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Old 14-02-2015, 00:53   #1
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Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

My wife and I are starting to plan our cruising year with our children. We have so many routes in mind and so many boats - but a budget.

Size is an issue for us as we are a growing family each needing room. The Irwin 52's seem to be a giant winnebego of the sea. But we have our concerns about sea worthiness. We can't afford a Hallberg Rassy and the size we could get into is too small.

We live in Southern California - but happy to start our cruise wherever we find a great boat at a great price!

Help!!...Does anyone have experience in cruising with a family on an Irwin 52? or have any other suggestions for us?

Cheers
JRo
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Old 14-02-2015, 01:16   #2
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

Contact Gene Gammon, "the Irwin Man", he is honest and very helpful.

Irwin Yachts - Gene Gammon
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Old 14-02-2015, 05:38   #3
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

I have looked at 3 Irwin's vintages 1980 to 1990, hope I don't offend anyone but to sum up a surveyors comment which matched my findings. They are. Great tax write off(donation boat), and fine for very coastal/ marina cruising. 2 had severe structural damage diagonal cracks showing it had very little strength across the coahroof and hull to deck joint areas. The larger newer one was one giant blister.... other than that I liked em.... 😗

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Old 14-02-2015, 06:54   #4
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

I have an early Irwin 37 centre cockpit cc1971 and would have scrapped it if I had not sunk a lot of money into it to find out all the problems. This one was poorly built from the keel up, examples, shroud chainplate bolted directly to 3/8in hull (no backing plates) rotted mast support beam below the cabin floor (a common problem it seems). I found that the deck floats between the hull (no interior support except at the mast compression post. Floor pan supported only where it is bonded to the hull (notea lot of the bonding was done over paint or plastic veneer0. windows leaked because there was a 3/8in gap between the interior liner and the decking so no compresion could be applied to seal said windows. I could go on but don't want to sound like a cry baby.

I could not recomend an Irwin

But shoal draft is good
John
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Old 14-02-2015, 09:28   #5
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

i have never been on one so i would never have an opinion ,, try a cat maybe ? my solaris 42 is for sale and having lived on it for a year i assure you it is safe and roomy ,, to start with though it is in panama city panama a great place to start as you have the entire west coast many hundreds of islands in the perlas with the carribean and the san blas islands just a canal transit away ,, which is an experience in itself ., check out craigs list here in panama many boats for sale and some really good buys besides mine ..
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Old 14-02-2015, 09:28   #6
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Boor View Post
I have an early Irwin 37 centre cockpit cc1971 and would have scrapped it if I had not sunk a lot of money into it to find out all the problems. This one was poorly built from the keel up, examples, shroud chainplate bolted directly to 3/8in hull (no backing plates) rotted mast support beam below the cabin floor (a common problem it seems). I found that the deck floats between the hull (no interior support except at the mast compression post. Floor pan supported only where it is bonded to the hull (notea lot of the bonding was done over paint or plastic veneer0. windows leaked because there was a 3/8in gap between the interior liner and the decking so no compresion could be applied to seal said windows. I could go on but don't want to sound like a cry baby.

I could not recomend an Irwin

But shoal draft is good
John
Interesting; I had a 72 Irwin 37 ketch, and we often sailed it hard offshore in 10-20' seas for over twenty years. I must say I never noted any major structural problems and the boat was tight. We only got rid of it because all the systems were getting old and we had put a new engine in at about year six and then rebuilt it around year 15, and it needed a replacement, so rather than do all that we sold it. (Interestingly for about the same price we had paid for it). Shows how individual each boat of a single manufacturer can be. That was in 86 and we have just now returned to sailing by restoring a 72 Pearson sloop. Keeping our fingers crossed, so far she has sea trialed well.
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Old 14-02-2015, 10:03   #7
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

I am very familiar with cruising with a family as I raised two daughters sailing out of Mystic Ct. I now have a Cheoy Lee 41' offshore ketch in San Pedro, CA. Irwins, in my opinion are at the low end of quality in workmanship. Of course, one can sometimes find an orange in a pile of lemons. I believe I can be very helpful in finding the right boat for you. I need to know your price range and size range as well. A lot of older boats built in the 1970's and 80's are very sturdy and, if well maintained and updated, very trustworthy for cruising anywhere in the world with little maintenance. Knowing your sailing experience as well would be helpful. A 52' boat is a lot of boat to handle. On the other hand with family you have a lot crew. Just a note about me: I am retired from a lifetime of chaplaincy, thus "ChapJack". My mission in life now is be with people who love the see and so anything I can do to assist in manifesting that love in having the right boat, with the right knowledge in the right place. John
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Old 14-02-2015, 10:22   #8
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

Chapjack: I certainly agree that Irwin was not a high quality boat but one must keep in mind they were built in large numbers for the charter trade. Most of the 30 odd foot range were charter foder while the larger ones while not being top shelf were somewhat better built. I knew Ted Irwin and even he might agree with that. I will also say that even after Ted got out of the active building of boats, he would go to any end to get any parts you might need for your Irwin. I. Can attest to that because he got me a new set of spreaders not long before he passed on.
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Old 14-02-2015, 10:41   #9
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

I wouldn't blame you for crossing Irwin off your list after reading those comments, but I own an Irwin 52 and have been very happy with it. I have taken up and down the east coast offshore in all kinds of weather and the boat has never given me reason to doubt its seaworthyness. Of course there are better built boats, there always are. When I was growing up we had a Columbia 28. I heard a lot of bad things about Columbia 28s, but boy did we ever have a great time with that boat. Point is, there is a boat out there in your budget that will take you where you want to go, and do what you want to do, whether or not it is a Irwin 52.
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Old 14-02-2015, 11:50   #10
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

During our several years in the Caribbean I was aware that Irwin 52'+ was a very popular charter boat. Most had professional captain + one crew (chef/1st mate... often wife). These boats where very beamy for their day and lots of room below. While charter service is very hard on a boat, they usually don't push the limit with offshore/ really torturous sea conditions. None of the larger Irwins I knew had major issues that that had to deal with... except... their keel was fiberglass encased 'pig iron'. I think all of them. Sooner or later (salt) water makes it's way inside the keel and the iron 'pigs' start and never stop corroding. This causes expansion and keel cracks can/ usually can be found during routine bailouts. Usual treatment was drilling a drain hole near keel bottom while on the hard and when the flow stopped refiberglass the keel. Rumor has it that one encounter with a reef resulted in significant keel damage and loss of 1/4 of the pigs inside. I considered a 52 Irwin myself, but in the end purchased a Cal 46 ketch. The Irwin was bigger/ very roomy. But we thought that with just two of us... a 46' was the right trade-off of comfort and our ability to handle things in tough conditions.


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Old 14-02-2015, 13:13   #11
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

I am a big fan of the large Irwins. A good family friend spend 15 years down island on a 52'. And after being beached twice by hurricanes the boat was still fine.

When my dad retired and we moved south we did it on an Irwin 54' that took a load of abuse and never faltered. The boat did get totaled by the insurance company during Hurricane Katrine when it got T-boned during the storm. But I know the guy who is back out cruising it again (after a major refit).

Frankly I would trust the 54's a lot more than the 52's. But they are both good boats.
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Old 14-02-2015, 14:19   #12
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

Mr. Irwin, founder, has just past on. God rest his soul.
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Old 14-02-2015, 14:52   #13
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshrosenthal1 View Post
My wife and I are starting to plan our cruising year with our children. We have so many routes in mind and so many boats - but a budget.

Size is an issue for us as we are a growing family each needing room. The Irwin 52's seem to be a giant winnebego of the sea. But we have our concerns about sea worthiness. We can't afford a Hallberg Rassy and the size we could get into is too small.

We live in Southern California - but happy to start our cruise wherever we find a great boat at a great price!

Help!!...Does anyone have experience in cruising with a family on an Irwin 52? or have any other suggestions for us?

Cheers
JRo
Check out the blog for Vales Valeo. We met up with them in Nuka Hiva, we did have drinks on their boat one night but didn't sail it.

My take on the boat - big, spacious and comfortable. Not particularly fast though we suspect she has a pretty seakindly motion.



They are trying to sell the boat in Australia BTW, their trip was a closed end year or so.
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Old 14-02-2015, 14:56   #14
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

We did notice there are a lot of step up/downs below decks - the deck height from bow to stern is not level. The tankage was under the main saloon, and we weren't sure but we may have had more easy storage than them because of the floorboard layouts (we have a Hallberg-Rassy 53).

We were having drinks, not ripping up floorboards playing "I'll show you mine" so our discussions about under floor storage were pretty subjective.
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Old 14-02-2015, 16:24   #15
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Re: Irwin 52 - any good for family cruising?

JRo,

You didn't mention a budget but take a look at the attached. IMHO, you won't find a better built boat that was designed for family bluewater cruising. 18k lbs keel, 48 k lbs displacement and sails at 10 kts.

Good luck in whatever you decide.

1989 CNSO Mikado Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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