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Donated Sailboat: 1978 Irwin Mark 3

This Irwin Mark III sailboat is a 37′ model that is listed by a seller specializing in donated boats. This is clearly a project vessel, albeit one that has had some work done over the years; however, there is much more to do. There’s no such thing as a cheap sailboat and I suspect this Irwin will be a labor of love for the next owner, especially considering the company’s state of affairs when it began building this model. The listing notes that there are multiple issues, including a leaking transmission and windows that need resealing, but that it was last used in 2019. Find it here on eBay with bidding at $1,675 and no reserve.

Whenever we get a boat or airplane submission, I truly enjoy researching the models and the companies behind them, as I don’t have a ton of experience with either. One of the best summaries of Irwin as a company is that they built strong boats at one time, but that the era of Jimmy Carter was quite unfriendly to boat builders. Irwin was one such manufacturer, affected like so many others, and forced to improvise to stay alive. As such, they stopped focusing on the costlier open ocean vessels and began building for the charter markets – in other words, specializing in cheaper vessels that couldn’t withstand the rigors of the sea that costlier boats were built to handle.

Some anecdotal evidence on sailing forums suggests some users have even seen the forward half of the boat twisting in “…moderate trades,” which would indeed be a scary phenomenon, especially on a “project” vessel. The Irwins are seemingly universally praised for their roomy cabins, so if you’re not worried about entering a major sailing regatta or living off the water year-round, it seems like a sailboat like this could be perfectly usable once fully serviced. Speaking of, other issues include moldy upholstery, wood that needs replacing in the salon, bad wiring, and cabinet doors in the galley in need of replacement. As you can see from these photos, a major cleaning is needed as well.

There are some bright spots, as the listing notes that the previous owner spent some money on it in the last few years. This includes all blisters on bottom being ground out and filled, and all surfaces from the waterline down was sealed with epoxy barrier paint. The rudder was also rebuilt with “…316 stainless internal supports.” The donor also reported that some systems are known to be bad and should just be replaced, including the A/C, bimini top, circuit breakers, and all upholstery. While it’s going cheaply, I’m not sure what the future of this boat holds – so I ask our sailing experts: should this Irwin be resuscitated? Is it a good buy at a cheap price, even with the issues disclosed?

Comments

  1. Steve Douglas

    I probably helped lay up the fiberglas hull in that duck, long, long ago.

    Like 4
    • Steve Douglas

      Irwin made a variety of sailboats in their facility on 49th St N in St. Pete long years ago, including a 52′ that they’d build in a big shed on premises. One of the old hands took me into the shed once, and told me to watch as he started nudging the hull at some point more and more forcefully. Before too long, the whole length of the hull was slowly undulating (no bulkheads or decks in yet). Hard to believe you could cross the ocean in a hull that would do that, but you could. We probably could have brought the whole thing down on top of us – it was pretty stupid. One of the worst jobs I ever had. Hot (brutally), itchy, toxic and dangerous.

      Like 4
      • schooner

        Nothing like wearing Tyvek coveralls and a mask when the resin kicks.

        Like 1
  2. Jon hendrickson

    walk away

    Like 2
  3. Jm

    Bury in the entrance to a marina in a rock garden.Or set it up as a bar for a nautical-themed nightclub.

    Like 1
    • Steve Douglas

      Speaking of that, there used to be a 3rd rate little water park on the beach side of the Intercoastal in Jacksonville, on either Atlantic or Beach Blvd, can’t remember. But they had a beautiful little wooden hulled sloop, little more than 20′ LOA, mast and spar still on it, hole knocked in the side of it, posed artfully by the sign out front. I swear to God, it had lines like a Hereshoff – so sweet. I always thought it was a terrible waste. But it was special.

      Like 2
  4. Howard A Member

    Wow, how could someone let a nice sailboat like this, get to this condition? I’d have to think there’s more mold in this thing than in NOLA. ( too soon?) My old man always had sailboats at our cottage. His 1st was a sloop(?), scary ride there, then he got a more regular sailboat, and it was a lot of fun, until the wind pooped out, that is. That’s where the old 3hp Evinrude came in mighty handy. Sailing on a lake is one thing, but out on the ocean, IDK, once I lose sight of land, I get a bit nervous. I apologize if someone said it, but restoring this, I’d have to think you’ll be “under water” in no time.

    Like 4
  5. Bill

    Nobody should think that buying a sailboat, in poor condition or great condition, will be a good investment. Been there, done that. But it was fun knocking around the Keys!

    Like 1
  6. John

    Unfortunately, it is worth exactly what the current owner paid for it. I started on a much smaller but otherwise similar boat a few years back. I found that most boat parts are priced about the same as Lamborghini or Ferrari parts. And you can stand still and watch rust forming on anything that is not made of high grade stainless — or gold. I tried for several months to find someone to take it, even when I offered it for free.

  7. Patrick J. Flynn

    And the engine?

  8. chrlsful

    I believe these could B yawl or sloop rigid (almost looks likea catch w/the surrounding boat masts, can’t tell who’s is who’s). Not a top of the line boat but certainly blue water. For the car guys, kinds like buying an RV. Gota cabin to take care as well as the rest. This one is minor $ on that 1st count. (I think they hada lill 4 4 cyl perkins 80HP, 200tq, 150ci).

    I’d say not for charter as that’s a gamble (rentors can wreak havoc and destroy a lesser boat). Also ‘the flexing boat” danger isa plus. Just like the bending pine in the wind survives while the rigid oak succumbs the nautical engineer knows what’s up (the USA gubment wont pass it if shoddy, like the airframe that crumbles).

    For me? ‘s a no go. Gotta look at these by the foot (just like a 2 mil$ house). I can only afford (up keep) ona 10 ft shorter boat.

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