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Old 01-10-2004
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J 30 good boat ? Jeff, please let me know

J-30''s are complicated to categorize. They, like the earlier J-24, were real pioneers in the evolution of yacht design. In their day they were about as fast as a 30 footer could get. Compared to other 30 foot race boats of that era they required pretty small crews and were very easy to handle. Over the years there have been (and in some areas continues to be)a strong one design class. Because of their one design status, sail makers know how to cut fast sails for these boats and know how these boats should be tuned. The hardware, sails and deck gear on boats that are raced are often in near perfect condition. The fractional rig is really nice for shorthanding. That is all of the good stuff.

On the other hand, this was a very early design of its type. They really require a lot of rail weight to keep this boat on its feet under a full sail plan. The deck layout and cockpit are quite exposed and uncomfortable. They offer a nice interior when compared to a modern race boat but it is pretty spartan by cruising boat standards. The earliest ones lack ventilation. Later ones added several opening ports and hatches.

These were reasonably well constructed boats but they were pioneers in using balsa cored hulls and so delamination and core rot are distinct possibilities. I have heard of problems with mast steps and keel sumps but I am not clear on what those problems really were. Many of these boats are approaching 20-25 years in age and so have the usual older boat litany of things that might need work.Unless very well maintained and updated by a previous owner (which these boats often are), as with any boat this age, you might expect to need to address some combination of the following items:
∑ Sails, chainplates, mast step and associated suporting structure, standing and running rigging that are beyond their useful lifespan,
∑ an engine that is in need of rebuild or replacement,
∑ worn out or out of date deck, galley, and head hardware,
∑ worn out upholstery,
∑ Out of date safety gear
∑ electronics that are non operational, or in need of updating,
∑ electrical and plumbing systems that need repairs, upgrades to modern standards or replacement.
∑ Blister, fatigue, rudder, hull deck joint or deck coring problems
∑ Keel bolt issues.
∑ And perhaps a whole range of aesthetic issues.


As to sailing these boats, while they were fast for their day, their day has passed and of course there are much faster race boats out there. I really don''t like the feel of the helm on these boats, and frankly as a J-30 owner once said to me, compared to later designs sailing a J-30 is about as thrilling as kissing your sister. Still they sail well. They offer good performance in a wide range of conditions. They are reasonably forgiving.

I guess to summarize, they are not my idea of an offshore boat but are reasonably good coastal cruisers and racers, they were reasonably well built but many are now starting to show their age, and they are not state of the art race boats but they still are a raceable boat.

Jeff
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