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My wife and I are older cruisers (70+ yrs) and are at a bit of a crossroads in our cruising. We have sailed a J34c for 15 years and love the boat. However managing the big mainsail and the anchor (largely chain rode) are becoming a problem for us physically. Would greatly appreciate advice on these issues:
1)should we go to a dutchman system for the main----our sail person (doyles) suggests a stackpak----concerns me for sail performance,
2)is adding an electric winch on a J34c a reasonable idea?
3)is cutting into the cored foredeck to put in a windlass doable?
4)should we be thinking powerboat?----we love our J34c and sailing in general, but we do like cruising a lot too.

thanks for any help----madoc
 

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You are at the age when I see of a lot sailors give up and sell the boat. I think the changes you propose would allow you to continue for several more years. I have friends who returned this June from winter in the Carribbean on their Passport 41. He is in his mid 70s and his wife is in her early 60s. They recently fitted a Dutchman system and converted the winch used to raise the main to electric. Already had a windlass.
 

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My 95 year old dad sailed and cruised on his Pearson 35 until he was 85 - he never got a windlass - just went into marinas more and more if he didn't have guests to help with the anchor. But what he said was a lifesaver for him was a roller furling main. When he was about 80 he needed to replace the main and decided to look into roller furling (this was about 15 years ago). He decided on a Facnor unit that attaches after the mast in the track that the main would go up. He was able to roll out the main and the genny from the cockpit - easier on him and much better for my mom who was only two years younger. He didn't have to stand on top of the cabin to raise the main and she didn't have to steer into the wind and get yelled at if she didn't have the boat pointed right. Not to mention that she couldn't hear what Dad was saying up by the mast.
With his new setup he sailed more because he put up the main more often.
The only drawback was that he might have kept boating for a few more years if he had traded in his Pearson for a trawler or other motorboat instead of improving the sailboat. By the time he was 85 and deciding that sailing was really too much work for them and two slow to keep up with all their powerboating friends on cruises he felt he was too old to buy a powerboat.
The roller furling main is still on the boat and used by the current owner.
At 95 Dad is still boating but only on other people's boats.
Good luck!
 

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We re-masted an Irwin 52 cutter-rigged ketch several years ago, not because of my or my wife's age, but so we could handle that 22 ton BAB by ourselves ...which was also home at the time. The batten-less main (and maybe mizzen) slowed us down a bit, but the easy in working the two sails more than made up for the difference. We sailed much of the east coast, from DC to FL and never once wished we had more canvass up.

If you are not racing or competitive, I would suggest an in-mast or after-mast furling main. You have a great boat, maybe with a few modifications you will enjoy her even more than before.
 

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We installed a dutchman on our previous cs36. Loved it. Didn't hurt mains performance and was very easy dropping the sail. Flaked all by its self and stayed on top of the boom. Friends of ours have a stack pack on their cal40 and they are equally pleased. The stack pack eliminated the need for a sail cover. Either choice is good and about the same expence.
We have in boom furling on the new boat and it is deffinatly a step up, we never have to leave the cockpit to raise, lower or reef, but you would be looking at around 15k for that upgrade. As far as a mast furling main, you are used to a performance boat and I think the performance of that sail would drive you nuts.
Deffinatly look into a windlass. It's not an expensive add on and you'll never hate hauling up the anchor again.
Another friend of ours had a j34c and unfortunatly I don't remember the foredeck layout. I just remember them constantly getting stuck because of the 7' draft.
Don't go to the dark side.
Several of our friends that are well into their 70's sold their sailboats and bought large powerboats in the past decade for the same reasons you are talking about. This all happened before fuel prices exploded 3 years ago. Everyone of them regrets the decission. It costs them over $1000 a weekend to go anywhere.
There are lots of things you can do to make your boat easier for you to sail.
Jim
 
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