is irwin in the same class as hunter? - SailNet Community

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Old 07-28-2010
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is irwin in the same class as hunter?

During my boat search, I was repeatedly warned away from Hunters (even though they're very nice inside and very cheaply priced) because they apparently are lower quality. I was told by two different people that they've seen Hunters where the chainplates have actually pulled the deck up. So they're seemingly not the strongest boat around.

Since my repeated offers on a Pearson 36 that I really like have been rejected, I've had to start searching again... the options are few at this point. One promising one is 1984 Irwin 38 center cockpit which I liked the looks of, but my broker tried to discourage me. At first he said it's a strong hull but cheaply finished inside, then when I asked if it was similar to a Hunter he said it was in the same class (which seems at odds with his assertion that the hull is strong).

So what do you think? Are Hunters (80's models in particular) bad quality? How do they compare to Irwins? Would you recommend either for liveaboard? I do want a capable sailing boat, so sailing characteristics and seaworthiness are important to me, but I don't plan on doing any bluewater cruising. Thanks.

Last edited by rmeador; 07-28-2010 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 07-28-2010
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I can't be much help, but I'll tell you what I know.

Hunter - I'm not a big fan. I've heard Hunter owners say, "it's just as good as a Catalina," but I've never met a Catalina owner (myself included) who was willing to reciprocate. As with anything, though, there are folks who disagree; if nobody liked Hunters there wouldn't be any out there! I'm not a big fan of Hunter cabins, that's just personal preference, though.

Irwin - have a friend with an Irwin 40 who's very happy with it. The interior didn't seem cheap at all, but I've only been onboard a few times. I'd be a little leery of a center cockpit; I've never sailed one (so some of the good folks here can help out), but I hear the air circulation below is almost non-existent.
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Old 07-28-2010
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I've never sailed a center cockpit either, but the two center cockpit boats that I've come across in my boat search are two of my favorites. I really like the design, though I don't know how well it works in 38' (the LOA is 40'... is it perhaps the same as what your friend has and he's been telling you the LOA instead of the on-deck length?).

The other CC boat was a Mariner 39, which I like a ton, even though the saloon is a little cramped, but it's just too expensive. The boat was on the hard when I saw it, but the air circulation seemed fine. I can't imagine why it would be bad if you left the door(s) to the rear cabin open.
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The first thing I'd suggest is that anyone who speaks in generalities usually isn't very knowledgeable. General condemnation of a broad range of boats or any single manufacturer, particularly one which sells thousands of boats, is pretty silly. It should be obvious that one of the largest production boat mfgs doesn't stay in business building boats on which the chainplates pull through.

I am aware this was a popular story for a while and saw some pictures of it happening on a Hunter but it also happens on many other boats lacking proper care and maintenance. I've also seen Catalinas built with a wood mast step which is the dumbest thing I've ever seen in boat construction but that doesn't make all Catalinas bad.

I can tell you that I once owned an Irwin 38 (forgot the year) as well as a Hunter, both of which presented the same set of typical maintenance issues as any gold-platter, full keel wallower with which I had experience.

Much more important than the nameplate is how well maintained the boat is and how well treated she is.

The biggest issue I recall on our Irwin were the window leaks as they were bedded in a wood frame common to many manufacturers of that era. The Hunter we had was trouble-free for 7 or 8 years during which we owned her.

Neither are the "strongest" (read - heavy) boats around nor were they poorly designed or constructed. The Irwin, because of it's huge interior volume, was one of the most popular liveaboards.
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Old 07-28-2010
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Stay away form the Irwin 53 and 54 footers...they are all junk.............................................. .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ...................................stay away at least until I buy mine then you can get one...


Agreed Generalities have no place in decision making....ask me specific questions I will give you unbiased honest answers....about my boat anyway
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Old 07-28-2010
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In my experience, I think you will find that most Hunters will outsail most Irwins.
Yeah, I know, another generality. No extra charge.
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If someone could compare the sailing characteristics of the Irwin 38 and a Pearson 36, that would be very useful to me. If you have the knowledge, throwing in a comparison to the Mariner 39 would be cool too.

So I take it most of you would consider a Hunter or an Irwin suitable for coastal cruising and liveaboard, but probably wouldn't take it across an ocean? What about to Bermuda? What about the Bahamas/Caribbean? I doubt I'm going to be going anywhere non-coastal, but I'm just looking for the comparison.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmeador View Post
So I take it most of you would consider a Hunter or an Irwin suitable for coastal cruising and liveaboard, but probably wouldn't take it across an ocean? What about to Bermuda? What about the Bahamas/Caribbean? I doubt I'm going to be going anywhere non-coastal, but I'm just looking for the comparison.
There again to broad of generalities..

There are lager hunters and Irwin's in all parts of the world...they dint fly there.


Im making modification to mine to be able to sail to just about anywhere but the southern ocean.
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Old 07-28-2010
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The Hunter 42 Passage from the early 90s is a good Bahamas Caribbean boat. Great aft cabin with centreline queen and good interior layout.

Being a bit of a Luddite I would prefer the earlir versions as they had a backstay.

There are supposed to be access issues to some of the interior fittings but owners tell me just make a hole and fit a hatch no biggie!

I came close to buying one but the owner hung on for more money and the boat is still on the market!
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Old 07-28-2010
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At various times I have literally looked at same year and size used Hunter, Catalina's and Beneteaus one right after the other. Although there were odd things about each of them, in a general sense, the Beneteaus held up best, then Hunter, then Catalinas, which looked the most beat to death of the three. In talking to surveyors over the years, most seemed to agree that Hunter did the best job of the three in terms of meeting ABYC and ABS building standards of the three.

In terms of Irwin, they were pretty much the Hunters of their day. The ketches were cheaply built for a value oriented market. Sailing ability was nothing to write home about. When compared to the ketch version of the Pearson 365 I would think that the sailing ability was not better or worse, but the build quality on the Irwin would be a big step down.

Hunters of the 1980's were actually pretty well constructed and might actually be a step up from the Irwin of that period.
Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 07-29-2010 at 08:49 AM.
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