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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks,

Just looking for an opinion. Have a 26' T-Bird, which I've cruised for about 10 years. I'm not a racer, but want to upgrade to something a bit roomier, but also with decent performance. Heard great things about J's, and have seen a J-34C on yachtworld that looks nice. Also a Bene First 3100 that's much closer to home. I know they are very different boats, but would appreciate any real world feedback on these two.
 

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The Bene First series is nothing like the other Bene series. The First series is designed to be more of a racer than the rest. The rigging is stronger, and the boat has few creature comforts than the Oceanis.
The 34C is designed to be a performance cruiser. Three feet is a huge difference in a sailboat of that size. It is not as beamy as newer designs, so the cabin is not large compared to newer 34s, but the price is not comparable either.
Condition, engine hours, needed upgrades all need to be factored into the equation. Its like buying a car. No one model is right for everyone. You need to find the one YOU like.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
James- I live near Vancouver, BC, so I sail in the Pacific Northwest between the San Juan Islands and Desolation Sound. Am planning to go further afield in the future. I try to get out as much as I can throughout the summer months, but am hoping a larger boat would get me out more often, and expand my cruising season to include earlier in the spring and later in the fall.

As I mentioned, I'm not a racer. At the moment, I sail on as many weekends as I can, with a few 5 to 7-day trips throughout the summer. I'm looking for (as many people are) a good mix of comfort and performance within my budget of around $50K or so. A boat that is not difficult to single-hand would also be a bonus.

Thanks for any input!
 

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In general, Js and Bene Firsts are similar in that they are racer/cruisers. The emphasis is a bit more on the racing, but are fine cruising boats for those that value performance over maximum space below. The older J "C" boats are tilted more towards cruising than the other Js, but are still excellent performers. I really like the J34C, J35C and J37C and if you can find one in good condition at a good price, I would grab it.
 

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On the face of it, given their rare availability I'd look at the J34C first - however the Bene 'First' series are a great combination of speed and cruisability too.

If the Bene's here and the J's a trucking distance away, that will be a factor. Here in BC it's nice to be able to deliver the boat on her own bottom, that gives you a range down as far as Olympia for shopping. That said, though, boats get trucked up here routinely so other than the added costs and logistics, either way can work.

How you feel about cored hulls vs solid may play a part here too...
 

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What's a Bene First 3100? You mean 31 something? What year?

Around my marina i hear how J's are not built as they say they are......but, i have no idea about this. The older ones have a tendacity to get stress cracks, so i've heard. I CAN'T confirm this. I know the older Bene First's are built very well with good engineering behind them. (parts still available).

Size wise i would expect the 34 would be subtantially bigger and faster. Not substantially though.
 

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The J boats cruising boats are very nice looking. But at this age you will want to take a very close look. If someone did a lot of racing you might want to pass. Seems with J boats it is all about how the previous owners took care of them. If they were raced hard and put away wet they develop problems. Not likely to be an issue with a C though. There was an article about a J boat, cruising model I believe, in Good Old Boat a few years ago. They liked it enough to rebuild after a fire.
 

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Interestingly J/Boats never marketed the 34c as a racer/cruiser; they were targeting the cruising market exclusively. As I recall the 34c didn't come with spinnaker gear. The cockpit design is specifically designed to facilitate singlehanding. It's unlikely that the boat has been raced. Still they are probably 20 seconds a mile faster than the Bene. If you haven't found it already go to Jboats.com, click on boats, other J/boats, and look in the cruiser section.
 

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Friends have a B First 310, they are quite happy with it having moved up from a rather spartan Martin 242.

I think what you'll find in general with the Benes is that they cram a lot of interior into their hulls - sometimes to the point of squishing everything into the ends.. leaving V berths so narrow and pointed at the foot as to be confining, and even the aft quarters may feel tight - although coming from a TBird it will seem palatial, I suppose.

The J34C won't have as many berths but what it does have will be more properly sized. Also the wood slat cockpits on the Benes will be a constant maintenance issue unless you let it go grey. The J is probably a substantially larger boat side by side.
 

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I like the design of the J/Boats, but have serious concerns about buying a cored hull for a cruising boat. Given your two choices, I would go with the Beneteau for that reason. An even better choice in my book would be a C&C 35 Mark I or II with a solid hull, or Pearson 10M and save $30K.
 

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Jim My C&C 35 MK III is cored above the water line. As long as the hull is dry I would not hesitate to buy a cored hull. A nice Mk III is within his budget and much roomier than its predecessors.
 

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Joel,

I like your boat, too, faster than the Mark I and II. I thought the Js were cored throughout the hull, not just above the waterline.
 

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like the design of the J/Boats, but have serious concerns about buying a cored hull for a cruising boat. Given your two choices, I would go with the Beneteau for that reason. An even better choice in my book would be a C&C 35 Mark I or II with a solid hull, or Pearson 10M and save $30K.
I agree. I'd want a serious survey done on the 34c before i'd consider buying. Hull, chain plates and deck. It's a lot more boat compared to the Bene. They definitely are to totally different styles of boats. One Euro, one old school.
On the Bene; see how the "chain plates" are attached to the inner hull liner? This arrangement is a good, solid attachement that is virtually leakproof. The Bene's of this vintage tend to be drier from my exprience. All the way around. The french have a lot of experience in engineering boats, especially Beneteau. Now......if you could get past the plastic look.......

Unfortunately; given where the OP lives a C & C is most likely out of the picture. Great sailing boats. Several years back i put a 34 thru a serious blow. 12' seas at a 7 sec freq. 40kts. One of the best, wildest rides of my life. I thought i was going to lose the rudder and rig. Rock solid boat. I have a new respect for C&C's; if that had been a different boat it might not have made it.
 

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benesailor,

Why would a C&C be out of the picture for around here? I see MANY C&C's here in the salish sea area. A very popular boat frankly. If I were to count the number of J's vs B's vs c&c, the C&C would far out number the B's, with J's behind. There are a number of C&C 30-37' models that would fit his budget for sail frequently in local adds of ALL sorts.. Along with at times a number of both J-boats, Bene, Cal, Jeanneau, pearson etc models that would suit the OP's needs.

Marty
 

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As an owner of a C&C, Beneteau (a First 30E), CS and Pearson models at one time or another, and someone who has sailed most all the vessels suggested above, I have to say a unique pleasure in my sailing life was a week chartering a J34C.

Any experience we all may have had with racing model J's has no relevance to the J cruising boat. Simply the J/34c is one mean sweet boat, period. The quality of its construction and design is a league above anything the other builders have ever done, illustrated by the vessel's price and ABS A-1 classification. Practical Sailor has a good review of the J/34c that I recommend to anyone who has the wisdom and budget to consider one. I'd describe the boat more as similar to a performance Hallberg-Rassey than the builders mentioned above (and I loved my CS36T). If you have not been on a J34c or a sister model, you do not know what you are missing.

That said, no boat is perfect and I hesitated on an opportunity to buy the J34c due to its Volvo, and someone quicker got it. Its performance focus had some limitations, such as a crowded cockpit, and its not the cruising boat for many who have differing priorities than its strengths, but if you want performance and quality, its unique IMHO. Whenever I see threads about singlehanding, I think of J34c which somewhat uniquely presents the jib and main sheets right to the helmsman's seat.
 

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