This range of Angus Primrose designed yachts, starting with the Moody 33 in 1973, marked the famous yard’s move from low-volume semi-custom boat building to one of Europe’s most successful new boat sales operations.
The new boats were built by Marine Projects in Plymouth – home of the world-renowned Princess range of motor yachts – and aimed to capitalise on Moody’s existing reputation for quality, seaworthiness and space, blended with good sailing qualities. The distinctive centre-cockpit layout and wide-beamed hull design – unusual in Europe at this time, where narrow beamed yachts were the norm – allowed for accommodation that was hitherto almost unknown in a boat of this size.
The 33’s large forecabin quickly found favour with early customers, as did the full width well-appointed heads compartment that separated it from the saloon. In turn, this had a linear galley and generous quarter berth to port, and large dinette to starboard. The separate aft cabin, with two single berths, making it an ideal den for children, rounded off the accommodation. Arguably the only drawback being a marginal headroom – this was a shade under six feet, and only 5ft in the aft cabin.
While clearly no racer, the boat’s sailing qualities surprised many at the time of her launch, with her then long waterline length enabling faster passage times than many existing designs of the same length. Although the 33 was only available with a relatively shallow draught fin keel, windward performance is adequate and what the boat may lack through not being particularly close-winded it makes up for in speed.
Expanding the range
Two years after the launch of the 33 two more boats were added to the range. The Moody 30, was only available in aft-cockpit form, so doesn’t share all the distinctive styling features, however, she retains the flared topsides in the bow that help to deflect spray back into the sea and maximise forecabin volume.
The largest in the range, the Moody 39, was launched in December 1975. Externally it was immediately recognisable as a larger version of the 33, with the same centre cockpit configuration. However, below decks the huge amount of extra space in this model is immediately apparent.
Between the saloon and forecabin there’s an extra cabin, with twin bunks and plenty of standing and stowage space, plus a spacious heads compartment. While the aft cabin of the 33, was entirely separated from the rest of the accommodation, the 39 has a walk through and the cabin is a proper double with much improved headroom and an en suite heads. The overall effect, combined with a bigger saloon, thanks to the larger boat’s generous 4.2m (13ft 3in) beam, is a boat that feels huge and can easily swallow a large crew and their gear for extended cruising.
The range was rounded out in December 1977, with the launch of the Moody 36. This blended feature of both designs, loosing the extra forward cabin, but retaining the walk-though, double berth in the aft cabin and second heads.
Keeping up to date
Towards the end of the 1970s it was apparent that quite a few modifications could be incorporated into the design of the 33 and 36. A Mk2 version of the 33 had been launched in 1976, which replaced the original linear galley with an L-shaped one next to the companionway, separated the heads into a compartment to starboard, and added standing space in the forecabin. The updated interior also gained a large navigation station.
More radical changes were to come in 1979, with the launch of the 33S. This was an aft-cockpit model whose styling belies the age of the original design. Although lacking the aft cabin, this boat gains a larger saloon and galley, as well as a slim double quarter berth abaft of the navigation station. Two years later the 333 improved the layout of the 33 Mk2, replicating the walk through to the aft cabin of the larger boats, albeit with reduced dimensions.
Variations of the 36 include the 36S, introduced in 1981, with an aft cockpit and two double quarter cabins. An aft cockpit deck saloon model – the 36DS – was also offered, but only a handful of these were sold. The Moody 40, launched in late 1978 was based on the Moody 39, with a revised aft cabin layout to give more space, a modified cockpit layout and a number of other revisions to update the interior and make better use of the space.
Across the four hulls, well over 800 boats were built over a period of 10 years, with the various versions of the 33 accounting for roughly half that number, and the remainder spilt roughly evenly among the other models.
What to look for
The value of boats of this age varies considerably according to how well they have been looked after and when major systems were last updated. When selling a boat, owners rarely recoup money spent on instruments, replacing the engine, new sails or up to date deck gear – so it’s worth searching out a boat with these big ticket items recently replaced, even if it’s a little more expensive than average.
Having said that, the Thorneycroft engines fitted across most of the range were robust, with greater longevity than many contemporaries. Many of those that have been well looked after are still providing good service, but a neglected engine is now likely to need replacement.
Often overlooked in favour of more modern designs, these have proved versatile, strong and reliable yachts. They are often a very good buy, with prices a notch lower than similar-sized boats of a more recent vintage, even for well looked after and updated examples.
Where to find out more
There’s a very active owners’ association with a wealth of knowledge at www.moodyowners.net
LOA 9.15m 30ft 0in
LWL 7.9m 26ft 0in
Beam 3.1m 10ft 0in
Draught 1.48m 4ft 9in
Mainsail 16.4sq m 176sq ft
Genoa 32.5sq m
Price guide: £16,500-22,500
LOA 10.06m 30ft 0in
LWL 8.7m 28ft 5in
Beam 3.5m 11ft 5in
Draught 1.35m 4ft 5in
Sail area 53.9sq m 580sq ft (including genoa)
Price guide: £19-30,000
LOA 11.0m 36ft 0in
LWL 9.14m 30ft 0in
Beam 3.8m 12ft 4in
Draught 1.5m 5ft 0in
Mainsail 22.6sq m 245 sq ft
Genoa 43.4sq m 467 sq ft
Price guide: £30-40,000
LOA 11.7m 38ft 6in
LWL 9.9m 32ft 6in
Beam 4.2m 13ft 4in
Draught 1.7m 5ft 6in
Mainsail 27.5sq m 300 sq ft
Genoa 51.1 sq m 555 sq ft
Price guide: £38-50,000
Rupert Holmes has cruised and raced more than 60,000 miles, between 60 degrees north and 56 degrees south. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular boat and gear tests. He owns two yachts, one currently based in the Aegean and the other in the Solent.