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ddimaui 11-23-2004 10:32 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
I haven''t seen much discussion on this forum re J40 and it''s long distance potential. I notice that "Gyrphon" is currently listed for sale after a fairly quick circumnavagation. My initial thinking is that J40s sail very well, should be well constructed but lack needed storage. The admidship head could be converted into wet locker/storage pantry while keeping the actual head for seagoing usage. Does anyone have experience with a J40 in a seaway. How is the motion, do they sail on their ears, do they pound up-wind, etc? Is there an issue with the rudder bearing? Would greatly appreciate any input on these issues as well as current thinking for a short handed boat in the 37 to 40 range that can sail yet hold up to the rigors of long distance cruising.

hamiam 11-23-2004 05:50 PM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
not alot of help but i believe that there is a J-40 in this month''s Soundings Magazine that is for sale that has recently completed a multi-year cruise. You might want to speak with the owner regarding his/her experiences.

WHOOSH 11-24-2004 07:26 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
D, GYRPHON is only one example of J40''s used for extended cruising. There''s a J40 website with some useful info on conversions and construction issues that I''m sure Google will produce; sorry that I don''t have the URL handy.

Still, it''s a relatively small volume hull and I think load carrying and storage issues, as you mention, would be one of its liabilities. E.g. we saw a J40 that was being cruised down in Bequia. Because the crew had decided that the boat absolutely had to have all the ''normal'' cruising gear (acres of canvas, solar panels, wind generator, wind surfer, on-deck jug farms due to its limited tankage, and oodles of other gear), it was down on its lines and looked like it had horrid windage. It seemed to me at the time the choice of the boat was made well before decisions about what the crew thought they needed from their boat.


Jeff_H 11-25-2004 07:23 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
Since the introduction of the J-40 I have always viewed these boats with a mixed emotions. There is a whole lot about these boats that I really love. They sail well and have a very workable deck plan. They have a simple but nice interior layout. They are reasonably easy to handle in a wide range of conditions although I would prefer a fractional rig for offshore use. From my perspective, they represent a good compromise between performance and comfort.

But if used for extended cruising they need to be pretty extensively adapted. As they came from the factory they lack adequate water supplies, seaberths and gorund tackle handling gear for example.

Boats like the J-40 need to be viewed differently than is popular when thinking about distance cruisers. Extended cruising in a boat like the J-40 requires a very different mindset. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you size the J-40 by its a 16,700 lb displacement, this is a pretty small boat. In other words distance cruising in any 16,700 lb boat whether it is 32 feet or 40 feet is bound to be a little spartan. There is only so much payload weight in gear and supplies that a 16,700 lb boat can carry. You do not have the luxury of carrying anything that you might want to drag along. You do not have the luxury of carrying the kind of fuel supply to have ''all of the comforts of home''. It means that you have to be willing to limit the amount of gear and stores that you bring aboard.

This is not so much a short-coming of the boat as it is a decision that one makes about what is important to them. The only other gripe that I have about the J-40 is that they just were not all that robust and I would want to beef up the rudder/rudder post, keel sump and transverse framing.


ddimaui 11-25-2004 11:02 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
Thanks for the feedback, especially so as from Jeff. My previous voyaging was on a heavy 32 footer, with about 40 gallons of water, sextant, timex quartz ch., 2 burner kerosene stove and small poorly insulated icebox. I can get by without most of the current goodies, but don''t know if I can leave the windsurf board behind.

WHOOSH 11-26-2004 04:02 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
D, there''s another way we can look at the J40 if we''re willing to ignore the price issue. For a 9 ton boat (fully loaded, provisioned & equipped), it''s fast, easily sailed and with a functional layout that''s open, airy & suitable for a tropical environment. As Jeff suggests, when prospective buyers compare it with other 40 footers, they may find storage and tankage significantly smaller and they may wonder where they''ll be putting their huge collection of systems & add''l hardware. But when compared to most 8-9 ton boats, it''s probably a better performer while carrying the same load, and more comfortable as a home.

And so we once again get to the nub of the issue, which is more about you, what you want out of the boat (performance vs. systems/cabins/tankage), and where you intend to do your cruising. If you can live comfortably on 100 amp/hrs/day, avoid the 5 gal. shower and invest the time and effort to provision thoughtfully and without carrying along the butcher shop from back home, this boat is more than adequate to the task re: volume. It may just cost more than many 8-9 ton boats.

Jeff brings up a good question about the rudder and its bearing & structural set-up, and as I recall GYRPHON had to replace their bearing while in SoPac waters. All these boats with spade rudders can see a huge loading at sea in a blow. I''m not sure how feasible it is to strengthen that further, altho'' a call to TPI and/or J Boats would be a good idea if you get serious about this boat.


PhilMraz 11-26-2004 10:16 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
The J-40 is a cruising option that has appealed to me as well. Jeff and Jack have both touched upon the subject of boat selection criteria, which is a multi-faceted equation that must be understood and calculated by each sailor individually.

Most of us view boats by length overall. No less an authority than Steve Dashew has recommended purchasing the longest boat you can afford, reasoning that waterline length has the most impact on speed and comfort as well as safety. The J-40 is demonstrably fast, relative to nearly any other cruiser its length. It has an easy to handle sail and deck plan which includes a large powerful mainsail with traveler and sheets located handily for the helms-person. It has an easily driven narrow beam hull form, which I suspect would contribute to reasonably comfortable motion characteristics, except for heel angle and tenderness which they have been accused of, especially in shoal draft versions.

Here the compromises of the selection process begin to arise. It has been rightfully pointed out that space for equipment and provisions is limited relative to boats with larger volume hull forms. Loading up this 17,000# sailboat will have greater impact on performance than it would on a heavier displacement vessel. If another boat is examined with a larger volume hull form, a wider beam and/or fuller sections will cause displacement to go up along with wetted surface area. In order to achieve anything like the performance of a J-40, sail area would then have to be vastly increased and handling of the greater loads will become a bigger chore. Ultimately, this vicious circle simply produces a bigger boat. Even if it remains 40í LOA, it ends up 20,000#, or wherever you wish to call it quits.

It is a logical and preferable alternative to primarily select the displacement first of the sailboat one is comfortable handling, given individual crew constraints and sailing intentions. Considering all available 17,000# sailboats to take cruising, the J-40 must be considered near the top of the list in my view. Certainly there are numerous other factors to consider such as those pointed out by others, and it may be determined that a larger displacement vessel is needed to provide the desired comfort and capacity, but if the alternative is to choose a boat of shorter length at the same displacement it is doubtful that much increase in comfort or capacity will be achieved.

There may well be more recent design developments that improve upon the sailing qualities, durability or accommodations of the J-40, but then the cost element is also introduced. Newer boats usually cost more. If they donít then we must look hard to find out how they achieved cost savings, why they are less well regarded, and what are the other trade-offs. Here we must compare boats of a given price and displacement. Displacement has traditionally been considered to have a greater impact on price than length does anyway, though they are inseparably related. Ballast ratio, construction and hardware technology, power resources and tank capacity all literally weigh into this, making the value factor the most difficult element of the boat selection equation to calculate, especially as it is compounded by differences in individual priorities.

Sorry for the long winded commentary. Since I am no mathematician, this has probably resulted in no solution, but itís a subject Iíve been thinking about as you see. I personally think the J-40 is a reasonable alternative if you like a boat for going places and sailing well too, which is all I needed to say in the first place. -Phil

cditzen 11-26-2004 03:41 PM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
Hi there,

we sailed our J-40 Argonaut from SF to Sydney in 2003. To make it short, I loved the boat. The rudder bearing did go out on us, and I had to replace it in Hawaii. Wasn''t fun (or cheap). She will outsail most anything you come up against, handles BIG seas fine, goes to weather very well (which we did much more than I ever expected). We did convert the fwd head into storage. Also, the lazarette holds oodles of stuff. We had 5 headsails and 3 chutes with us (no furler on purpose). If you dropped one or two of the headsails and 1 or two of the chutes, you''d have plenty of stowage. Having all these sails, though, permitted us to do the crossing with around 40 gallons of diesel, start to finish (the tank holds about 33 gallons). We had no gerry cans, so what was in the tank had to suffice.


WHOOSH 11-27-2004 06:49 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
Chris, thanks for the first-hand comments...which are always more valuable than we arm-chair commentators. I''m hoping you could follow-up by offering your answers to two key questions raised in the other posts:
1. What was your boat''s actual fully-loaded/equipped displacement when making your passages, as compared with the 16,700# design displacment quoted above? And how did you find that add''l load affected her sailing abilities (when, how much - to give us a sense for how the boat dealt with the weight abuse, whatever it was)?
2. Along with the rudder bearing, were there other signs of structural issues with the boat? Or were your passages such that there really wasn''t any opportunity for those to show up?
Thanks for whatever (add''l) light you can shed on this discussion!

Phil, I liked how you expressed several of your points. My reaction is that Dashew''s expressed view that one should consider length as the ''primary criterion'' is pretty typical of what surfaces in an ''expert book'' when the writer ends up being theoretical more than realistic. The real world ''pimrary criterion'', and one Dashew probably wouldn''t quibble with except around the edges, would better be stated something like ''longest boat that meets minimum structural requirements for the money you have to spend''. This is as opposed to the most length you think you can handle, or the most features offered by the length, or the most systems that can be comfortably placed and serviced on the boat - all of which seem to end up being competing criteria by the boat-as-RV cruising contingent.

Good discussion.


cditzen 11-28-2004 09:57 AM

J-40 for Long Distance Cruising ?
Hi Jack,

not sure how much we loaded her down - it was about 1'''' at the waterline. We were used to racing the boat (no furler, peels for sail changes), and the fingertip control of the absolutely phenomenal steering-setup the J40 has. This fingertip control, by the way, holds true as much in 35 or 40 knots of wind (and seas) as in 10-12 knots. If not, something''s wrong with the trim setup. Makes it of course easy for the autopilot.

Now we went for a testsail after loading the boat completely the first time, and I just about broke down crying. Sluggish, difficult to keep in a groove (still better than most boats, but nothing close to her potential). We had 300'' of chain and a bruce 45 on the bow. So we cut the chain into 2x120 + 1x60 feet, spliced 3strand to the 60 feet, and kept that on the bow, while moving the 240'' amidships. It''s hard to describe the huge difference this made. So for every passage we''d switch to the short-chain version, and the connect a 120'' section in once we had made landfall. The one time we didn''t do this for a passage, I regretted it.

BTW, I believe that LOTS of cruisers suffer from way to much weight in the bow. When we were making landfall in Australia (part of a loose ralley), we were in our 3rd front of the passage, and doing 7+ knots beating into the seas (~55 degrees apparent) in the high 20''s/low30''s windwise. The boat was well balanced (reefed, #4 jib), and I was having fun as we rode the waves. Now this other boat we passed very quickly would climb up a wave, then the bow would smash down the backside, submerge, the next wave washing over bow and deck, and pretty much completely stopping the boat. Then slowly, he''d gain speed again, just to climb up the next wave, crash/submerge/and stop again. This all under power, because with sails alone he didn''t have the strength to fight the seas. On the VHF he was wondering what kind of amazing engine we had ;-).

So I think that weight distribution is maybe even more important than total weight. BTW, this guy it turns out had 500'' of chain in the bow.

I guess a fundamental question to ask yourself is do you like to sail, or to hang out at anchorages with lots of stuff. The two are nearly incompatible, unless you are amazingly wealthy. Just know that you''ll have to trade off one for the other.

In regards to structural strenght on the 40, we didn''t have any problems, despite repeatedly beating into nasty waves. Off Samoa we kept on launching off waves an crashing down so bad that everything just shook to the bones. In that case, we reduced sail and slowed down, which fixed the prob. But no structural stuff. Only creeks we had were under the staircase. I had re-located the batteries there from the lazarette to center the weight better, and should probably have strenghted the thin ply-wood a bit before doing that (that section just wasn''t conceived/built as a battery compartment - did help with the weight distribution though ;-).


P.S.: I''ll be giving a talk about our trip at a SF Bay area yacht club in January, so if anyone''s interested, mail me at

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