About Magnus

Click on an image to view full size.

"Magnus crossing the Gulf Stream"

Magnus is a Viksund MS-33 motorsailer, built in Norway in 1973. Her Viksund Goldfish 31 hull was also used as the platform for a fishing-boat version. Magnus is Hull #104. In 2006, she was sold to the Norwegian boatbuilder who built her, Erling Viksund, who plans to take her on further adventures in North America. For more on Magnus' future, click here.

Magnus is 33' overall and 31' on deck, with a beam of 10'6", a draft of 3'10" and a displacement of 14,000 lb. She's ketch-rigged and double-ended, with a large aft cabin and a sheltered centre cockpit. She is heavily constructed to Det Norske Veritas standards - the Scandinavian equivalent of Lloyd's of London. When she was surveyed prior to purchase in the fall of 2002, the surveyor called her "structurally outstanding," and said, "The bad thing is, they don't make boats like this any more." I later learned that the Norwegian explorer Ragnar Thorseth once smashed an ice floe with a sister-ship so hard that he dislodged the bulkheads and bent both barrels of a stowed shotgun -- without seriously harming the hull. For more about Viksund Boats and Ragnar Thorseth, click here.

The hull is actually divided into several watertight compartments. There are watertight bulkheads before and after the engine room, isolating the boat into three sections. In addition, the cabin sole is sealed, and provides a double bottom. And all the many storage compartments under the berths and seats are glassed right to the hull, making each of them another nearly-watertight compartment. The two interior cabins are made up of integrated fiberglass castings of 1/4" thickness or more, creating an immensely strong and rigid interior grid. The hull is up to 3/4" of solid fiberglass, with no core.

ACCOMMODATION: (see Accommodation Plan)
Magnus has berths for up to eight people, which is ridiculous. The forecabin has two upper berths which we use for stowage, and two lowers which we have converted into a double V-berth. The main cabin has a dinette which can convert to a double berth, and the aft cabin has two quarter berths which can be bridged to make another double. The aft cabin is our "guest room," and also serves as an office.

"Skipper at the inside helm, Dismal Swamp Canal, November, 2004"

The main salon has 6'5" headroom. To port is a big dinette with bookshelves behind it. Next aft is the spacious head compartment, with a composting toilet and a sink with manual and pressure water. The faucet detaches to form a shower.

Forward on the starboard side is the helm seat, with the inside wheel mounted on a console which holds the navigational instruments and engine gauges. Visibility across the short, wide foredeck is excellent. The helm seat tilts forward to provide access to a top-loading 12v fridge and freezer. There's a built-in wine rack under the fridge, and behind the fridge is the galley, with a two-burner Force 10 pressure kerosene stove with drawers under it. A stainless sink with both manual and pressurized water pumps has additional stowage under.

Aft of the galley is a spacious hanging locker with another storage compartment above it. Most of the wiring is in this upper compartment. Aft of both the head and the hanging locker, small doors give access to cavernous storage under the cockpit seats.

The cockpit is huge, and its floor consists of two large hatches; when the two are removed, the whole engine area and an additional large stowage area are completely accessible. The aft cabin also includes ample stowage under the berths. The autopilot and the rudder-head are also located under these berths.

The engine is a 35-hp three cylinder Yanmar, model 3H35F. It was thought to have fewer than 500 hours on it when we bought it, and by the time we laid up the boat it had an additional 600 hours. The engine room contains four deep-cycle house batteries, a separate starting battery, a battery combiner and smart-charger, a 1500W inverter, two electric bilge pumps and a manual one, plus the domestic hot water tank and the hot-water furnace.A good-sized "cargo hold" under the aft half of the cockpit holds spare parts, water hoses, extra anchors, folding bicycles and other equipment.

"Moored in Steamboat Creek, SC, December, 2004"

Magnus carries a 35-lb Manson plow anchor on 300' of 5/16" chain, a 30-lb folding Northhill with a short length of chain and 150' of braided nylon rode, a 12-lb high-tensile Danforth stern anchor with 100' of nylon rode, and a spare 30-lb Danforth.

With much help from friends and specialized tradesmen, Marjorie and I made many improvements and upgrades to the boat during the winter of 2002 - including re-naming her Magnus instead of Pumpkin! (Why Magnus? See below.) We cruised her for five weeks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the summer of 2003, and did further upgrades the following winter.

Electrical and electronic upgrades included a suite of new Raymarine instruments - autopilot, GPS, radar, speed and depth indicators and VHF radio, all of which can be used from either steering station. The 12-volt wiring and the 120-volt shore-power wiring were completely replaced and several outlets added. Six new reading lights and a flourescent in the galley were installed. We also placed a Hella tri-colour and anchor light at the masthead, and replaced the wiring inside the mast. We built a new instrument panel for the outside steering station, and enlarged the console at the inside helm. We installed a TrueCharge 20 smart charger, a 1500W inverter and a battery combiner, and replaced the five batteries during the voyage south. The only original electronic equipment in the boat today is the loudhailer/foghorn.

On deck, we installed a new full-battened, slab-reefing mainsail and mizzen, added a stack-pack to the main, replaced the mizzen cover, and added roller-furling to the jib. About half the standing rigging has been replaced, along with much of the running rigging. We added a stainless platform with new bow rollers on the bowsprit, and fabricated a stainless swim platform with integrated ladders at the stern. We also designed and fabricated two removable bucket seats for the cockpit. New stainless cleats, fabricated to match the original Norwegian cleats, were added at the bow, stern and amidships on both sides.

"Motoring in Cape Breton, 2003"

Hull improvements included rebuilding the rudder and replacing the old marine head with an Air Head composting toilet which is compliant with the most stringent anti-pollution regulations and requires neither a holding tank nor any through-hull fittings. We then filled six holes in the hull, replaced the engine intake through-hull and added a new bronze seacock The only holes below the waterline today are for the propeller, the speed and depth indicators and the cooling-water intake. All through-hulls above the water line now have either shut-offs or check valves. We installed an electrical/mechanical Lofrans windlass, and added rope-cutting Spurs to the propeller.

Upgrades to the interior included a hot-water diesel-fired heating system with radiators in the two cabins. The furnace also heats the domestic water and (oh, luxury!) provides a heated towel rail in the head. All the water hoses were replaced, and we installed a pressure water system while retaining the manual system as well. We installed a new kerosene cook-stove, installed three inches or more of additional insulation around the ice-box, and installed a new Sea Frost refrigeration system. We renewed and re-upholstered all the cushions in the main cabin, re-upholstered the helm seat, replaced the formica on the galley counter and built additional cabinetry in the galley and in the head.

Magnus absorbed a great deal of time and money before we left, but she proved to be exactly what we'd hoped for: a safe, comfortable shoal-draft cruising vessel admirably suited to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Bahamas.

The Name Magnus

"Moored with Boxer in McClellanville, SC, December 2004"

When Marjorie and I bought our Viksund, she was named Pumpkin. That wouldn't do. You can't saddle a boat with an ignoble name and then expect her to do noble things. She needed a distinctive and dignified name, a name which would express respect. The new name needed to be short and clear, easy to understand on a crackling marine radio. It also had to be unique, because she was being registered as a Canadian ship, and the Government of Canada would not accept any ship name that was already in use.

We first hoped to find a noble name somewhere in her Viking heritage. I went rummaging in Norwegian history. Alas, most Norwegian names do not fall musically on the English ear. Dagmar, Hedwig, Ole, Haakon, Yngeve, Gudrun, Freydis, Borghild. We looked at the names of the Norse gods. There must be ships -- plenty of ships -- named Thor. But what about the others? Odhinn, Freya, Tyr? Hmmm... Loki? Heimdall? Frigga?

Maybe not.

"Under sail in Cape Breton, 2003"

Then we discovered that seven kings of Norway and two kings of Sweden had been named Magnus. Two of the Norwegian kings seemed particularly admirable. Magnus I, or "Magnus the Good" (1024-47) fostered domestic peace and repealed the harsh laws of his predecessors. Magnus VI, or "Magnus the Law-mender," (1238-80) was a reformer who made peace with Scotland. More importantly, he revised the laws to embody the idea that crime is an offense against the state, not the individual, and therefore is not a matter for personal vengeance. That idea is really the foundation of modern civil society.

My kind of man. Under Magnus VI, says our encyclopaedia, "medieval Norway reached its greatest flowering and enjoyed peace and prosperity." Would there more like him today. And the name descends from the Latin "magnus", meaning "great", which generated such attractive English terms as magnanimous, magnificent and Magna Carta. I even found a knot called the "magnus hitch", a variant of the rolling hitch. I eventually learned to tie it.

We applied to the Government of Canada to register our new vessel as Magnus. The name was approved. The Norwegian vessel from the United States duly became the Canadian ship Magnus, registered in Halifax. Now she was ready to do noble things - and she did.


Back to Boats