Farr 38 Old School Performance-Cruiser

Farr 38 sailing



Background: I met Jeffrey on a Sailnet forum. He’s been a moderator and administrator on SailNet since around 1996, back in the dial-up days. He immediately understood the essence of our initiative and the importance of identifying what makes a boat both budget-friendly and reliable. I’m excited he’ll be the first owner we discuss, especially since his Farr 11.6 comes from one of my favorite designers, Bruce Farr. Bruce is not only a true sailing champion but also well-known as a racing yacht designer

Franco: Jaffery, where are you from?

Jeff: I grew up sailing on Long Island Sound (New York), but have lived and sailed on much of  the United States Atlantic Coast, and some of th Gulf of Mexico Coast. These days I live in Annapolis, Maryland and mostly sail in the Chesapeake Bay.

Franco: Do you live on the boat, or do you only go out occasionally?

Jeff: Because of my shore based career, I don’t live on my boat. Synergy. Synergy lives at a dock at my home, and so I do a lot of day sails and weekend cruises, but also have cruised her for weeks at a time. My original goal for her was to sail her to Europe and spend 5-10 years exploring the continent using Synergy as my home.

Franco: Can you tell us about your background and how this has influenced your relationship with sailing? Is it true that you’ve designed a few boats?

Jeff: My first sailing experience was as an 11 year old kid in the early 1960’s. I was completely smitten by the experience. As a teenager, raced and cruised on a variety of designs and have sailed ever since. I studied yacht design and was tutored by a naval architect at Sparkman and Stephens. I started out interested in traditional working watercraft, but over time became interested in the design and science behind performance sailing craft. Over the years I have designed a number of boats and help build a few boats of my design.

Franco: The first time you saw the Farr 11.6 (Farr 38), was it love at first sight, or did you start by gathering information online, talking with sailors, etc.?

Jeff: The Farr 11.6 (AKA Farr 38) was one of a number of designs that were very appealing to me as coastal cruisers and short-handed race boats. I was not sure about them for distance cruising. I researched each of those designs and eventually spoke with a number of people who had done distance passages on Farr 11.6’s. Their experiences sailing the 11.6 long distances in a broad range of conditions, and the ease of handling, performance, storage and carrying capacity of the boat is what sold me on the design.

Franco: When did you buy it, and how much did you pay for it?

Jeff: I bought Synergy in 2001 for approximately $50,000 US. These days 11.6’s typically sell in the $30-40,000 US range.

Franco: How much was the refit? What was the most expensive or significant update you made?

Jeff: Over the 23 years that I have owned the boat I have slowly altered her to suit my goals, rearranging the deck plan and updating various components. Probably the single most expensive improvements were installing a modern autopilot and instrument system, and, equally as expensive, working with Quantum Sails to develop a sail inventory that is both easy to single-hand, competitive as a single handed race boat, and which has an extremely wide wind range. I do a lot of my own work on the boat, so the rest of the refit I would consider ‘deferred maintenance’ performed a bit at a time rather than as a refit

Franco: How many miles have you sailed with “Synergy” so far? (Please specify if offshore, coastal, etc.)

Jeff: In total, I would guess that I have sailed her roughly 10,000 to 12,000 nm.

Franco: Could you summarize  the unique features of your Farr 11.5?

Jeff: -Easily short-handed across a broad wind range

-Decent motion comfort

-Very seaworthy with a lot of stability

-Fractional Rig with a generous SA/D

-Low drag keel, rudder, and hull form

-Offshore oriented interior layout

-Simple systems

-Good sea berths

-Great performance in pretty much all conditions (for a boat of that era and price range)

-Large water tankage and consumable storage capacities.

-Conventional propeller shaft

-Well engineered to be rugged and to stay afloat if holed.

Franco: Did you consider buying any other boats before this one?

Jeff: I started out with a list of around 10-12 production and custom designs in the 36 foot to 40 foot range, and then narrowed the choice down to the Farr 11.6. Once that decision was made, I began looking only for the Farr 11.6.

Franco: Was there something about your boat that struck you and made you think, “This has to be mine!”? Was there anything that stood out from its original brochure or from the first inspection?

Jeff: I knew from my research and discussions with owners and folks who had sailed these boats that this was the design that I wanted. Actually seeing the boat for the first time would have scared away most potential buyers. She was sitting disassembled for several years in a farm field in Maine. Her parts were in various locations around the farm, wasps had taken over her cabin, and vines were growing up and over her decks. She had leaf stains on the deck and had clearly been ridden hard and put away wet.

Franco: And what is the most missing feature in your boat?

Jeff : I don’t think that there is much that is missing from the way that I use the boat.

But by most people’s expectations, Synergy has a very small fuel tank. Quite a few of the Farr 11.6’s have a second fuel tank that takes them up to around 35 gallons. Even that is slightly small, but one owner told me that he sailed a single passage from Cape Town, S.A to the Caribbean using less than 12 gallons so that seems acceptable to me.

I also added a bigger waste holding tank.

The original deck plan was aimed at spreading out a big crew, and so I have moved around the sail handling gear to optimize her for single-handing.

I am an old-school sailor. Boats like these might not appeal to folks who are seeking modern conveniences. In my case, I did not want or need an anchor windlass, powered winches, water makers, multiple or electric flush heads, large capacity electrical storage or production, and so on.

Franco: Can you share some insights into its sailing performance?

Jeff: These boats were not designed to any particular rating rule. Instead they were designed to be well-rounded performance cruisers that could also be raced.

The Farr 11.6’s are very light for their length with a dry weight around 10,660 lbs (4800 kg). They also have low drag rudders, keels and hull forms. That combination allows her to get by was a comparatively small sail plan and still sail well in light to moderate air.

The design also has an enormous amount of stability for a boat of that era, length, and displacement. The fractional rig allows her her to quickly and easily shift gears by powering up and down, and to use a minimally overlapping jib that has a wind range starting at 3-4 knots and usable up around 30 knots (without being furled). That combination means that she performs very well in heavy conditions.

The fine entry allows her to perform well beating into a chop or big waves, and her hull form and rig allow her to reach at double digit speeds in a stiff breeze. The fastest speed that I have seen is surfing at a tick over 14 knots, but she can sustain a pretty steady 10 knots reaching in breezes up into the mid-20 knot range.

Franco: Do you usually sail single-handed?

Jeff: Yes, I typically race and often cruise her single-hand. That said I do cruise with my wife and friends. I mostly race her in single-handed in the CHESSS spinnaker class (using a symmetrical spinnaker).

Franco: If you could go back to 2001, would you choose the same boat again, or have you since fallen in love with another boat worth considering?

Jeff: I think about this a lot and have looked at and sailed on a lot of similar sized boats with that in mind. I cannot think of one that I would prefer given the same general budget, personal preferences, and draft limitations..

That said, there are designs that I would consider if I had a different budget and if I had slightly different personal tastes. In order of preference, those might include the X-38, Aerodyne 38, Farr 385, Farr 1020, Dehler 39SQ, J-130, Cape Fear 38, Dehler 36 SQ and J-120.

Franco: Thanks for sharing your story and for your kindness, Jeffrey. You’re officially a part of the Sail Utopia family now! I really hope we meet there in Annapolis—I have many friends there.

Jeff: You are very welcome. Please let me know if and when you might be in the area.

To know more download the pdf file below👇


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