February 2024 Sailboat Reviews
Words by Sarah Ell. Photography & video by Roger Mills.
Build Quality
MODEL Moody 41DS
DESIGNER Dixon Yacht Design/Hanse Design Team
BUILDER Hanse Yachts
LOA 12.52M
LENGTH (Waterline) 11.42M
ENGINE Yanmar 57hp (std) 80hp (option) with Saildrive
  • Living areas – so much space and much of it on the same level
  • Easy sail controls – simplicity personified
  • High quality of the furnishings and fittings.
  • Feeling pampered is part of the vibe

There’s something special about cruising on a yacht: the smooth motion under sail, the gentle lapping of the water, the feeling that you’ve earned your afternoon G&T by engaging in mild physical activity. And then there are the pleasures of cruising on a launch: an elevated saloon with wide views, plenty of storage and the ability to get where you want to go without being on a lean.

The Moody Decksaloon range provides a solution that means you don’t have to decide one way or the other. The yacht’s ‘monomaran’ hull design, with its generous beam and high topsides, provides an elevated deckhouse-style living area at cockpit level, providing the indoor-outdoor single-level flow of a launch. Maximising the use of the boat’s considerable volume, the head and cabins are forward and below, yacht-style.


The DS41 is the ‘little sister’ of the range, a touch over 11m long on the waterline with a 4.2m max beam, and the option to have either one or two heads as well as two cabins.

The owners of this new cruiser wanted to get back to a more luxurious sail-powered cruising lifestyle after years of launching and trailer boating. Looking around for a boat which would satisfy both their urge to cruise under sail and enjoy powerboat-style convenience and comfort, they happened across the Decksaloon range and realised it ticked all the boxes.

The major point of difference between this boat and a regular cruising yacht is the high-profile deckhouse, which gives the yacht the look of a much larger pilothouse cruiser. However, its carefully styled lines matched with high topsides creates all this extra space without looking bulky or top-heavy.

While originally an English brand with a nearly 200-year pedigree, Moody yachts are now produced in Germany by Hanse. The concept of ‘living on one level’ has been a key point of difference for Moody since the 1960s, and certainly offers something different to the usual cruising yacht experience, with its clear division of cockpit and ‘down below’ saloon space.

We step aboard at the DS41’s home at Pine Harbour Marina east of Auckland. There’s a stainless steel ladder that unfolds out of the lifelines on the port side so you can easily board from the dock. When at the marina or in passage-making mode the inflatable tender lives on davits at the stern; when at anchor the transom folds down to create a boarding platform with telescoping ladder.

There’s a wet-locker space under the aft deck, accessible when the platform is down, for stashing away wetsuits and dive gear. The split Selden backstay which runs out to the aft corner on each side means there’s no rigging in the way when boarding, or swimming or fishing off the stern.

The twin wheels are positioned slightly higher than the cockpit, each on a pedestal mounted with a B&G nav screen and other instruments. Throttle controls for the (up-spec’d) 80hp Yanmar with saildrive (accessed through a hatch under the cockpit table), the autopilot and bow thruster are at hand at the starboard helm station.

While the wheels are positioned well aft, there’s plenty of room to move around behind them, and a large, upholstered seat on either side across the transom. A traditional gimballed compass is mounted at the aft end of the cockpit table, easily visible from either wheel.

The large cockpit is a step down from the ‘business end’ of the boat, with cushioned seating down each side and a table with fold-out leaves. The aft-facing wall of the saloon is completely glazed with a grey-tinted glass, with a push-and-slide door which merges indoors with outdoors.

This is the core of the Decksaloon concept: the living space is at cockpit level, and movement between the two is seamless. There’s no descending three or four steps into a traditional saloon ‘down below’: the living space here is more like that on a launch, elevated and glazed all around, for maximum connection with the outdoors.

One of the most useful features of the large, enclosed cockpit is its pull-out roof, a canvas awning which slides out along fixed arms to create a space sheltered from the sun or a bout of summer rain. There is also lighting under the fixed sides of the cockpit cover to make this a practical entertaining or reading spot after dark.

Another advantage of the raised saloon is the huge amount of storage space it generates: the area under the cockpit seats is huge, and there are large lockers accessed under the cabin sole, too. By electing not to have a generator, there’s room for the owners to fit two extra 150-litre water tanks, too, for extended cruising trips.

Although this is a yacht, the decks and cockpit aren’t dominated by sailing paraphernalia; all the sheets and lines run under the deck and pop out aft of the cabin. Four winches, two of them powered, sit on the cockpit coaming, the primaries within easy reach of the helm if the boat is being sailed shorthanded. The yacht has a German mainsheet system so the main can be sheeted on either side, and tacking is a simple process.

When at anchor, the crew can also enjoy the stepped-down seating area on the large foredeck. Speaking of anchors, this boat is fitted with a flash new Vulcan anchor, the latest iteration of the highly-respected Rocna, distributed by Absolute Marine. (It’s the first one in New Zealand, and the owner is justly proud of it.) It can be controlled not only from the helm but also with a wireless remote unit. There’s a large chain locker up in the bow, aft of the Maxwell windlass, which is home to fenders and the deck wash.

Heading inside, the galley is ranged aft to port, with a two-burner gas hob and in-bench fridge/freezer. There’s also a large opening window on gas struts above the sink and benchtop in the galley on the port side, for ventilation and communication between the two areas. (There’s a well-thought-out glass upstand at the aft edge of the bench, so things don’t drop off the end or out the window.) These owners have opted to add extra refrigeration, making use of some of the storage space generated by the decksaloon concept.

To starboard is an U-shaped seating area around the dining table. An adjustable table which can be lowered to create another double berth is an option. As on all good yachts, there’s a wine rack built into the base of the table.

If you’re motoring or motor sailing the boat can also be driven from inside, at the chart table area forward of the galley on the port side. Because of its elevated position, there is also great all-round visibility from here, plus a series of long hatches and windows in the centre of the roof through which to keep an eye on the sails.

Moving forward, you finally get the sense of going ‘down below’, into the more private spaces of the yacht. There are two generous cabins: a master in the bow and a twin to starboard, which share a semi-ensuite head and shower room positioned between them.

There is an option to have a second head on the port side, but the owner opted to have this space fitted out as a utility and storage room, with extra refrigeration. Because of the high topsides there is ample headroom down here, and lots of light thanks to through-hull windows and overhead hatches.

While the boat was originally a lockdown purchase, due to worldwide delays it didn’t arrive here until winter this year. The owners have been out for some shakedown cruises but were ready for a decent ‘sea trial/holiday’ over the summer. Having the yacht at Pine Harbour means it’s only a short trip out to the cruising grounds around Motuihe and the bottom end of Waiheke, and only a little further to get over to the Coromandel.

Sail Time

We head out of the marina on a suitably moody day (pun intended). After a windy few days (months?), it’s surprisingly glassy as we motor out into the Tāmaki Strait, so we anchor up at the southeastern end of Motuihe, giving the Rocna its first splash as we wait for something to happen. Soon enough the breeze starts to fill in, and it’s sails up and off around the island to see how she sails.

The mainsail furls into the mast, which has two pairs of large swept spreaders. The foresails are ready to go on furlers as well: a small, self-tacking jib which comes as standard, and a larger overlapping genoa which the owners had custom-made here by Evolution Sails. An asymmetric downwind sail can also be flown.

The setup means minimal effort is required to get the sails deployed and be on your way. There’s not really any need to leave the comfort of the cockpit, but for times when you do need to go forward, the side decks are enclosed by a solid bulwark and there are substantial lifelines for added safety.

The only downside of having both jibs rigged permanently on furlers at the bow is that you have to furl the overlapper to tack it, but it’s not like we’re racing: it’s more likely to be deployed on a long, lazy reach in one direction, then dropped on arrival, rather than used to tack upwind.

The Moody 41DS was named Cruising World magazine’s 2023 Boat of the Year in the full-size cruiser class, with the judges praising not only the interior space and views from the living areas, but also its sailing performance, with judge Herb McCormick describing it as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

It was a bit light for us to really investigate how she sails for ourselves, but even in less than 10 knots we had her slipping along nicely at around 7.5 knots, feeling confident and well-behaved on the helm and with all sailing systems well thought-through and easy to use. Despite her launch-like accommodation, she’s definitely a yacht, and has been designed to sail rather than just be motored around.

Visibility from the helm is good, despite my short stature. The owner is tall enough to look over the cabin top while steering; I have to take the more traditional route of sitting at the helm and looking down the side decks, but either way there’s no trouble seeing what’s ahead.

And what’s ahead for this Moody is hopefully many happy hours of cruising, maximising that combination of elevated interior space, simple sailing systems and a comfortable cockpit from which to watch the world go by. 


Elite 15.8m Sport Sedan

The pride and joy of a multi-generational family, Bliss resides on a pier that’s home to a couple of other Elite motor launches – Sandspit Marina is a hot-spot for the Bill Upfold-designed vessels, with several calling this small marina home.

Subscriptions: 0508 692 628
Office: 09 373 3436

PO Box 301063 Albany,
Auckland, 0752
New Zealand

Contact Us

Subscriptions: 0508 692 628
Office: 09 373 3436

PO Box 301063
Albany, Auckland, 0752
New Zealand

Contact Us

Privacy Preference Center