I like the J/32. To begin with, its stubby proportions and styling make it cute as hell, while it offers an interesting mix of performance and comfort features. In a world where the enjoyment of cruising is often seen as a function of the boat's size and complexity, I am attracted to this compact, well-thought-out and simple boat.
The hull has a nicely subtle spring in the sheer, which is punctuated by the short but shapely ends. It's a snappy looking hull that is all waterline and has a D/L of 183. With an 11-foot beam, the 32 is a bit beamy; but that's the only compromise to cruising comfort that I can see (and you do get some stability with that beam so it's really not a one-sided compromise). The keel shows a sweep of 21 degrees to the leading edge. That's not enough to shed kelp, but if you can keep the kelp off, it is a more effective shape for performance. There are two keels with either 5 feet 11 inches or 4 feet 9 inches of draft.
The 32 has a well-designed deck. Despite its height, the house is nicely proportioned and trim-looking. It would have been very easy to reduce the height of the cabintrunk, just increase freeboard. But while freeboard-added volume that is outside the boundaries of the cabin sole increases the feel of space, it adds little actual useable volume. The J/32 gains headroom with a tall cabintrunk.
This is a real sailor's cockpit. It puts the mainsheet traveler where the helmsman can reach it. It also cuts off the cockpit coamings at the helm position, thus allowing the helmsman to sit on the broad, flat deck. This area is slightly raised above the actual deck level so that water running aft won't trickle into your boots.
Boats like this deserve tillers. Unfortunately, this cockpit is designed around wheel steering. I know that most of you like the big-boat look of a wheel; but I like the way a tiller can be hinged up and put out of the way when you are at anchor.
This layout is perfect for either a family of four or a couple. The V-berth double is generous, without that annoying notch that on some designs divides it into two useless singles. Note how the mast location works well in opening up the main cabin.
We see an endless parade of unusual rigs that have been created to make sailing easier. In its general proportions, the rig of the 32 is very old. It is a basic fractional rig with a big main on a mast set well forward. This has the benefit of making the mainsail the easiest-handled sail (because it's on a boom) and the biggest sail. This also reduces the need for a multiple headsail inventory. Since it has an SA/D of 17.85, the J/32 — for many of you in breezier areas — will not even need a genoa. If you want to get fancy, you can order the optional Hall Spars carbon-fiber mast. The hydraulic backstay adjuster is standard.
If you want to combine cruising comfort with boat speed and modern performance, this little cruising package has a lot of appeal.
Compact, well-thought-out, simple cruiser.
|Draft||5'11" or 4'9"|
|Ballast||3,840 lbs. deep keel shoal 4,240 lbs.|
|Sail Area||514 sq. ft.;|
|Auxiliary||Yanmar 27-horsepower diesel;|
557 Thames Street
Newport, RI? 02840
This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.