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Cruising in a J/120 in 2021


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There have been threads about cruising in a J/120 or J/130. But not recently. The J/120's are getting a bit older. Do you still think a good specimen is safe and seaworthy to take cruising far from shore? Too far for helicopter rescue?

I guess what is giving me pause is the sump problems some boats had. But there is also the recent problems with Jameerah. I really don't want something like that to happen to me! Do you lump that in with "sump issues on low hull numbers" or is it something different?

I also know that there were a lot of J/120's made, and they tend to actually get sailed. So they may be over-represented in "incidents" simply because they are so popular.

And I know lots of J/120's have done and continue to do ocean passages in races. I feel like there is a bit more of a buddy system there which makes it a bit safer. As long as you can get word out, someone behind you can try to rescue you or someone in front can turn around if you are last. LOL.

So how about it, would you let your loved ones sail in a J/120 from California to Tahiti? How about Easter Island and/or Pitcairn?

I WANT the answer to be "yes." I am hoping that you will disabuse me of my optimism if the answer really should be "no."

 

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From comments on the thread it sounds like Jameerah had original construction sump issues that were never corrected even after people were aware of them.   As you say, lots of J/120's are doing ocean passages with no problems. Each boat's condition depends on how well it has been handled (e.g.: running into things, or not) and maintained, however. Hire a surveyor to check out the boat if it worries you.  

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I have a J120 that I both race and cruise.  The sump issues are well documented in the early hulls (Jameerah was hull #10) but there also stories of newer hulls having issues.  The reality is that any older boat has the potential to have issues, especially since it is very likely that they have been grounded at some point in their life.  This comment goes beyond J/120's.  Any performance boat with a deep keel should have a thorough examination of the keel attachment area before going offshore.  With all that being said, the 120 is a true dual purpose boat.  This summer we did an offshore race and then loaded the boat up and cruised for a month with my kids.  I think for two people it would be an ok long distance cruiser.  In my case, with a family of 4 I felt like I would want something bigger for any real long term cruising but that is purely based on my own families comfort requirements.  I also think for crossing the Pacific you are really going to want to add more fuel capacity as well as water or a water maker.  The problem is that you will run out of places to put all the food and the extra tankage and other equipment you will want/need for a long passage.  My family is not a minimalist type.  I think that you need to consider the type of person you are to determine if you would be comfortable on a 120 for such an extended period.  I think that coupled with the tankage would give me more hesitation than the keel sump, but that is just me.  There is a forum member here who sailed his 120 across the Atlantic.  He is more knowledgeable about the benefits and limitations of the boat for that usage case. (Roleur on SV Shearwater).    

Now, all that being said, the 120 is a great boat.  Very well mannered and handles exceptionally well.  It is a pretty easy boat to sail and will sail fast without alot of fuss.  Good luck in your search!

T

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We crossed the Atlantic eastbound (aka northern route) in 2012 and raced from SF to Hawaii (delivery then from Hawaii to the PNW) in 2014 on our J/120.  We also raced it around Vancouver Island.  Would definitely sail that boat to the South Pacific.  It is actually a very tough boat in general, and a blast to sail, especially for a cruising boat.  

We crossed the Atlantic (20 days) on less than 1 tank of diesel.  So, yeah the fuel capacity isn't great, but the boat sails so much better than a typical cruising boat, you will motor far less.  

We originally bought our J/120 because it was the fastest boat we could find in our price range that we would want to cross oceans with.  I think it lived up to that marvelously.  I miss the boat now, but we are finding we are racing more and cruising much, much less, so we bought a more race oriented boat (J/111).  

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