Dimensions ft/lb  m/kg
LOA 42.00 12.80
LWL 35.10 10.70
Beam 12.20 3.72
Standard Draft 6.60 2.01
Standard Ballast 7,000 3,175
Displacement 18,500 8,392
Diesel Aux. Engine 47 hp 47 hp
100% SA
790 73.36
I 50.50 15.39
J 14.70 4.48
P 46.50 14.17
E 18.00 5.49
SA/Dspl 18 18
Dspl/L 191 191

Performance Cruising Parameters

By Rod Johnstone

What is a performance-cruising sailboat? Positive responses to each of the following questions define the answer. (1) Is the boat seakindly- or does it have an easy motion in a seaway? (2) Can one person or a couple handle the boat and achieve good performance without the weight of a lot of crew on the rail? (3) Does the boat perform well enough so that its crew will prefer to sail rather than power or motor-sail?

When considering any performance-cruising boat, it’s worth asking two questions: Will I feel safe and comfortable going to sea in this boat? Am I going to have fun sailing this boat in the cruising mode? Speed is desirable when cruising, simply because going from point A to B under sail is what it’s all about. If you tack up a shoreline at the same speed as those plodding under "iron genoa" into the wind, waves, and current offshore, then you have a performance cruiser. If you enjoy the serenity of broad-reaching down the coast at nearly the same speed as boats that are motor-sailing, then you are on a performance cruiser. But if you have to crank up the engine, even when there is breeze, to make a decent day’s run, you are on a slow powerboat that happens to have sails - in my opinion.

Where does performance come from? Length is most important. Average speed in knots for the typical sailboat is roughly equivalent to the square root of its waterline length. Hence a boat with a 36-foot waterline length should sail at about 6 knots under "cruising canvas"; a performance-cruiser should be able to exceed this pace in all but very light winds.

True performance-cruisers most often have fin keels and spade rudders. This underbody configuration provides many performance advantages, including less wetted surface (and thus reduced drag), greater efficiency sailing to windward (in the form of better pointing), and greater steering control and maneuverability. Reduced drag means the boat does not need as much sail or as large a rig to achieve speed under sail, and upwind efficiency means faster passages.

Traditional heavy-displacement cruisers with full-length keels can overcome their speed disadvantage only with a much larger sail plan. More sail requires heavier deck hardware for the higher rig loads and more hands on deck in heavy weather-just what cruisers don’t want. A sail plan that can be handled by one or two people in any conditions is crucial not only to passage-making performance but to crew comfort-otherwise sailing can become an unwanted chore. On most performance-cruising boats under 60 feet in length, a sail area-to-displacement ratio of 16 to 22 can usually provide the required power and an easy to handle sail plan.

A cruising sailboat’s performance also depends on stability, or "stiffness"-the ability of the boat to resist the heeling force of the sails. Good all-around speed is possible only if the boat is stiff; a stiff boat can carry more sail and heel less in a breeze than a tender boat. Stiffness can be achieved through a wide beam at the waterline or through a low vertical center of gravity (VCG). If stiffness comes from a wide waterline beam, the boat’s motion tends to be bouncy and abrupt in waves; as soon as this type of boat heels, it usually exhibits excessive weather helm and may be difficult to steer. Because such a boat tends to have a high center of gravity, good speed can be achieved only by placing crew weight or movable ballast, such as water, to windward to reduce heel.

J42 vcg performance comparisonThe most important characteristic of a performance cruiser is that its stiffness be derived from a low center of gravity. This is indicated by a simple ratio of righting moment (RM) at 1 degree of heel to the cube of the greatest beam at the waterline (B). The RM/B^3 ratio indicates whether the boat derives its stability more from its low VCG (RM) or from its large beam, or waterplane inertia (B^3). The greater the number yielded by this ratio, the greater the stability, seakindliness, sail-carrying ability, and potential performance of the boat. Boats with a high RM/B^3 tend to be longer, narrower, and faster than boats with a lower RM/B^3. Based on a sample of 219 different IMS-rated cruising boats in the United States from 22 to 81 feet in length, the median value of RB/B^3 for the stiffest 50 boats is 1.7. The median value of RM/B^3 for the most tender 50 boat is .89. The average length/beam (LWL/B) ratio for the top group is 3.82, and only 2.96 for the bottom group.

A high or low rating on this index is independent of a boat’s displacement/length (D/L) ratio. The 50 boats highest on the RM/B^3 scale have a D/L ratio ranging from 55 (light) to 339 (heavy). (In modern terms, a D/L ratio of less than 180 is light, 180-280 is moderate, and above 280 is heavy.) Thus, 16 of the top 50 boats on the RB/B^3 scale are heavy, 16 are moderate, and 18 are light. At the bottom of the scale half of the bottom 50 are heavy, 19 are moderate, and only 6 are light.

The preponderance of heavy-displacement boats at the low end of the scale reflects a modern trend in cruising sailboats toward increased accommodations and decreased ballast/displacement ratios-a trend that has raised the height of the center of gravity of this type of boat. Forty-two of the 50 stiffest boats on the RM/B^3 scale, (but only 22 of the less-stiff boats), have sail area-to-displacement ratios of over 16 - what I consider to be a minimum for performance cruising speed under sail.

Finally, the RM/B^3 ratio is an excellent predictor of "big-boat feel" and motion in any size boat- the quality is just harder to achieve in a smaller lighter boat. Whether light or heavy, a narrow boat with a low center of gravity will have a rock solid feel, an easy motion, and positive control-the unmistakable aura of power, stability, and passage-making speed

If It Blows 66 MPH, You Will Be Glad You're On A J/42


I spent more than a year and sailed more than twenty different boats before I decided to buy a J-42. Our family took delivery in August of 2000. We named our boat J-Belles after my daughter, Julie. I have owned several sailboats, but spent the last twenty years sailing a Tartan 37 from my home base in Erie, Pennsylvania.

I chose the J-42 for several different reasons. I liked her pedigree as the cruising version of the J-40. The extra two feet added to the stern made the J-42 an ideal boat to have my children, Robbie who is eleven and Julie who is thirteen, spend their adolescent years behind the helmsman where we can spend many hours of leisurely sailing and conversing. We also belong to an active sailing fleet where we can spend Wednesday evenings and some Saturdays competing in the JAM fleet.

The J-42 is an excellent light air sailboat, even with our shoal keel of 5’6”. With the wind blowing just 6 knots, the boat easily sails in the 5.5 knot range and at wind speeds of 8 or 9 knots, “J-Belles,” sails at 7 knots. Her seakindliness in heavy weather was the safety feature that was most appealing to me since I would be sailing her in Lake Erie, the most dangerous of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes have a reputation for bad weather that appears with little warning. Lake Erie, the most shallow of the Great lakes, has the propensity for rapidly developing large waves, closely spaced which have been responsible for more shipwrecks anywhere except Cape Hatteras. J-Belles consistently sails in this weather in the spring and fall. Her stability from her low center of gravity and carbon fiber mast is such that we never reef the main unless the wind is blowing in excess of 30 knots. The J-42 is mostly driven from her large main sail, not the Genoa, so when the wind is 17 knots or more and we are feeling lazy, we often sail just tacking the main sail and achieve speeds of 7 plus knots.

We bought our boat from Paul Mikulski, at JPort in Annapolis. Paul is one of the largest J Boat dealers on the East Coast and his experience in outfitting the boat was invaluable. We outfitted J Belles with a main sail, a 100% Jib, a 140% Genoa, and an asymmetrical spinnaker. We also put two electric winches onboard to raise the main and trim the Genoa in heavy weather. We cannot use them during a race.

Paul Mikulski never seemed flustered no matter what our request when ordering the boat. His typical response was “Uh huh” followed by expeditiously doing exactly what we wanted. As an example, the boat was built in Newport, shipped to Paul in Annapolis where, after full commissioning and a beautiful dark blue Awlgrip paint job, she underwent complete sea trials on Wednesday through Sunday, derigged, packed, shipped overland to Erie, unpacked, rerigged and was sailing in Erie the following Friday. Paul was also in Erie to meet the boat; an exceptional dealer.

Over the course of a year, we got to know Paul, his wife, Sue, and their Portuguese water dog, Maggie. At the spectacular christening of J-Belles that Paul, Sue, and my wife, Patty, organized with old sea hymns and Cristal champagne, we invited Paul and Sue to join us for a race in 2001. Paul said, “Uh huh.”

We chose the Multiple Sclerosis charity race on Labor Day. It is the largest race in our area with 85 boats entered. It’s a short 5-mile race around the bay. There were two racing spinnaker fleets filled with Heritage One tons, Shock 36’s, J 24’s, 35’s and 36’s, Tripp designs and a few custom designed boats. We chose to sail in the cruising fleet with several C&C 40’s, 41’s and a 50, a Baltic 42, a Tartan 42, and a NM 50 ‘Champosa’. The NM 50 has a PHRF of 0; J-Belles has a PHRF of 87. The NM 50 had just finished the Lake Erie Race and wanted to sail the cruising class. Ours would be the third start; the first two starts of the racing spinnaker fleets would be separated by 5 minutes.


It was a sunny day and the wind was blowing 22 knots at the start. Paul and Sue had joined us, and being a charity event, we had a boatful of ten people. We were fourth off the line on our start, but soon moved to second behind the NM 50 at the first buoy. On the downwind leg, we put a whisker pole to leeward, and closed on the racing fleet in front of us and the NM 50.

We carried a full main and the 140% Genoa. Clouds were rapidly closing in from the west. By the time we rounded the second mark and were on a reaching leg, the weather had turned foul. The wind was now blowing 30 knots and the rain was in sheets, stinging our faces. Sunglasses were mandatory despite the clouds to protect our eyes from the driving rain. At the turn of the third mark, we had sailed through half of the racing fleet in front of us and were only 30 seconds behind the NM 50. J-Belles loved this weather. She had very little helm and still had not dipped her rail. On the finishing, up wind leg, the wind had increased to 40 knots, J-Belles still had her full yard of sails up with no reef and was sailing at 9.9 knots. We crossed the finish line only 16 seconds behind the NM 50 and had sailed through the entire second racing fleet and caught two boats from the first fleet!

The wind rapidly increased to 66 knots as later reported by Erie International airport. It became almost a complete whiteout. We had dropped our sails by then. Many of the boats were knocked down, suffered rigging damage, and one even sunk. The Coast Guard rescued the sailors without further mishap. The storm was over in twenty minutes, and the wind settled in the fifteen-knot range with rain. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the yacht club, watching them raise the boat from the bottom of the bay and toasting our victory. J-Belles had the second fastest elapsed time, just 16 seconds behind the NM 50 who owed us 7 minutes and 15 seconds. We enjoyed a beautiful trophy and participated in raising thirty-eight thousand charity dollars. Most of all, we were safe in 66 knot winds and suffered no damage.

It is comforting to know that when the winds blow unexpectedly at that velocity that you will end up on the air-side of the water in a J-42. The boat had excelled in the challenge.

Later when I sent the clipping from our newspaper with the wind clocked at 66mph to Paul and reminisced about the race, I asked Paul if he ever thought the weather could change so violently in Lake Erie. Paul just said, “Uh huh.”

The Perfect Cruising Sailboat for Our Trans-Atlantic Tour


Part I

"We've sailed JAYWALKER 3,200 miles during the past two summers, all on the Great Lakes. In addition to daysails, we cruise 3 weeks, race Wednesday nights and do a few distance races like the Queens Cup from Milwaukee to Grand Haven. The boat has exceeded all our expectations.

It's fast, comfortable, easy to double hand and gets stares from people even on jet-skies. Just the two of us fly the symmetrical and asymmetrical spinnakers regularly with no other help. The boat handles like a dream. It's stiff. We have no fear keeping up a full press of sail in 20-25 knots of wind. In fact, we don't have to reef the mainsail 'till winds are over 26 knots.

One of the great joys we've experienced with the J/42 is its trouble-freeness. Routine maintenance is just about all there is to do. Because TPI builds such a fine boat, our J Boats dealer has never been called upon to correct flaws, broken parts, or things that didn't work. We commissioned the boat at a yard near Detroit. After a one hour sea-trial on Mother's Day 1996, we sailed 500 miles up, through the Straits of Mackinac and down the length of Lake Michigan to our homeport. That was the maiden voyage, 56 hours nonstop with 42 degree (F) water and ice floes still in the Straits. That's an average speed of 8 knots! Not a thing went wrong and we had a wonderful time, thanks to the flawless performance of the boat.

Needless to say we are absolutely thrilled with the J/42. After 3 other boats and after reading all of Dashew's Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia, I am even more convinced we have the right combination of design, safety, great looks, speed and comfort. What more can I say? We just plain love JAYWALKER and can't wait for Spring to arrive to be back aboard, one step closer to our planned circumnavigation of the Atlantic in the year 2000."

Part II

Chances are that Bill and Judy Stellin, owners of the J/42 JAYWALKER, had a lot more fun than you did last month—and the month before that, too. The Stellins, from Holland, Michigan, took their long-distance cruising dream across the Atlantic in 2000, where they’ve been exploring the Med before they plan to head home and close their extended Atlantic circle in 2002. We asked the Stellins about the cruising life, living aboard, and what makes a good cruising boat.

What is your sailing background, and how did it lead to long-distance cruising?

We started sailing a Pearson 26 about 25 years ago. We had a growing family of two sons and a daughter and somehow all of us fit into the boat and cruised northern Lake Michigan waters. Later we moved up to an Ericson 29 and then a new Cal 33. We cruised all three boats as a family, and we also raced in club events, which helped us hone our skills and satisfied my competitive spirit.

In 1996, anticipating eventual retirement, we began thinking about our next boat. About that time, J Boats introduced the J/42, and after talking to the J Boat dealer in Port Sanilac, Michigan, we knew we had to see the new model. We attended the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis where we first met Rod, Bob, and Jeff Johnstone. We fell in love with the J/42 and were convinced we would buy one before we left the show. Hull #6 was available and we made a deal.

We knew it would be possible to take the J/42 on a long voyage, and that crossing an ocean could be our next adventure. We sailed and raced JAYWALKER for four seasons getting to know her, putting about 3,000 nautical miles on the boat in all kinds of weather. We felt very confident that after dealing with the Great Lakes in the J/42 we could sail most anywhere in her. We also spent virtually every weekend from mid-April to mid October living aboard.

Why did you choose the J/42?

We chose the J/42 based on J Boats’ reputation as designers of fast, comfortable boats, and also the reputation of builder TPI and their SCRIMP process. We knew we wanted a boat that was fast, strong, and good-looking. We also wanted a boat that was safe and just plain fun to sail—with us, the destination is never as important as the journey. Because Lake Michigan has lots of light wind in the summer, and the spring and fall are notorious for high winds and big seas, we wanted a boat that would perform in light as well as heavy winds.

What preparations did you make to JAYWALKER before going cruising?

Because we were heading for Europe, we modified several systems to accommodate European standards for cooking gas and electricity. Jack Censge of Jack Rabbit Marine was invaluable in helping us modify the electrical system for 220V power. We added a bigger alternator, a smart separate regulator, a battery combiner, a solar panel, inverter, switching between the inverter and shorepower, fuses, a separate 220V circuit and hot water element for hot water heating, battery charging, and an outlet in the galley for European appliances.

Jaywalker anchored in Sardinia... click to enlarge.Now, while in Europe, JAYWALKER’s battery is charged directly using 220V 50Hz local power. Our inverter powers the AC panel in the boat where the shore-assist compressor for the fridge and all of the original AC outlets on the boat are switched. We also added one more battery and four DC outlets, two inside and two in the cockpit. In the change-over process we separated the starting battery from the house bank and switched it so that in an emergency we can start the engine with the house bank and power the house with the starting battery. This is a foolproof switching system that makes it impossible to drain everything. One of the best things we added is a Heart Interface Link 10 battery bank monitor—we always know the state of charge, how many amps we are using, how many we’ve used, and how quickly we are replacing them.

For communication, we have a SEA 235 single-sideband radio. For navigation, we have four GPS handhelds, a laptop with three navigation programs, plus a Raymarine chartplotter, radar, GPS, an Autohelm 6000 autopilot, and knotmeter, fathometer, and wind instruments. All Raymarine are interfaced and can ”talk” to each other. JAYWALKER’s safety equipment includes a four-man liferaft, EPIRB, flares, handheld VHF, and a ditch bag. We carry a storm jib (never used) and we installed two new six-sheave deck organizers, three new rope clutches (our main has three reefs, which necessitated the new organizers and clutches), and a spare spinnaker halyard. We also added the optional fuel tank (doubling our capacity), a manifold to switch between tanks, and bigger filters for the new tank.

Where have you cruised thus far, and what’s next?

Our route took us from Portsmouth, Rhode Island, to Bermuda, then the Azores, then to Cascais, Portugal. From there we cruised the coast of Portugal and Spain to Gibraltar. From Gibraltar we headed up the Spanish coast into the Med to Alicante, where we spent the winter. In spring we sailed to the Balearic Dockside in CorsicaIslands, then to Corsica, Sardinia, Elba, Sicily, Malta, and up the western coast of Italy to our present winter home of Gaeta. We had a great summer inching around all the islands, which we now know like the backs of our hands. Next summer we will cruise Croatia, Greece, and Turkey. In the fall we’ll head back to Gibraltar and across to St. Lucia in the Caribbean, then home.


How does the J/42 differ from the average cruising boat?

JAYWALKER is lighter, and sails a whole lot better, than the cruising boats we see every day. Most boats in the Med are in the 44- to 46-foot range and carry everything the owners own (many cruisers have no home on land, so everything they have is onboard). We still have a home, and because of our racing experience we have kept our boat light—she is still on her lines. JAYWALKER is equipped for crossing the Atlantic and cruising the Med, not for a circumnavigation. We don’t have a watermaker, miles of chain, or a lot of heavy anchors. We spend a lot of time in marinas, where it’s easier to go sightseeing and meet people, than anchored out. Still, we anchor out about 40 percent of the time.

Our passage times are much shorter than those of the average cruising boat—we sail and motor faster than most boats. We also sail much more than does the average cruising boat. Our Lake Michigan pattern of 60 percent sailing, 40 percent motoring holds true here in the Med. We sail in lighter wind and in stronger winds than most boats. Many cruisers expect to motor between ports, and if the conditions aren’t right for motoring they don’t go. We sail—which includes going to windward!

This is possible and enjoyable because JAYWALKER does it well. We are not afraid to go out in force 5 and 6 conditions. The J/42 surfs better than most cruising boats, does not hobbyhorse as much, and seems stiffer—I’m convinced that the SCRIMP process contributes to a stiffer hull in rough conditions. Because the J/42 is lighter and more easily-driven than most cruising boats, our fuel economy is better and we carry less diesel (we could have crossed the Atlantic with the standard fuel capacity and not the optional extra tank).

What has passagemaking been like in the J/42? What sails are onboard?

Passagemaking has been very pleasurable. The autopilot does all the work and we just trim sails, change sails every once in a while, and catch up on regular maintenance. We get plenty of sleep, and Judy’s meals are marvelous. We have a SeaFrost fridge so we have lots of fresh food and a big variety of menus. Navigation here in the Med is fun and takes up quite a bit of free time. The rest of our time is spent reading or sleeping. Our in-harbor berth is the V-berth, but during passages we use the aft cabin because the motion is easier and we can stay close to the nav station and in easy communication with the person on watch in the cockpit.

Because of the speed of the J/42 and the length of our coastal passages, we’ve only had a few overnight sails in the Med. We leave about 0900 and sometimes don’t get to the next port until after dark, but still early enough to avoid getting overly tired. If we only have to go 35 to 50 miles between ports, we will wait until the wind builds around noon do we can sail and not have to motor.

On JAYWALKER we carry a storm jib, 100% jib, 130% and 155% genoas, two mainsails (old and new), and two spinnakers. The jib and genoas are roller-furling, and all the working sails (with the exception of the storm jib) are made of laminated fabric. The idea that a cruising boat must be heavy and that cruising sails should be made out of sheet steel is very antiquated—and almost impossible to argue with those who have heavy boats and sails. We don’t even try anymore. We just say, “Eat your heart out!” as we sail by them and reach our destination hours earlier and in more comfort.

What have been the highs and lows of your voyaging thus far?

The Atlantic crossing was wonderful, especially the night watches, which were a great time to be alone with the environment. The stars and moon—or lack of both—made for unforgettable watches. It was grand, scary at times, and humbling.

The sightseeing and anchorages in the Med are also stupendous. Every new port is full of history and adventure, and the coastline is spectacular. The sailing is difficult, due to confused seas and unpredictable winds which can go from zero to 45 knots and back again in seconds. But by far the most memorable part of this cruise has been the people we’ve met. Somewhere we’d read that cruising is about people, and we can certainly confirm that.

As for lows, I can honestly say they have been few and far between. Early on, when Judy broke her arm on the passage to Bermuda and we had a rudder stuffing box leak, morale was very low. But that only lasted for a day or so. Every day since has been an incredible high. (By the way, the rudder stuffing box leak was our fault for not putting the stuffing in correctly. Since then everything has been fine, although the steering is a bit stiff—due to a possible overabundance of flax in the box and an overly tight clamp.)

What features of the J/42 have made living aboard fun or convenient?

Standard equipment on our J/42 included a SEAGULL water filter (made by General Ecology) and a Par shore-water inlet. Both have made living aboard much easier. Drinking water in the Med, especially on the islands, has been of very questionable quality, and the filter makes anything except salty water drinkable. We’ve never gotten sick from bad water, nor had our tank water taste bad. The shore-water inlet also makes life more convenient—we don’t have to fill our tanks and our water pump doesn’t have to run. The shore-water also goes through the SEAGULL filter.

The J/42’s big cockpit is very welcome—we spend a lot of time in it. The dodger and bimini give us about all the sun protection we need (only a few times during the height of the summer did we need the sun awning). Judy likes the aft head, which is hers, and we both like the Force 10 stove, the ventilation and screens of the cabin, the big V-berth, the brightness of the interior, the angle of the companionway steps, the handholds belowdeck (Judy is short, but the handholds are easy to reach), the port and starboard settees (great for stretching out), the deep sink (you can hit it with a beer can from the cockpit and the can stays in), the layout belowdeck, the deck layout, and the mainsheet location.

Did we leave anything out? In short, we like just about everything about our J/42. One last thing—the big, deep anchor well allows chain and rope to drop straight down from the windlass without getting tangled. The locker is big enough to hold not only the anchor rode but our folded-up 8 ½-foot Zodiac and some fenders.

Do you have any advice about choosing a cruising boat?

The best advice we can give to anyone considering a cruising boat is to, first, carefully and seriously ask themselves what kind of sailor they are, what is important to them, and where they expect to sail (what will the conditions be, most of the time). Acquire lots of experience sailing in all kinds of conditions so you know firsthand what is important to you and what is not. Only then begin looking for boats that satisfy your needs. Forget the hype and the advice of others who don’t share your concerns and priorities.

Second, buy a performance cruising boat. Think modern when it comes to construction and design. Heavy boats (aka “lead mines”) don’t sail when the wind is light—and that can be a lot of the time when you’re cruising the Med, Chesapeake Bay, or Great Lakes. If you want to motor a lot, buy a motorboat. Sailing is all about the sport of making a boat go with the wind, not avoiding it as many cruisers do. Avoid boats that require lots of maintenance or upkeep—exterior teak in sunny climates is a time, work, and money hog.

Finally, realize that many cruising boats today are designed and built for the charter market, where needs are much different from those of liveaboard cruisers. Avoid the kind of boats that are fine for one-week holidays but have no value for cruisers who will be making ocean passages and spending months, if not years, living aboard. A cruising boat is a big expenditure. Make the most of it by buying a boat that will do what you expect of it without a lot of fuss. Make sure that the boat meets all offshore insurance requirements, and buy the best quality and design you can afford.


sailmag         The SAIL Rally for 40 Ft Cruising Sailboats

Wednesday, February 21, 6 PM. The Miami Boat Show has just come to a close. Here I am on the J/42 tied up on the show floats off the Miami Yacht Club on Watson Island, isolated by bumper-to-bumper traffic and triangulated between the Bird Cage on South Beach, a line of cruise ships along the main channel and the amazing architecture of Miami's downtown. Fortunately the air temperature has returned to normal, pushing into the upper 70's and 80's during the day. Nothing like the 40's of the past weekend. I must be tired, but pleasantly so. 10 days of SAIL EXPO, 5 days of visiting friends and being a tourist with Mary in Savannah, Charleston, Beaufort and Hilton Head. Now, 5 days of the Miami International Boat Show come to end.... and we're about to depart on a unique odyssey: The SAIL RALLY for 40+/- footers. Incredibly, I'm looking forward to it. Maybe it's because we can finally go sailing. Get the J/42 in her element. For the first time in a month, I can stand aside and applaud while she does all the talking.

Commissioning J/42 #7 on the fly was quite an exercise. She was the show boat at Atlantic City. We packed her up on Sunday night and she left via truck for Miami, arriving Thursday morning, was commissioned in three hours by Garrett Almeida and his capable Eastern Yacht Sales crew and in the show that afternoon. Meanwhile, I took every opportunity to purchase and equip the vessel with all the galley gear, tools, safety gear, mooring and docking equipment she would need for a five day voyage with two crossings of the Gulf Stream.

J/42 #7 was set up for cruising to the Bahamas, having an aluminum mast and shoal 5.5' keel with 500 more pounds of bulb weight than the standard 6.6' keel. How would she differ in sailing qualities from #1 GANNET which had a carbon mast and deeper keel?

Sail Rallies date back a number of years. One eventually learns that this event was ably organized and creatively scripted in progress by Associate Editor Eric Nelson. The way it works in theory is this: Five editors from Sail (Don Abrams, Tom Linskey, Charles (Chip) Mason plus Erik) rotate in one direction taking turns sailing on five boats (J/42, Tartan 4100, Pacific Seacraft 40, Island Packet 40 and Freedom 40/40) while five sailing "panelist" couples rotate in the opposite direction so each gets a chance to live and sail on one of the boats for a day. A factory representative remains with their own craft the whole time. Skip Brown, photographer, rotated as the "5th" crew on a different boat each day. Prior to changing to the next boat, SAIL required each of the panelists to fill out a rather lengthy questionnaire. These are then reviewed and mixed with the editors comments to create a feature article which will appear in SAIL MAGAZINE'S October 1996 issue. In practice, you can imagine that there were a few variations!

I knew from the start that we were in for some surprises, unique challenges or Machiavellian hurdles thrown in our path - depending on one's outlook. From the size of the provision carts that came trundling down the docks as the boat show folk were departing, test one was going to be storage capacity. SAIL wasn't going to let us dehydrate, but did they consider the risk of scurvy? 5 cases of beer, 4 gallons of milk, 5 cases of soda pop, 8 gallons of spring water, 4 gallons of apple & cranberry juice, 1 gallon of wine. Liquids totaled 1.6 gallons each per day, including nearly a 6-pack of beer plus a 6 pack of pop. But, where's the orange juice? - in Florida, yet!? That's why I go there. I turned back 3 gallons of milk. I could have done the same with the water, but didn't. The Seagull Purifier on the J/42 does wonders to any marginal water supply and it's a lot easier to get at. All this gallonage fit nicely under the aft quarterberth, outboard of the aft section of the starboard settee and under the 3 sinks. Most of it was still there after the Rally, including 4.5 cases of beer.

The fresh produce was all stored in the starboard forward locker over the settee in the main cabin and the 5 dozen donut holes, 5 boxes of Oreos, Nutterbutters, Fig Newtons, Creme Sandwiches all adding up to over a box each it seems per day fit in the port forward locker.

Frozen and refrigerated food planning was also different. Four frozen coffee cakes, 4 packages of frozen bagels (to supplement the donut holes), frozen dinners, tons of cold cuts and cheese, several forms of butter, huge mayo and mustard with lots of bread. Five things were apparent from this exercise: We weren't going to starve. This diet would not prolong life on earth. Erik will pick another provisioner next time. The J/42 has storage capacity to spare as only half the dry goods locker over the galley counter was used. And, the J/42 was going to sail even better by comparison because of all the added weight. J/42's long waterline and buoyant U-shaped canoebody has plenty of reserve buoyancy. It would not sink as far down in the water as the diamond-shaped wide-bodies.

The Rally officially started with a reception that night at the Miami Yacht Club where we met a delightful and competent group of sailors who would become our crew for the next five days. If one had to characterize the panel's sailing life-styles or the life-style they pictured themselves in, most seemed to look at the boats as though they were fulfilling the dream of retiring and living on the boats as a couple, year-round. Yet, this was not generally the current reality. Little mention was made of family or children in use of the boat. SAIL selected the panelists from resumes submitted by cruising sailors. Of the 10, all but two, were currently living on Florida's east coast and 6 of these were semi-retired or retired.

They did not currently represent a great many seasonal sailing owners -who's current agenda is an extended 6 month summe sailing season, living aboard for 2-4 weeks at a time or on weekends, and daysailing with friends- then putting their boat up for storage during the winter.

This day set the tone for the week as far as sailing was concerned. Mission one was to get our Bahamas and return paperwork completed with US Customs near the cruise ship terminal. My next mission, with Chip Mason and Warren & Donna Higgons aboard, was to top out with fuel. Chip ingratiated himself with the captain right off by finding a source of orange juice. I had already smuggled in a private but ample supply of Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, brown sugar, a bottle of Mt. Gay to preserve the traditions of Her Majesty's Navy and some Sandemann's Port for after-dinner stories around the wardroom table. With still some fuel in the tank, we added 34.8 gallons - yet claim only 31 on the brochure. Nice bonus! Then it was out Government Cut in light air for a photo shoot: sailing shots, then a choreographed shot of all the boats sailing together in a chorus line for the October SAIL cover. Catching thermals in his hang glider must be a piece of cake for Skip Brown compared to the gyrations he went through getting this group lined up and framed in a single shot.

The J/42 performed an early rescue mission, circling in her own length while rolling up the jib to hand the dinghy operator a tow. The mother ship had failed to give him the kill switch device to plug in. In late afternoon we sailed the 8-9 miles upwind in 7-9 knots of air to the Biscayne entrance channel and to No Name Harbor. This turned out to be quite revealing in terms of light air sailing ability. J/42 sailed from behind and between the Tartan and Pacific Seacraft and doing over 6 knots moved out to a 1 mile lead by the time we reached the Biscayne Channel. This was with a 100% jib. The Tartan was next, holding pretty much the J/42 line only slower, the Pacific Seacraft about a mile behind the Tartan with about 5 degrees moreleeway, the Freedom seemed 10 degrees lower on pointing angle and much slower, while the Island Packet motored - after performing yeoman service with the Rally's dinghy. We popped the asymmetrical chute to sail all the way up the channel, dropped the mainsail, and ghosted into the very narrow harbor entrance of No-Name jibing the spinnaker,then up to our anchorage, snuffing the chute and dropping the hook. It wasn't necessary to wake up the Manatees with our engine. Every now and then those standing ovations are nice to get.

Erik announced the plan was to depart at midnight with the idea of arriving in North Bimini, 49 miles away across the Gulf Stream by noon. A crew change and sailing were planned for the afternoon. The Jacketts on the Tartan 4100, having celebrated a birthday party and the J/42 crew figured we could average over 7 knots under sail and/or power on the voyage and got permission to leave at 4 AM after 6 hours of sleep rather than loose sleep at the outset by leaving at midnight.

That plan seemed to be working well as the Tartan 4100 and J/42 motorsailed in company at 7.7 knots in light following breezes toward a beautiful tropical dawn. I was so excited about making a landfall at sunrise over Bimini with the light coming though those low puffy clouds, that I called Mary on the cellular phone at 7 AM back in Boothbay to describe the scene and to say everything was going well here in the middle of the Gulf Stream. Famous last words! When all of a sudden, WHAM, black smoke! The smell of burning rubber! I said, "Just a minute dear, there's something wrong with the engine". She hears, "Turn it off. Oh, my God! Look at the smoke. Let's get the ladder off. Oh, no! The waterpump pulley casting has disintegrated and the drive belt's burned up!". I get back on the phone to say, "Darling, it doesn't look too good I'll have to get back when we get this sorted out." I'm sure Mary left with visions far worse than the tropical dawn which had inspired the call.

So much for the motor. We called the Tartan to transfer the crew so at least they could get to Bimini and continue the Rally. We weren't sure at that point whether the J/42 would have to be scratched. Chip Mason, the first-rate shipmate that he is, volunteered to make the sail back to Miami with me with the objective in mind of getting the engine repaired by midnight, then returning to Bimini to join the fleet for Day 4 of sailing. As it turned out, the J/42 was the only boat to sail on this day. And, it was quite pleasant under the circumstances. We had a 12 knot Norther and were making 7+ knots by GPS on a close fetch toward Government Cut. Chip steered and I analyzed the engine and made phone calls. Then the wind dropped to "0" two miles out. Oh, no! The Gulf Stream could take us to Bermuda. I hailed one small fishing boat in Spanish and offered them $50 for tow into the Cut. They responded that they hardly had any fuel themselves. Fortunately it wasn't long before the wisps of a building sea breeze permitted us to set the large asymmetrical and we ghosted through Government Cut under spinnaker.

This was not easy considering all the sportfisherman, Donzi's and Cruise Ships blasting out at 3/4 throttle. The last of the flood helped into the entrance of South Miami Beach Marina. We snuffed the chute, dropped the main and glided into a slip to begin our repair program. It was noon. It had taken us 3.5 hours. We were getting good at making moorings without auxiliary power.

Needless to say, my cellular bill had climbed to astronomical heights in efforts to line up a slip in a Marina that was "absolutely full", in locating the local Miami Yanmar repairman who shut off his beeper as a courtesy to the client he was then working for, and to convince Mack Boring and the Yanmar distributor in St. Petersburg that here indeed was one of those rare opportunities to demonstrate Yanmar's superior service capabilities in front of 5 of their largest boatbuilding customers, the Sr. Editor of SAIL and 200,000 devoted readers. Certainly, the very least they could do was dismantle another engine and drive with its sheave and water pump 8 hours round trip from St. Pete to Miami. And, there would be cause for celebration, if the job were completed by midnight. We were grateful to get this exceptional Yanmar service and a complete pit-stop turnaround in the time allotted: midnight. Mary was elated when I finally got back to her to say we'd arrived in Miami Beach safely and were following a plan to depart again by midnight in order to enjoy another Bimini sunrise.

The explanation for the water pump sheave casting failure was "too tight a drive belt", placing an inordinate amount of pressure on the offset bell-shaped casting which is the supporting framework for the water pump sheave. The sheave is one of three on the main drive belt, including the main drive sheave and the alternator sheave. We've advised Yanmar that we don't think a tight belt should break a pulley after 12 hours of use, that either the casting should be heavier or that there may be a defect in the casting. In the meantime, we'd advise everyone to keep their main drive belts on the loose side. Ours was the second to go in the Florida area in the past year.

Chip and I cleared Miami Beach Marina in the J/42 at midnight and headed out the Cut into the Gulf Stream once again, motorsailing in much the same light, following breeze of the night before. Target was to arrive off Bimini at 7 AM, making contact with Erik at that time via VHF to rendezvous with the Fleet.

Our double-handed routine was an hour on, an hour off. This made the time fly and kept the biorhythms functioning at a non-fatiguing pace. Our nap times were averaging 20-40 minutes after deducting navigation and eating. We were approaching Bimini for the second sunrise in two days and our third crossing of the Gulf Stream in 24 hours.

A comment about these crossings is instructive. Instrumentation was set up with 5 KVH dual displays on deck. 3 across the companionway slider in a pod, then 1 on either side of the helm station in a deck pod. The 4 pages of info in each display (8 rows of data) could be flipped by the keypad installed next to the starboard aft pod. Reading across the top, we had in (1) Wind Direction and Wind Velocity, (2) Boat Speed and GPS Speed Over the Ground as a check (3) Compass Heading and GPS Course Over Ground (4) Bearing to Waypoint and Depth. By matching up Bearing to Waypoint and GPS COG, we found that we would be steering as much as 30-40 degrees to the right of our course in order to go to Bimini in a straight line. Makes sense. 50 miles at 7.75 knots equals 6.5 hours. 6.5 hours in 2.5 knots of Gulf Stream is 16,25 miles which is 10% of the circumference of a 50 mile circle. 10% of 360 degrees is 36 degrees. A comment about the KVH instruments. We plugged them in right out of the box, with no calibration, and they were spot on - even boat speed and wind angles. That was a first in my experience in dealing with instrumentation.

The narrow passage to North Bimini harbor, which creeps along just a stone's throw from the beach was made particularly treacherous in appearance by the very obvious grounding of a 40 foot sportfisherman, so high and dry on its deep-V keel on top of a rock at low water, that it looked as though it would tip over if the owner rolled out of his bunk. Chip and I enjoyed cruising around just beyond the shoals with jib only watching the sunrise and waiting for the fleet to depart.

It was a beautiful spinnaker run down to between Gun and Cat Cay. J/42 once again slid way out front with her raspberry asymmetric cruising chute. Nancy Stead and Jody Smith at the helm, the only New Englanders among the panelists, had a great time mastering the apparent wind angle/ boat speed trade-offs under the casual tutelage of Tom Linskey. We learned that the rest of the fleet didn't have the wind to get out sailing on Day 2, so the J/42 was still in the hunt and had not let down the Rally organizers.

The delay in arriving at the Bahamas meant that, after a cooling swim (1st of the year!), Chip Mason and I had to clear customs at Cat Cay for a combined cost of about $60 - to tie up, then pay the Customs agent overtime on Saturday. The captain was able to get Chip cleared with his Massachusetts Driver's License, one of the least convincing forms of certification and citizenry issued in the Western Hemisphere.

The waters over the Bahama banks were amazingly beautiful with each cloud and change in depth putting forth an aurora of pastel colors from yellow to deep blues and greens. Even having a 5.5 foot draft keel and seeing the fathometer reading 7-11 feet, it looked more like a foot or two of depth. We anchored off the beach, on the North side of Gun Cay for the night, changed crews and enjoyed the sunset. Once again the plan was to take off at an early hour, 4 AM, so that the fleet could make it back to Biscayne Bay by mid-afternoon for another crew change and second sail. Erik didn't have the heart to insist that the J/42 leave then also, it would have been my third all-nighter.

The J/42 crew for the night included photographer Skip Brown, Bonnie Shedd, Irv Halper and Don Abrams. We awoke a daybreak and with a 7-9 knot Southeasterly, hoisted mainsail and asymmetric spinnaker after clearing the lighthouse and, accompanied by several flying fish, headed into the Gulf Stream. A glorious sail for nearly two hours. It seemed we went faster than the wind, outrunning this finger of air off the Bahamas into a glassy mirror where the reflection of the clouds seemed to carry right down on the surface of the water. The major event of late morning was the landing of a warbler on the wheel. This was the second time offshore that a J/42 received such a visit. The accompanying picture of the author aboard GANNET off the New Jersey coast in October records the first.

Motorsailing once again, we caught sight of our fleet ahead on the horizon and trailed them in to Biscayne Bay for another crew change and afternoon sail. Fortunately the afternoon thermals kicked in and we were able to generate a little sailing excitement with Bob & Carol Harris plus Erik Nelson. We went through the normal upwind sailing through the fleet with 100% jib, closing fast upwind on a Melges 24 which was tuning up a race crew. Setting the asymmetrical we demonstrated how easy it was to jibe for one person. While demonstrating the quick, emergency take-down, Bob accelerated the process a bit - but we managed to snuff the spinnaker in a boat length, tack through 180 degrees and go in the opposite direction with mainsail only.

The following morning after a final gathering on the dock, Dave Olson from Eastern Yachts joined Donald & Gail Amesbury, Michael Tamulaites and I for a spin around Biscayne Bay then a sail all the way to McArthur Causeway. Our bright pink spinnaker had all the fake flamingos turning green with envy. Michael did an excellent job steering one leg, coming from behind and way higher than the Tartan 4100 with spinnaker set on a broad reach, he played the apparent wind and boat speed angles just right to roll down and out front to a commanding lead along the city waterfront.

How did the J/42 do? When it came to the fun of sailing, upwind or downwind, and ease of handling, the panelists seemed to like the J/42 very much. In fact, the J/42 was the only boat that every panelist had the opportunity to sail. Because of its clean functional layout and ease of maintenance (no teak on deck), the J/42 seemed to get high marks for seasonal family cruising, where many daysails and weekend cruises were combined with 2-4 weeks of extended cruising.

J/42 #7 interior decor was in the classic Herreshoff style with white bulkheads and varnished cherry trim and cabinetry, but without the cherry hull lining strips, which I prefer, in the two staterooms. Her upholstery was forest green Sunbrella with white piping and matching throw pillows. The pillows doubled as storage bags for bed pillows and fleece sleeping bags. With an "as is in the Rally" Miami boat show sailaway price of under $225,000, J/42 was the best value in the fleet. Had she been built with the optional all-teak or all-varnished cherry interior with sculpted, wrap-around ultrasuede settees,the J/42 would also have scored high on the "just like home" index. I got the impression from some of the panelists that the most significant redeeming quality of the other boats was interior styling, the all-wood decor and living-room like upholstery. The majority of the panelists seemed to be of the opinion that this interior styling was more suitable for a couple planning to move out of their house and live aboard for a long period of time.

More than likely, the conclusion of the Rally in the October issue of SAIL will be that all the Rally boats did an admirable job of fulfilling the mission for which their designers and builders intended. The editors of SAIL under the direction of Erik Nelson should be congratulated for their organization, flexibility and good humor under challenging circumstances. Skip Brown's photography should be outstanding and everyone should get a copy of October SAIL to get the complete story.

My own personal observation (unbiased, of course) is that the J/42 made a significant and surprising impact on the panelists when it came to sailing qualities. For the most part, they had not experienced anything like it. And, secondly, there was no question the panelists on the J/42 welcomed each morning with better health and more vigor, thanks to the captain's private stock of Old Fashioned Quaker oats and brown sugar.


Sailing for Life in Better Sailboats

Sailing is the ultimate freedom, the experience of being at one with nature and the sea, powered only by the wind and one's imagination. It's one of the few "life sports" that offers both a relaxing escape as well as an invigorating challenge. You pick your level of comfort and excitement. Sailing is never the same twice - each time on the water with your sailboat is a unique adventure that can enrich friendships, strengthen family ties, and refresh one's own sense of well-being. How many other outdoor activities can be shared with three or more family generations?  It's been said there are two types of sailors in the world - the young and the young-at-heart.

What a Difference a J Makes

Fulfilling those sailing dreams starts with finding a sailboat that fits you - whether you aspire to sail close to home, cruise to distant shores, or take up the challenge of competitive sailing. Performance differences between sailboats are greater than differences between golf clubs, tennis rackets, skis or cars. A well-designed sailboat, like a good sports car, is an extension of its owner. It could take years of sailing other boats to learn the difference that good design and quality make to one's sailing enjoyment. Or, you can save time and take advantage of what we've designed into every "J."

J/121 Offshore Speedster for 5 or fewer Crew

J/121 offshore speedster sailing off Newport The J/121 is a 40’ offshore speedster that can be day raced or distance sailed by just 5 or fewer crew…. the best short-handed J ever…. capable of winning on any race track while also excelling in daysailing and weekend mode. J/121 redefines offshore sailboat racing as a recreation and shared adventure with friends - fulfilling the growing need to simplify life and reconnect with those you really want to sail with on a boat that’s pure magic to sail. Learn more about J/121 here.

Elegance, Comfort & Style- J/112E

J112E 01 19986J/112E is the newest “E” Series of sport-cruising yachts.  An Evolution of Elegant performance cruising design. This dual- purpose 36 footer has a spacious two-cabin layout and a roomy, comfortable,  cockpit.  Perfect for the annual club cruise, offshore racing or short-handed blue-water sailing.  Learn about J/112E here.

A Family-friendly One-Design & Daysailer - J/88

J88 SolarSailer cockpit 001 18209The J/88 combines big boat feel with sportsboat- like acceleration.  Add a weekend interior, inboard head, engine and huge cockpit and you have a versatile 29 footer.  Blistering upwind speed of 6.5 kts and trailblazing speed offshore means smiles all around as you collect both the silverware and priceless sailing memories. Learn more about J/88 here.

J/99 - Offshore Shorthanded Speedster

J70upwind 1117 665 400 80J/99 is the newest offshore speedster. It combines headroom and comfortable interior accommodation with the tiller-driven response of a sport boat. The sail and deck plan are optimized for easy handling with fewer crew, and incorporate the latest developments from the award-winning J/121 and the new Offshore Sailing World champion J/112E. Learn more about J/99 here.

J/70 - The Sportboat Changing Sailing

J70upwind 1117 665 400 80The J/70 speedster is a fun, fast, stable, 22 footer that can be towed behind a small SUV and ramped launched and rigged by two people.  J/70 sails upwind like her larger sibling (the J/80) and off the wind she simply flies - planing fast in moderate winds. With 1,400+ boats delivered worldwide, the choice is clear. Learn more about J/70 here.

J/Sailing Calendar 2020

JGear marquee 2018The Perfect Gift For People Who Love Sailing!
For 2020 we've created another beautiful calendar for J sailors who love the joys of sailing a J in some of the most spectacular harbors and waters of the world.  Whether you are a cruising, racing or armchair sailor, these stunning sailboat photographs will transport you to wonderful sailing experiences in far away places. 

The 2020 sailing calendar features photos of J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/99, J/111s, J/121, and J/122 sailing in some of the worlds most popular waters; such as Newport, Palma Mallorca, St Barths, Chicago, Chile, Switzerland, Torquay, Valle de Bravo, and Lago di Garda. A great gift for loved ones, family, friends and crew (see gallery here). Order your 2020 J/Calendar today!

Upcoming Sailing Events

Oct 11-12- J/80 Copa de Espana- Coruna, Spain
Oct 17-20- J/88 North American Championship- Rye, New York
Oct 18-20- J/105 Masters Regatta- San Diego, CA
Oct 19-26- J/24 World Championship- Coconut Grove, FL
Oct 19- Rolex Middle Sea Race- Gzira, Malta
Oct 25-27- J/24 East Coast Championship- Annapolis, MD
Oct 25-27- J/Fest Southwest- Lakewood, TX
Oct 25-27- J/105 Lipton Cup Regatta- San Diego, CA
Nov 1-4- French J/80 Championship- La Rochelle, France

Better Sailboats for People Who Love Sailing