Buying first boat
We're looking at buying our first boat. We've looked at aft cockpits and center cockpits. We've come across a 1990 Starrett and Jenks 45' Center cockpit and we've noticed a few differences in this boat than others in this size. It has a narrower beam than most. ie, 11' versus 13 almost 14. It has flat decks,and a full keel. We were just hoping for opinions, good or bad on this builder and their boats. Is this a well built boat? How do they perform? Are they hard to handle? Just looking for info.
J and S
The Starratt Jenks 45 began life as the Morgan 45, a no holds barred CCA era rule beater (which translates to narrow beam, short waterline length and a sail plan that favored very large jibs and a comparatively small mainsail, as in a boat that takes gorillas to sail). In the guise of the Morgan, 45 these boats had deep cast lead keels, half way decent lay-up, first-class hardware for its day, and in the racer/cruiser version, a reasonably nice interior. (For the record neither of these are full keels by any traditional sense of the term, but are actually fin keeled boats with attached rudders, which means all of the negative attributes of both full keels and fin keels with few of the attributes. Some Scarratt Jenkses have gone to skeg hung spade rudders to try to improve their otherwise less than wonderful handling characteristics.)
Anyway, the Morgan 45 did not sell very well and the molds were sold to to Starratt Jenks, who cheapened the construction and sold them as kit boats. SJ shortened the keel, depending on who you believe, went to an encapsulated keel with boiler punchings and concrete, (at least according to the one survey that I read.) These were tender boats when they were Morgans and had cast lead ballast, and would be even more tender in the shallower draft, low density Starratt Jenks version.
Which of course brings up all of the kit boat issues. Like any kit boat some were finished by people who knew what they were doing and did a careful job, but most were finished by amateurs who did the best they could. I had access to surveys on two different Starratt Jenks over the years, and I don't think that I have ever seen a more critical survey report on a boat that hasn't been through a hurricane.
So to answer your questions:
Are they a well built boat?
The hulls were half way decent but the actual build quality beyond the hulls is a crap shoot. My sense is that a larger proportion of these boats were bought by comparatively new sailors than some of the other kit boats of that era because experienced sailors that I knew shied away from them due to their mediocre design.
How do they perform?
They perform like a much shorter boat with inadequate sail area for light air performance, that has a cut down rig and keel, and a higher center of gravity than the orginal design, which is to say, quite mediocre.
Are the hard to handle?
From what I gather from conversations with a number of owners over the years, they are not easy boats to handle.
That said, they were often modified by the individual builders, so for example I exchanged email with a fellow who claimed his was easy to handle. As we talked about it he indicated that originally the boat was miserable in high winds or a chop, but he eventually added a bowsprit (going to a cutter rig) and reduced the mainsail, which balanced the helm some and made his easier to handle. He also said that he needed to reef really early and that was why so many people considered SJ 45 to be poor heavy weather boats.
I also talked to a fellow who claimed that his boat was built the same way as the original Morgan 45, low deck house, aft cockpit, deep draft and lead keel and he loved his, and took her all over the place, although he did tell a couple stories suggesting that the boat was miserable in the Gulf Stream and on the Banks in the Bahamas, but then again those can be some very choppy waters to sail in no matter what you sail.
I guess I would say this, These are big boats and boats that are likely to need vast quantities of skillful remedial work to bring into reasonable shape (unless some prior owner has done that, but the people I have met seem to buy these boats because they wanted a cheap 45 footers and do not know much about boats, so that is not all that likely) and will be tough boats to sail. In other words, not even close to a good choice for a first boat.
I would think that if you have your heart set on a fixer upper then perhaps you would be better off for the money buying a boat with a better design than a cut down, obsolete race boat as a starting point.
Blah, blah, blah. Your usual bias, Jeff. 40 years under CCA rules, and you'd have everyone believing they were all crap. You say nearly identical negative things about each CCA boat you comment on. Funny, on some of these CCA boats, you have stated they're bears to sail, and I know of examples where retirees single-hand them across the Atlantic. Hmmm. And what is this obsession with full keels actually being fin keels with attached rudders? Manipulate the definition any way you want, a fin and what is said to be full keel, even if not running the entire length of the hull, are not the same thing, regardless of where the rudder is. A fin is a fin. How many true fin keels have 2 tons of lead in them....not attached to the bottom....inside them. Also, how long are fin keels, fore/aft? Couple feet to somewhat longer in modified fins on the bigger boats. That's it. You have traditional full keels and full keels with the forefoot cut away. There's more here, as written by someone who actually knows what he's talking about, and has designed, literally hundreds of boats, as well as being involved in sailing all the way up to the Americas Cup:
There are some simple illustrations that get the point across, as well as explanations.....for the record.
A nice little primer on seaworthy designs:
That being said, basically a homebuilt boat would have to be crawled all over to win my confidence. I'd wanna know who built it, what was their experience, did they build any others? More importantly, in a sport or pursuit where statements like: "Boats are holes in the water where you throw money," and BOAT="Bring Out Another Thousand," are used to describe it, you have to look at your price of admission, additional work (be overly generous in your estimates), and your goal. Sail now? Sail in a year? How much work do you want. Will you be a coastal cruiser, or do you dream of blue water voyages. That will dictate, to an extent, what equipment will be retained, and what will need to be upgraded to heavier stuff.
Does it float? Do you like the boat? Does it make you smile? If so, it's not obsolete. It may not be the latest in cutting edge racers, but if you're cruising, you probably won't have a racing crew available. Set it up correctly and you won't need gorillas, as has been shown time and again.
Is that boat right for you? Maybe, maybe not. CCA boats are at their best heeled over much more than newer boats. Many find it alarming, reef the main, lose power, and get stuck, then think the boats are miserable in a chop. Actually, they need to stay powered up. They're great when the rail is getting wet. You have much more leeway than later wide-hulls. The wide boats have great initial stability, but if not reefed, and pushed too far..ooooops. Problem is, that high initial stability works against a wide, flat-bottomed hull once it goes over....it tends to stay over. The CCA hull will go further and further over, stiffening at a point, but will continue to heel. You can bury the cabin lights, and it's still okay, and yeah, you will get wet then for sure. Some like a more upright sailing position. The newer hulls have much more ability to surf in moderate winds. I like the roll-with-it boat that is more forgiving if not reefed as soon as it should be. It's all in what you want. Ultimately, you'll have to decide that. All that being said, it's a steep learning curve, but some people are okay with that.
My bias is against boats that are aberations from wholesome yacht design principles, whether they were CCA rule beaters or not. In its 23 year history, the CCA rule went from producing reasonably good boats for their era, to boats that were so corrupted to beat a race rule that they ceased being good all around boats by any definition. Over the short life of the last version of the CCA rule, waterline lengths became more extremely short, and beam extremely narrow, and their light to moderate wind sail plans designed around huge genoas, the norm being 170-180% overlaps. The Morgan 45 was one of the last CCA grand prix racing designs. They went into production during the last year that the CCA rule was in use and pushed rule beating to an extreme perhaps only exceeded by Bill Luder's 'Storm'.
You can "Blah, Blah Blah" all you want, but CCA rule beater or not, are you really trying to say that a nearly 46 foot long boat with a 31 foot waterline, by any stretch of the imagination, represents a wholesome design. Are you trying to say, that a boat dependent on a 170% to 180% genoa is easy to handle. People who take boats like these cruising tend to carry heavy ground tackle off the bow and heavy dinghies in davits off the stern, creating a huge pitching moment of inertia, without the necessary waterline length to absorb that kinetic energy. Do you really think that is a good idea in a cruising boat?
To me a 170% to 180% genoa is an enormous sail to drag through the foretriangle, especially on a boat this big, requiring a huge amount of effort to tack compared boats designed to be sailed with smaller genoas. You can sail these boats with smaller sails, but you give away what little light air performance these boats can muster, and you begin developing high weather helm at a lower windspeed. Do you really believe that this kind of sail plan is easy to handle?
Beyond the broad generalities, in this case, I researched this particular model extensively, originally for my stepfather, and later for several other potential buyers of SJ 45's. I have spoken to close to a dozen owners of Morgan 45's and Starratt Jenks, and crawled through quite a few.
Virtuely all of the owners of the sloop rigged Starratt Jenks reported huge weather helm loads in its original form. Several said that the loads on the helm required enough strength that it precluded their wife or children from being able to steer in heavy air. The only way that they could balance the helm was to reef the mainsail early. Even with the reefed mainsail they still were sailing the very large heel angles that you seem to think is a good thing.
As to the fin keel definition, by the traditional definition of fin keel, the one that was in common useage when the Morgan 45 was designed, a fin keel was any keel that has a bottom length that is 50% or less than the length of the boat (or in some of the older definitions the horizontal length of their sail plan). That definition had nothing to do with where the rudder was located. But regardless of how you chose to define a fin keel, and whether you agree that the Morgan 45/Starratt Jenks is a fin, when you look at the Morgan 45 in profile, they have less keel area and a shorter keel root and foot than the 10" shorter waterline Cal 40. Sure sounds like a fin keel to me, and if not a fin by name, it will behave like a fin in fact.
When I think about the advantages of a full keel, I would suggest a full keel should offer; good tracking capabilities, better protection of the rudder than a fin keel, the ability to take to ground with enough keel length to reduce impact loads to the hull, and enough keel bottom to support the boat from tipping fore and aft allowing a boat to be dried out. When I think of the advantages of a fin keel boat, I think of low drag, light helm loads, and good maneverability.
In the case of the SJ you have such a short keel that you do not have good directional stability (tracking), the rudder is only inches above the bottom of the short keel, making it more vulnerable than a fin keel/skeg hung spade rudder design where the rudder is several feet shallower than the keel, and is too short to reduce impact loads or support the boat fore and aft. Similarly, compared to fin keel boats with detached rudders, the attached rudder position requires a larger rudder area and higher rudder loadings than a separated rudder with its greater longitudinal leverage. The higher rudder angles means higher drag. The reduced leverage means poorer manueverability. Whether you see this as a fin keel or not, I stand by my statement that this keel offers few of the virtues of a full or fin keel with most of the disadvantages of both.
In the end, I would give the original poster the advice that there are mush better boats out there for the dollar, especially as a first boat. Most that come to mind have a shorter length on deck, with similar or longer waterline lengths, easier to handle sail plans, and equal room down below.
I'm still trying to get what you mean by "rule beater." From my frame of reference, that would mean they were successful at skirting the rules of the day and winning, but in the examples I have seen you apply this term to, you state the boats were not good boats, not successful. So how were they beating the rules?
The CCA form "considered length as the basis for the rating and then had adjustments for beam, draft, displacement, and sail area, plus correction factors for stability and propeller."
So, an example of what would seem to me to be a rule beater would be a certain 40ft fiberglass boat that used a heavy steel pipe for the structural keel, thus reducing actual ballast and receiving a nice ballast credit in the process, as well as a heavy displacement credit...and was very successful because of it. That's a rule beater. It didn't even have to break the rules to win, just exploited them to best advantage.
Other examples: "There were many other innovative gambits. Ray Hunt sailed a sloop as a catboat by not setting any headsails and did quite well. Bill Luders sailed Storm without any mainsail and also won his share. I designed a 33-foot schooner, Ingenue, which was rated with a small Bermudian foresail, which she rarely set. Instead, she raced with a huge "fisherman staysail" that set on the foremast sail track, completely filled the space between the masts and overlapped the mainsail like a genoa jib. She gained quite a bit of silver, too, particularly in races where there was a fair amount of offwind work."
That also touches on another statement you throw out there when you say the boats were dependent on 170-180% genoas. I've just cited two examples of boats built with a particular rig in mind (shall we say, dependent on that rig), but then didn't compete with the rig deployed as built....and won! Dependent? Sail tech has come a long way, and under PHRF, those boats now use 150's. You know this. And with the right skipper, they can, and do still win. So what happened? Did the boats kick their dependence? Maybe that's what was used then because it was all they could do to get a given level of performace, but dependent? Re-rigging and buying new sails is all part of it. Can we say, "Change the setup." No setup is cast in stone.
On the leverage issue. You're citing examples of boats..., who knows how well they were built? Maybe the whiners were wimps. Maybe they were too cheap to buy a decent sized wheel. Sure, maybe they were set up wrong. It also goes to the sailing they're looking at. Mild weekends? Not too much to handle there. Island hopping and stormy weather? That might be too much without some changes. Who knows?
I don't disagree that it probably isn't the best choice, definitely not for most people. However, maybe the guy leaps steep learning curves in a single bound. You never know. I do better jumping in over my head, maybe he does too.
How, exactly, is it the S-J 45 was a rule beater? And what, exactly, does that have to do with someone getting their first boat? He didn't say he was looking for his first racing boat.
Oh, and on the keel issue. I wasn't disputing what you said about different configurations of keels being compromises of one or more designs, resulting in better or worse performance. I was pointing out that your "for the record" description was inadequate. If you followed the link I posted, you see that there are several variations on the full keel, and how they vary from incarnations of the fin, in shape, length, width, leading edge, etc.
Look, heeling in a CCA boat is good. And it's awfully fun. They get better as they heel. That's how they were designed. It's not just my feeling that heeling is good. You want best speed outta one, it's on an ear. It's a difference in execution, that's all. I'm not saying it's better than newer designs that have much stiffer initial stability, but there are those who don't think you're sailing unless the boat is heeling, and I'm one of them. That's a difference in choice. You don't like heeling, get a newer, wider boat...or a very heavy, relatively wide old boat. I'm not blind to changes in sailboats. I get a little envious every time I think about some newer design surfing along when conditions permit. Mine can surf....down the back of a 30ft wave. Otherwise, nope! I start thinking about things like retractable hydrofoils, but that's not gonna happen. Such is life. I can incorporate improvements, and am doing so. I'm not here trying to say only "Old School" can get it right, but it is how we got to this point, and there's lots of knowledge there. But really, these guys whining about having to reef....isn't that why they're there...the reef points, I mean. Come on already. Sounds like they're complaining about the work involved in sailing. I wonder who told them sailing in 30 knots would be as easy as sailing in 5-10 knots? Maybe they should take up something easier, or get good at avoiding heavy air.
Face it. If someone wants a boat, no amount of advice will change their mind. I know of a certain new owner of a certain Bristol 29, or was it 29.9 that you advised strongly against. Damned if he didn't go and buy it anyway, and by all accounts I've seen, is happy he did it. He's active in the community and in the boat. If we were really gonna direct people to an easier-to-sail setup for beginners, everyone would have to buy some little 14ft dinghy to start with, then move up from there after so many hours, just like aircraft pilots....and they'd have to have a license. Here's an idea, why not preface advice on boats like this with a disclaimer. "Personally, I do not like the sailing characteristics of CCA boats. That being said...yada, yada, yada." Something like that. I dunno man, when you get on the subject, it reeks of revulsion for the CCA class in particular (though not exclusively), and I'm not the only one who's noticed.
Bottom line. It'd be great if we could all have nice wide-body, roomy unsinkable, super-stable boats. Not gonna happen. In the real world, opportunities came as they will, imperfect most of the time. Maybe this is a golden chance to get in on sailing for the fellow. After all, it is better to have sailed a "beater" than to have never sailed at all.
We appreciate all the information. Sure didn't mean to start any heated debates, but you all told us exactly what we needed to know. I do have to agree with the very last statement made tho. It would be better to have sailed a "beater" than to have never sailed at all. But we'll be walking away from this one and our search continues. Thanks again...
J and S
I will start with the topic of the original post (and the last point raised in your last post). The original poster specific questions, "Is this a well built boat? How do they perform? Are they hard to handle?" and at the heart of it my comments were aimed at addressing those questions. I included additional commentary to explain my possition.
Perhaps to be more helpful I would should have suggested that, if J &S want a similar priced, well-built, full keeled or long keeled, easily handled, that offer similar space down below, a similar layout, in a more manageable package they should look at smaller boats with a similar waterline length, perhaps they should look at a boat like the S&S designed Hughes Northstar 40, CSY 41, Gulfstar 41, Moody 39, Tartan TOCK, or Whitby 42 for example.
When I say that the Morgan 45 was a CCA Rule beater (or that any CCA era boat design was corrupted by the racing rule) I am referring to several specific aspects of the CCA rule that compromise the sailing ability from the standpoint of motion comfort, seaworthiness, carrying capacity, and performance.
That definition of the CCA rule ("considered length as the basis for the rating and then had adjustments for beam, draft, displacement, and sail area, plus correction factors for stability and propeller.") is a little to terse to explain the issue. For example, under the CCA rule length was defined at the waterline, and not at the length on deck. The CCA Rule over penalized waterline length far more harshly than the real life advantage of having the additional length. There was a lopsided advantage to building a boat with as short a waterline length as you possibly could. A few feet of waterline length might give you an 18 to 21 second a mile rating change but only affect your real speed 12 to 15 seconds a mile. Changes to the rule after Finesterre made the advantage of an excessively short waterline even greater. To beat the rule, CCA era boats with racing intentions reach a point where boats like the Morgan 45, had a waterline length that was 2/3 or less of its overall length. It is important to note that cruising boats of that era, traditional sailing working watercraft, and even modern cruising oriented boats all had waterline lengths that were somewhere around 85% (or more) of their lengths on deck.
When you look at studies of seaworthiness and motion comfort, both in model testing, in studying actual storms, and in instrumented examinations of actual boats, to one degree or another, they all point towards waterline length as being a prime determinant of a boat's seaworthiness and motion comfort. Obviously, there are other factors as well, but no one factor somes up as consistently as waterline length, with the possible exception of vertical center of gravity relative to the vertical center of buoyancy.
Which brings us to the next area in which the Morgan 45 was a rule beater. In order to reduce the modifier for stability (which was measured by hanging a weighted in a bucket of water and then measuring the movement when a weight of a known quantity was moved a known distance athwartships) the beam of the late CCA boats were purposely reduced below what would have been considered a moderate beam for its day. To beat the penalty for stability, and draft designers produced boats that were particularly tender. Short waterline lengths and narrow beams tend to produce boats with small waterline planes which in turn produced deep canoe bodies. This makes for a boat that again is compromised from what is ideal in terms of seaworthiness and motion comfort. For although some of these boats like the original Morgan 45 carried lots of very dense ballast moderately deeply, the distance between the center of buoyancy and the center of gravity was quite small compared to what was typical in cruising boats of that era and more modern craft designed for offshore use.
It is true, as I have experienced and other CCA era boats will note, at a certain point of heel, as the topsides are buried in the water, the boats seem to stiffen up. This occurs because the as these narrow beam, deep canoe body boats heel, pushing the topsides into the water quickly moves the center of buoyancy outboard and begins to generate a lot of form stability. The short coming with that is you end up with a boat that has wide roll angles due to its high center of gravity relative to its vertical center of buoyancy and a boat with a relatively quick motion when heeled due to its high form stability in the heeled postion. When coupled with the propensity towards pitching, it makes for a boat with poor motion comfort compared to boats that were designed as cruising boats.
The last and possibly most significant aspect of CCA rule beating is what it did to sail plans. Prior to the CCA rule, small boats that were designed as cruisers, race boats, and that were designed as working watercraft, generally had either sloop rigs with big mainsails and small jibs (oft times multiple small jibs). But the CCA rule (for reasons explained in other posts) chose to only penalize mainsail area, without even measuring headsail or mizzen areas.
As a result the standing sail areas were greatly reduced to historically low, SA/D's. This meant that CCA era boats went to untaxed, very large overlapping headsails over come their small standing sail plans. Large overlapping headsails are just plain harder to handle. You are right that you can go to smaller overlap jibs, but when you do the already poor light air performance of these boats drops further. In the case of the Starratt Jenks, you can modify the rigs to make them better handling and beef up the steering to reduce the loads, and add bigger winches to make the headsails easier to handle, (and I aluded to that in my answer citing the Owner who added a bowsprit, and by noting that prior owners may have modified their boats to correct short-comings) but the point is, in their more normal form, these are not easy to handle boats, and that was the question. And a big part of the reason that these are not easily handled boats comes from design compromises made to beat the CCA rule.
I grew up sailing CCA era boats and continue to sail on them to this day. I get to compare them side by side to other designs that predate, and post date their period. I don't have a bias against the CCA rule per se but I am a big fan of boats that are designed to sail well, which in my opinion generally means boat designs that were not compromised for any arbitrary rule. CCA boats have their own sailing aethetic and are fine for coastal cruising, but in my opinion, given the global set of choices out there, they are not particularly ideal for anything, which is why I use the term obsolete.
Oh yeah, with regards to the gentleman that I advised against the Bristol 29.9, I did so in the context of his search criteria and the other options that he had available. His goals were to initially cruise the Chesapeake but ultimately have a boat that he could take offshore to New England and Bermuda. We had located several boats that I thought were much better choices than the IOR era Bristol 29.9, most of which were CCA era boats or MORC boats of that same general era. To me the 29.9 was a heavily compromised design with a tightly pinched transom and contorted hull sections done to beat the IOR measurement procedures.
The boats that I recommended were generally the same price or less than the boat that he bought and in some cases were far better equipped. These other options included a really nice Bristol 34, a Tartan 34 that was beautifully restored, updated, and maintained by the dean of Tartan 34-dom, and which had no money spared in optimizing it for offshore or coastal use, and a couple really nicely set up Tartan 30's which I counsider to be better boats all around than the Bristol 29.9 in question, especially given this individual's goals. For what ever reason the 29.9 spoke to him, and in the end we all buy the boats that appeal to us, but from any pragmatic standpoint, I am clueless as to why he chose that boat over the better maintained and updated choices that were out there at the time. When people ask me for advice I can only give them my best advice. I do not mean it to say that there is no other course that they can follow. In this individual's case, he has had the boat around a month and used her on the Chesapeake. I am glad that he is enjoying the boat, but that does not mean that he would not have enjoyed the other boats equally or better and since he has no real point of reference, would not have found the other boats much better suited to his long term goals.
"but that does not mean that he would not have enjoyed the other boats equally or better and since he has no real point of reference, would not have found the other boats much better suited to his long term goals."
It doesn't mean the opposite either. Only that person, in retrospect can answer that question. And to actually do that, one must step off the dock onto some sort of boat, your advice not withstanding.
"I am clueless as to why he chose that boat over the better maintained and updated choices that were out there at the time."
Exactly. There is no way you could possibly know what's right for him, since, unless you've figured out the Vulcan mind-meld, you cannot truly know his thoughts and motivations.
People are often impressed with pages of information, regardless of their level of comprehension. It doesn't mean the question has been answered. A person could come into a perfectly good boat, only to have you convince them it's useless or outright dangerous because it follows a for you don't like.
That's where it gets sticky, because you let your opinion of what's best for someone else get in the way. That's what incites others to come in and say, "Now wait a minute......."
Instead of just redirecting people, or flat turning them off, why not offer advice on how to ease the difficulties you've experienced on a particular boat since some will disregard your wave-offs anyway?
I am afraid that I don't understand your point. With regards to the first partial quote, of course, it is hard to say whether he will ultimately like this boat better than some of his other options at the time. My only point in that sentence was since he has little or no experience with boats of this size and type to which to compare the Bristol 29.9, some of the other equal or less expensive options which were better equipped, better maintained and upgraded, and more rounded designed boats to begin with may have worked better for him in the long run. I did not mean to suggest that he would not enjoy his boat.
I don't know ho wmuch you know about this fellow or the process we went through but over a fairly long period of time, I acted as a sounding board for this Gent in his search for a boat that met his needs. I provided second opinions, clarifications, references to other sources of information, copies of original literature, and alternative suggestions in response to a long list of questions. I met and looked at one boat with him that he had concerns about.
He and I went through a long process not all that dissimilar to the process that I have gone through with dozens of other folks, sometimes as many as a dozen a year, some of whom like Willaim who had some experience, but not a lot with the boat type in question, and others who are just plain new to the sport.
It was a process in which literally a several dozen boats were considered from perhaps 10 to 15 manufacturers. Over the course of his search, we discussed Willaim's goals and preferences in great detail. We exchanged ideas on items that he had read. We discussed theory and particulars. We discussed things that could be done to optimize some of the boats that he was considering and the relative costs involved. We discussed the good and the bad news on each boat, both from his viewpoint and my own experience. Ultimately, we narrowed his search down to five or six boats and he bought one of them.
Along the way, between, his readings, and discussions with me and others, I think that the fellow in question learned a lot and refined his goals, expectations and taste regarding what appealed to him visually.
I consider this a very successful process all around. I enjoyed meeting William and helping him along in his search. The process eliminated boats that probably would not have suited his objectives very well, such as the Bristol 32 or a Vanguard. The process ultimately steered him to a decision that I think was a reasonable one. The fact that the boat he bought wasn't the boat that I would thought better suited him is irrelevant from my point of view. He was buying the boat not me. From the criteria that he had given me, all of the boats on that short list were good boats in their own way. That seems appropriate to me. (For what it is worth, as he voiced them, his goals and criteria for sellecting this boat are very different that my own would be if I were buying a boat of that size and budget and so almost none of the boats on the list would have been a boat that I would buy for myself, they seemed to make sense for him)
I never, ever claim to be a mind reader. I listened to what the fellow told me and I made suggestions. The gentleman in question had very pragmatic concerns and so from a pragmatic point of view his choice made less sense to me than some of the other choices, but as I said at the start of the sentence that you chose to partially quote, "we all buy the boats that speak to us", and "the Bristol 29.9 clearly spoke to the gent in question". I don't see the problem.
As to your last point, in the last email that I had from William, we discussed me joining him for a sail; to coach him how to sail the boat short-handed and perhaps look at options to improve the boat for single-handing. Unfortunately I became quite ill about that time which cut into my sailing time around the time that he bought the boat so it hs not happened as of yet. I still hope to hear from him again, to see the boat, and to do some sailing together.
I just don't see where the problem lies.
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