I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
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On Friday January 6, 2023 Charles (Charley) Morgan, Jr. passed away at the age of 93. He was preceded in death by his current wife Maurine Horsman (d. 2023), his former wife Frances (Sally) Crawford (d. 2001) and former wife Laura Marie Garrard (d. 2016). Charles (Charley) E.Morgan, Jr. born November 17, 1929, Chicago, IL to Mary Lee Morgan and Charles E. Morgan, Sr. He grew up in Tampa, Florida with his siblings, Mary Ann Morgan and John Fredrick Morgan (d. 1950). He married Laura M. Garrard in 1956 they had three children, Charles W. Morgan (d. 2019), Jennifer Morgan Holloway and John F. Morgan (Andrea Marciani). He had two grandsons Garrard Holloway and Grant Morgan and three great granddaughters Keatly Holloway, Koral and Kayla Holloway Grueser.
Charley Morgan and his family request in lieu of flowers,
please contribute to and support the
St. Petersburg Yacht Club Junior Sailing program. Contact Colleen in the Executive Office at (727) 823-1061.
HISTORY AND BODY OF WORK
To prove the concept of his theories, he began actively racing in these classes. In the Snipe class, his design efforts were rewarded with his winning the prestigious hard fought Clearwater Yacht Club Midwinter Championship 3 times (1961,1962,1964). He carried his competitive design ideas into the Star class where he won the North American Championship in 1972 and the Western Hemisphere Championship in 1974.
While crewing on larger boats, Charley became fascinated
with the different relative speeds and hull shapes of various
boats. In conjunction with his friend Charlie Hunt, they decided
to design and build a different type of boat.
The result was Brisote, a 32 foot, lightweight hard chine yawl. Built in 1955 of plywood in a Lake Wales warehouse, she was coated with the new magic material “Fiberglass", and sported a 900 pound Star keel. Brisote was raced in the 1956 St Petersburg to Havana race where she took 2nd in division. The design was completely successful and led to several later copies.
In 1960 local businessman Jack Powell
asked Charley to design a new boat to compete
in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference. The
result was the 40 foot fiberglass centerboard
yawl - Paper Tiger.
The boat was built in Clearwater, using some unique construction features, including a steel backbone for added stiffness to the hull. She was immediately successful, winning the SORC for 2 consecutive years (1961,1962). Several 28 foot Tiger Cubs were constructed locally on a custom basis.
In 1962, Dick Dungan, a Palmetto sailor, commissioned a design of a 40 sloop, Sabre. (Later the Columbia 40). Sabre won the 1964 St Petersburg to Ft Lauderdale and the Miami Nassau races right out of the box.
In 1962 Charley employed sailing assistant
Paul Curry, a high school student, to aid in
outfitting of custom yachts. Paul continued to
assist throughout Charley's custom yacht
In 1964 Homer Denius, a former owner of Paper Tiger, commissioned Charley to design and build a world class Ocean racer - so Maredea was born. Constructed in a large shed on 4th Street South in St Petersburg, and she was beautifully finished by Courtney Ross. At the time Maredea was one of the largest fiberglass boats in the world. Years later, Maredea was donated to the U S Naval Academy.
Charley was on the cutting edge of the new technology. While Maredea was being constructed, shipyard owner Jimmy Turner, had Charley design a 72 foot centerboard yawl, which was built entirely of epoxy and became Big Toy. In 1963, due to the demands of design work, Charley, together with his long time friend and sailing companion Bruce Bidwell, formed Morgan Yacht Corporation
One of the first priorities for Charley was the establishment of a proper design office. This
included 2 young yacht designers, Jack Corey and Page Obenshain. Jack continued to lead the design
team for many years.
Among the first engagements for Morgan Yacht was the design and construction of 2 - 42 foot sloops, one Privateer for Sir. Eldon Trimmingham of Bermuda and Juniper for George Whitney of Massachusetts. With the proven racing success and comfortable sailing characteristics of these two boats, it was decided to venture into the production of a series of centerboard cruise/race sailboats.
34 feet appeared to be an ideal market position of sailboats at the time. It was large enough to sleep a family, small and economical enough to "be all the boat a family would need" as quoted by a local banking legend. The M34 was soon followed by the M24, M30, M27 and several other models. With the addition of the M45 and M41 models, it was became apparent that more production space was required. A nearby second plant was established, which included a separate machine shop.
Charley continued to create forward looking designs, including Panacea, a 52 foot center cockpit centerboard yawl, which was designed and built for the drugstore founder, Jack Eckerd. When Panacea was completed, Homer Denius, former owner of Maredea, proposed designing and building another ocean racing boat.
Charley took the challenge and spent many hours studying test tank results to achieve reduced resistance through the water. The result was Rage, a highly successful 54 foot racing machine. 1968 Saw the merger of Morgan Yacht Corporation to Beatrice Foods, a conglomerate from Nebraska. In 1969 the requirement for more production space became apparent, so a 40 acre parcel of land was purchased and developed to complete a new modern manufacturing facility.
In the early 1960's Charley became intrigued with the development of the 12 Meter class. Through his close friendship with master 12 Meter designer Olin Stephens, Charley became a crew member on the12 Meter contender Columbia, during elimination trials in Newport RI. In 1968 Charley drew the lines of HIS 12 Meter. After conducting hours of test tank testing, he made the decision to build, and sail to Newport to participate in the trials for the 1970 America's cup races. This became a huge challenge - to build a large, perfect wooden boat in a fiberglass production plant. The beautiful varnished hull was finally precariously launched into Tampa Bay. and test sailed. As the hull was too large to move over the road, Heritage was sailed by a small crew up the East coast to Newport RI, which is a long dangerous voyage. Heritage was excused from the trials, after a hard and valiant Americas Cup series. An excellent 43 minute documentary "Duel In the Wind" was produced describing the races and is available for viewing online. Charley Morgan is the only person to finance, design, build, make the sails, transport and sail a boat in the America's Cup Trials.
As the new Morgan plant came online, a contract was signed with Walt Disney Corporation to
produce and deliver all of the original water craft for the new Disney World in Orlando. As some of
the craft were too large for road transport, they had to be constructed at Morgan Yacht, disassembled,
then transported to Disney World and finally be reassembled. This included the large river boat, Mark
Twain, and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarines, as well as a variety of Adventure Island
boats. The contract was successfully completed for the opening of the new park.
Concurrently for Morgan Yacht, a demand had arisen for a large, roomy boat for the Caribbean charter trade. Thus the OutIsland 41 was born. Through many variations, it became the most significant model for charter of all time with over 1,000 OutIslands constructed. Other sizes of the OutIsland series were designed by Charley and placed in production.
In 1972 Charley left Morgan Yacht.
Charley soon became restless, so with his friend and partner, Bruce Bidwell, they formed a new
firm named Heritage Yacht Corporation. The first Heritage design/build production was a trawler
yacht, though soon a demand grew for a group of center cockpit sloops. Production at Heritage Yacht
continued until 1978, when events out of their control caused production to cease.
From 1980 onward, Charley was engaged in various interesting independent design projects. He was a mentor, instructor and guide to numerous aspiring yacht designers including Ron Holland, Bruce Bingham, and Steve Seaton.
To the St. Petersburg Yacht club for your generosity and hospitality.
To all friends, co-workers, and competitors.
Dad loved you all.
He celebrated your achievements and success, and he grieved your losses. You made his life colorful, rich and meaningful.
We can’t thank you enough for your kindness. He never forgot any of you nor shall we.
Jennifer M. Holloway
John F. Morgan