and included a larger shore power charger, smart alternator regulator and a galvanic isolator.
‘We fitted a Bruntons Autoprop early on, which increased our sailing speed by between 0.5 to 1.0 knot. Later we added a rod kicker with the control line led aft. We also replaced the manual windlass with an electric one and moved it forward to help prevent the chain bunching up. Our most recent upgrade has been to fit dinghy davits.
‘The instrumentation has been upgraded with a Raymarine chart plotter in the cockpit, Quantum radar, AIS700, an Icom DSC VHF and an ICS Nav6plus Navtex and instrument repeater. Plus, we now have an internal Wi-Fi network with router for marina Wi-Fi.
‘We’ve had a few faults, but not many. The pressure relief valve on the hot water tank often discharged into the bilge, which we corrected by fitting an expansion tank, and a persistent leak into the forepeak underfloor was eventually diagnosed as anchor locker drain failure.
‘The original genoa was poorly cut and the positioning of the shrouds and track prevented her from being sailed close-hauled. The original sailmakers had compensated with a belly in the foot but our new sail corrected much of this with a higher-cut clew.’
John and Lesley began sailing by taking flotilla holidays in their early 40s and soon decided to get their own boat.
They bought a new Moody S31 but soon found it too small for their needs as impending retirement, with the option of longer cruises, loomed.
‘We sail regularly as a couple, though often we sail in company with friends in their own boats. We are mainly day sailors with a penchant for overnighting in marinas. With days to spare and a fair forecast, we cruise the south-west coast from our base in Plymouth. For our main holiday we prefer the Channel Islands, Western Normandy and North or South Brittany.
‘Under sail she is not the most close-winded but on a fetch or beam reach she is delightful. On a very broad reach the genoa becomes blanketed by the main so we switch to a poled-out cruising chute. Our new mainsail is fully battened, loose footed and has a decent roach, which makes it much more powerful than the original and consequently requires reefing earlier. The two of us handle her easily as the mainsheet is within reach of the helm and all lines are led back. The stack pack also helps, as does the autopilot.’
What the experts say about the Moody 36 MkII
Nick Vass B,Sc B,Ed HND FRINA MCMS DipMarSur YS, Marine Surveyor www.omega-yachtservices.co.uk
The later Moody 36, built by Marine Projects in Plymouth, is a contemporary-looking yacht that has stood the test of time.
During surveys I have found fairly large blisters on the topsides on several boats, mainly around the portside anchor locker drain but these are from delamination rather than osmosis.
I have concluded that water has entered through the drain hole and saturated the plywood stiffeners that protect the hull from the anchor chain.
The area then stays wet and might delaminate.
My advice has been to keep the anchor locker drain holes free of debris, only have chain in the locker and no other clutter, and paint the area around the drain hole with epoxy to prevent water ingress.
Keel bolts are also a concern on the Moody 36.
Moody used high-tensile steel studs, nuts and backing plates rather than stainless steel.
Although high-tensile steel is stronger than stainless, it rusts, so it’s a good idea to keep the bilge dry and paint the exposed parts of the studs, nuts and backing plates to keep them rust-free.
Rather than using real teak slats, Moody used teak veneer on plywood for deck and cockpit seat coverings, which quickly delaminated.
Fortunately, most did not have it on the decks.
Most Moody 36s I have surveyed have had Volvo Penta MD2040B engines, which are more robust than their D1-40 successor.
However, they do suffer from limescale build-up in the coolant system and their iron castings can become porous.
Check the engine for signs of overheating and get an engineer to take the cover off the heat exchanger.
The exhaust elbow will need to be replaced every 10 years or so, too, as they clog up.
The saildrive diaphragm seal will likely have been replaced several times by now, even on a late example.
Check the service history to make sure that the seal has been replaced, as it can be costly.
There should be a date stamp on the seal but it’s sometimes hard to see.
Ben Sutcliffe-Davies, Marine Surveyor and full member of the Yacht Brokers Designers & Surveyors Association (YDSA) www.bensutcliffemarine.co.uk
I’ve surveyed many Moodys over the years and they do sell quickly on the second-hand market, but it is essential to look carefully at them before purchase.
Check the ply-faced teak in the cockpit.
This material was popular with many boat builders during the 1990s and 2000s.
On most of the boats I’ve surveyed over the last eight years, the ply-faced teak has needed replacing.
Nick mentions the keel bolts being high- tensile; I, in many ways, prefer the reliability over stainless but it is essential to keep an eye on the fastenings.
This can be difficult on the bilge-keel version due to the water tanks under the side berths!
The main cap chain plate anchorage within the saloon is impossible to inspect with the fitted internal joinery.
This is a concern especially if high moisture is identified on the side decks in that area and the covers are wet internally.
Many owners have cut small inspection hatches in the sides of the covers.
I am aware of at least two failures of the chain plates after the fastenings behind these panels failed.
The rudder is supported by a substantial skeg and I have had several experiences of very high moisture in both the blade and the skeg around the support shoe where fastenings have loosened over time.
Alternatives to the Moody 36 MkII to consider
Island Packet 370
Florida-built Island Packets were constructed to a high specification and supplied with a substantial inventory.
Although the 370 has high topsides and a tall coachroof, her pleasant sheer line lends her a well-balanced look.
Construction was meticulous, using vinylester resin infusion, tri-axial weave glass and PolyClad2 foam, finished with an ultra-high gloss Durashield gelcoat.
The hull/deck join is through-bolted and bonded and she has a full-length shallow keel with encapsulated lead ballast and a deep rudder, connected to the keel at the foot.
A deep companionway descends into a cosy, bright saloon.
The table folds away against the main bulkhead, hiding a comprehensive drinks cabinet, and all cabinetry work is top quality.
The settees make good berths, the port side converting to a double by sliding out an extension board.
Stowage is plentiful as the 600-litre freshwater tank sits beneath the saloon sole and ventilation is ample through the 11 opening portlights.
Her superb galley houses a huge fridge, full-size cooker, microwave, water filter, twin sinks and copious stowage.
The aft quarters contain an offset double berth and a nav station/chart table, with a removable bulkhead panel dividing it from the saloon.
The forecabin features a roomy island berth and en suite heads with shower stall.
The cockpit is well organised with wide coamings incorporating rope lockers.
The steering pedestal supports a table and a stout grab bar, and a high bridge deck and two 50mm/2in drains prevent water collecting.
Under the aft seats are deep stowage lockers.
Her decks are snag-free with shrouds and tracks terminating on the teak-capped bulwarks.
On the foredeck are twin rollers and chain lockers.
Her masthead rig is keel-stepped with single, straight spreaders and forward/aft lowers, with single chain plates.
The cutter-rig model has a self-tacking staysail with boom and a 110% high-cut genoa/yankee.
Although the headsail winches are near the helm, the mainsheet and all other sail controls are on the coachroof.
Under power she has plenty of grunt but like all long-keelers takes her time making directional alterations so a bow thruster is worth having.
The Maxi 1100 superseded the 1050, giving improved sailing performance and accommodation.
Designed by ex-Olympic racing helmsman, Pelle Petterson, she has a fine entry, near-plumb stem, shallow bilge and a retroussé transom.
In addition to being quite quick, Maxis were extremely well built.
The 1100 has a carbon-reinforced floor grid that dissipates the rig and keel loads.
Above the waterline, hull and deck are a Divinycell foam sandwich, encapsulated in a vinylester resin-infused, multi-weave skin.
A deep fin keel with a 2.4-tonne lead ballast bulb or an extended shoal fin were offered, both with a deep spade rudder.
She has a tall, keel-stepped mast with twin, swept spreaders.
Shrouds lead to a single inboard chainplate each side, connected to the hull frame.
A gas-sprung kicker and powerful backstay tensioner control the main, which is slab-reefed with lazy jacks.
A deep cockpit sports a big wheel, but the helm area is spacious, with foot supports and flat coaming seats.
Sail controls are led aft.
Coachroof-mounted jib tracks keep the sidedecks clear but the handrails are too short.
Her foredeck sports a short bow-plank and a deep anchor locker with windlass.
The long, straight saloon settees provide room for six to dine comfortably around the sturdy, well-fiddled table.
Her large aft cabin has a roomy double berth, beneath which are the water tank and batteries.
The forecabin is quite spacious too.
Under sail she’s fast, stiff and easy to handle, with a light, positive helm. She tacks rapidly and effortlessly, and her large wheel enables the helm to sit out with the mainsheet to hand and a clear view forward.
Built in Austria by Schochl Yachtbau and designed by J&J to withstand the rigours of the North and Baltic Seas, the centre cockpit Sunbeam 37 was solidly constructed to a high standard, using top- quality materials and components.
They also featured a comprehensive standard inventory, which included a 55hp Yanmar 4JH3E marine diesel engine and encapsulated lead ballast.
She has timeless looks with a positive sheer and streamline superstructure.
All had teak-capped toe rails and many also had full teak decks.
Below, the beautifully crafted, dark mahogany interior gives her a warm atmosphere without being too gloomy.
The layout is similar to the Moody 36 MkII and the proportions are equally generous, especially in the aft owner’s cabin where her huge island double berth dominates and the en suite heads are a real boon.
The forecabin is equally plush with plenty of stowage but has no en suite.
The later 37.1 model had an en suite head to port, in place of one of the tall hanging lockers.
She has a longitudinal galley, running aft along the corridor, that is well-equipped with bags of easily accessible stowage although, like the Moody, the far end is a little dark.
The forward-facing nav station has plenty of chart and instrument stowage.
Under sail, she is a powerful performer thanks to her generous sail plan.
With her deep, lead-ballasted fin keel and large, semi-balanced rudder she is stiff, quick and easy to manoeuvre, well-balanced and light on the helm.
The Sunbeam 37 tends to hold her price on the used boat market, easily as well as the most popular Swedish-built yachts.