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  #1  
Old 02-09-2011
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San Juan 21 Sailors, enter

I'm a new sailor and will be buying my first boat in the next 6 months. Right now, I'm reading what I can and trying to get a feel for what's out there.

I'm a 30yr old single guy and have little experience sailing. I am planning on either sailing solo or one other person most of the time.. I do have a great resource of information, my father, who sailed for many years in the 70s-90s.

In looking for a nice starter boat (<$5k, 19-22ft, room for 4 adults on a day sail, somewhat sporty, and a cabin of some degree), my father keeps pushing me to look for a San Juan 21. From what I can gather, these were "the" hot small boat in the 70s and 80s. They seem to offer all of what I'm looking for, except I'm having a hard time finding more than a small handful for sale at any given time.

I live in Charleston, SC and will sail mostly on lakes or just off shore, nothing too far from home. I'm looking for a boat I could spend up to a night or two on, tops.

Here are my questions -

1) Is there any concentrated resource for SJ21s (ie, for sale ads) other than Jim Hubbard's website?

2) Are there any other boats with comparable speed and low cost to operate I should look at? (I really like the huge choice of Catalina 22s on the market, but I'm "told" they're not nearly as quick as a SJ)

3) It seems worthwhile to buy a boat that has great resale ability.. IE, a popular brand. Is this anyone else's opinion? This seems intuitive enough, but there are fine boats made by companies unknown to the masses.. (My dad had his Helm's 24 on the market for several years before finally selling it.. so I'm leary of buying a boat from a less known company)

Thanks!

Josh

Last edited by Romulus; 02-09-2011 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 02-09-2011
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The San Juan's are great little boats. I bought one as my first sailboat. The only two downsides I can think of is 1.They can be quite tender for a guy not used the healing motion of a sailboat. 2.They have a cabin but it very cramped. There is just barely sitting headroom and the centerboard trunk takes up a lot of room in the cabin. It took me about a year to sell my boat. In the midwest that is a pretty common time period to get a sailboat sold. That has been a few years ago and the market hasnt gotten much better.

To answer your questions specifically

1) There used to be a lot of resources on the web that were primarily SJ21 related. I am not sure if they are still around or not though.

2) Precisions also have a nice selection of entry level boats in the 21-23 foot range. There are probably others but the only ones that I can think of are more suited to cruising and have are on the slower side. Seawards, Compac's etc.

3) I would stick with a quality and/or popular brand. They do tend to sell better. The companies that have been around the longest usually mean they built the best boat for the money. Except for the boat builder's that went out of business because they built boats to nice for what they sold them for.

San Juan has been out of business for quite a while now. That means the used market gets thinner and thinner every year. For under 5K you should be able to find a very nice pocket cruiser. If you are exclusively looking for a San Juan you might be waiting a long time for a nice one that comes up for sale at a decent price.
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Old 02-09-2011
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While SJ's are, or were a popular boat, they have not been made for a couple of decades or more and were not made anywhere close to you. They used to be thick as flies here, but not now. I own and have owned several small sailboats, and currently own 2 Kent Ranger 20's, a SJ-28 and a couple of others. I have always come back to the Kent Ranger 20. It's a great boat, fast and fun. BUT, can you find one in your neck of the woods......who knows. All boats have their good points and bad, they built ~ 750 R20's and still have an active racing fleet currently in the Portland OR area on the columbia river, and many boats in the northwest and California area, but they are also starting to get thin. They also have been out of production for almost 30 years.
PS...I'm currently in process of decommissioning the SJ-28 and cutting it up.
Best of luck
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Last edited by 75R20; 02-10-2011 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 02-10-2011
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I agree with MarkCK. I also had a SJ21 and while it is great for general sailing and racing teh cabin is spartan at best. I am 6' and was very cramped. The cockpit is huge though and sailing with 4 adults is no problem. I have heard hte S24 is a little better for cruising. Most SJs will be found in teh PNW and the Carolinas. This was where they had production facilities. This is a great SJ21 site and has links to other SJ sites.

Jim Hubbard's San Juan 21 Sailing Page
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Old 02-10-2011
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Just google San Juan 21 for sale. I found 4 in the Carolinas:

San Juan 21, Fixed keel, 1976, Raleigh, North Carolina sailboat for sale

San Juan 21

Boats for sale by owner | 1975 21 foot Clark San Juan 21' MK II Sailboat For Sale

1975 Boat for Sale in Hubert, North Carolina NC
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Old 02-10-2011
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I haven't looked at any of the SJ sites since I sold my boat several years ago. I have been looking over them and I think I would stay away from them due to what it takes to replace the balsa core on the deck. My boat didn't have this particular problem, but it seems like the boats that do have it require more work than what a boat like the SJ will ever be worth. It's probably more time consuming than expensive, but a lot of the blogs about it make it look like a major undertaking.
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Old 02-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperiorGeezer View Post
Just google San Juan 21 for sale. I found 4 in the Carolinas:
Thanks for the help.. Oddly enough, two of those are the same boat (1 and 4th links), and all 3 are sold. I called and emailed the guy who owned the boat in the second link back in september, said I had cash and would pay his asking price ($1200) any time he wanted me to get the boat. Well, a week or two went by and he never seemed to be available. I gave up and called back a few months later (in Dec) and he said he couldn't find a buyer, so he gave it to his daughter.

Some boat owners are wierd.. they list the boat for sale, but you almost have to force them to actually sell it.

Mark, I'm not familiar at all with replacing the balsa core, but it does NOT sound like fun Thanks for your SJ specific input though - regarding heeling.. that's one of my most vivid memories from sailing when I was a young kid (6-8yrs). My dad LOVED to cruise with the side rail in the water or very close.. it scared the hell out of me I used to beg him to just sail "flat" since I constantly felt like I was going to fall into the water. God I hated it. Now I'm sure I'd be just like he was, and scare whoever rides with me or their kids, hah.

Regardless of how well they sail, the cramped headroom even when sitting sounds like a big turnoff for me.. I realize you probably don't spend much time below decks while sailing at least, but I envision myself at least wanting and using some viable sitting area below..
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Old 02-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkCK View Post
I haven't looked at any of the SJ sites since I sold my boat several years ago. I have been looking over them and I think I would stay away from them due to what it takes to replace the balsa core on the deck. My boat didn't have this particular problem, but it seems like the boats that do have it require more work than what a boat like the SJ will ever be worth. It's probably more time consuming than expensive, but a lot of the blogs about it make it look like a major undertaking.
As the author of one of those blogs, I'll say that it is a fairly major undertaking, at least for a newbie to that kind of work. I have subsequently undertaken a similar project on an even bigger boat. Now that was a major undertaking! But it has paid off, for sure.

You don't necessarily really need to do a major re-coring on a SJ21 depending on how you intend to use the boat and what your expectations are for the boat. Just 'cause the deck is soft and spongy doesn't mean you can't go out sailing and have fun (in protected waters, with stable weather, not far from shore....)
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Last edited by catamount; 02-10-2011 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 02-10-2011
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Regarding resale value: Keep in mind that the ongoing expense of keeping a boat will make purchase and resale value much less important. Much more important is to get a boat that makes you happy between those two points in time.
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Old 02-15-2011
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You are right in the size range where room for overnighting, trailerability, build quality and performance all converge... and there is nothing I know of in the 19-21 foot range that does them all well.

The SJ21 scimps on room and was lightly-built; but that also contributes to trailerability and performance.

Here is a site with a huge list of candidates with links to learn more about these boats.
ShortyPen's Sailboat Pocket Cruiser Guide

My main advice is to consider what you really mean by trailerability. A Sanibel, Mariner or SJ21 can probably be towed by almost anything and be launched in 30 minutes or so. They could be practical even for a 3-hour afternoon sail.

A Catalina, Rhodes, Ranger, O'Day or most any other 22 is much more work to launch and retrieve... I'd only want to do it if overnighting and even then it is a pain.

Make sure you really need / want a cabin. If not, your options open to designs that are generally cheaper to buy, easier to trailer and more fun to sail like Lightening, Interlake, Thistle, Buccaneer (a real screamer), Flying Scot, Highlander, etc. But if overnights are part of the picture, you're really roughing it, or tenting on land.

There are also some Trailer Sailor forums you might visit to gain insights from owners. I think many here are more focused on keelboats.
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