MERVA 40' 1932 Pilothouse Cruiser, built by F. W. Morriss
- Length overall: 40’
- Length at waterline: 39’
- Beam: 9.9
- Tons: 9.9
- Berths: 3 (one forward, two aft)
- Engine: 2009 Volvo Penta 75hp Turbo Diesel
- Fuel: 2x40 gallon diesel tanks
- Electrical: New 12 vlt with shore power and inverter/charger for 110 ac/dc
- Water: 2x40 gallon freshwater with electric/manifold heat, hot and cold pressurized
- Waste: 15 gallon holding tank with electric head, mascerator, diverter valves and pump-to-shore all in compliance with current US and Canadian waste-water handling code
- Heat: hot-water bus-heaters with fans in forward berth, amidships, and aft in the salon
- Galley: Vintage Sea King diesel oil stove, hot and cold water, icebox and enamel sink. 110 outlet
Some History and a Description:
(From owner's website:)
Built in Esquimalt, British Columbia, on Victoria’s Gorge Waterway, Merva is an excellent example of fine West Coast wooden boat building from the early 20th Century.
Merva was designed and built by F. W. Morriss, a retired British Naval Engineer and Master Shipwright.
Mr. Morriss was a careful and thorough builder, and his touch is everywhere aboard Merva.
He used only the finest woods and materials available, both imported and native. Many of her bronze fittings are custom cast, and in drafting her he imparted her with graceful, flowing lines, a smartly upright prow, a compact and functional interior, and a pert, upright rounded wheelhouse with curved glass all reminiscent more of an Edwardian style than the burgeoning, and spectacular, “streamlining” style of the “modern” 1930’s.
She is, however, long and narrow, meant to “...cut through the water to save on fuel - it was the depression.”
In keeping with his careful choices of materials and design, Mr. Morriss was a remarkable builder.
All hull fasteners were coated with anti-corrosion paint. Each hull plank is exactly fitted to it’s neighbour, there is no caulk. Merva was built to last, and last she has.
Uncommonly, virtually all her milled parts are symmetrical from one side to the other - a piece from the port side cabin trim, if duplicated exactly in it’s mirror image, will fit precisely in it’s corresponding starboard side place.
All the slots in the heads of all visible fasteners in the mahogany cabinetry and cabin panelling line up vertically, “soldiered” as it is referred to.
Mr. Morriss even fashioned his own Bakelite and metal knifeswitches for the electrical service. In hidden places behind drawers or bulkheads, Mr. Morriss’s handwriting can be still be seen -and has been preserved - noting where to find a pulley, or how to access a piece of hidden equipment.
Her interior is compact and traditional, with two built-in, long narrow railway-car style settees on either side of the long saloon. At it’s centre is a large dining table that folds on both sides, leaving a long narrow centre surface. There are two small hanging lockers astern and two mahogany cabinets forward in the saloon with holders for china and tea service built in. A long drawer hides under the cockpit deck, and is accessed from in the saloon by removing the steps up to the stern companionway.
Beneath the settees is water storage, and from behind them, generous bunks pivot down to sleep two, one per side.
The Galley is compact, yet completely serviceable for a single cook’s duties. It is fitted with mahogany cabinets and countertop, porcelain sink, a reliable oilstove, an icebox, plenty of storage, two ports and an opening skylight.
The Head is remarkably roomy, and has two doors, one to the amidships companionway and steps up to the wheelhouse, and one to the saloon. A door between the Galley and the Saloon allows both these service areas and the forward portion of the boat to be closed off from the living space, aft.
Mr. Morriss is said to have built another vessel, similar to Merva but “...slightly beamier and a little bit longer”. This vessel’s whereabouts are unknown...
Merva is of carvel construction, with native douglas fir over double oak ribs. Her decks and Deckhouses are Burmese Teak and Philippine Mahogany. Most of her fittings are bronze and brass. All glass is original, including the curved glass in the pilothouse windows.
Merva’s history includes a remarkable journey by sledge, drawn by a team of horses, from Mr. Morriss’s yard to the water’s edge for launching.
She cruised the waters around Victoria for many years during the 1930‘s and 40‘s with the Morriss Family, making frequent stops at Sydney Spit and Musgrave Landing.
After finally being sold for reasons I am not aware of, she remained in BC waters for some time, until after another sale, she made another remarkable journey, this time across the continent by truck to the Great Lakes, where she cruised for many years. At some point, she was sold again and transported by truck once again, this time to Florida, to cruise in warmer waters there for a few more decades.
Merva was then sold again and was sailed from Florida back to the Great Lakes by Judy MacKay, who was then Merva’s master, and whom I had the pleasure of meeting with. Later still, sold again, Merva was put on the back of a truck once more and transported back across Canada to British Columbia and, finally, her home waters. That she survived the indignity and danger to a wooden vessel of these multiple overland journeys in her remarkable condition is a testament to Mr. Morriss’s abilities as a shipwright, and her careful Masters.
I purchased Merva, or, rather, I purchased the right to care for her until I can no longer afford to, or manage physically to, or perhaps both... late in 2008 after she had spent some months at the SALTS facility in Esquimalt, BC.
I understand she had been donated to SALTS after her most recent owner could no longer care for her himself, and attempts to sell her had failed.
Update September 2012: Merva won Best Restored Classic at Victoria Classic Boat Festival 2012