Lightning Marine’s Fatcat 4000 sticks with the ‘simple is best’ small boat ethos.
- Cruising comfort
- Simple sail controls
- A yacht that lets you savour the journey
- Suitable for short-handed sailing
- More room than you'd expect in a 41-footer
When thinking about a new boat you always imagine the sun shining benignly and a playful 12-knot breeze just rippling the surface. But sailing’s not always perfect. In planning for the worst and hoping for the best, Moody’s striking new DS41 may have the answer.
Needless to say, I tested the boat on a chill November afternoon – in the German Baltic, complete with sunlight so watery that at times it fell like drizzle. It was gloves-on weather, and the high deckhouse which characterises all Moody yachts came to my immediate rescue.
Comfortably seated with a warming cup of tea in hand I was able to discuss tactics for getting out of our tight marina berth – no mean feat with the boat’s very high topsides and sturdy bulwarks.
Controls for the 80hp Yanmar diesel are outside on the starboard helm console, alongside those for the 6.3kW Quick bow-thruster. There are clear sightlines forward over the coachroof, but we still found it easiest to post a hand at the bow to signal to the helm.
Although Moody is a venerable British brand which traces its roots back to the 19th century, the current range owes much more to Bill Dixon’s efficient design and the high build-quality of Hanse Yachts, which manufactures the yachts on Germany’s Baltic coast.
Modern design methods, world-class hand lay-up from a Polish subsidiary and a high degree of automation means that every yacht off the production line meets consistent, high standards.
In line with modern thinking about sailing boat design, Hanse has opted for a no-nonsense approach to the rig. The DS41 is cutter-rigged with a large genoa, a self-tacking jib and in-mast furling for the main – the last two designed for maximum ease of use. Lines are led back in conduits to emerge on the cockpit coaming, where an array of jammers puts them in reach of the helmsman.
My test boat, hull #2 in a series of 12 to date, offered just two Harken electric winches in the cockpit. Moody has sensibly decided that a couple of extra winches facilitate sail handling and eliminate jockeying between controls. Electric furlers can also be specced as an option.
“Most of our clients buying Hanse and Moody are very much into the simplified sailing systems and ability to comfortably manage the boat and sail with just one or two people aboard,” says Cameron Burch of Windcraft Yachts (New Zealand’s Moody agent). “A couple of DS54 owners here routinely go sailing singlehanded.”
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the boat’s performance. With a dry displacement of more than 11 tonnes and a 4.2m beam, plus that big deck saloon, she seemed unlikely to be a flyer. But while that is true, she’s still plenty of fun to sail and responds very well.
We managed around 6 knots of boat speed close-hauled under the jib and a bit more on a reach with the 55.2m² genoa – all in a maximum 10 knots of true wind. Hard on the wind she is a moderate performer.
We managed a comfortable 48° apparent, and that’s due to a number of choices Hanse has made to simplify sail handling. There is no mainsheet traveller, for instance, and the vertical battens of the mainsail give a less powerful sail shape than horizontal. The German mainsheet system is fixed halfway along the boom and runs to a fixed sheeting point on the coach roof.
It’s all incredibly convenient, however. Moody’s trademark wide side decks make it quick and easy to go forward on the boat – there’s no ducking under shrouds here. There is a useful tack point for a downwind or code sail on the hefty anchor fitting, which stands well proud of the bow. And the high stainless-steel railing on the bulwarks gives you a tremendous sense of security when you move about.
Couple that with the hard chine in the hull, broad beam carried aft and a solid L-shaped keel to fight heeling, plus a moderate sail area, and you have a very stable boat. She would be a phenomenal platform for cruising with small children, short-handed, or with a reluctant spouse.
A place for everything
With the sails well set and the autohelm engaged, we returned to the warmth of the deck saloon. This is the nerve centre of the boat – we can alter course and control the engine from in here. Perched on the comfy navigator’s seat, surrounded by a wall of glazing that offers 360° views, it feels more like a catamaran than a monohull. There’s even a strip of glazing down the middle of the saloon roof, through which you can easily check on the sails, although you have to go back outside to trim them.
But the deck saloon is very much more than a sheltered helm station. It hosts a well-equipped galley, a five-person dining table and copious lounging space. And it’s all on the same level as the cockpit outside.
Again, like a catamaran, you can open much of the aft wall of the saloon, with a glass door on a very satisfying push-and-slide mechanism, and a hatch that pops up. Simply put, no other monohull of this size connects the interior and exterior spaces so well. It gives you the option in fine weather of treating the cockpit table and seating as an extension of the saloon area. With all the glazing around the deckhouse, the whole space feels open air.
Those high topsides and broad beam create a lot of interior volume, and Moody has been phenomenally generous with its storage space, from deck lockers to wardrobes, under-bed storage and cubbyholes in cabins. In fact, I may never have been aboard a yacht with so much stowage.
Each cockpit locker is big enough to stand a couple of bikes up inside, and fit in all the fenders, warps, fishing gear, diving gear and so on that you could wish for. There’s a similarly vast sail locker at the bow and another big locker at the stern. A closely guarded secret is the enormous space under the saloon sole. Raise a board and you find steps down into a long compartment that offers sitting headroom.
You can configure it how you like, but it could easily store provisions for a non-stop round the world attempt, never mind a couple of weeks exploring Fiordland.
The engine lives under the cockpit sole, in another generous space with excellent fore and aft access. The only downside is the noise it generates in the cockpit. Moody says that the sandwich construction of the engine-bay lid means it doesn’t need extra sound insulation, but I’m not so sure. Elsewhere on the boat, though, the engine is very quiet indeed.
A realm of comfort
Although she runs to 41ft on deck, this boat offers just two large cabins – the master double in the focsle and a twin aft, to starboard, reached down a companionway at the forward end of the deck saloon.
The standard layout allows for one large bathroom with a shower, but there is the option of a smaller second one for guests that eats into the under-floor storage to port. No charter configuration here.
Interior finish is a matter of taste, with the whole panoply of Hanse Yachts’ wood and fabric options to choose from. Whatever styling you go for, great thought has been put into the comfort of the boat. Both cabins have large hull lights, while the master in the focsle has a big, glazed section overhead, where the coachroof comes down to the deck. Natural light, then, is abundant.
So too is indirect lighting, which has been developed to work with a bespoke touch-sensitive controller. Instead of the usual plastic switches in each cabin, this nifty-looking panel allows you to set the mood for each area. There are also optional Fusion repeaters to control the music in each cabin and optional outlets for heating or cooling. A large TV is another option, folding down out of the saloon headlining.
The exterior social areas of this boat are just as impressive. The deep cockpit has two long seats and a folding table (used to lever open the engine compartment below), all shaded by a sliding fabric ‘sunroof’ supported on either side by extensions of the hard top.
There are also two padded seats facing each other across the foredeck – a unique feature in production cruisers. The front of the coachroof has been designed to take a large cushion and there is another that can be positioned over the sail locker. There’s also a big manually-operated bathing platform aft, with a ladder cleverly stowed inside it for quick deployment.
At the end of a chilly afternoon’s sail, I climb back into my car, but it would have been all too easy to hole up in the deck saloon for a very pleasant evening. With its well-designed, living spaces and very flexible storage, the Moody DS41 would make a great yacht for customising ahead of an adventurous cruising programme.
What it lacks in raw performance terms it makes up for amply in comfort and particularly safety – a key concern for anyone planning to head offshore. Whether you’re thinking of heading south, exploring Polynesia or just the Bay of Islands, this boat will enable you to stay on the hook in great comfort for weeks at a time. And between anchorages, it’ll offer plenty of lively sailing.
Not for nothing has it just been named ‘Cruising Yacht of the Year’ in the British Yachting Awards./>