Our New Boat Selection Process—Part 1, Fitness For Mission

Rebranded, as the marketing guys say. Lucked out with the waterline and cove stripe being AAC blue already. So what's wrong with this situation (I think)? Leave a comment if you pick it up. I'm interested to see if it's just me being fussy—what a surprise that would be—or a real issue.

In a previous article we finally revealed the boat we selected to both replace our beloved 56-foot McCurdy and Rhodes aluminum cutter (well, not really "replace") and to act as a test bed for Attainable Adventure Cruising going forward.

While this series of articles will explain why we made the decision we did, that's not the point. After all, for most all of you who want to go long distance live-aboard cruising the J/109 would be completely and utterly the wrong boat: too small, too light and twitchy, too deep, too little storage and, above all, too little load-carrying capacity.

So what matters here is the process we followed, both the steps we got right, and the steps we screwed up, so you can follow the former and, I hope, avoid the latter as you select the right boat for you.

The first part of the process of buying a boat is to define the mission. Different missions require different boats, which is what makes the whole "best boat" discussion, so common on forums, so silly—not here since AAC members are of above average smarts...you must be, you joined.

Here's the mission statement we started off with, together with how well we did satisfying it.

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Paul Rust

Hi John, I recently bought a Sweden 45 in Charleston,SC and trucked it to Portland, Oregon. The 70’ mast was a particular concern for the same reasons that you mentioned. We had a welder tack on an extension with a saddle to support the aft 13’ of overhanging mast.

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Mike Evans

Wow nice boat, sporty and the interior is smart, I see three good sea berths, it must surf in the 9-10 knot range ?

James Greenwald

Dear John,
I was thinking to myself how fitting out this new platform will bring forth many interesting articles to come. Which surely will be of interest to me and as you say “projects that will have direct applications to members” I am always interested in building a better mouse trap. As a Racer/Cruiser we are always looking for the best compromise between safety, comfort, endurance, weight/speed and practical efficiency.

Wim Vandenbossche

Hi John,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts process.
I was in a similar position this time last year and for similar reasons as yourself. Many of your thoughts/considerations/musings are similar to my own.
I was therefore somewhat surprising to see you go for a boat that was never even on my radar.
It would appear that even though I have an age advantage on you (I am 55) you are the more sporting sailor.
Look forward to the next installment.
Kind regards,
Wim

Marc Dacey

That’s a healthy level of self-knowledge. Sorry to hear about the mast. Could there be any recourse for compensation from the wayward trucker? I suppose due to the number of J/109s out there (our Toronto club had one or possibly two), actually getting a new mast, if it comes to that, would not be super-difficult. Just not likely timely.

Matt

John,
Re. the mast damage from trucking. That really sucks, and I do hope the cargo insurance covers it.

I am not sure if the engineer you’ve hired to evaluate it is familiar with laser cladding processes. (Disclosure: I work for a subsidiary of the company that makes that particular set of lasers.) These techniques are relatively new, and are not widely known in the marine industry, but are very well proven in other applications (aerospace, mining, oil field, etc.) for repairing excessive wear and tear on expensive parts. You use a near-infrared laser to fuse additional material, either wire-fed or powder-fed, on top of the worn area to build up a thick, hard layer of crack-free, low-porosity alloy. Then you use conventional machining and grinding techniques to restore the surface profile.
Here’s an example from the Australian air force of repairing some worn flight-critical components this way.

Finding a shop nearby that’s capable of doing this kind of work might be very difficult. I’ll check around and see what I can find.

John Cobb

If it were me…I’d use this as an excuse to replace it with a carbon mast.

Ernest E Vogelsinger

Matt, this is an interesting new technology. However having quickly browsed the linked PDF I notice that most (all?) repairs wee done on surfaces exposed to pressure and abrasion, basically structurally replacing the worn-off material. Johns’ issue however is a material damage in a section that should stand up to tear/bend forces, and it would be interesting if this tech effectively restores the overall strength of the profile wall, as this is a completely different stress?

Alex Borodin

Hi John,

if even you can’t avoid buying a project boat, what chance do we all stand? Maybe the maxim should say instead: do not _knowingly_ take major project boat. There will be enough to fix anyways.

Ernest E Vogelsinger

Wow, I’m so much looking forward to the continuation of this series as it might easily affect my next steps. And same as Wim states – you’re definetely a more sporty sailor than me. And, besides the bummer with the mast damage, congrats again to this beauty!

Paul Mikulski

Hi John,
I am totally floored by your decision. I was the J Boat dealer in Annapolis for 27 years and I bought a J42 at age 69 and still having a great time with my decision. Welcome to the J Family.

Alastair Currie

An associate who may be the same age as yourself, raced many yachts and campaigned regularly, mostly in Sigma 33 OODs. He retired and bought a Fingulf 34, loved it, but for some reason thought he was getting too old and sold it on. Big regret! New knees later, he has bought another yacht, not as performance orientated as the Fingulf but sporty enough and he still regrets selling the Fingulf. I think your reasons / mission are very laudable and reasonable for the type of sailing you wish to do now.

It brings a great perspective to AAC and will likely result in more articles that are just as relevant as the Adventure Cruising articles. I think as we transition through the stages of life, journeys like these, documented in your style of investigation and reporting against real world experiences, are very relevant and such a great resource.

All the best with your new boat, looking forward to reading about it.

Michael Lambert

I too have great affinity for j boats. I grew up crewing on a J29, and then a 105 in east Greenwich RI, taught sailing on J22’s at sail Newport, and 24’s at j world. For years my dream boat was whatever j was the biggest. Then I saw Rebecca role into town. But that’s a different kettle of fish.

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P D Squire

Going lighter and sportier as you age! I look forward to your dinghy selection reports in 10 years. 470, 49er, 505, …? 🙂

Stein Varjord

John has sailed most of those in the past. They’re old sedate designs now. Next he’ll certainly go for a flying Moth or a foilboard with a wingsail. Gotta stay faster than the kiddos! 😀

Michael Lambert

All my wing foiling pals are on the older side. One of them is 72 and he rips!

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Good for you guys for having navigated through the requirements process including resolving conflicting requirements and being happy with the outcome. We had a similar revelation in buying our current boat that we naturally pushed towards a boat that was overly capable for anything that we were likely to do for the next 10+ years of our life and everything got so much better once we identified this and changed our requirements. As we looked at different boats on the list, my wife kept fretting over the maintenance on most of them and it took a silly long time for us to realize that what she was actually onto was that we had tried to project requirements to far out in the future when they would likely be different anyways. Had we not finally realized this, I suspect that we would have had a boat that took over our lives and provided limited or no more enjoyment than what we got.

It looks like the overall interior volume of your new boat is fairly close to our boat although the layouts differ some. Our limitation on duration of cruise besides work was storage when it was just the 2 of us but once kids were added, it started to get generally tight. The V berth just works for us but it looks like the 109 one is bit more pushed into the bow. We are still quite happy with the boat and just know that some of our time will be spent moving gear around and that we needed to reconfigure bunks a bit for when sailing far enough that watches are required. Interestingly, when we were looking at boats this last time, most of the boats 5′ longer than us didn’t have any better of interiors for a couple, the heads and v berths sometimes got even smaller in the race to put more bunks in.

The mast situation sounds awful, good luck with sorting that out. When we trucked our boat from Michigan to New England, I spent lots of time prepping and thought that I had everything properly secured. First stop after a short bit of driving to see if straps had loosened or anything, I was horrified to see that I hadn’t secured the fiberglass helm seat and it had picked up and nearly flown out of the cockpit. My favorite trucking issue was some people I know who were hauling a large (~60′ long, ~10″ diameter, solid wood) boom with one end in a pickup truck bed and the other end on a spar dolly and as they came down a steep hill, the one riding shotgun saw sparks shooting up in the lane to the left of them that was the bed passing them with boom and dolly still well attached. The cause was the bed bolts corroding but what all of us want to know is how they didn’t notice the bed coming off as it must have hit the wheels which would have tried to throw it into the cab not to mention something like 1000lbs+ coming off the suspension all at once.

Eric

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Having trucked Alchemy from Newfoundland to Michigan, I believe the biggest surprise upon receiving her and putting her back together was that there were virtually no surprises.
I, too, was frantic about not being at hand for doing the work (covid kept me out of Canada), let alone supervision, but may have been unwittingly lucky in certain respects. We were in a marina with a travel lift and storage, but not a boat yard, so I was unable to request the boatyard people to “prepare her for trucking” and write a check.
So, I turned to acquaintances/friends met over our years there, one of whom was a surveyor and neither was acquainted with Alchemy. Both, however, were bright men who were observant and conscientious. I wrote volumes of notes which I am sure drove them a bit crazy.
I also felt the trucking firm and driver were top notch.
Bottom line: I agree completely that boatyards need on site supervision for most any job. I consider most yards more interested in getting the job over with than in doing good work. Part of that may just be poor training and I am making a point of asking who is ABYC trained and what percentage of their professional staff has ABYC certificates and do they have the particulars in this area on their web site.
Given the above, John, I would suggest finding a knowledgeable friend or a professional surveyor, to oversee the packaging of the new mast when the time comes. That said, the mast manufacturer will likely also be quite particular about how the mast is packed for delivery. This advice would be even more important for a whole boat being transported.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
PS. If a new mast, I would request/insist that every fitting have an isolator pad of Teflon sheeting and the screws/bolts etc. be installed with TefGel. Too many friends have bought new boats only to find neither was done at manufacture and that this caused problems within years around salt water. Removing and re-bedding is one of the first things I suggest to new boat owners (boom also).

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Well that is depressing to hear how badly the yard failed at prep work. It does seem that getting work done right is incredibly difficult in the marine world. Buying a boat that needed trucking home was stressful enough for us and we were able to fly to look at the boat after it had been surveyed and then we had the ability to tow it ourselves (I realize this is not common), buying sight unseen during Covid would definitely be stressful.

Good luck with shipping of the new mast. The good news is that aluminum is much easier to ship than carbon fibre. I would be interested to hear how it is shipped, I know some riggers have mast trailers and I have used a trailer for crew shells before. The way the old schooners around used to get masts was to get the Douglas Fir logs from Washington and rent 3 rail cars with the logs on the middle one overhanging the other 2. These days, it is often easier and more cost effective to simply laminate one locally, getting relatively big pieces that can still be truck shipped is pretty easy.

Eric

Roger Neiley

John,
Congrats on the new ride which will surely be a lot of fun. Assuming the mast is replaced you’ll at least have peace of mind after going through that process.

Having sailed a number of different mid sized monohulls, one of the main differences that always hits me is the variation in motion, both 3 dimensionally and in quickness while in a seaway. I’m sure you’re expecting this “feel” on board to be very different from your M&R monster, but I wonder if you’ve thought about how to quantify such an important aspect of any vessel. The accelerations, forces and moments that make one boat a joy and another an exercise in clenching many new muscles will have a major impact on how you feel when Phyllis shows up for dinner on day 5 of your cruise.

I’ve found that getting in synch with a boat’s motion is perhaps the most important determinant of how I feel at the end of a daysail or passage. Hope you can find an objective approach to help us all understand that better.

Roger Neiley

Roger Neiley

By the way, looks like a bent stanchion, starboard side.

Ben Pearre

Sorry to hear about the mast, and the dent it’s putting in your sailing season.

I’m sure you have lots of sailing friends in the area. But just to offer what I can: if you want to drop by Chester I would love to take you for a spin on my Farrier F-22 and hear all about how weight-sensitive your J/109 is 😉

Marc Dacey

Same with us, John. You and Phyllis are welcome aboard Alchemy anytime we are in Mahone Bay, even though our boat is about the polar opposite to a J/109. I have learned so much from this site that has served us well in our voyaging.

Mark Wilson

The sail drive and the fact that the prop and anode seem to be completely anti-fouled.But I guess this isn’t your reservation as it is easily remedied.

By the way, what a handsome vessel, both inside and out ! Designers from the America’s draw the prettiest lines and specify the most pleasing interiors. And the swim step seems an attractive option on so many levels, particularly to a single hander in the prime of his life; are there any disadvantages to this sort of stern ?

eric ploumis

John et al:

I shipped my J-108 (a 109 with a centerboard) up from Florida to Connecticut this year with Cookingham Marine Transport based in Tiverton, RI. The guy was a gem who has real pride in his work. He spent hours making sure everything is secure and safe for the transport. He trucks all boats but specializes in J’s. Next time, make him your go-to guy.
Eric Ploumis

Henry Rech

John,

Are you wondering about the position of sail drive?

Too far forward?

Mark Wilson

Having spent all the lockdowns reading about dream boats, despite already having my own dream boat, I have noticed how seldom any writers refer to how comfortable a boat is to live on down below while underway.

My experience is limited. At most 40 to 60 thousand miles single handed – I have never counted. But of those miles I may well have spent 80% or more below, either sleeping, recovering or just chilling – especially in cold climates.

So my question will be: how comfortable is the new Morgan’s Cloud when you are down below ? Is there a comfortable place to sit/sleep/lounge on either tack as you are racing to meet your schedule of picking Phyllis up on a Friday evening (her weekend off after a hard week at work) ?

Best, Mark

PS. The final paragraph is informed by the experience of helping a friend and three other crew take his Discovery 55 up to Shetland from the south coast of UK. His sailing paradigm is in all respects admirable. He has a group of mates, mostly in their mid seventies, who fought and won the corporate wars in the 80’s and 90’s (not including yours truly), and he maps out a series of cruises over the currently available sailing season. In a good year the boat may be on the move for 6 or more months. The drawback of this plan is the need to meet the next crew at the specified time at the planned destination. When we topped up the diesel tanks at Inverness I nearly fainted when I had sight of the bill.

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I am curious as to what bothers you, I have a few things that I notice but none would be big deals. For example, I see that there are no fairleads or cleat midships and it is unclear what there is at the bow, this seems to be common of racing boats. If it were me with what I know of your setup, the boat would live on the mooring rather than the pier so that I could have the joy of sailing it on and off rather than running the engine for 5 minutes to get away and back. It is small and light enough that if it is critical you fall off one way, you could easily walk the mooring down the desired windward side in light air or run a line back to midships like an anchor spring in heavier air. Of course, if you have favorite places to visit that involve docks, then it might be worth setting up better for that.

It is hard to tell but is that a third piece of blocking under the aft end of the keel? I would consider that not ideal but at the same time, if that damaged the boat, it would be too fragile a boat for me.

Eric

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Well if it is related to keel blocking, I guess that I don’t see a problem right off but who knows what I am missing. I personally like to block with wedges to make it easy to move keel blocking around for bottom paint although I rarely see anyone other than wooden boat owners doing this. I have never seen the practice of putting an extra blocking on the overhang of the keel for yaw resistance. It makes me wonder how effective it is, I would think that the stands do a much better job at that given the much larger lever arm even though their force is lower. Our boat is heavily enough built that we don’t have to worry about running stands loose thankfully. I always wonder how effective this actually is unless you are indoors as the stand pressure changes a lot with the ground heaving as it freezes and thaws.

Around here, the one that really bugs me is people running the chains loose, using stretchy line or skipping them outright which seems to be very common on powerboats. Once that stand moves a little, the boat really is loose and you have a problem.

By the way, we have been using the snatch block midships for our docking spring since the lifeline netting went up for the kids and it seems to work fine but would chafe if left for a while due to our toe rail (this is for getting attached only).

Eric

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
I do not know about overly fussy, but Alchemy has been to many yards where hardstand/poppets are the support. Alchemy is a bigger heavier boat and, almost always, the yard crew chooses choose to use 3 stands per side. I think some of the crews go by length: one stand per 12-15 feet or so. I have often asked for another stand: sometimes I have needed to say I would rent stands from the yard before they got the idea of my being serious.
That said, I was leaving Alchemy in exposed places (Scotland, Newfoundland) where I was dependent on others to check on her. I would think that 3 stands a side for your new boat would be fine (properly chained together and with wood under the stand’s feet).
But, I am also clear about the relief that can come when wearing a belt and clipping on suspenders.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Edward Sitver

I wonder if they went light on the stands because the boat is indoors with the rig down. I suspect outdoors and/or on a softer surface they might have placed additional stands. And yet again more if the rig were up.

Eric Klem

Hi John,

For that size boat, the number of stands used would be standard for outdoor storage around here and that includes mast up. Depending on how lightly constructed the boat is, there may be another set added if pad pressure needs to be kept light. Given that you are indoors out of the wind and on a concrete pad that shouldn’t heave, it would not bother me but that doesn’t make it right. I have occasionally seen boats fall over but I can’t think of a time where there wasn’t a good other reason such as a jib on the furler getting loose, stands on loose soil with no pads and no checking tightness, loose chains, etc.  

To me, the bigger issue is if the stands or other props are being used properly, it is amazing how often this is not done right. As you point out, the middle stands are wound out a long ways, maybe too far, but at least the pressure is pretty straight on them, you don’t want to be like that and have the pad at a high angle which I see a lot.

Eric

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Good to hear you got a good resolution.

Yes, it is amazing how different our weather is only a few hundred miles away. Whenever I watch news of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, Buffalo style snow, wildlife encounters, etc, I feel lucky to live in a place that has relatively manageable versions of all this. I just hope we don’t start getting lots of Hurricanes. Of course, your indoor boat storage is better than all of this provided it is a well constructed building.

I do wonder like you whether we should or will need to do things like adding more stands or pulling masts as our weather changes. Unfortunately, it is not clear to me who would cause that shift unless there were a big issue where huge numbers of boats fell over, most owners don’t know enough and most yards are not very forward looking. Around here, the one that really scares me is how low so many yards are making boats really susceptible to floating on the stands if we ever get a big storm surge.

I remember reading the article on your Hurricane experience on the hard. The issue to me with stands is that they can move becoming loose or even tipping over, the only broken stands I have seen have been hit by a falling boat or a careless vehicle driver and eyeball engineering suggests they are pretty strong. Cradles obviously fix this issue as it is a single structure. Ignoring usability issues if you only have a hydraulic trailer, the issue with cradles is that many have narrow bases and the whole thing will go over. I have always thought that most cradles should have folding outriggers to effectively make them several feet wider when stored, it would not be hard but I have never seen it. I was by Billings last week and there were a few boats out with masts in but I didn’t look if they had cradles.

With stands, I have done 2 things to shore them up. The first is if you are on an appropriate material, you can drive tent stakes in at the corners of the stand which will keep it from moving. The other thing is to try to triangulate the stands to each other using 2X4’s and U bolts. I haven’t perfectly triangulated but I think you can do pretty well by putting crosses between the stands down each side and then running a tie bar across each set of stands at the bottom. Once you have done this, you have basically created a cradle and I think it is a bit easier way to do it.

Of course, this all assumes you do the fundamentals right like having the chains tight.

Eric

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Following up a bit on the idea of bracing. It occurred to me that you could do what I had suggested for bracing jackstands with EMT tubing instead of dimensional lumber and that it would be reusable and save you from drilling all the holes every time you wanted to set it up. EMT tubing comes in 10′ lengths which are perfect, if you need longer you don’t have enough jackstands. Also, it is about as cheap as you can get with a galvanized finish so should last a decently long time, our cover frame is made out of the same 3/4″ EMT and looks great at 9 years unlike our painted jackstands which I am going to replace with galvanized ones probably next year. On our 36′ boat, this equates to a total cost of <$130US for the EMT tubing and U-bolts and ~15 minutes to put together with an impact driver. This makes it much cheaper than a set of jackstands and I believe that it actually provides more security.

This is not a fully triangulated design but I think it solves for the major failure modes. The jackstands could rotate about their vertical axis but this would bring in the end jackstands which would requires the boat to go up in the air and I don’t see an energy input that is likely to do that. Similarly, the jackstands could rack such that one side moved forward and one side moved aft but thanks to the cross braces and chains, that would again mean that the boat would need to move up in the air. Before I went to any of this trouble for full triangulation, I think you would want to tie in the bottom of the keel. If I were expecting a hit from a major hurricane I would probably be doing that but the winter cover would also come off to try to lower windage as much as possible. Of course, this assumes your neighbors take reasonable precautions, at least I got the yard here to mandate removal of all sails and I know all the owners on either side.

I am certainly open to hearing ideas on this.

Eric

Mistral jackstand bracing.jpg
Eric Klem

Hi John,

Yes, heaving from freezing and thawing is definitely an issue. We make sure to get by and check the boat during these times and I regularly do have to adjust the stands by up to a half turn. For boats that are built heavily so you can run the stands tight, I think it is probably not as big a deal but for boats where the stands are run loose to start with, it could definitely leave the stands dangerously loose. I am sure that some yards are better and some worse on this, it probably depends on the material, the water table, drainage and maybe other factors. And like you, I have not had good experiences with yards checking stands. A huge number of times I have shown up several days after a weather event and I have seen boats with issues like fallen jack stands, ripped covers and when I pointed it out to the yard, they were unaware. We have been at the same place for 12 years now and the line of boats that we are in is a fairly stable group of people who all know each other and most live quite close so we always get a few texts saying things look good after any weather and sometimes during the weather. Our unwritten policy is to check that all stands are tight on each others boats and call if they are not but not to ever go adjusting them without permission.

Eric

Rob Gill

Hi John, Eric,
Saw the feature photo of the new MC on stands, but assumed this was because she was so light and inside. It didn’t occur to me this could be standard yard procedure even with mast in!

I don’t think the yards here could/would risk using only stands, with our (now) stricter Health and Safety regulations. If someone died in a hardstand fall accident where sub-standard props were used, and every reasonably foreseeable precaution was not being taken, a yard owner or manager could end up in prison.

So here in NZ most bigger yards use steel cradles as standard, but backed up with extra stands for larger craft as necessary. Some of the smaller yards may still use only stands, but they must by law have a risk mitigation plan. Almost no one un-ships their mast (unless they are getting work done on it) as we mostly stay afloat year round.

Most times though we wait until after our SW Pacific cyclone season has finished before our annual haul-out, and we are usually splashed back inside a week. From your accounts above, sounds like I’d be a nervous wreck hauling elsewhere!

Picture from recent yard stay showing a typical NZ stand provision for our 14.5 metre 12 tonne and 2.1 m draft SY.

Br.
Rob

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Dick Stevenson

Hi John and all,
As written earlier, we often push for more stands. And, speaking of country-based practices, I can’t think of a country (perhaps Portugal) where I did not need to ask/insist on at least one extra stand per side. If stands are scarce, then it is actually easier than initially thought, to take some wood and cobble together extra stands, especially if the ground is firm.
We also stipulate in initial contact with the yard (we are usually at a different yard each year), that we refuse to be near boats with their headsails left on where the domino effect of the boat falling over could reach down the line to Alchemy. In at least one instance, this jump started a yard policy of the yard removing headsails and charging the owners for doing so.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Kevin Dreese

Hi John. Thanks for sharing your process. I think defining the mission and buying based on that is not only smart but also can be humbling. Setting aside the ego to buy too much boat or a boat that no longer fits can be tough. However, really doing the tough thinking up front helps narrow the focus on what you really need and want. In the long run, it’s a much better fit, and you make choices that really matter to YOU.

We followed a similar process when buying our Sprinter van (RV). We listed out how we planned to use the van (park at trailheads, camp long weekends, and 1 big 2 week vacation a year) and that really guided the size, layout, and options that were important to us. We bought a small van (19 feet) and didn’t add lithium or solar, etc. All very expensive options at the time. Anyway, 5 years later we still love the choices we made because we really thought about how WE were going to use it most of the time. If we changed the mission we would most likely sell it and get something else that was a better fit the new use case.

James Evans

Going from a cruising boat to something smaller

I feel for you, John and Phyllis. But it seems to me, not surprisingly, you’re doing it right. I’ve just done sort of the same thing, but I went a bit more extreme.

When I hit  a big rock with my Freedom 28 a couple of years ago I decided it was time to downsize. I was only 73 at the time, but I was recently back from a cross-Canada trip on my motorbike and feeling pretty sporty. I thought that something I could bring home on a trailer for the winter rather than working on the boat in a windy yard would fill the bill. The problem was that the only cruising type boats that would do the job, at least on the North American market, were a pretty uninspired bunch, and I also decided that I wanted to spend as little as possible in case I’d made the wrong decision. At least I got that part right…

I spent the winter of 2019 looking through the small ads. An awful lot of the little boats on the market were the same crap I’d rejected forty years ago: the same boats, in many cases. Then I got intrigued by fast daysailers and one in particular: a Bill Cook design called Impulse 21. 21 feet, 1300 lbs displacement with 600 lbs of lead, 3’6” draft to make the most of my shallow local waters, a self-tacking jib to aid singlehanding and a plethora of sail controls led to a central cockpit console. I found one in Pennsylvania and sneaked it home to PEI through a March snowstorm and the first day of the shutdown.

What’s this got to do with cruising, you’re asking. What indeed? What it is is that although the boat is huge fun to sail and easy to trailer and maintain 
I found that what I really missed was not only going places and sleeping aboard but just the fun of playing house, making a brew, taking a nap below. There is a cuddy, and I thought it would be enough but I can’t even sit upright unless I sit on the sole. I made a galley box and I can now make a brew – if I stop or heave to. I tried a night aboard and found out that I could: but I never got any sleep! (The comfort below is definitely not helped by all the lines and tackles running below decks through the middle of the cuddy, and the rain and spray that pours in where they exit).

I’m not out too much money yet, but now I’m torn between trading (probably for another set of problems, given my budget) or going a little further along the silk purse/sow’s ear road and sawing a hole in the cuddy top to add some headroom. It’s keeping me well amused in my dotage but the fact is that more thought up front about what I really wanted might (would? maybe, but I didn’t really know what I wanted) have saved time and added fun.

One thing I can definitely say, though: it’s affordable, and every outing is an adventure!

Jim Evans

Richard Horan

Hello John:
I’ve been looking forward to more of your thought process in your selection of the J109. I’m certain you and Phyllis considered several design before deciding on the J. Will you be publishing Part 2 in the near future?
Also, given Canada’s restrictions related to COVID-19, I’m curious about the details of your purchase. Did you personally view the boat prior to purchase in CT? I was unaware that non-essential commercial vehicles were able to enter and exit Canada. How did you manage that transport?
Thank you,
Dick

Dick Stevenson

Hi Dick,
With respect to a segment of your questions:
To my surprise, it is really quite easy to get a boat (and probably cars etc.) across the border, but, my take, is that it has to be part of a commercial enterprise. I had a boat trucked from Newfoundland to Michigan and the trucking delivery went off without a hitch and the border was not a problem. I also know of deliveries on the boat’s bottom that occurred easily, but were done by a commercial delivery crew.
This has been the case since the beginning of covid restrictions even though boats getting to their owners can hardly be described as essential services.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Peter Rowland

John, what’s the problem with the galley you can’t do multi course dishes? We manage Christmas dinner on our 2 burner and oven. Indeed we are about to replace the 33 year old cooker for a new one, but without the grill. I have never managed to do toast properly and by loosing that the oven is raised 3 or 4 inches making it easier to lift in and out of the oven. That leaves a nice space for the induction hob to be stored when not needed.

Christmas morning with the turkey cooking in the oven and the Solent all to ourselves 🙂 Sadly not enough wind, so had to motor sail, but put the sails up anyway for show.

Xmas.JPG
Dick Stevenson

Hi John and all,
The longer I lived aboard the more I appreciated what I came to call “living small”. Living “large” certainly has its occasional advantages, but generally, to my mind, is way over-rated and over-valued and, again to my mind, often interferes with living well.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy