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RE: Seaworthiness?


Thanks for all the good advice it was well thought out and showed
considerable experience. You point out several items related to planning I
hadn't considered. 
I notice that others have pointed to structural integrity as the reason not
to venture offshore. One person even mentions a survey that recommends that
it not be sail in the Straight of Juan De Fuca. Is this also related to the
structural design of the boat?
I would like to clarify, I am not insane nor do I have a death wish. I do
like to know the capability of the boat that I'm sailing and I think we all
can agree that there are times even with the best planning that we end up
sailing in heavy weather. 
-----Original Message-----
From: Hal Mueller []
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 1999 11:44 PM
To: Marc Emmons
Cc: sanjuan23@PEAK.ORG
Subject: Re: Seaworthiness?

Marc and others,

I think this is a bad idea, assuming you mean trips point-to-point, 
and not just a daysail out of Newport.  I don't know anything about 
your experience or training, and I don't mean these comments to be 
demeaning--I'm not terribly experienced myself.  I have some US Navy 
experience, have done some cruising in the San Juans on my own, and 
have crewed on one extended bluewater voyage and a couple of coastal 
hops.  A trip down the Oregon coast is not something I would consider 
in a SJ23, for several reasons.  You could probably get away with it. 
But it doesn't strike me as an easy or enjoyable thing to do.  Sailed 
properly, I think the boat could handle the weather if all goes well. 
It is, don't forget, evolved from an old ocean racing design (the 
SJ24, designed to meet quarter-ton rules under the old IOR).  But 
there are some items that could fail, and others that won't work very 
well in heavy weather; by the time you're through compensating you'll 
have an expensive, overweight, crowded, barely adequate boat.  To do 
coastal trips safely (and I don't consider these blue water), you 
need quite a bit more self-sufficiency than you would for bays, 
rivers, and lakes.  For many emergencies offshore, if you can't 
handle them yourself you'll be dead by the time help arrives. 
Crossing your fingers and hoping for good weather is not my idea of 
seamanlike preparation.

First let's think about additional equipment.  You'll certainly want 
a life raft.  There's no really good place on deck to stow it 
securely, so it will have to live below, close enough at hand to be 
useful--so now you have a large duffel bag in the way.  If you don't 
have them already, a Lifesling and perhaps a man overboard pole would 
be very handy for retrieving anyone who leaves the boat without 
permission--you're fighting hypothermia and you don't have much time. 
To keep people onboard, you'll want to rig jackstays and/or add 
anchor points for harness tethers.  But there's not much space around 
the coaming and along the side of the cabin for jackstays and sheets 
to run without interfering with each other.  All of your through-hull 
fittings should already have plugs close by.  Presumably you're 
already equipped with VHF, radar reflector, bilge pumps, flares, 
first aid kit, charts, nav gear (including some sort of manual or 
electronic backup for your GPS), and the knowledge to use all of 
them.  You've checked your standing rigging (wire and hardware) and 
lifeline stanchions.  Add harnesses for all hands, extra water 
containers, food, fuel, some way to rig a jury rudder, tools to cut 
away the rig if you're dismasted, and you're probably ok for a trip 
in good weather.  Oh yes, and seasickness medication (I like 
Sturgeron or mecklazine).

Now to life underway.  Unless you've upgraded your galley, cooking 
underway will be a PITA and not very safe--so sandwiches and snacks, 
and if you're brave some tea or hot soup.  How many people aboard? 
Where are they sleeping?  That awful pipe berth in the starboard 
quarter might be the best bed on the boat.  You'll roll around in the 
v-berth (wedging yourself in with duffel bags helps), and the settees 
will be useless without adding lee cloths.  If you plan on doing any 
sleeping, you'll need at least 1 other person along who's completely 
qualified to singlehand the boat.  Don't forget to tie down 
everything belowdecks.

The Oregon coast is not a forgiving place to sail.  There aren't very 
many harbors, the ones that are there can be treacherous to get into 
in bad weather, and there's no other place to hide if you get caught 
out in a storm.  So you need a heavy weather plan.  Storm jib? 
Second set of reef points in the main?  Extra halyards?   Plan to 
stay wet since there's no place to stow wet clothing.  That 
centerboard, which is so nice for raising to get into tight harbors, 
is likely  to bang around and up and down.  Have you replaced the 
pivot pin?  Is your cable in good shape?  If it gets too bad, you can 
drop sails and go under power--as long as you don't mind fooling with 
an outboard in heavy seas, motor coming up out of the water 
sometimes, and just hope no repair work is needed.  Would want to 
keep the lazerette secured to keep water out, and have a way to keep 
hatch boards in place. You should have a way to operate your bilge 
pumps while you're in the cockpit.  If the windows or foredeck hatch 
fail you'll need plywood covers to keep the water out.

I would suggest, as a warmup, if you're determined to do this, that 
you put in at the south end of Puget Sound and do a continuous 48 or 
72 hour run north.  This would give you a chance to work the kinks 
out of underway life while still in protected waters (and with a lot 
more interesting stuff to look).  Actually there are plenty of spots 
in Puget Sound and the gulf that can give you a taste of heavy 

At 2:42 PM -0700 8/25/99, Marc Emmons wrote:
>I'm considering taking my SJ23 off the coast of Oregon for short trips. I
>have discussed this many friends who have flat out called me crazy. They
>state that the SJ23 wasn't ever intended for Blue Water use and wouldn't
>even handle the seas in moderate conditions.
>Are there people who sail the SJ23 offshore and did they have to make any
>modifications to improve her seaworthiness?
>San Juan 23 Internet Fleet:
>San Juan 23 Tech Tips:
>mailing list commands:

Hal Mueller      
Seattle, Washington        (206) 297-9574

San Juan 23 Internet Fleet:
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