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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.

Keith
 

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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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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 at...so it is all about what you really need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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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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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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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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!!
pmesmer
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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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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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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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As a former Irwin44 owner and one who has several friends with 38's, I would say you are wasting your time and money trying to make a 38 "bluewater".
While the glass itself is strong...the underlying structure of the boat...the hull to deck joint, the hull rigidity and the bulkhead integrity are not sufficient for extended bluewater cruising. If you are making improvements for the boat for coastal or Caribe short passage cruising, then fine. I loved my Irwin and it served us well...but it was not built to cross oceans and nothing you can reasonably do will make it so. You could get lucky...but do you want to NEED luck?

Have you actually been in a gale in the ocean in your boat for a day or more or are you doing your work on the speculation that you can make it blue water capable?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
A Citation perhaps?

You might want to consider a 35 or 38 Citation (aft cockpit) the rigs and other aspects of the boat are built a bit more rugged than some of the center cockpits. Be careful with Irwins built in the early to mid 80s, there were issues, Ted took hiatus and lawsuits were brought as to structural integrity and manufacturing issues. Dust settled in late 80s and some were even overbuilt as reaction to lawsuits and return of Ted Irwin to the factory.

Valkyrie, 1988 Citation 35.5
 

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Irwin 38

I owned an Irwin 38 that I sailed all around Florida and the Bahamas. It is more of a classic looking vessel than the charter tubby Irwins that I suspect that most of you are talking about.

Let's face it, many corners were cut in building this boat. However, she was strong and offshore capable. I had to do things like rewire the shore power, etc. And, if I were going offshore, I might redo the chainplates. And she leaked pretty good. But I never worried about her in bad weather.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm guessing your's was an aft cockpit, Citation perhaps. I have had to rebed the keel, rebed the chainplates at the deck, tighten EVERYTHING, and I still need to replace the hatch lenses, ports and some of the running tackle. But when it comes to being sturdy, I've had this boat out in 25 Kt winds gusting to 30-35 with a 135 genny and full battened main and she didn't even blink. Although some of the people on board gasped and blinked. Once I'm done with her, I'd take her anywhere and probably will. I looked at some center cockpits that looked kinda flimsy and saw others that looked much better. Don't think for a min.that I favor the aft cockpits either. I saw one 86 Citation 35 with the forward bulkhead sprung. How the heck do you do that? I'd call that a manufacturing defect if I ever saw one. It's like everything else you buy used "illegitimii non carborundum", no wait that's not it, oh yea, "caveat emptor", well both actually.

Bob s/v Valkyrie, 1988 Citation 35.5

BTW If anyone runs across another 1988 35.5 let me know. Thanks
 

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Mine was a 1971 aft cockpit 38, but not the citation. Lots of cheap stuff on it like the head enclosure bulkheads and the fiberboard cabnetry. Universal Atomic 4 that eventually seized up. No pressure water, no ice box. Leaked every where. Strong hull deck joint though.

I would sail her anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
They came a long way between 1971 and 1988. Bulkheads and cabinets are all teak hardwood (teak marine plywood), Yanmar 3GM30 engine, Shure pump water pressure, good size icebox w/4" insulation. Fixed almost all the leaks (most at thru deck hardward - typical for a 20 yr old boat) and the hull deck joint has a full overlap with wood reinforcement rails and thru bolted. I have located most of the equipment used on the boat in the aftermarket and it is pretty much mainstream equipment with a smattering of some better quality stuff. When I made my Vang, I brought it to the local rigger for splicing the fiddle. When I told her what boat it was for, she said the Irwin Rig was very robust and I should consider stepping it up one size to match. I wouldn't think twice of sailing her anywhere after I tweak her a bit.
 

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Sinply ridiculous to consider these bluewater boats. There has NEVER been an overbuilt Irwin as these are modestly priced coastal cruisers or club racers. Offshore in a storm those nice teak laminate on plywood (and it ain't marine plywood) bulkheads will let go as the hull starts flexing and you'll wonder how the water got through that hull deck joint. Irwin made NICE boats for the money and we enjoyed our 44 immensely cruising full time for 3 years on her...but I would never confuse it or anything below it in the line with a blue water boat. The idea that Irwin quality varied by year is also unsupported by the facts. Some boats were made decently...others had shortcuts...nothing was ever overbuilt.
 

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Some one said 1/4 inch of FRP (to 80's standards of glass/mat/resin) and blue water all in the same sentence.
Even without knowing the history of the boat, flex history of the hull etcc. That's Living life on the edge.

My little tiny EU Open Ocean Category A rated Gemini is built better than that, and while other's have I would not take it open ocean.

Island Packets (good rep Blue water boats) have 1.5 inches at the keel of glass alone: http://www.sailmag.com/features/IslandPacketFactory.pdf

Catalina 30's, a good coastal boat - have 1/4 - 1/2 (varies depending on how hungover the factory worker was that day) of FRP down low.

My seriously coastal only Hunter 31 had 1/4 of FRP - when the liner was pulled to replace it we could see sunlight glowing thru it, hence the move to a Gemini even for me.

Equally important is how the hull is braced with framing, bulkhead and stringers, and how the deck is bonded. Th simple fact of the matter is the Irwin is a splendidly designed low cost charter boat designed for coastal and near coastal use. Not for crossing oceans. Can it be done? Certainly, with luck and big assed pumps on board and a crew to man them and caulk seams and do damage control.

I could sail my 10.5 ft 1/4in plywood, glass coated dinghy to England tomorrow to. Maybe I'll start a blog and get some donations rolling in.
Not for me, for my soon to be widow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I don't know who said 1/4 inch FRP but it is quite a bit thicker than that. I should know, I've drilled holes in it and tried real hard to poke one in her too, only managed to get about 1/2 way through the glass and was well past a 1/4 inch. Just my curiosity, how thick does uncoated FRP have to get before light no longer passes through it?
 

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My 1971 Irwin 38 was solid on the outside and cheap on the inside. It had great classic lines (hard to believe, right?) with a nice overhang stern. And the glass was thick. Over an inch.

I have to dig out a picture becuase she is not the charter type Irwin everyone is talking about.

As soon as I get to 10 posts, I will post a pic!
 
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