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  #1  
Old 11-10-2004
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more on old IOR boats

I own a S&S designed 25 ft ''73 IOR boat, have sailed her all over and lived aboard over 25 years now. I can say that not all boats of this era are the same. This boat is very well found, and with the deep heavy lead fin keel, deep full skeg rudder, and low freeboard, she never gets squirrely in any conditions. I can carry the big light air spinnaker with such a small amount of wind you can barley feel it, and she is responsive enough to keep it flying, but if the wind picks up, you can get the ''chute down with one person without ever getting out of control. She has a fairly quick motion, other than that is comfortable in bluewater, much more comfy than many more ''modern'' designs I''ve sailed on! Don''t forget, S&S were noted to be conservative and put the boat first and rules second. I have a big 496 sg ft gennacker I use attached to the anchor roller as a ''sprit, the boat is plenty stiff enough to carry it, and it makes her roll along in the mid sevens all day and night even with a full cruising load. Yee hah! I do use a sock with it, bringing it down at 2am without one would be no fun. We have sailed upwind in 70 kts and 30-35 ft seas with panache. She is a powerfull performer, upwind and down, as long as the right sails are used. There are dis-advantages, of course,...not much headroom, can get wet upwind, not much room on the foredeck with the narrow bow, too much draft for the Bahamas, no vee berth (that is not such a disadvantage, I have a fully enclosed shower under the sail hatch there, so if I put a wet sail down, so what?)but these are really pretty minor quibbles mostly.
Webb Chiles also favours old IOR boats...remember him?
She is beamy in the mid sections, it makes her look like a fat old duck from behind. But that beam is part of what gives her so much power. And with the deep draft and plenty of ballest, she is very safe. We just survived Ivan ''on the hook'', and she was un-fazed, as always.
So don''t discount a boat just because it is an old IOR boat, some of them are really great bluewater cruisers in their old age!-Ken
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Old 11-11-2004
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more on old IOR boats

I also have owned a 1973 S&S 25 foot IOR era design. Mine was a Northstar 500 quarter tonner. The description of your boat very much matched the Northstar that I owned. Both your boat and the one that I owned were very early IOR-1 boats, which tended to produce reasonably good boats compared to later, more modern IOR-II and IOR-III. (Webb Chiles''s Heritage One Ton is also an IOR-1 boat as well. I would also like to point out that Webb Chiles would not exactly be a good role model of a sailor chosing sensible offshore cruising boats given his track record of choices in the past.)

In any event, while I somewhat agree that smaller early IOR-1 era boats were generally more robust and more seaworthy than later IOR boats, my experience with my quarter tonner was somewhat different than yours. On the Quarter tonner that I owned, there was a tendancy to aerate the rudder at moderately flat heel angles (somewhere around 35-40 degrees) and for the boat to round up at that point. While the boat was nicely balanced a flatter heel angles (say under 20 degrees) leading up to the wipe out, the boat would rapidly develop higher weather helm loads.

Downwind the Northstar had a tendancy to roll wildly under the chute if there was any seas running. So much so that it was possible to roll the spinnaker pole end into the water. Power reaching under the chute was pretty much of a white knuckle experience as the huge chute tended to depress the bow and make the boat want to round up and yet the huge overlap of the chute made diving down in a gust a bit of a risky activity if you were short handed.

Probably my biggest gripe with boats of this era is their sail plan proportions. On my Northstar, like most of the IOR boats that I have sailed, the mainsail was tiny and the jibs were huge. This meant frequent sail changes. To get any light air reaching or beating performance on the Northstar, we used a light #1 genoa (170%). This was a wonderful sail for those conditions but somewhere around 6-8 knots of wind was beginning to overpower the boat and we would have to switch to a heavy #1 genoa (150%). That sail was overpowered at roughly 12 knots and so we would either shift down to a #2 (140%) or else a reef in the main was required, which was slow and gave the boat a little bit of initial lee helm. The #2 was a good sail in winds from roughly 10 knots up to the high teens and then we shifted to a working jib that was just a tick below a 100%. With better sail cloths perhaps each of these sails would have had a wider wind range but to sail the boat with any kind of reasonable performance at all, expecially when loaded to go cruising meant a very large sail inventory or else a lot more motoring than I would prefer.

And that brings me to my final point on these boats. Because of the IOR rule, these boats tended to be very sensitive to the amount of weight carried aboard. A 25 foot IOR 1 boat was made to be sailed by five or six crew members, somewhere around 1000-1200 lbs of crew weight and when going up wind that crew was expected to be on the rail. Fully loaded to go racing these boats would tolerate roughly a ton of live load (crew and supplies) after which they became harder to handle. That is a comparatively small payload for a 25 foot cruising boat.

I guess my point here is that while you have successfully proven that you can cruise and live aboard a small IOR-1 era boat, I would suggest that I strongly agree that there is quite a bit of variablility in the suitability of even S&S designed IOR-1 boats to being used as cruising boats. I will also suggest that some of the designs from that era that emerged based on the MORC rule, and from the later MHS (IMS) rule produced boats that are easier to short hand and perhaps more seaworthy as well.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 11-11-2004
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more on old IOR boats

I too am the owner of one of the older IOR I designs. In fact, a Heritage 1 Ton that the afore mentioned author of dubious common sense is using for his latest escapades. I tend to agree with much of what Jeff offers in his critique of the designs, in general.

I will add a few of my own observations: We were out on our last day-sail of the year on Sunday, 11/7. True winds in the upper teens to low twenties, seas 3 - 5 feet, steaming along at about 8 kts, beam reaching with a full main and heavy #1 (150%), rail not even close to the water, moderate helm. Two couples enjoying a lovely fall afternoon with Long Island Sound to ourselves. A wonderful afternoon to set me up for the long winter months ahead.

Within limits and understanding her foibles, these are the conditions that make Silmaril a joy to sail. HOWEVER.... turning into the wind to drop sails, set her up for the usual wave peircing, bow into the next wave, everybody gets wet, experience that one has to deal with when sailing a boat with such a slender bow section. No pounding like the later IOR II and III designs, just a wet ride in very moderate conditions.

Then turn her down wind for the motor into the harbor, and you are chasing her all over as she sashays from side to side on the following seas. I have done it with the chute up in these conditions, and well, you had better be on the ball 100% or be ready to be bitten. Does the term "Death Roll" come to anyone''s mind? For cruising, the ''chute, pole, and strut just aren''t part of the inventory! I use my drifter, (170%) my heavy #1, and the reefable #3/4 genny, along with slab reefing the main.

A lot of the boats from that early era exhibited even worse behavior (the Nautor 44 & 47 S&S designs were notorious for their wild broaches) I chose mine very carefully from experience with the particular design. Knowing her bad points, I avoid them as best I can. But the designer (Charlie Morgan) pushed the envelope of the era in many ways. For a 37'' boat of that era to weigh in at 13,000# with 6,500# in a deep 6''6" fin, deep balanced rudder, and still be going strong today after MANY hard racing and cruising miles, testifies to the construction techniques he used in the design. It was built tough, not pretty below, but very funtional.

There are boats today that I feel are still built with the same "Sailing First, Cruising Second" approach: The Seaquest 36 Reichel-Pugh design comes to mind, a fast balanced design, taking advantage of the latest in modern design, the J-109 also is an excellent performing racer/cruiser, the Cape Fear 38 by Bruce Marek can be had in all-out race trim or more cruising oriented. The C&C 110, while taking a bashing from some, is a really well built high performance boat with a nod towards more cruising comfort, but still able to "make tracks" when raced.

The good, high performance designs are out there, you may have to look beyond the mass producers to find em, but todays boats have come a L O N G way from the early IOR designs.

Because I haven''t hit the lotto or had any better mousetrap ideas come my way, I am happy with my old IOR desgn, familiar with her strengths and her weaknesses, and enjoy those days when she really shines on the water.
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Old 11-11-2004
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more on old IOR boats

Yes, she is a NorthStar 500. And yes, I have had the rudder break free a few times...but I wouldn''t consider 40 degrees ''flat'' for that, many modern cruising boats will have the rudder lose its grip well before the angle this boat does, I say that based on relativly little experiance with other boats but also by comparing the underwater designs.

As for yawing, yep, that can be a workout, but I have a Sailomat windvane, and it can steer with the big chute better than I can. So no workout. Haven''t noticed the bow go down as much as she tucks into her bow wave...seems to me she actualy will try to climb up it to some extent.

I have had a couple of broaches with the spinnaker, but with the size of that chute, given the same conditions any boat would broach, and to her credit she got right back on her feet with no damage. Never actualy got the pole in the water, close a time or two.
But nowdays I rarely use the light air chute, as I find the gennaker a better cruising sail.

Changing sails can be, or I should say is, a chore. But if the main was a lot larger, then there would be a lot of changing sail area there, to. Not as much I''m sure. But you would then have a much larger boom that could make gibing tougher, and might get in the water. However, I do agree that the need for relatively frequent sail changes are a disadvantage here, you don''t know how many times I have cursed that in an early morning squall!

I very much agree she is sensiteve to her weight...most racing boats are. That is not so much of a problem with one or two people, or as in my case one person and two Schiperkes, as we can do fine without five tons of extra weight.
And if you loaded down a boat of about the same size with 1500 lbs, you might not notice the difference in handeling as much, but it would still make a difference...such as capzie resistance. Very likely even more of a difference considering the way the 500 is made. But here also, I agree that this design is more sensitve to extra weight.

However my point still is, that for a small very capable bluewater boat, one that can do very well without the engie being run at all and one that can handle any weather, this boat would be hard to beat. As an example, two years ago in Aug. I did an ''out and back'' in the Gulf of Mexico, 22 hours, 5.45 kt average with the wind on the nose coming back, and a full cruising load of 1000-1500 lbs aboard. Very comfortable ride. I used the gennaker going out, the boat was pushing 7.5-7.7 kts by GPS for a long time...not too many other boats 20 ft on the water could do that with all the equipment and resources aboard needed for cruising. Heck, quite a few of the boats in the marina that are much longer couldn''t do that!
Don''t forget, when these were made was the time, even though it was the last of it, it was the time when these boats were supposed to be "racer/cruisers".
Most of the modern designs I see are purely for costal sailing, the market having apparently determinded that folks don''t much want very small ocean capable cruising boats. I wouldn''t trade a well designed and built old IOR boat for a dozen such modern boats for passagmaking, even though the modern designs are better on the hook or with a cockpit full of guests.
Webb Chiles? Well, he made it didn''t he? That says as much about his guts as his judgement, and presumabley he has learned quite a bit from those times.

I agree that designs have changed, and we do progress, but sometimes there is a false presumption that just because soemthing is not new it is not as good, when often the old stuff can be better than the new stuff. A lot of the newer designs for boats have increased the comfort factor in many ways...that doesn''t mean they have not comprimised in others, or that the fundemental design is better overall.-Ken
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Old 11-11-2004
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Great Response, Ken! Thanks. Just on the off chance that this is my old boat. My boat was black and sold to an airline pilot who lived up in Atlanta. I called her ''Midnight Express''. She had an atomic 4 with a Vee drive. Neat boats for their day. I raced mine out in the Atlantic.

Jeff
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Old 11-11-2004
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Ok, so these old IOR boats have a lot of design flaws, which you guys have clearly enumerated. But please tell me (since I just bought one) do they have any special strengths, other than their low price? For instance, I have heard that (at least the S&S boats) go to weather exceptionally well.
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Well, I''ve owned sailed and lived aboard mine for over 25 years, and the guy I bought it from was the original owner, in his 70''s then, now dead it seems. But she does have the A-4 with vee drive. I want to change that to a diesel electric hybrid. Nothing against the A-4, it has served well, but it is not very fuel efficient and is heavy...and now that the oil pan has rusted out it seems an opportunity.
She is a fun boat to sail.
Regarding a couple of other notes, about the yawing downwind in big seas, it yaws with or without big sails but less than some other boats I''ve been on. Much less than some of the modern designs with the spade rudders. The full skeg helps with that as well as helps the rudder keep it grip.
And about weight carring, I have sailed on the Flicka and the Catalina 27 and a Grampion (SP?) about the same size, the all did worse performance wise than my boat when fully loaded. Of course, I never had four 250 lbs guys sitting on the rail! But I think any smaller boat will show it when you add cruising weight. -Ken
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Old 11-11-2004
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Compared to boats that preceeded them they go to windward quite well but compared to the boats that followed them they really are not all that weatherly. They also tend to be a little bit wet compared to a IMS typeform for example.

The thing about the IOR was that it narrowly defined the measurement points on a boat in a way that made it easy for designers to distort the boats to beat the rule. The problem was that it produced boats that were comparatively slow and generally not especially seaworthy. Some of the really early boats like the one we are discussing were still very good boats for their day but a lot happened in the years that followed.

What did you buy?

Jeff
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Old 11-11-2004
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Yes, most S&S boats at any rate were noted to be upwind witches and the NorthStar 500 is indeed close winded and powerful. Also wet, if you insist on putting your nose into the blow. But I have no qualms at all pointing her into 40 kts and big seas...just shut the hatch and clamp the potholders down on the stove, it''s gonna be a ride! When really into it, I have seen her roar down the front side of a sea and then stick her bow into the next sea all the way to the mast, then lift up and throw all that water into the cockpit. Urgh! But it doesn''t seem to slow her down much.
These boats can be very solidly built. When I last crossed lake Okeechobee (SP?) several years back, the keel hit a submerged log that stopped us instantly from 6.5 kts. No visible damage. (I did not dive and look at the time, too many alligators around! But I did a few weeks later.)
There are NO stress cracks...none, anywhere on this well used hard sailed boat of 31 years. And there were no blisters for the first 18 years, then I sanded and re-painted, and now I have had a few small ones at the waterline.
But, the stb. toe rail DOES leak (when the present batch of goop fails once again), has done so forever, such a PITA to fix I never have.
The only other thing I intend to address someday is adding an inner forestay and running backs, so I can hang the storm jib inboard and also to prevent mast pump in some conditions. That is caused by the shrouds not being any fore and aft. -Ken
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A 1971 Palmer-Johnson 30 "P-J 30", aka "S&S 30". These were sold in the UK (where they were built by Aquafibre) as the "Aqua 30". P-Js imported them and added an extra 3 feet to the (keel-stepped) mast. The 34 footer is very similar but better known (e.g. "Morning Cloud" owned by Prime Minister Edward Heath). There is also an "S&S 30" that was built in Australia, but this is the same hull as our Yankee 30. My boat disp. 7000#, 3400# ballast, 9 ft. beam, 21 ft. LWL, with a recently rebuilt Albin 2-cyl. gas engine. This is our first keelboat, after having raced a Buccaneer 18 (centerboard sloop) for 17 years. We don''t plan to race this boat.
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