Irwin - Bluewater Capable??? - SailNet Community

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Old 05-20-2007
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Irwin - Bluewater Capable???

Looking to pick up a boat for upcoming "retirement" (term used loosely). Would like to get a boat in the 32'-37' range, capable of being handled by crew of 2 and one in a pinch. Looking at coastal shake-out cruises over the new few years with some multiple week trips south. Ultimately, will be taking on more offshore sails. Many boat manufacturers "claim" offshore capability. Have looked at Alberg 37, Allied Princess 36, and S2 11. Each has nice open layout but obviously there is a difference in bluewater capability.

Question - are Irwin's built to handle these goals? If so, what models within the length constraints would you recommend?

Thanx in advance for any advice you can provide - directed at Irwins or others.

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Old 05-22-2007
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As the proud owner of an Irwin 37, I would say it just depends on what type of blue water you are thinking about. If you are thinking about within a couple of hundred miles of the coast, or around the Gulf of Mexico or Carribean, an Irwin should do fine.
If your goal is to cross oceans or sail around the world, I would probably look for something more heavy duty. The Irwin might do it, but would need some work to strengthen it up a bit.
In the size you are looking at, either the Irwin 37 or 38 are good choices.
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Old 05-23-2007
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camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough
NO. A "couple of hundred miles off the coast" is not coastal sailing. It is blue water and no place for an Irwin 37-38. (I owned a 44).
They are fine affordable boats for COASTAL cruising and Bahamas etc.//// Took ours from Maine to Bahamas and was well satisfied. Much more liveable space than some of the others you are looking it is all about what you really need.
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Old 05-26-2007
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Thanx for the reply, folks. You've confirmed what I perceived of the Irwins - designed essentially for comfortable Caribbean coastal cruising.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and be safe.
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Old 05-30-2007
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I strongly agree with camaraderie as we owned an Irwin 34 (now own a Hylas). We loved the Irwin and warmth of the teak cabin. Bought it in NJ so sailed the coast of NJ, NY then moved it to Lake Mead Las Vegas (which has gusts of over 50mph) then moved it to San Francisco and sailed all over the bay and Coastal Pacific when calm. But make no mistake, like same size hunters, cata, and beni its not blue water as the 34 gets weather helm real bad (with reduced sail) over 18knots and its simply not designed for
for serious offshore. Take a close look at the hull, fittings etc. especially since the boats will be at least 20 years old now. Excellent boat for coastal & bay cruisng and best value for $ when all considered for weekend cruising.
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Old 07-18-2007
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I've owned an 87 Irwin 38 Center Cockpit and now own an 82 Irwin 34. Both can been seen at A WebsiteBuilder Website - Home. I've had the 38 in some very rough water of the NJ coast and the Delaware Bay. Her pervious owner took her to the bahamas often. The 34 will be tested offshore in the next few weeks but I expect her to be 'capable' for offshore but I dont expect to push her. I'll be paying much more attention to the weather, etc. Both boats have lots of room and are well laid out.

Good Luck
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Old 09-18-2007
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We have an Irwin 32, 1988, and have owned her for 12 years. We sailed her mostly on Lake Ontario and she did great. She had some leaks we have fixed but she is fast and capable for what we are doing now which is Florida and the Bahamas, eventually. Wish she were larger but she is paid for and that makes her even more beautiful!!
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Old 10-02-2007
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Ihave a 80 irwin 37' and camaraderie could not be more right. I had the unpleasant experience of getting caught in wind in excess of 25-30 mph and unless you have the wind in your back, forget about it. It's next to impossible to hold the boat up against strong winds without having the iron genny running on full strottle.
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Old 10-24-2007
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MIKEMCKEE will become famous soon enough
I have a 76 Irwin 37CC, I've had it for about three years and I haven't had the luck to take it out into the big blue, but I've been out on the Chesapeake by the Rappahanic River and my wife & I love her. She's got a full keel and is a ketch rig. The one major problem I've had is when there are light wind's, she doesn't want to go to windward at all, in fact after a couple of hours of trying to tack back & forth I found to my amazement that I had lost ground. We really like the boat overall though. Look at our pictures on the Irwin owners web site. Under mike & Glinda.

Mike & Glinda McKee
s/v Blue Bayou
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Old 11-16-2007
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Irwin 37 - Blue Water Capable

I have an Irwin 37' CC that I am currently strengthening for blue water capability. Yes, it is true the Irwin was not designed for blue water. However, the Irwin 37’ has several features that make it adaptable for reasonable blue water cruising. The fiberglass hull is plenty strong - at least ¼” thick or greater. The boat is a good size, provides space - a little additional weight is ok - yet small enough that strengthening it is a reasonable endeavor based on strength of common materials. So far the areas that I have strengthened or plan on strengthening include:

(1) The rigging. This depends on what you currently have. A rigger can give you recommendations.
(2) The compression post. Both above and below the sole on my boat.
(3) The bulkheads. Many of the bulkheads butt up against the headliner. The liner is only about 1/8" thick and there is a gap between the liner and deck. Adding support to the bulk head, either to fill the gap and/or adding additional materials alongside the existing bulkhead to extend to the deck.
(4) The flooring and/or sole. The floor pan in the Irwin 37 is an important part of the structure. I'm adding reinforcement below the sole, and to the sole itself, to ensure the pan does not rack extensively. I think the original fuel tanks contributed to structure. So if you modified the tanks, consider their role in strengthening the boat. I would not recommend adding fiberglass to the connection points of the pan to the hull. The originally designed fiberglass hull has proven to be plenty strong over years of use.
(5) The main salon is large for heavy weather sailing. Add extra hand holds and perhaps reinforcement to wall (roof).
(6) Another weak spot, although not related to blue water capability, is the stern tube aft of the dead wood. I'd recommend adding fiberglass around the aft end of the stern tube from the outside.

If any of you have additional engineering suggestions on where to strengthen and Irwin 37, I would appreciate the suggestions.

If you want to criticize the idea of strengthening the Irwin 37, please give me specifics based on experience or measurements. I know the boat was not originally designed for blue water and may not be comfortable in heavy weather. All boats are a compromise.
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