Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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The quick answers are:
At the time when my mom and Step father was considering buying and building one of these I spent a lot of time crawling around these boats, talking to Morgan and talking to folks who had and have them. At the time I sailed on the factory demo boat, which may have been your boat because we were told that it was one of the few S-J's being built with lead vs steel in its ballast. That boat was miserably wet, tender, and hobby horsed terribly in a chop.
To be clear, the original Morgan race boats had well less than a 50% ballast ratio. The advertized ballast ratios were down around 40 %. Starratt Jenks literature showed less than the Morgans and the S-J factory said few if any of the owner built boats came anywhere near thier published number.
Since then I have been aboard a lot of finished and semi-finished S-J's. and talked to a bunch of folks who owned them and who talked about them in very negative ways. I helped one couple sell thiers and move onto Kelly-Peterson 44 that they described as a revolation compared the miserable sailing capabilities of the Starratt Jenks. And yes their boat did fall apart at sea where a poorly glassed in a bulkhead came loose under wracking loads and fractured the hull to deck joint. Do a search and you should find their story here on Sailnet.
Beyond that, when you say that you did not want a boat with a fin keel, I can only say, then why the heck did you buy an S-J. Call it what you want, but the keel length is so short on the S-J that for all intents and purposes the S-J has a fin keel only its one that someone misguidely has its rudder hung on its aft edge. That arrangement is the worst of all worlds in terms of tracking, and vulnerability. (At least with a properly designed fin keel and Skeg hung rudder the rudder bottom is a foot or two above the bottom of the keel.)
If you actually " build race cars and thoroughly understand these dynamics and affects on performance/handling." you would understand the dynamics of a boat with the such an impossibly short waterline length relative to its overall length, with such excessively long overhangs, with such a deep canoe body and especially how these factors relate to performance and handling and would therefore also understand the reason that the boat's origins are so significant.
To clarify my point about "typically poorly equipped in terms of deck hardware and sail handling gear" Iam not talking about manufacturer but the placement, size, and type of equipment and the lack of key sail control hardware. The S-J's that I have been aboard had not enough mainsheet purchase for the size of the mainsail, have had either no travelers or have had short travelers without control lines and roller bearing cars. They have had crudely fashioned external chainplates with out proper internal knees or bulkheads. Control lines are not lead back to the cockpit. Winches were under sized for the loads in heavy going or missing altogether and were often two-speed rather than the three speed winches that you would expect for a genoa are as big as these boats typically fly.
And lastly, while these boats are 43 to 46 feet on deck (depending on version) and are moderately heavy for that length on deck, and so have all the costs to own of a 45 footer, in terms of seaworthiness, performance and accomodations they are much closer to be a 40 footer with tail fins and $100K is no bargain for a 40 foot rebuilt, kit boat with homely lines and poor sailing characteristics. That is especially true if you do not ignore the cost of your labor. As a general rule of thumb for restoring an older but sound boat, the cost of labor is generally estimated to equal at least the cost of materials, although it generally ends up being more.
I am glad that you like your boat, because that is what counts for you, I should note, that what ever I feel about these boats generically, it looks like you have done a beautiful job restoring your boat.
But my post is directed at someone with $100,000 to spend and a goal of doing some real offshore cruising, and for them, given all the great boats out there in that price range, the S-J makes a very poor choice indeed.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 01-08-2010 at 05:26 PM.