By Dana Paxton
Subscribing to the theory that "smaller is better," Tom Linskey and his wife Harriet purchased their J/32 "Independence" to serve as the next vessel in a long line of cruising boats that have taken the Linskeys to exotic and fascinating places around the world.
Tom, describe a little of your sailing background?
TL: My wife and I grew up on a bunch of dinghies and my Dad had a couple of race boats. Independence was a Yankee 38 Sparkman & Stephens design. We started with two Coronado 25s. I guess you could say that we were a typical West Coast family.
What boat did you own before the J/32?
TL: A Bristol Channel Cutter. It was 28 feet on deck and a great long-distance cruiser. It was stable and could carry a lot of stuff but didn't go to windward very well. We actually built it in our backyard in Costa Mesa, California. It took five years to build. I was collecting wheel weights from garages and having them melted down for ballast. It was pretty much a slow project.
What kind of sailing did you do?
TL: We did a lot of cruising. Went to Mexico from California across to the South Pacific and then to Australia and Japan, where we worked for a while. We sold it there and moved back to New England. We were gone from the States for a total of nine years.
What were you looking for in your next boat?
TL: We wanted a boat that was quicker, sailed better and more modern. With my job at SAIL magazine (Tom was the senior editor) I sailed every new boat on the market in the past five years between 25 and 45 feet.
Why the J32?
TL: The J32 sails well and makes sense to me. J Boats didn't try to cram a huge aft berth in the boat, which would raise up the cockpit. The cockpit is deep and secure and we love it. With the lockers you have great storage. We can put our toolboxes, etc. in there. The hard dinghy is on foredeck, but its sailing rig and eight fenders are also aboard. You need that kind of storage.
What particular sailing features do you like?
TL: It's a fast boat and goes great upwind. What first attracted me was the feel on the helm. When you really push the boat (in windier conditions), it doesn't spin out. When a boat is too wide they round up, but this boat is a moderate boat with the beam in the middle of the boat. It's really fun to drive.
What are your sailing plans?
TL: Last summer we sailed around Buzzards Bay [Mass.] and did a few 2-3 day local cruises getting to know the boat. We're both a little rusty since we sold the last boat in '91. We shouldn't have waited so long to buy another boat! We want to go up to Maine this year to get in some more cruising.
So is smaller really better?
TL: Definitely. When we were cruising we were always one of the smaller boats out there. All the others would say, "You two are either brave, crazy or stupid." We thought people on larger boats were all of those things! We can handle our boat. There are no huge systems to keep track of. We like small boats. A big boat is like driving a truck. On a big boat you can let off the mainsail and not really feel it. On the J32 everything you do has a great feel.