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Old 01-27-2013
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Re: Blue Jacket 40 (new racer/cruiser)

We toured the boat yesterday at Strictly Sail. Both Tim Jackett and Bob Johnson were on board. There was about a 15-20 min. wait as there was a "sentry" at the top of the steps monitoring the number of people on board at one time.

Strictly Sail Chicago is an out of water show and many boats didn't have their mast stepped. This one had a cut off mast, just above the boom.

Walking up to the boat it looked pretty enough. Once on board, I spoke briefly with Jackett asking about the mainsail setup. I was curious how much work would have to be done dropping the sail. They use lazyjacks and that V-shaped boom that's supposed to catch the sail as it drops. Jackett said you have to train the sail to flake properly until the stiffness is worked out at the folds and then it's just a matter of letting the main drop into the boom. He agreed a system like the Dutchman was better than lazyjacks.

Once below I was impressed with the build quality. It reminded me mostly of the Tartans we saw at Annapolis. Bob Johnson was below talking to the Larsen Marine sales guy so I started probing around.

I went to the starboard aft cabin and opened an access panel to the engine. Too dark to see much. The opening was roughly 20" square. I then went to the port cabin and tried to open that panel but couldn't. I made some noise trying to open it.

I walked out of the cabin and into the galley and was looking at the layout. It has drawers for the refrigeration and freezer (one each) and they just slide out. I was about to ask about the drawers sliding out when underway when I saw a slide lever that locked both drawers closed. Don't forget to do that after each use!

Johnson asked me if I had any questions and I told him I had just answered my question then he said he noticed me banging at the engine access panel in the port cabin. I told him I was unable to open that one. He said it must be stuck.

He walked back to open it for me and had the same experience then added a little more oomph than I did and finally opened it. The panel has the push-pop-open buttons and the new foam insulation was keeping the button lock from releasing.

I asked if there was a light in there and he said "Yes". He started reaching for the switch and I went to the starboard side and opened that panel and by then he had turned on the light but was back in the saloon so I couldn't ask him the questions I had planned. I also would have asked to open the stair access to get a better idea of what is where in the engine compartment and how easy or difficult it is to access for maintenance but people were coming and going.

So I just asked Bob about ease of access for oil changes, etc. Bob's went through a number of locations (oil filter, etc.) and I felt comfortable they didn't bury anything.

I thought the cabin wood was cherry but Bob said it was sapele. I have a nice slab of figured sapele sitting in my shop waiting to become something beautiful one day. But the sapele they use is straight grained. I've never worked with straight grained sapele but I know it's about the same cost as cherry or mahogany and cheaper than teak. Bob talked about book-matching the veneer of sapele being easier than other marine friendly woods.

As I walked forward I opened the door to the head and found it sticky. I intentionally opened and closed it a few times so Bob could hear the rubbing sound and he came over and we talked some more. The boat was so new all the wood had not fully stabilized.

After checking out the forward cabin I found, overall, that I was impressed by the quality of the boat. As I was walking out of the forward cabin I sat down on one of the faux leather setees. I asked Bob what material it was (I thought it was leather). He told me (I don't remember the name) and said their experience with real leather on a boat and this material told them this was the best choice.

Bob sat down next to me and asked me a few questions about myself (probably because not many women poke around in engine rooms) and I mentioned I'm a retired electrician. He then enthusiastically told me he would love to show me the wiring at the panel and how every wire is numbered at each end for identification and how neatly the wiring install is done. He really lit up when he said that and I could tell he was proud of the quality. When I said, "Show me," he said he can't because the A/C was on and he'd have to shut down the power. I didn't tell him we electricians often work things live.

Had there not been so many people waiting to see the boat I would have spent a lot longer checking out the boat but I thanked Bob for his time and went topside. Before I left I talked to Tim for a couple of minutes asking him about the rigging. It's a solent rig and has a jib boom like the Island Packett. I don't care for the jib boom because I like the foredeck clear 'cuz that's my favorite place when under way but I didn't tell Tim that.

I'm not crazy about the head or the location. While I heard many showgoers complain when an aft cabin was used for storage or utility, I like that. Putting three cabins in a 40' boat doesn't appeal to me. I would have designed a different cabin layout more friendly to cruising. But I think a lot of buyers today want 3+ bedrooms and 2+ bathrooms.

Having done my fair share of cruising, the boat didn't call to me. I liked it better then the IP but not quite as much as the T4000. But to give any critical analysis of the boat I'd have to spend a lot more time on it. I really appreciated the fact Jackett and Johnson were on board. If I had more time I'm sure I would have learned a lot more.

The boat is a looker, both inside and out. It seems well built and reasonably priced for a boat of that quality (MSRP $389,950) and you wouldn't have to spend a lot more to get it ready for a bluewater sail.

I really think anyone who wants to know more about the boat could e-mail Bob or Tim and I would think they would get back to you. Bob seemed very willing to help, Tim was a bit quieter.
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