The Yachts

A Short History...

The 26ft Frances, or Morris Yachts Frances as it is known in the United States of America, was the first of the Morris Yachts designed by Chuck Paine and dates from 1974. The designer comments...

"I designed Frances for my own use. She was to embody everything I knew about the design of efficient cruising vessels of GRP construction, to be capable of yearly cruises to and among the Caribbean Islands, to be small enough to fit my limited budget yet large enough to survive a gale at sea. She is small enough for me to handle the little maintenance required with GRP construction, capable of being laid up alongside a local lobsterman's wharf on an outgoing tide for periodic attention to the bottom, or even towed behind a good Maine Peapod if the engine and wind should choose to die simultaneously.

Frances is a small boat. She does not have full headroom, although there is now a coachroof deck plan giving 1.8m headroom, but she does have lots of sitting room. A great deal of attention has been paid to stowage space, but any experienced cruising sailor knows that space is no good if the displacement and freeboard of the yacht are such that, should that space be occupied by useable supplies, she would float halfway up her sides. Load Frances with your cruising gear and she won't show it, in appearance or performance. Many an ocean passage has been made in smaller boats.

She's a double-ender. Not as fast as a transom or counter stern, but not much slower either, and the sea keeping qualities are so well known as not to require repeating here. Many long hours were devoted to developing the hull shape, including the carving and gradual perfection of a half model. The entry is modelled quite sharply and the keel extension is carried right up to the canoe body of the hull with a very tight fairing radius. This allows the entire keel to act as a vertical wing and thus prevent leeway. The rig is tall and narrow, increasing the leading edge of the sails. These three factors make Frances a weatherly boat. She has quite high freeboard, with bulwarks around the forward and aft decks. They have gone out of fashion on racing boats, but once you sail with decent bulwarks as well as lifelines betwixt yourself and the hereafter, you won't want to go to sea again on a boat that is not so equipped. Amidships, the high freeboard combined with a flush deck are responsible for all that lovely room below decks.

I wanted a boat which could carry her sail well. On the other hand, I wanted the desirable wave performance of a tender boat. That is, one which is an easy roller. There was only one solution to this conflict. I got the sail carrying ability from the moderately heavy displacement and achieved an easy motion by shaping the hull sections with a high angle of deadrise and very easy bilges. The result is a hull which is easily driven and has relatively less wetted surface for her length than many yachts in her size range.

Frances sports a rather tall, 7/8 or cutter rig. This gives a great proportional area to the mainsail, which is only proper on a pure cruising yacht which does not attempt to cheat a rule which favours foretriangle area. It's easier to reef a main on a blustery night than go forward and change down to a smaller jib. For the fellow who intends to spend his time making long open water passages, the cutter rig offers a lower sail plan and more choice to achieve a balanced and more manageable spread of sail."

Frances 26 interior layout
--- Frances 26 interior layout ---

Chuck Paine subsequently went on to design the 30ft Morris Yachts Leigh, or Victoria 30 as she was later known in the UK, and by the late 1970s both the Frances and the Leigh were available in the United States of America.

--- The Frances, the Leigh and the Victoria ---

The story of how the Frances 26 came to the UK involves Victoria Marine Ltd., it's Managing Director, Peter Gregory, and Bernard Hayman, an ex-editor of Yachting World. Towards the end of the 1970s, Bernard Hayman wrote of a very simple cruising yacht which had just appeared in the United States. He considered that the new arrival displayed ideals which had been all but lost on this side of the Atlantic. The yacht that Bernard Hayman was referring to was, of course, the Morris Frances. Through Bernard Hayman, Peter Gregory contacted Chuck Paine and so brought the Frances to the UK. The Frances was built and sold in the UK by Victoria Yachts, who fitted out the mouldings laid up for them by Northshore. The company was based at Warsash on the Hamble at the Stone Pier Yard. On the 30th August 2007, Victoria Yachts took over Harbour Marine Brokerage (Hamble Yacht Brokers) who had been selling Victoria and Frances Yachts for the previous 30 years. Sadly these beautiful yachts are no longer in production in the UK today.

Victoria Marine
--- Victoria Marine logo ---

Specifications and Further Information

Frances 26 / Victoria 26 Frances 30 / Victoria 30 Frances 34 / Victoria 34 Frances 38 / Victoria 38
Frances 26
Victoria 26
Victoria 30 Frances 34
Victoria 34
Frances 38
Victoria 38
Frances 26 / Victoria 26 Frances 30 / Victoria 30 Frances 34 / Victoria 34 Frances 38 / Victoria 38
LOA 25' 10" (7.87m) 29' 8" (9.04m) 34' 3" (10.44m) 37' 9" (11.51m)
LWL 21' 3" (6.48m) 23' 1.5" (7.05m) 28' 4" (8.64m) 29' 7" (9.02m)
Beam 8' 4" (2.54m) 9' 7" (2.92m) 10' 7" (3.23m) 11' 7" (3.53m)
Draft 3' 10" (1.17m) 4' 7" (1.4m) 4' 10" (1.47m) 5' 8" (1.73m)
Displacement 6,800 lbs 9,010 lbs 12,719 lbs 15,000 lbs
Ballast 3,500 lbs 4,400 lbs 5,525 lbs 5,900 lbs
Sail Area 340 sq ft 440 sq ft 568 sq ft 643 sq ft
Disp/L Ratio 316 317 273 278
Sail Area/Disp Ratio 15.16 16.26 16.68 16.20
Extract from "My Yacht Designs"
(click to view)
Victoria 26 Extract Victoria 30 Extract Victoria 34 Extract Victoria 38 Extract


My Yacht Designs The extracts above have very kindly been provided by the designer, Chuck Paine, from his book "My Yacht Designs". If you would like to see more of Chuck Paine's designs, his lavishly illustrated and informative book is available to purchase on his website.

Further Articles:

Frances and Victoria Yachts - Beautiful names for beautiful yachts, but what is their history? by Colin Jarman

Frances 26 by Peter Cosker


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