The new boat I sought one cold and wet October afternoon last fall didn't cry out for attention among the boats tied up at Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard in Annapolis, Maryland. T h e Morris 42 blende d so harmoniously with the Back Creek shorescape that I didn't notice her at first, even though she was right in front of me. When I finally sp otted th e dark-blue hull, with ensign flying off a classic fantail, my first thought was, "Wonder where she's from?" My second (with delight) was, "What's with the sawn-counter transom—my favorite stern shape for a voyaging boat and one that's sadly out of style?"
In a slow-motion double take, it dawned on me that Wisper II was no vi si t i ng cruiser bound south but rather the boat I was to take sailing—the very vessel that would soon after be named Cruising World's Domestic Cruising Boat of the Year (see "Cr unching the Numbers," January 2006).
Wisper II was fetching in a demure sort of way, but she just didn't look like your typical show boat: Too purposeful, too serious—too retro, perhaps. To step aboard the Morris 42 is to reinforce those sentiments: With her large cockpit; high coamings and bulwarks; long, low coachroof; traditional fan-tail; bright dorade boxes; and buff decks, you feel as if you're boarding a 1950s handsome-is-as-handsome-does cruising vessel.
Company founder Tom Morris cast off and raised the 42's Forespar Leisure Furl inboom mainsail and Harken roller-furling jib, which is sheeted on an athwartships track, while we motored out Back Creek. The 56-horsepow-er Yanmar saildrive purred almost inaudibly at low rpm with no hint of vibration. The wind was light, but when we cracked off in 5 to 7 knots, Wisper II beam-reached at 4.8 knots, moving easily through
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Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.