Bermuda 40 vs Swan 44?

T sailor

Member
471
113
Chesapeake
Survey Wednesday! It will be squeezed into an afternoon as the surveyor added it on to a morning survey the same day, on the request of the broker to avoid a month delay in performing a survey. 

Added to that, with trucking the boat 500 miles it is impractical financially to put it in the water for a sea-trial, so the motor will only be tested on a hose without being under load, not ideal at all. But the several thousands of dollars to commission and decommission the boat will go toward preparing for trucking. This of course is nerve-wracking but almost universally this is the approach taken according to multiple sources. I'd like to hear opinions on whether this is just a really bad idea to not splash the boat and check the various systems in the water especially the rig and engine. It has almost new instruments and the autopilot has recently been worked on.

Therefore, any suggestions on how to maximize the survey time and especially weak points to watch for on the J Boat and indeed any 30 year old boat would be welcome. Some items I have found on reviewing J Boats: 

-the original Harken lower rudder bearing is prone to failure and the recommended replacement part is $2500

-there are various other areas where the J/40 is prone to high moisture in the core. Especially around the genoa tracks and chain plates. In prior surveys there has been some question of moisture in various areas which ultimately was felt to not need immediate attention. 

-the cabin sole is a total PITA to replace and this one has a little dark wood on the edges by the settees supposedly from water tanks weeping when heeled
When I bought my boat it was out of the water, rig out and a $400 truck ride each way to get launched.  I opted not to launch the boat but was fortunate that a previous buyer had gone through that trouble and I had the report from the mechanic who did the sea trial.  It took some of the risk out, but not all.  We did run the engine with a hose on land but without any load, it really doesn't tell you much.  Ultimately it worked out, but I do have some issues with the engine under WOT (black soot in the exhaust).  My mechanic here believes the injectors should be serviced and I will likely have that done.  Only way to have found that would have been to do the sea trial myself.  If I replace the injectors it would still cost about the same as it would have for me to launch and sea trial the boat myself.  I guess you place your bet and roll the dice.....   

I don't think there is any way to verify the bearings need work without pulling the rudder.  If it is tight with no slop and turns easily, then most likely you are good, but something to consider.  

The tanks should be checked.  I suppose you could get some leakage from the inspection ports in the tank but I would investigate that a bit further.  

I really think the biggest issues with J boats is water intrusion into the core so that would be my focus.  Atleast it was when I was shopping.  The hardware and equipment is all likely getting up in age so any component over 20 years old is overdue for replacement.  The boats were generally well built (to a price point) and equipped with higher quality gear than most production boats.  It is not a Hinckley or Swan, but it is better than most production boats and will sail really nicely.  

Good luck and keep us updated...

T

 
The J/40 is a great boat.   She will provide terrific sailing on the Great Lakes, and if your plans change, she will also be a nice cruising boat to explore the Bahamas and beyond.   We have a J/110.   The J/Boats build quality is good.   But they will not be as 'bulletproof' as a classic plastic yacht, J/Boats always aimed for light weight boats to maximize performance, even in their cruising boats.   Water intrusion in the deck is the biggest worry, and some is to be expected.   As you state above, most of this can be repaired.   Deck gel coat crazing seems to be common problem.  Ours had some when I bought it 12 years ago, and it has gotten a little worse, but it is only cosmetic.   We have (knock on wood) not had any moisture problems in the deck other than a small amount by the anchor chain hawse pipe and the flagpole socket on the transom.   The stanchions and genoa tracks have all stayed tight.   I've sailed a J/37C extensively, which is closer to the J/40, and they sail really well.  Surprisingly well, even when loaded with a lot of cruising gear.   There will be some surprises in the survey (there always are) and likely a few things you learn in the first month of ownership that are disappointing, but remember you are buying a 30+ year old boat for 20% of the cost of a new boat.  You can replace a lot of worn out parts and still be way, way ahead.   And a J/40 will sail as well as any 40' racer/cruiser you can buy today.   I hope the purchase and delivery go smoothly!

 
Last edited by a moderator:

kinardly

Super Anarchist
I would not automatically assume plugged injectors without some verification. You could have worn rings, indicating a rebuild is in your future. Put it in the water and see if it will make rated RPM at full throttle. If it won't, have a mechanic run a full throttle compression check. Smoking exhaust from plugged injectors often clears up after running hard for an hour or so.

 
At least two of the B-40s now for sale have circumnavigated. At least two of the B-40s for sale now have been lived on by a couple for ten years straight.  This is surprising to me. I have even seen Baby Swan 36s that have circumnavigated, one is for sale. That is a more economical choice I could still live with.  I’m pretty sure the same is true for the Swan 44 despite the draft.  Now, if I was only going to the Bahamas or gunk-holing the Chesapeake I would choose a shoal draft boat. But I am not sure of the future, and I am used to making decisions on the best information available so maybe that would favor one or another, the consensus seems to be for the Swan. Changing boats can get expensive. 

I’m getting advice it is better to be in a shallow harbor with a big boat than big seas with a little boat, and that the Big Swan is very livable. There is a giant marina in Subic Bay $300 per month, so I could live there and explore Asia in the future for example. 

I am a little surprised there is not more fervor for the B-40 even though it is less practical. That speaks volumes for the Swan.
Listen, after sailing the Bahamas for over a decade we sold our Sabre 38. We decided to charter every place we want to sail, except the Bahamas. For the Bahamas, local sailing, and racing, we got an S2 7.9. It has a 13” draft with the board up, and we put a pull down with a releasing cam cleat on the swing rudder. She sails like a witch, also, and can go ANYWHERE. A couple of days at anchor, couple of days drunk in a resort, couple of days in a marina is how we cruise the Bahamas, as a rule. At that price point and draft, you can go anyplace and spend whatever you want, and you never need to work on the boat. We enjoy it. 

 

estarzinger

Super Anarchist
7,776
1,209
but don't let anyone tell you that you can't cruise the Bahamas with 7' of draft. 
yes.

But equally dont let anyone tell you you can't go anywhere you ever could want to go in a B40 - look up what the B40 Rhodora  - Bob & Beth Lux - did . . . . hint CCA Blue Water medal.  And Bob essentially single handed the sailing part.

 

accnick

Super Anarchist
4,050
2,968
yes.

But equally dont let anyone tell you you can't go anywhere you ever could want to go in a B40 - look up what the B40 Rhodora  - Bob & Beth Lux - did . . . . hint CCA Blue Water medal.  And Bob essentially single handed the sailing part.
Absolutely!

 
Falmouth Maine is a beautiful place, I arrived a little early and started poking around the boat. Overall, the boat is about what I expected but I was hoping for a little less crazing on the deck gelcoat. People say this is the brand of gelcoat they use but this is nine years before that era of gelcoat and seems as much their manufacturing as the gelcoat quality. There is no comparison to the Hinckley in condition or hardware. The hull is so poorly faired that the shape of the balsa core blocks is plainly visible in dozens of places. 

Just tapped out the hull. There is a 12x24” high moisture dull thud area above and below the waterline on the port side and below the toe-rail 12” x 12’ starboard with very high moisture readings but normal percussion. Further the rudder has high moisture and dullness to percussion aft of midline which worsens toward the bottom.

Not looking good so far.

 

kent_island_sailor

Super Anarchist
28,572
6,313
Kent Island!
Falmouth Maine is a beautiful place, I arrived a little early and started poking around the boat. Overall, the boat is about what I expected but I was hoping for a little less crazing on the deck gelcoat. People say this is the brand of gelcoat they use but this is nine years before that era of gelcoat and seems as much their manufacturing as the gelcoat quality. There is no comparison to the Hinckley in condition or hardware. The hull is so poorly faired that the shape of the balsa core blocks is plainly visible in dozens of places. 

Just tapped out the hull. There is a 12x24” high moisture dull thud area above and below the waterline on the port side and below the toe-rail 12” x 12’ starboard with very high moisture readings but normal percussion. Further the rudder has high moisture and dullness to percussion aft of midline which worsens toward the bottom.

Not looking good so far.
The Maine Curse :(

In another thread about Maine I just back from looking at a boat with the decks all crazed to hell. My 48 year-old boat has a bit of crazing, but apparently a lot less than newer boats :unsure:

Anyway, whatever issues Bermuda 40s have, they were built well and go about anyplace including The Loop.

 
image.jpeg Worth reading the whole thread, this is the moisture meter used by the surveyor and he says it is the best of all he has tried. $40 at Home Depot. Next time I will do a self-survey prior to paying $28 per foot for a legal survey. 

 

kent_island_sailor

Super Anarchist
28,572
6,313
Kent Island!
View attachment 439403 Worth reading the whole thread, this is the moisture meter used by the surveyor and he says it is the best of all he has tried. $40 at Home Depot. Next time I will do a self-survey prior to paying $28 per foot for a legal survey. 
Just ordered one. I curse my solid hull on really hot and cold days and otherwise love the lack of wood in the middle of it. It will be too hot and too cold and flexible and not full of water 100 years from now :)

 

eliboat

Super Anarchist
2,572
974
https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1999/j-boats-j-42-3602772/
 

J42 is a much better looking boat than the 40 IMO.  Very sought after, hence high prices.  This one is reasonably priced... perhaps there is a reason, but worth a look I should think.  Also there are a few j44s at a reasonable price.  Those are fabulous boats that still look great and have stood up to time performance wise.  

 
https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1999/j-boats-j-42-3602772/
 

J42 is a much better looking boat than the 40 IMO.  Very sought after, hence high prices.  This one is reasonably priced... perhaps there is a reason, but worth a look I should think. 
I wish someone would by Triomphe and give her a good home. She's been for sale for ages. Needs a lot of work, but if you're into it, she could be a very good deal.

More about Triomphehttps://groups.google.com/g/j4x-owners-group/c/evh6PTlE5Yw/m/7j0-52EUAQAJ

 

Crash

Super Anarchist
5,369
1,225
SoCal
Falmouth Maine is a beautiful place, I arrived a little early and started poking around the boat. Overall, the boat is about what I expected but I was hoping for a little less crazing on the deck gelcoat. People say this is the brand of gelcoat they use but this is nine years before that era of gelcoat and seems as much their manufacturing as the gelcoat quality. There is no comparison to the Hinckley in condition or hardware. The hull is so poorly faired that the shape of the balsa core blocks is plainly visible in dozens of places. 

Just tapped out the hull. There is a 12x24” high moisture dull thud area above and below the waterline on the port side and below the toe-rail 12” x 12’ starboard with very high moisture readings but normal percussion. Further the rudder has high moisture and dullness to percussion aft of midline which worsens toward the bottom.

Not looking good so far.
Something is weird here...having looked at 100's of J/boats on the hard, I've never seen one where "the hull is so poorly faired that the shape of the balsa core blocks is plainly visible in dozens of places"

That doesn't mean to imply that isn't what you found, but I'd say it is well outside the norm.  Maybe the boat has already been "peeled" to some level and not properly re-glassed and faired???

Having repaired a significant portion of the deck of an S2 9.1 that had been mapped by a surveyor with both moisture meter and percussion, I can honestly state that while 80% accurate, the meter did detect areas of high moisture that when cut open proved to be previous repairs with solid epoxy, and area that tapped out as totally delaminated that were, if fact, still well adhered.  Again, most (80% or so) of the mapping was accurate.  But not all of it was.  The only way to know for sure what is going on in there was to drill/cut into the core/thru the skin and see what was actually going on.

The newest J-40 is approaching 30 years old.  The oldest is approaching 40.  To have to make some repairs to the core of a boat that age isn't necessarily to be unexpected.  I get that you may not want to buy such a boat.  That's ok, and is your call.  But for the era, it's not unusual nor unexpected.  S2, which has a great reputation for build quality had the same issues.  So did Pearson, and Tarten and many others of that time frame.

Plus a J-40 will sail rings around a Hinckley 40.  Even a J-40 whose entire core is soaking wet.  Not to say "sailing performance" is king.  The B-40 is a great boat.  All boats are a compromise.  The J-40 means one set of compromises, the B-40 means a different set of compromises.  But there are ALWAYS compromises.

Good Luck!

 

longy

Overlord of Anarchy
7,443
1,565
San Diego
Having 'print through' of the core is a sign of excess heat. There is NO fairing on the outer skin of a J boat, they are all built in female molds. Heat causes the resin to shrink further - and the kerf cuts in the balsa form vertical walls in the laminate, which prevent the skin from shrinking. So you get squares showing on the surface. This is normally only happens to lightly built boats (racers), and usually when the original color was white, but have been re-painted dark. Have been told that dark colors require extra laminate because of this

 
Some interesting points have been raised. The Bermuda 40 has been off the table for quite a while for me. I think everyone would agree that a pristine J/42 is more valuable than a pristine J/40 and far more expensive.  For me, I have looked at two J Boats in a row that are in need of tens of thousands of dollars in work just in the categories of deck and hull rot/gelcoat failure. My new rule is not to drive more than three hours to inspect a J Boat, or to consider boats not on the Great Lakes already. When I looked at the J/32 the J boat dealer said J’s were only cored to the waterline, maybe I misunderstood him. 
 

I will post a picture of the J/40 dark blue hull in which a tree reflection is blurred over the block shaped areas. This boat has been Awlgrip painted in 2003, and I did not consider that high skin temperatures could cause the balsa to shrink back.  It appears cosmetic, but begs the question whether the layup in the mold was done incorrectly. I have never seen anything like it. I have a black C22 and it reads 190 degrees on the outer hull on a sunny day with an infrared pyrometer. 
 

The standard buying contracts forbid destructive testing during a survey, so I must assume any area of high moisture readings by meter to be legitimate problems. The below the waterline area also failed percussion. Any area with high moisture readings near a hull-deck joint must be regarded with suspicion. As a reference, according to the surveyor core replacement costs average $2400 per square foot. It becomes a logistical problem to have the owner fix the boat prior to acceptance, so any offer I would make has to have a large margin for error. 
 

J Boats use organic core to keep them light and stiff, a great compromise but I have mentioned my disdain for cored hulls below the waterline and now the very first cored boat I paid to have surveyed has wet core below the waterline. 
 

If I lived locally to the boat I might be more eager to take on this project, but I informed the broker my highest offer would be at least $20,000 less due to the survey and it is best just to give me back the deposit.  This boat for my use would become a project boat taking up my entire winter removing and rebedding deck hardware, fixing deck core rot areas, sanding cracked gelcoat, spraying Awlgrip on the deck and hull after fairing out the ugly spots, rebuilding the rudder... and then hoping nothing else big turns up or the 18 year old diesel doesn’t die on me. This boat is now a hard sell to  A34F1404-9DBD-4C4E-89F2-8F41059F57FF.jpeg buyers that prefer sailing to boat building. 

A nice J/35 would go for less than the deck and hull Awlgrip jobs alone. 

 
Top