“The J/105 is one of the simplest racer/cruisers, easy to sail, easy to teach, easy to maintain, and easy to short hand”
INTERVIEW WITH THE SKIPPER – Ric Dexter
Why did you choose to buy a J/105?
I have been sailing the J105 since 2000. Good friends of mine, Kevin and Dee Colcord (who owned an S2 9.1 Corona which I sailed and maintained for them) attended the Newport Boat show in 1999 and test drove a J/105. Dee brought her newborn to the show. The four of us went out in a J/105 in about 15kts of wind, flew the chute and effortlessly doused it with optional snuffer, which sealed the deal. That boat, Circe’s Cup, was heavily raced and cruised until it was sold in 2016. My contribution to the program was complete maintenance and upkeep. I was a driver, main trimmer, and later tactician. I was not allowed ahead of the mast! I then hooked up with Fred de Napoli and crewed J/105 Allegro Simplicita until that was sold in 2018. To really answer the question why: The J/105 is one of the simplest racer/cruisers, easy to sail, easy to teach, easy to maintain, and easy to short hand. The line loads for a 35 footer are easy to deal with even as the breeze comes up. I have had up to 13 on the boat conducting ‘business meetings’ with all folks given a chance to drive and crew!
What boats have you previously owned?
Brouhaha is my first wholly owned boat and was an unplanned purchase (more about later). We are now into its second season. Prior to the J/105s, the S2 9.1 was where we cut our teeth, and boy were we bad! The boat was a great racer/cruiser with 21 lines in the cockpit, but we were all new to sailing and learned a lot over time. Prior to that, I sailed on a Pearson 33 around the buoys on Thursday night and was totally clueless. I have also sailed Sonars (frostbiting), IODs, de Napoli’s new J/124 and many, many other limited appearances.
What other kinds of boats did you consider buying before this model?
None, this was it. Of all of the boats I sailed, cruised, and crewed I always came back to the J/105. It was what I knew and was comfortable sailing in even with 13 non-sailors. I often single-hand the boat even sailing through the harbor, even with both sails up in lighter breeze.
What are the features you like most about your boat?
Simplicity all around. The boat is Spartan, but it makes it easy to maintain. Parts are reasonable. I really like the line layout; almost everything can be done in the cockpit if your sailing short. The sail plan is good and the more it blows, the better the boat likes it. The best feature: It’s a one-design boat. Jumping from boat to boat is seamless.
What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
Since it is a strict one-design boat and I am the Fleet 2 Measurer, if you are going to race, modifications are very limited. The class rules are well thought out, so that there is no nuclear arms race. Again, given the simplicity and layout, there is no need to modify the boat. Since its inception, sail design with strict measurements and line technology are the only real upgrades from original. All standing and running rigging have to be replaced with an equivalent part.
How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
The J/105 can be cruised, but it is tight with provisions for four. I have not done an overnight for a while, but it is very doable by adding standard cushions and other non-race accommodations. Not all boats are raced; in fact, the majority of boats are like any other where folks use them as cruisers/day sailors. We primarily day sail, including sailing out to Stellwagen looking for whales. With the fleet of 25 boats we had 10 years ago, Circe’s Cup was off the mooring 4-5 day per week. We rarely missed BYC Wednesday, JYC Thursday, MRA, NOOD, HOOD and some Mass Bay one-design venues. Circe’s was doing up to 70 race days at the peak. Brouhaha, however, has throttled back to Thursday nights in Beverly, 6-8 MRA days, NOOD and HOOD and lots of local cruising. My wife and I go out several times a week and we do bring lots of folks out to enjoy.
What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
When I bought Bruhaha, it was close to being totaled from falling off its jack stands in the winter of 2017/18. The previous owners, based on insurance limitations and other factors, decided to sell ‘as is’. I bought it in October 2018 after doing an extensive survey. The boat was brought to Marblehead Composites in Peabody where Andrew Flaherty and I worked on it until its launch in May 2019. Andrew did structural repairs, while I did most or the prep work for those repairs, including duplicating cracked bulkheads and cracked settee panels. The hull was structurally good, but we had to repair lots of deep gouges and scratches.
The ‘accident’ repairs, however, were only about 25% of the cost and labor. The boat had 20 years of leaks and a lack of maintenance. I took advantage of being in a heated warehouse to remove, refurbish, reseal, and replace all deck hardware, mast fittings, halyards, and engine parts. I learned new skills in fiberglass, gel coat, and balsa core replacement (water intrusion). I personally put over 700 hours into the boat from October to May, but every system and piece of hardware was either new or like new. Very little work was needed once it splashed. I am very proud how it came out and how it performs. Based on my survey, my original cost estimates and budget was achieved. Adding my labor cost to that would have made it unaffordable, but this type of work is a labor of love. The toughest work is getting access to the engine, but after working on the J/105s since 2000, its fairly routine. I do all my own work, that’s how I can afford to have a boat.
Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a J/105?
Contact me. I am happy to guide folks through the boat, what to look for, how to sail, the ups and downs. The prices are finally coming down where I think it’s affordable by many. There are good boats out there, and some that need love. Since I am one of the Measurers for all fleets, I will openly share what I know to get folks comfortable to own one.
What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
The toughest thing is picking a boat name that satisfies the family and is PC. Many sarcastic names (fits our crew profile) were on the list, but Brouhaha satisfies the way we operate: Total uproar, chaos, or just making a scene! The font represents the Art Deco era where the word was more popular. It certainly describes the current state of world.
CHECK IT OUT
To see Brouhaha in the Harbor Directory, click the gallery below. To see other boats like this, simply type in J Boats in the manufacturer’s drop down menu in the Harbor Directory.