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  #1  
Old 06-09-2007
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J Boats J-29?

Hi All,

My wife and I are in the market for a used boat. I crewed on a 28' Pearson for a couple seasons, 25 or so years ago. (Didn't learn as much as I could have, as the owner/captain pretty-much kept the helm to himself.) Mostly casual sailing w/some informal racing. My wife had several years experience on a 7-meter keel-less centerboard boat her and her oldest brother owned, when she was younger. (We're both in our 50's now.)

We think we'd like something in the 27' to 30' range. We both want a tiller. We'd both like a boat that's "reasonably" fast and responsive. Because there'll usually be just the two of us, two-handed handling, even one-handed in a pinch, is important. (To this end: I think a roller-furling jib would be A Good Idea.) Because we'll be motoring against 4 kt currents 32 and 40 miles upstream (Detroit and St. Clair Rivers), I think an in-board diesel engine would be desireable. (Tho a gasoline engine wouldn't be a show-stopper.)

Reading this thread, and particularly Jeff H's comments, it looks like the Laser 28 might be perfect for us, but those appear to be few & far between, and likely beyond our budget, in any event. (The goal is to keep it under $10k if we can. But SWMBO has indicated a willingness to go higher if The Right Boat appears.)

It's tricky finding a well-built, "fast," responsive racer/cruiser, with a tiller, but at the same time having a big enough birth to accomodate my 6'4" frame, in good condition, while staying w/in budget. I'm thinkin' some compromise will be in order, here .

Found a '83 J-29 in the area that might be do-able. I was wondering how that compared to the J-28 vs. the J-30's that Jeff H mentioned in that thread?

In addition, I've got print-outs here for a '79 Albin 8.5, '79 Hunter 30, '74 Sabre 28 and a '76 Pearson 30. Any thoughts on those?

Thanks in advance,
Jim
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  #2  
Old 06-09-2007
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I like the Sabre and the Pearson the most out of that list. The early hunters were poorly built. The J-29 has a deep draft(I don't know where your sailing) and might be on the, tender, side for two people, definitely the fastest boat on your list.
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Old 06-09-2007
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Laser 28's were not produced in large numbers. There are very few of them left. They have a reputation for being very lightly built, as they were primarily intended for racing - you will find that they are about as durable as Hunters. I only know of one in the Toronto area, owned by someone who is extremely careful with it.

There is a boat called the Kirby 30 that is in the same class as the Laser 28, performance-wise. They were built by Mirage, who have a great reputation for high-quality glass work. There is also the Abbot 27, which is slightly less-stripped down, but still fast around the cans. The issue with all of the older performance boats though is that a lot of them have been subjected to abnormal amounts of stress, having been raced and used hard.

A particular area of concern with the fractional rigs is the amount of force that has been exerted longitudinally and compressively through the tightening of the backstay. This frequently flexes the hull itself. Fibreglass is completely inelastic. So when you hear that crunching/splintering sound when a boat bangs it's topsides hard against a dock, it is the sound of the boat being permanently weakened in that area.

Hence, a boat that has been subjected to high degrees of backstay stress is often a bit weaker under the keel step than it otherwise would be. In some cases this bending has the effect of causing the internal stringers to crack, or separate from the hull. If you are looking at a boat and notice these cracks, it is often an indication of a previous life as a racer.

The boats that weather this stress best are the full-keel, older, and unfortunately, slower boats. The additional glass underneath serves to reinforce the boat making it much more able to withstand the bending loads placed on it.

Some of the earliest C&C's may be suitable for you, as you will find they have tillers, sail nicely and are close to your price range. While they are not necessarily the fastest boats on the water, when you sail them well, they still perform decently on a corrected time basis.

Another boat to consider would be the Aloha 8.5. These are strong hulls that are surprisingly fast and offer a lot of room and comfort for their size.
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Old 06-09-2007
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The J-29 came in two versions, fractional and masthead rigs. Masthead was far more common. They are much more racing-oriented than the J-30, with a minimal interior. I would call the J-29 a "club-racer" with modest interior accommodations.

The J-30 has a fractional rig. It's an all-around nice boat, with a much more accommodating interior. I would call it a "racer-cruiser". However, it has one serious design flaw that for me is a show-stopper: The heaviest helm you will likely ever encounter. Having steered this boat in Key West Race Week, I would not want to cruise extensively on it, certainly not short-handed. Shorter distances would be okay, but still tiresome in moderate to heavy air. (The problem is a transom-hung, unbalanced rudder.) Some folks have gone so far to modify the rudder, but this is a DSQ for class-racing.

If you are primarily going to be club racing with crew, the J-29 would probably be the better choice (this boat likes meat on the rail). If you don't think you'll have much crew, you might consider the J-27. But if you expect to cruise as much as race, the J-30 would be the better choice, if you can live with the tiresome helm.
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Old 06-09-2007
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I have to say, with all due respect, I completely disagree with much of what Sailormann wrote above and especially his assessment of the Laser 28. There were a little over 400 Laser 28's built. At least locally these boats have been sailed extremely hard and have held up quite well. While they were light boats they were not lightly built. Their weight savings came from a carefully engineered structure, Kevlar-vinylester vacuum infused construction. a lack of interior liners and in every case very careful decisions about the materials and methods used to create these boats. Lightness breeds lightness. If you can keep the weight down you can use smaller rig and therefore lighter rigging, deck hardware and ballasting. You can use a lighter engine and carry less fuel. Much of the weight savings came from high tech materials, proprietary details, and careful workmanship.

I owned one for 14 years and have raced on quite a few Laser 28's have always been impressed with how tough these boats really were. The engineering was amazing on these boats such that they exhibited little flex even when pushed hard, and stood up to impact amazingly well. (Here in Annapolis there was a well known topside to topside collision, both boats swinging head to wind to avoid a teabone collision, between a Laser 28 and an Alberg 30 in which is was the Alberg that sustained fiberglass damage.)

I also owned a Kirby and while I really enjoyed sailing the Kirby it was nowhere near as well built a boat or rugged a boat as the Laser 28. The Kirby 30 was also 12 seconds a mile slower.

You are also mistaken about fractional rigs and the amount of strain placed on the hull. Because fractional rigs are generally designed with flexible spars, they actually place considerably lower loads into the hull than masthead rigs. Because of the flexible spars and rig geometry, the high compressive loads that can be developed in a stiffer masthead spar, cannot be developed and are not necessary to develop in a fractional rig. The loads are much smaller in order to have the ease of handling advantages that come with a bend controlled spar. To control headstay sag, masthead rigs with their huge headsails actually need much greater headstay tensions and therefore backstay tensions for a given sail area and therefore also develop much higher mast compression loads. Also, on a fractional rig, the leverarm between the masthead and the forestay allows the headstay to be tensioned with a proportionately lower backstay tension.

This is the reason that even comparatively large fractional rigged boats can use a cascade backstay tensioner, while similar sized masthead rigs must go with hydraulics.

The requirement for extreme backstay tensions and mast compression goes up expodentially when a masthead rig tries to mimic the controlled bend of a fractional rig. In a masthead rig controlled bending is obtained through the use of controlled buckling of the spar, in other words compressing the mast until it springs out of column which requires much higher loads than the moment induced by the Masthead backstay being opposed by the partial height forestay.

Just for the record, I would also suggest that it a misleading to say that Fiberglass is inelastic. Actually one of the problems with fiberglass is that its highly prone to flexure and does recover from large defelections. In other words by the definitions typically used in structural engineering it is an elastic material. That said, it is a fatigue prone material and so a life of fiberglass is greatly shortened by repetative flexing and concentrated loadings. The hitting the dock example is a case of a concentrated load breaking down the bond between the comparatively brittle resin and the fiber.

I also want to comment on the maststep issue. This is simply an engineering problem. If a boat is designed to be sailed with high rig loads then the mast step needs to be designed for these loads. While it may seem counterintuitive, cruising boats with their oversized rigging, stiff spars, and exposure to higher winds speeds actually produce higher maststep compressive loads but rarely recieve the kind of careful engineering and load distributing components (transverse and longitudinal framing systems for example) that are typical on a well designed raceboat or performance cruiser.

Which brings me to the last point I want to cover. In theory the statement that "The boats that weather this stress best are the full-keel, older..." should be true, but in practice it is not. In theory, a full keeled boat should distribute its keel loads over a larger keel root area and therefore impart smaller concentreated loads and so in theory be stronger.

In wooden boats, this is clearly the case (although the higher concentrated loads from a fin keel can be engineered around to achieve a similar strength for a similar weight).

The same cannot be said for the methods used and designs employed in fiberglass construction. First of all comparatively few true full keeled fiberglass boats were constructed. Today, what people call 'full keels', historically would have been called long fin keels with attached rudders. The root area of these so called full keels just is not that much larger than that of fin keels of the same era.

The root of the keel on an Alberg 35, for example was very close to the length of the root of the keel on a Cal 36. In terms of load distribution, the better internal framing on the Cal 36 easily offsets any root area advantage that the same era Alberg 35 might have had.

But more to the point, most of these older designs suffer from poorer engineering practices, and weaker laminates. Few of these older designs had any internal structrure resulting in much higher flexure than is acceptable in modern yacht design. Early glass layup was very poor. The fiberglass laminating materials were handled poorly breaking down the fiber before placement, laminate schedules included very high percentages of non-directional materials, and lay-ups were very resin rich. These panels started out with weaker layups and have been further degraded by 20-40 years flexure induced fatigue.

An insurance industry study of actual older hull panels found that despite their heavier thicknesses, the actual strngth of these older heavier layup boats did not compare well with more modern panels in terms of flexural strength, fatigue resistance, and more significantly with regards to impact.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 06-09-2007
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The problem with the J-29 for cruising is the minimal headroom. A J-30 is a much better choice for cruising, but will will be well above your $10K budget. You might find a 70s vintage Pearson 30, Tartan 30, etc. for that, but will likley have an Atomic 4 gas engine in need of work or replacement. If you raise your budget to $20K, the options will improve significantly.
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You mentioned the desire to have an inboard; to my knowledge, the J-29 has an outboard. I crewed on a J-29 for a few races. On the one I raced, the outboard was mostly just to get to the course and was removed when under way. If not removed, it dragged in the water on starboard tack. The J-29 has a somewhat large sail area for a boat that size and benefits from some rail meat. The J-30 has an inboard, but, in my opinion, a limited cockpit. It's small to me and has the shin buster traveler across the middle. The interior accomodations are better than the J-29. If you're interested in a J-30, a friend of mine has one for sale.
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Three replies already, and after only a short night's sleep. Thanks, guys!

I'm starting to get a better idea of what SWMBO is looking for (she's the one driving this, primarily): She wants something that's both quick and responsive (tho she says we're not going to race) and suitable for cruising; with things such as a capable galley, a head, and the ability for us to sleep side-by-side w/o me having to assume the shape of a pretzel.

Addressing the individual comments made so far...

Lake St. Clair, Sabre666, for the 1st season. Many shallow areas and, IIRC, some shifting shoals. Yeah, I had noted the draft. That would put the J-29 at a disadvantage. I'll keep in mind your recommendations.

SailorMan, I thought it was the later Hunters that weren't regarded as being as well-built as the earlier ones? You're saying even the late 70's and early 80's Hunters aren't well-built? And the Lasers about the same? Yeah, I've looked at some of the C&C's. From what I've seen so far, they seem to be on the more expensive end of the spectrum. What I found that met our other criteria were all out of our price range. I'll keep looking, of course. I'll check out the Aloha. Thanks for those other tidbits. (We will, of course, be contracting with a reputable, experienced surveyor.)

I've since read-up a bit more on the J-29. Very low cabin (5'4") and the one picture I saw indicates it has no galley? Looks like something oriented a bit too much toward racing for us. Sounds like, from your comments on the other J Boats, John, that these aren't for us.

The terminology is all coming back, now. Wow, it's been all of that 25 years or so since I heard or read "fast around the cans." I really enjoyed sailing. I shouldn't have let my colleague and I parting ways at the time stop me. Really looking forward to getting back on the water.

Here's a bit of fate I'm sure y'all will find interesting: I had no idea, at the time I married her, that my wife enjoying sailing, much less that she'd once co-owned a sailboat. Many women (and some men) have trouble with the boat heeling. My wife thrives on it .

Last edited by SEMIJim; 06-09-2007 at 10:23 AM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_H
I have to say, with all due respect, I completely disagree with much of what Sailormann wrote above and especially his assessment of the Laser 28.
Yeah, I read-up as much as I could find on-line about the Laser 28 after reading your comments in that 2001 thread. The design and build engineering that went into them looked interesting. Unfortuneately, as I said, there aren't many of them to be found and, of those that I found that had been for sale, they appear to be well out of our price range .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_H
I also owned a Kirby and while I really enjoyed sailing the Kirby it was nowhere near as well built a boat or rugged a boat as the Laser 28.
Would you not recommend we add this one to our initial list?

Any (updated) thoughts on the others on our initial list?

Thanks,
Jim
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JimsCAL,

Yeah, I noticed the cabin headroom issue after my initial post here. (I was a bit too quick on the trigger, there, it seems.) All things considered: I'm thinking the J Boats are going to be out of the running at this time.

There is a Pearson on my list, it does have a gasoline inboard, and it's not too awfully far away. (Tho getting it home might be more of a challenge than we'd be up for on an initial cruise, given our lack of recent experience.)

Quickstep192,

Initially, yes: The J-29 came only w/an outboard. Later they added the inboard as an option, and the one I have a for sale posting on is one of those.

Thanks,
Jim
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