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Cruising a J-24

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About 30 years ago, I had a lot of fun crewing on a J-24 for some local PHRF races with a total crew of 3.  I really liked the boat.  I lived on a Dufour 35 at the time  and it seemed like a MG midget in comparison.  Much older, much poorer now, and inspired by Webb Chiles on his (for all practical purposes) circumnavigation in (on) a Moore 24 at the "experienced" age of over 70.   So....has anyone modified a J-24 for some serious single handed cruising?  Like ocean crossing cruising?  I like the simplicity, the flush deck, the easy sailing......I have read about the sinkability (cockpit lockers?), the sort of not really self righting.

Given that single handed sailing will not have crew weight, has anyone added a bulb for stability and improved self righting? Stores instead of a few peoples on the rail maintaining sailing weight?  Anyone done it?  Totally stupid idea?  The small size, actually a lot of room below as long as you don't want to stand up, fractional rig,  lightish weight and decent 5 knt SB performance sort of appeal to me......too old to stop a 20K lb boat by myself, or pull up the damn anchor needed for that boat.

By the way, I have a 1988 new to me Dehler 34 right now that I am about to put a lot of work into but am finding that even it is sort of loaded up at times for my....um....retired ass.  At this point, putting the work into a J-24 for single handed cruising might be more cost effective and more usable.  Overthinking my choices.

I have done some google searches for cruising in a J-24 but nothing really useful showed up.  Thanks!

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Really? 

I had a J24 around 1980 and it was a really good boat for its time and maybe still has a place in the right area for one design racing. I took it to Catalina a few times and it was fine for someone in their 20's. Actually a big interior compared to the Moore 24. Then I had a Moore 24. The only thing the J has over the Moore was interior volume. I took the Moore out in really ugly weather with confidence. Never worried about the boat. If I had been in the J, I would have been really worried. Or realistically, I would never have even put the boat in the water.  (please no hate mail from Js, I had 3 other J's after the 24 and love the brand) I just don't see the 24 as a mini cruiser. Webb is a great guy and done some amazing adventures. But his latest with a Moore, I would assume is partially based on the quality and seaworthiness of the design. Lots of Moores have been to Hawaii. Webb just took it to a new extreme. How many J24's go to Hawaii?

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I guess that is what I am asking.....how many J-24's go to Hawaii?  Has anyone added a ballast bulb or something to help the things stand up?  Fortunately, there are a bunch of J-24s on trailers available seemingly everywhere for a decent price, not so much with the Moores.

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I have raced a j24 over Hawaii for past 7 years and they can handle heavy winds in the Alenuihaha channel well but, I have tried to sleep one night on the boat on a calm evening and it is not comfortable by any measure.  The small keel doesn't provide much stability at all. I tried a hammock, all the berths but never fell asleep.  Cruising a j24 may be ok in calm waters but anything with swell you will be wanting more keel.  

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Back in the late 70s / early 80s, my family cruised extensively in a J/24.  One adult plus one big dog plus one or two teenagers. We covered the east, south and south-west coasts of Ireland, and were often on board for a week or two.  In Irish weather, which means cold and lots of rain.

We had a wonderful time.  The boat was as fast as a 30-footer in most conditions, and we often outsailed 40-footers downwind.   So we had fast passage times and much less work to achieve them.

Our boat was almost standard. We varnished and tidied the interior, but AFAICR we added no fixtures.  We used the standard gimballed 2-burner stove, washed the dishes in a bucket, and stored water in 5-litre plastic jugs which had been used before for some food purpose.  Food storage in plastic plates slid under the cockpit, and a bucket-and-chuck-it toilet. It was camp cruising, but a big step up from our previous unballasted open boat.  We thought having an actual cabin was superb luxury.

The only major mod we made was to seal off the cockpit lockers from the cabin.  This was a mod on all new boats after an Irish J/24 sank when the lockers opened in a knockdown, and it was v easily made to older boats.

So, now that I'm the same age as my parents were then, would I do it again?  Yes, if I had a low budget and a teenage crew, I might; it would still be fun.  With adult crew it might be a bit cramped, and adults might not be so keen on bouncing around the deck to change headsails, reef etc.

But single-handed?  No way.

We had the original deck layout with everything led back to the cockpit.  The racing boats all changed that in the early 80s to involve more crew, which wrecked it for cruising.  You could reinstate the old deck layout, but ...

The boat simply isn't directionally stable enough to do single-handed sail changes ... and if you started adding roller headsail, revised mainsail reefing, an autopilot and a 12v battery plus charging, then you're adding a pile of stuff which makes the boat heavier and slower.  That misses the point of sailing a J/24 in the first place.

And here's the biggie: angle of vanishing stability (AVS).  A J/24's AVS is just over 90deg, which is barely more than a dinghy.  A fit and active crew coastal cruising in daylight can handle that.  But if you add in any one of single-handed, offshore and darkness, the chances of a 90 degree knockdown are way increased.  If you inverted and sank on your own, your chances of survival would be negligible.

In theory you could add a keel bulb, but you'd need a lot of extra structure to do it.  The std keel mounting is barely adequate as designed, and would need  to be radically redesiqned to take a bulb.

Some contemporaneous designs such as the Moore 24 had much better stability.  Most newer designs have much better stability.

That size boat is great for coastal cruising. But if I really wanted to cruise fast and light again, then I'd much prefer a newer design like a J/80, which has the stability.  Or better still, one of the v clever French designs such as the Django 770

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Wow, cruising a J24 around the Irish coasts, that must have taught you and your family 2 or 3 things! I suspect that we would get on well on a boat, as a kid in the mid 80s I remember sailing in North Brittany and the channel islands on a 23 footer (not as cool as a J24 and more cruisey) with my parents and it was ace despite the lack of space and the humidity. But yes a Django is definitely way better than the boats that were commons in the 80s.

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@Panoramix

Yes, we had great fun, and we learnt a heck of a lot.

It left me with a lifelong aversion to leadmines for coastal cruising.  Our sailing was so much more fun and far easier than all the big heavy boats, and anchoring and mooring was much easier too.  We were dinghy sailors, and sailed the J like a big dinghy, actively driving it ... but unlike a dinghy we didn't have to use toe straps, we could have hot tea on deck and crash out on a quarter berth if we needed a break.

I have many wonderful memories of those cruises.

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@TwoLegged

Yes simplicity is underrated, you can spend a couple of weeks on a small boat as a family and have a great time without hot water and fridge.

Last year I spent a week with my wife and daughters who aren't natural sailors on a Armagnac (OK very plush compared to a J24!) and they enjoyed it and are now asking for more.  This year we are going to spend 10 days on my dad "big boat" (a 37 footer), on one hand being able to take showers and sail across the channel averaging 6 or 7 knots not worrying about breezy conditions and fog is nice but on the other hand I won't be as relaxed during gybes, docking and in the choice of anchorages (last year I anchored in the Glénans with less than 10cm under the keel at low tide, it was sand and repositioning the boat even without a windlass wasn't a big deal if an hour before low tide I had realised that the tide was bigger in reality than on the tide tables). It's also nice to let everyone play with the sheets and the tiller just saying "get the tell tales to fly" we need to head 280 on the compass. With big sails and a heavy boat I don't feel confident doing this.

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I note that while no  J-24's have gone to Hawaii, several Merit 25's have.  I would MUCH rather have a Merit 25 for that trip and they're available around the country for small quantities of money.

Have you ever been INSIDE a Moore 24?  There is no room. None. Zilch. Getting into the berth is an exercise in contortionism. Sure, it's secure but it's just crazy.   The Merit is *much* more open and comfortable and still a good solid boat that performs. They're easy to fit a windvane to, as well.  BTW, I'd 10x over rather have a Merit 25 for that trip than a Capri 25.

 

Keeping it all at under 25 feet, another good choice in that size range, though slower would be a Yamaha 25.  For that matter, there are a mess of late 70's quarter-tonners that would do the job.  My neighbor has a Dufour 1800 AKA Dufour 25 that's pretty comfy and well built.  It's not a rocketship downwind but goes to weather just fine and is a match for my S2 7.9 is really light air.  I'd take that boat out into the wild blue.   How about an old skool Cal 25?  Pull off the ginormous hatch and build a solid little raised pilothouse thingamabob over it for some more headroom.   - http://www.cal25.com/page11/page42/WorldCruiser.html - 

I'd beef up the beam under the mast on the old Cal-25, and re-lass the hull to deck joint...maybe even grind off the outside flange and just glass the shit out of the joint on the outside...a messy job but not difficult.  One nice thing about that boat is that  The keel is molded onto the boat. It ain't gonna fall off.  One less thing to worry about.

 

A favorite of mine happens to be the Puget-Sound built Ranger 24.  I'd just seriously beef up the outboard rudder system, first, before trying to cross an ocean.  Inboard rudders are easier to fit windvanes to, than outboard rudders, though you can dedicate your outboard rudder to a trim-tab system and that will work just fine.

And of course there's the wonderful Sparkman and Stevens Yankee Dolphin 24.  One of those has gone to Hawaii.

 

All of these, available for not much $$, would be way better than a J-24, IMHO.

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3 hours ago, Alan H said:

I note that while no  J-24's have gone to Hawaii, several Merit 25's have.  I would MUCH rather have a Merit 25 for that trip and they're available around the country for small quantities of money.

Have you ever been INSIDE a Moore 24?  There is no room. None. Zilch. Getting into the berth is an exercise in contortionism. Sure, it's secure but it's just crazy.   The Merit is *much* more open and comfortable and still a good solid boat that performs. They're easy to fit a windvane to, as well.  BTW, I'd 10x over rather have a Merit 25 for that trip than a Capri 25.

 

Keeping it all at under 25 feet, another good choice in that size range, though slower would be a Yamaha 25.  For that matter, there are a mess of late 70's quarter-tonners that would do the job.  My neighbor has a Dufour 1800 AKA Dufour 25 that's pretty comfy and well built.  It's not a rocketship downwind but goes to weather just fine and is a match for my S2 7.9 is really light air.  I'd take that boat out into the wild blue.   How about an old skool Cal 25?  Pull off the ginormous hatch and build a solid little raised pilothouse thingamabob over it for some more headroom.   - http://www.cal25.com/page11/page42/WorldCruiser.html - 

I'd beef up the beam under the mast on the old Cal-25, and re-lass the hull to deck joint...maybe even grind off the outside flange and just glass the shit out of the joint on the outside...a messy job but not difficult.  One nice thing about that boat is that  The keel is molded onto the boat. It ain't gonna fall off.  One less thing to worry about.

 

A favorite of mine happens to be the Puget-Sound built Ranger 24.  I'd just seriously beef up the outboard rudder system, first, before trying to cross an ocean.  Inboard rudders are easier to fit windvanes to, than outboard rudders, though you can dedicate your outboard rudder to a trim-tab system and that will work just fine.

And of course there's the wonderful Sparkman and Stevens Yankee Dolphin 24.  One of those has gone to Hawaii.

 

All of these, available for not much $$, would be way better than a J-24, IMHO.

Have you been on a cabin top moore? Way more room below!! 

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When it comes to cruising on a 24’er a certain well known “mariner” who used to frequent this site selected and has considerable time offshore on a San Juan 24.

 Take advantage of his research and there is no reason to reinvent the wheel here.

 Head over to Craig’s List, plop down $500 and you will be ready to follow in his wake.

 OK, maybe not the wake part.

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5 hours ago, Alan H said:

there are a mess of late 70's quarter-tonners that would do the job

It depends how you define the job :)

If the job is "seaworthy small yacht with modest sailing performance ... then yes, pick your quarter-pounder.  With or without salad fragments and sauce.

However many of them have classic IOR masthead rigs, which are an abomination for cruising. Either lots of headsail changes on a small boat which doesn't like weight on the bow, or hobble your performance with a roller headsail covering way too big a range of areas. Plus, on a small boat with an outboard motor (as many quarter-pounder have), you'll want to sail on and off anchor/moorings, which is not so easy with a ribbon main.

And also the earlier quarter-pounders are heavy; later ones tend to have weirder hull distortions.

So from a handling POV I'd prefer a non-IOR boat. 

That brings me back to how to define the job. I'm assuming that since the OP currently owns a Dehler 34 and was considering a J/24, the goal is better performance than a small IOR boat.

 

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I politely beg to differ.

You only change headsails all the time on an old production quarter pounder because you're trying to eke the last .2 knot out of the thing when you race it. If you don't bother, and just go with a 100% all the time, and drag out a big 150% when it's really light for hours on end, then "changing headsails" isn't an issue.  As for the ruller furling, so what if you "hobble performnce" a bit. He's CRUISING.  Not racing other quarter pounders.

 

Yes, the older  production quarter tonners tend to be heavier, definitely heavier than a J-24.  When cruising, is that a bad thing?  "Hull distortions"  existed on lots of custom boats,  and certainly on some production boats but there were lots of "technically quarter tonners" or "technically half tonners" which  didn't have such things.  A lot of the 70's Cal boats were semi-advertised as quarter or half tonners, for example.

 

But you know, people cruise all kinds of little boats.  Our Dude, if he's just dyin' to cruise a J-24 can probably do it, as long as he doesn't try to cross an ocean in one.

 

 


 

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