(This was a message Eben wrote to a reader who was interested in more “first hand” info on Morgans when it comes to size and speed for a family, since he’s looking into getting one.)

Hey. Eben here. Well I can say, critics are very critical. It obviously depends on your use of the boat. If your racing then a Morgan is for sure the way to go cuz your handicap will likely entail that you need only finish the race and you will win. Haha. Kidding. However I think it is critical to say that our boat is a 1988 CATALINA/Morgan. You see somewhere around 1984 I believe, Catalina bought Charlie Morgan’s name and design and then made a few alteration. One very specific was the keel shape. The Morgan we are on ( sloop rigged center cockpit) is a 3/4 keel and from what I have heard and now seen it sails a fair bit better than the older design. Inside and out (while it is in the water) there are very few design differences, but the joke we have all heard is that you have to start the engine to tack a Morgan and this is definitely not the case with ours. To put in  perspective, on our maiden voyage with her back from Bahamas to Florida, there was no engine, period. Halfway to cat island, the mainsail blew out and our friend Joaquin and his brother who were sailing her at the time were able to bring her in to cat under nothing but the jib power.  And tacking all over the place. So as for sailability she can hold her own. That being said, given that you are looking at Morgan’s in the first place I can assume that you do not intend to race anywhere and on that note I give the Morgan 4 thumbs up for the comfort she provides. Our perspective on boating is that it is our floating home that we occasionally move from one beautiful spot to another under sail. So realistically the majority of our time is at anchor in paradise so we chose the Morgan to give us the max amount of comfort during the majority of our time aboard, which is not while under sail. Heck I would have bought a catamaran right of the hop for the same reasons if I hadn’t been discouraged from it at the beginning when I didn’t know any better, and when going downwind we would have been going 2wice as fast. Ha. 

So, my advice, though ive never sailed  a pre-Catalina Morgan, is look for post 1984 models if possible. The boat is strong and hearty, she puts along with force. We plan our trips considering moving at 4.5 knots but often get more than that depending on the families comfort zone. And when we are not moving along we enjoy the extra space immensely and wouldn’t trade it for a boat that could have gone a little quicker. 
We havent seen too many boats of the same size that we like the layout more than our own. It has an overall big open feel to it and as far as we have seen she handles the ocean just fine even though she has less bulkheads than others  and ours has already had major damage from sinking in a hurricane and still feels strong. A boat that i felt was comparable at the same length was none other than Scott and Brittany’s boat, Asante. Seemed a little tighter inside but likely a little stronger due to that. My philosophy in boats as well as life is everything is an exchange. Everything!!!. Want more space, exchange for some strength, want more speed, exchange for some space, or money, etc. But all in all we are super happy with her feel and performance all around. I can’t say its too often that you hear either of us say, I just wish Necesse had… Except for things we could add. K maybe bigger heads but hey who wants to spend a lot of time in there anyway.
Hope that helps. 
Feel free to ask if you got any more questions.

Just outside Mayaguana