Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Irwin 34'''' 1982, questions?
Like Hunters and Catalinas today, in their day, Irwins were boats that were ''value oriented'' by which I mean that the offered an awful lot of boat for the dollar, albeit at the price of compromises that impacted build quality and to a mush lesser extent sailing ability.
I believe that all of the 34''s were Citations. The Citation series was intended to offer a higher preformance and a slightly better build quality, than some of Irwin''s other model lines. The 34 was designed independently of the racing rule trends of the late 1970''s and so were better mannered than some of the more IOR influenced designs of that era. At some point in the early 1980''s the Irwin Citations were upgraded (at least according to Irwin''s sales reps of that era).
The 34 has a nice workable interior with an especially nice galley for a 34 footer. Although a victim of the "angularity" fad, the extesively angled interior layout would appear to work more successfully than other angled design schemes that I have seen.
While I am not a big fan of the rig proportion (big jibs with a small very high aspect ratio mainsail) on the Irwin, the rig seems to work well with the hull form in a wide range of conditions. The deep draft versions seem to go to windward quite well and even the shoal draft version are not too bad.
With regards to the negatives, Irwins had a reputation for mediocre glass work and less than perfect engineering. As was the practice with most boat builders of that era, almost everything was optional so you find these boats with tiny winches and a variety of deck plans that work with varying degrees of success. The stock wheel was sized to permit ease in passing around it but is so small that visibility of the jib liff is a little restricted. Systems were generally done inexpensively and so should be thoroughly checked by a surveyor as these boats are now 20 years old. 1982 was still deeply in the middle of the blistering period and Irwins of that era had a reputation for being susceptable to blistering pretty severely. Unless the previous owner has diligently upgraded and maintained the boat, twenty year old boats are bound to need a whole collection long term maintenance and upgrades.
In a general senseI would say that these are good coastal cruisers reasonably priced for what they offer. If you looking to learn to sail on this boat, it is a very large boat to learn on and so the learning process will be greatly lengthened and much more difficult than it might be with a smaller boat. These are reasonably responsive boats which is a good thing, but any 34 footer is powerful enough that you are more likely to get yourself into trouble that you can''t simply manhandle. The would be pretty low on my list for a liveaboard cruiser and for the kinds of offshore work implied in a ''bad'' crossing to the Bahamas but Irwin 34''s have been used in that manner before and I am sure will be again in the future.