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Old 07-05-2014, 08:53   #1
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Irwin 52 for a family?

My wife and I are considering a radical change in our lives and school on our kids from a boat. With our narrow budget we have honed in on the Irwin's and in particular the 52 ketch. We are a family of 4 - love in California and want to start off doing small trips and excursions in the beginning. I am a good sailor. Te family has never sailed. Hence my reason for the Irwin. Any suggestions for other cruisers to look at?
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Old 07-05-2014, 21:33   #2
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

I would probably recommend the 54' instead. It is a slightly refined version of the 52' and has a much nicer aft lazarette. As for sutability, my family spent 10 years cruising the Carribean on the 54 and loved the boat and a very good friend of ours had the 52'. All in all they are good boats slow and not particularly weatherly, but they have a lot of space, reach very well, shallow draft, and have huge tankage.
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Old 07-05-2014, 22:17   #3
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

thanks! I checked out the big brother 68ft as well. A little too much boat. One of the concerns I have is the versatility of the Irwins given their shallow draft and how that will hold up on the pacific coast or in bluer waters. The idea of the centerboard was so good for that reason but it looks like all of them had the centerboards removed. I imagine they don't beat to wind well and tend to keel heavily and roll in weather.. was that your experience?
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Old 08-05-2014, 00:36   #4
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

We also took out the centerboard. Frankly the boat goes to weather so badly any gain from the centerboard was just a joke. The jib lead angles are so open that on any other boat it would be jib reaching not beating. So any extra gain from the centerboard was minimal since the boat doesn't point anyway.

The big Irwin's frankly are not upwind boats. Up to around 20kn the boat tacked thru 100-110 degrees. But with the big engine and massive fuel we typically just put up the main to steady the boat and powered upwind. On a reach in over 15kn the boat was well behaved.


Basically the Irwin 54' is a pretty bad sailing boat, but offers a lot in exchange. The boat is very well behaved, never rounds up, and because it's so heavy sails pretty flat. On a reach the waterline allows for decent speeds, but it won't go upwind, and for a dead run there isn't enough sail area (an asymetric off the bowsprit would be a wonder however).

The upside however is that the boat is very livable. Lots of space, lots of storage, plenty of room for even large gear like scuba tanks (we carried 8), dive compressors, water makers, wind surfers, paddle boards, water ski's, sailing dingy, 14' boston whaler... The boat was named Stuff for a reason.

So long as you can live with the marginal sailing ability of the boat the Irwin is fantastic.
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Old 08-05-2014, 08:20   #5
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Unhappy Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

Thanks. Yeah I figured that. So a trip up from the Islands to Florida, or San Diego to LA is a motor trip? The upsides are pretty enticing especially with my family's inexperience on a boat. Im used to boats pointing at 35% tight to wind. IM wondering if there is a boat out there that has both the space and room of the Irwin but the sailing ability of a farr.
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Old 08-05-2014, 17:41   #6
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

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Originally Posted by joshrosenthal1 View Post
Thanks. Yeah I figured that. So a trip up from the Islands to Florida, or San Diego to LA is a motor trip? The upsides are pretty enticing especially with my family's inexperience on a boat. Im used to boats pointing at 35% tight to wind. IM wondering if there is a boat out there that has both the space and room of the Irwin but the sailing ability of a farr.
Not really, or at least not in the same price galaxy. I used to race on a Santa Cruize 52' and while it was beautiful and fast, it was also spartan and no where near the size of the Irwin. It's a real trade off, but big cruising boats... Well by the time you add all the stuff to them you want, no boat is going to point all that well.

Add a Biminie there goes 10 degrees pointing right there,

open the sheeting angle to the toe rail so the deck isn't cluttered... Well now you are jib reaching all the time, but it's easy to move around.

Undersize the main so you don't round up, there goes all your upwind drive.


The other reality is that most cruisers just don't want to sail upwind. You have to do a much better job of putting everything away, it is uncomfortable to spend that much time at a steep heel, and gear starts to break. When time isn't an issue it's easier to crack off and flatten the boat even if it takes a little longer than to beat. And if time is important, figure it takes about 2/3 the time to motor than to sail upwind at the same speed.
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Old 08-05-2014, 17:49   #7
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

Thanks. You are right. The time is not important so why should I let my racing mind take over. Tack a few extra times and kick back! Sound advise. Thanks
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Old 08-05-2014, 17:50   #8
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

Think I'll go for that irwin 54
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Old 24-05-2014, 23:42   #9
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

Wife and I are strongly considering an Irwin 65 for a long term live aboard and family caribbean cruise. I have talked with numerous owners now, whose opinions I've taken as biased, but they all seem to love their boats. We liked that the 65 was built as a serious ocean crosser as opposed to the 52 which is much more of a coastal cruiser. Not that the 52s haven't sailed all over the planet. The boats are quite large though, so plan on spending more money in just about every department.
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Old 25-05-2014, 10:15   #10
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

We too are considering the Irwin's. Te problem with the 65 is it has very little draw for the size of the vessel. If you point into the wind she will literally slip sideways. So the only option to go up wind is to motor. I'm considering the irwin 54. 65 is a great boat. They are Winnebagos on water and we want to cruise south from LA to Panama with a young family....
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Old 25-05-2014, 13:16   #11
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

Josh and Sally,

Irwin build four boats that are pretty much the same, the 52 and 54, and the 65' and 68'. In both cases the larger one is a few years newer, and a little more refined. As I understand it they were built from the same hull molds, but with a few tweaks to make the a little better. The 54' for instance used the extra space to add a big aft lazarette which was our bulk storage for the boat. It also made working on the swim platform much easier. We have a close friend who bought the 52' and while we both loved our boats in retrospect he would have gone with the 54' as well.

Frankly at this point in these boats life cycle the extra few years probably don't make a difference, but the refinements may be an issue. So I would seriously look at the companionship as well.
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Old 25-05-2014, 13:21   #12
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

What about the sea worthiness to cruise from LA down the cost to panama an into the Caribbean?
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Old 25-05-2014, 13:22   #13
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

Sorry "coast" not cost
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Old 25-05-2014, 19:50   #14
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

I have been researching these boats for quite some time now and have talked with many owners of the large Irwins, some who have sailed them all over the world. As to the build, the 65 and 68 models have the same hull with the 68 stretched to make room for garage. The 65 and the 52 are considerably different boats in to many areas to list. The 65 was built in 1981 as a owners yacht for world cruising and it was not until 1982 that they built a charter version by specific request. The first charter boat 65 is in the BVI her name is the Essi II. The owner of this the Essi II worked with Ted Irwin to build a charter version. The 65/68 are stout "blue water" boats and the hulls are built extremely strong.

As to the hull, the large bottom and ketch rig does not make the Irwin 65 a great upwind sailer, but she is not bad from what I've been told. I know one owner who regularly tacks in the Caribbean and says they sail to windward just fine. This owner was absolutely adamant that the 65 sailed solidly to windward and that they were not disappointed by her pointing ability. Even the fixed keel version has a 6' draft, but is very long on the hull. The 65/68 may not point up as high as some, but everyone I've talked to who "actually" sails them says the same thing about the way she sails to windward. They sail reasonable well to windward, not remarkably. They reach wonderfully and on a beam reach are quite fast. They do however make up for the upwind deficiency by their tremendous stability, motion comfort, and live-ability.
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Old 13-10-2014, 13:36   #15
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Re: Irwin 52 for a family?

I am looking at an Irwin 46 at the moment. Should I expect the same sort of issues with the slightly smaller version? Hoping to make it into a blue water boat over the next couple years.
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