Wednesday, April 29, 2020

J/Newsletter- April 29th, 2020

sunset in ChileWe continue to live in difficult times and there is no question the perniciousness of a virus with no known natural evolution is causing some of the brightest minds in the healthcare and bio-tech world many long sleepless nights. A number of them are sailors and getting both first and second-hand perspectives on their extraordinary efforts is, needless to say, both admirable and humbling. Admirable in their fierce determination to overcome an unseen adversary hatched on the world in the most unfortunate circumstances. Humbling in that the collective intellect is so sharply focused like the tip of a nanotech spear at a 10 micron-sized enemy; an extraordinary virtual "special operations" team from around the globe hoping to find a solution soon... whatever that may be.

As for sailor's aspirations to dream about their favorite pastime, it appears that may soon be possible to get on the water in socially responsible ways. No question, sailing is a wonderful way to experience a sense of adventure, of freedom, a way to enhance and grow the spirit, and experience the natural beauty around you.

Recall previous newsletters honoring poems from Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" and John Masefield's "Sea Fever". For many of us, the "call of the sea", flying down track with "the running tide", to experience "the road not taken" is part of a sailor's moral, emotional, psychic compass, a way forward despite all obstacles thrown before us. That opportunity will take place again.... soon!

Brad Read and his team at Sail Newport have been contemplating ways to provide sailors in New England that outlet. Perhaps "family races" on their J/22s on weekday evenings, or "couples" racing with just main and jibs...all falling well within the guidelines of covid-19 virus mitigation.

Perhaps the J/22, J/24, J/70, J/80, J/88, J/105, J/109, and J/111 one-design classes could consider the same ideas. Certainly, it would be incredibly easy to organize! New Englands. Great Lakes. Long Island Sound. Cowes. Lago di Garda. Monaco. San Francisco. Alster Lake- Hamburg. Algarrobo. Lake Constance. Hong Kong. Stockholm/ Marstrand. Copenhagen. The Hague. Moscow. Sochi. St Petersburg. Sydney/ Melbourne.

There are hundreds of family owners of J/Boats everywhere, plus thousands more that can sail and race as fun-loving "double-handers", as “masked marauders” fantasizing they are contending for the Olympics while enjoying the breeze, the sun dancing like mirrors on the waves, and spray in your face.... why not!?

Again, more "Thank You's" to those that have responded to the past week's J/News. More heartwarming stories and anecdotes about sailing with friends and family. Below are more stories from passionate J/Sailors.

Please send us more of your thoughts, experiences, stories, trials & tribulations sailing around in various parts of the world- send to ""

J/99 Facebook live interview
Watch Interview with Jeff & Hannah
An interesting in-depth discussion of the J/99
(Southampton, United Kingdom)- The famous British yachting journalist Louay Habib from Cowes, England had a "Facebook Live" interview with both Jeff Johnstone (President of J/Boats) and J/UK's Sales Director Hannah Passells.

Enjoy the nearly one-hour discussion between the three panelists on the state of offshore racing; why the J/99 is a perfect doublehanded offshore training platform for the upcoming Mixed Double Offshore event at the 2024 Olympics in France; and why J/99 makes a wonderful weekend getaway cruiser and day sailor for couples and small families.

Watch the interview recording here on YouTube.

J/121 sailing videos
Sailors Go Binge Watching!

(Newport, RI)- During the coronavirus lockdown, the marine industry has gone virtual to produce webinars and interviews. Here are some new sailing videos to explore from various J/Boats classes and our industry partners:


Marlow Ropes -
North Sails -
Quantum Sails -
UK Sailmakers -
Ullman Sails -
US Sailing Starboard Portal -

Thanks for this list from our friends at Scuttlebutt Sailing in San Diego, CA.

J/Gear Under Armour shirt
J/Gear May 20% OFF Special!

(Newport, RI)- The "J" Under Armour long-sleeved polo shirt is a great all-round, stylish choice, both on and off the water. Light, comfortable, and easy-to-wear.

The shirt comes with the J/Class logo of your choice and can be customized with your boat name and sail number. Comes in colors of Black, Blue and White and sizes from S to XXL.

Check it out here on the J/Gear website

What friends, alumni, and crew of J/Boats are doing worldwide
Below we hear from more members of the J/Community from across the spectrum of cruising, daysailing, and racing...

J/32 cruising sailboat* A J/32 owner from the northern part of Michigan had this to offer to fellow J/Sailors....

"Being in Michigan, our marinas are currently closed. At this point we will probably be lucky to launch at Irish Charlevoix by mid June.

We still love the 32, your best design yet. She has a pampered life these days as we generally only sail her for three months and then she spends her time in heated storage.

Our cruising is now confined to northern Lake Michigan, but it is good that a couple of near 80 year-olds can still do some shoreline cruising and visit our favorite ports. With an electric winch for the main halyard and the 110 jib you helped us select, the boat is very manageable.  All the best, Tom and Gretchen"

J/34c Astrea sailing in Maine
* J/34C cruiser owner Jim Bennet from Camden, Maine offers some of his perspectives sailing his beloved J/34C ASTREA to fellow J/Sailors around our Blue Planet Earth....

"Her name is ASTRAEA (after Nathaniel Bowditch’s first command). I have owned her for eight years. She is a wonderful boat and is kept in very fine condition.  And yes, she does better than 8 knots on a broad reach whenever we see 15 kts or more of breeze on Penobscot Bay, which we do often enough.

To come back on your love of Maine, my family ties to Maine date back to pre-Civil War times. I moved to Camden from Bath in 2017 to be closer to Penobscot Bay.  My partner and I live in Camden.

We had a marvelous cruise on ASTRAEA this past summer (2019) during which we stopped at Islesford.  Both of us had been there before, but this was the first time I was able to stay for two days and explore the island.  The museum there is a treasure.  We were on our way back from Nova Scotia.

I had raced ASTRAEA in the Marblehead to Halifax race and we had taken ten days to get back to Maine, stopping in our favorite places along the way.  All told, I had 65 days underway this past season.

J/34c Astrea owners sailing in Maine
The 34C is a marvelous boat to use as a couple for coastal cruising.

To have such excellent sailing qualities along with the comfort in a boat of this size is truly an extraordinary achievement.

Among many excellent features, the keel design and underbody design of this boat is outstanding. I speak from experience as a lifelong sailor and from having practiced as a Naval Architect for 25 years working on high-performance craft for the U.S. Navy. She handles well in a seaway, stands up to a breeze (never even think about reefing under 20 kts) and she puts the Sabre's and Beneteau's in our wake every time. Many times I have taken her across the line ahead of Sabre 42’s and even J/42’s on occasion. She is perfectly balanced when properly trimmed on every point of sail. I frequently single hand with a spinnaker even in 18-20kts. For example, we sailed her to first place overall in GMORA cruising division in 2017!

And, she is comfortable and easy to handle. She is just the right size for my partner, who can be intimidated by the loads on big headsails. Her responsiveness on and off the wind makes her a joy to steer. Anchor handling, docking, and every aspect of the boat is easy for my partner, which makes it immensely enjoyable for me.

You lads did a fine job with her design and construction. Many experienced sailors continue to admire her. Several are standing in line if I ever decide to sell her! That is a further acknowledgement to the excellence of her makers! Thank you!  Best, Jim"

* Brett and Katie Langolf, with their two daughters, are on a mission to get more kids on sailboats. Most often, they can be found sailing their beloved J/34 IOR classic- called KNEE DEEP- on Lake Erie.

Brett & Katie Langolf and family
This sailing highlights video shares their 2019 season from San Diego to Annapolis to Mackinac Island and many ports in between. Enjoy!

J/Sailor photo of Brighton Beach
* J/Boats U.K. sailor Leo Mason contributed this cool panoramic view of Brighton Beach...normally bustling with thousands of beachgoers.

Said Leo, "Hi all! Here's one from me in Brighton of our deserted beaches in our new upside-down World!

Stay safe all, Leo"

John F Kennedy sailing family offshore
* "Sailing as an essential activity"- a perspective by Darrell Nicholson, Practical Sailor

Let’s take away all the boats. Not the ships engaged in essential commerce, not the barges hauling goods, not the net boats catching fish. Keep those. And the Navy, of course, keep that. But all the rest can go.

Now, imagine as we look out over the waterfront, we see no skiffs on the bay, no dinghies along the shore, no sloops or schooners on a sunset sail. This arrangement, if it persists, could have dire consequences—at least if you believe French philosopher Michel Foucault:

“In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure and the police take the place of pirates.”

Some, like Pompey the Great (as quoted by Plutarch), put sailing above even life itself. “To sail is necessary; to live is not.”

As for me, always pining for another long passage on the Pacific, I can easily see the value of sending all willing sailors out to a seaborne isolation. Perhaps a future pandemic strategy?

As summer fast approaches and COVID-19 persists as a threat, coastal communities, sailing clubs, schools, and camps around the country are asking the same question: Must our boating activities be curtailed, and if they are to continue, what measures are necessary to ensure public health?

The situation is changing, but at the time of this writing, the boat ramps around our homeport in Sarasota, Florida were opening up again. All state municipalities have banned gatherings of boaters on sandbars and on-the-water events that might draw a crowd—although some impromptu two-boat “regattas” will likely spring up (as they tend to do whenever another sail appears on the horizon).

The concern about even solo outings is that the boat and boater don’t exist in a bubble. A simple afternoon on the water can involve a great deal of bustling about. Whether in commerce (buying fuel, hardware, etc.) or in congregation (socializing on the dock), contact with others is almost inevitable. In most regards, however, sailing not only complies with the requirements of safe distancing – it embraces it.

Not that we’re a bunch of hermits, but the fact remains that a great number of sailors took up sailing precisely because it took us away from land and all its problems. (Okay, maybe some of us are seagoing hermits—or at least we inspire hermits.)

As for me, I’m in no rush to get on the water. There will be time for that. The lull in waterfront activity has allowed me to catch up on some long-delayed work projects with my younger son Jake. At present we’re on a brightwork binge, with hatch boards and tillers lined up in the garage (doors wide open, and well-ventilated with fans, of course) awaiting another coat.

For the time being we’re buoyed by another quote to carry me through these days. Something Kenneth Graham said in his famous children's book- The Wind in the Willows. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

If you are a sailor in search of a project, you’ll find many on the Practical Sailor website. A good start is to plug “DIY” into the search box. If you already have a specific project in mind, just enter in the relevant key words. Doing a Google search and including the phrase Practical Sailor also works (searching Practical Sailor varnish, for example, yields a number of hits).

And if you’re still looking for something to do, I’m sure we can come up with something. Feel free to reach out at if you’re stumped."

Thanks for this contribution from For more than 35 years, Practical Sailor has been taking the guesswork out of boat and gear buying with bold, independent boat tests, and product-test reports for serious sailors and boaters. Learn more at Add to Flipboard Magazine.