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  • Sailboat Guide

J/46 is a 45 ′ 11 ″ / 14 m monohull sailboat designed by Rod Johnstone and built by J Boats between 1995 and 2003.

Drawing of J/46

Rig and Sails

Auxilary power, accomodations, calculations.

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.

Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio .311 Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.

SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64) 2/3

  • SA : Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D : Displacement in pounds.

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.

Ballast / Displacement * 100

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.

D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.

Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam 1.33 )

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.

CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

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j 46 yacht

A true sailor's boat, ready to go offshorefast

The brochure lays it on the line. "This boat was created to the only rule that counts: The Rule of the Sea, which is timeless." Herein lies the philosophy behind the J/46, the successor to the well-established and highly successful J/44. J Boat's design brief called for a performance cruising boat that was supremely seaworthy and able to achieve 8-knot passagemaking speeds under sail, while treating its crew to a comfortable ride in the open ocean. The result is a sailor's boat, with an interior layout that reflects the realities of long passages and rough days at sea. The J/46 is a refreshing change from many boats of its size.

J/46While the J/46's sleek, streamlined hull with minimal overhangs and low cabinhouse has its ancestry in the proven hull shape of the J/44, new keel and rudder configurations contribute to its speed and ease of handling. The length-to-beam ratio is high and, combined with ample reserve buoyancy forward, makes for very controlled tracking in rough seas, with minimal steering loads on helm or autopilot. Greater balance of reserve buoyancy at both ends of the boat helps the bow lift up and over ocean chop and large waves. This was immediately apparent during a test sail in a moderate sea. There was none of the pitching and digging-in found in many boats with fine ends and full-midship sections. Even in 15 knots of wind and moderate waves, it showed no signs of hobbyhorsing and moved through the water without fuss and minimal motion. Although we didn't try this, the 46 would sail well under either jib or main alone. The J/46 has come a long way from the 44 in terms of construction methods. It's built by TPI Technologies using the company's patented SCRIMP method, a process that uses infusion-molded sandwich construction for the hull and deck. This method makes a light yet strong boat since the laminate has a much higher fiber content with less resin than in conventional layups. SCRIMP laminates, the company says, test out at double the strength of conventional hand-laid construction techniques.

One goal for the design team was to have plenty of sail power, but keep the center of effort low enough to maintain good performance in rough seas. A carbon fiber mast, with half the weight of an aluminum spar, provided part of the solution. A combination of a light, strong hull, a modern keel design with a lead bulb, and a carbon spar give the 46 a remarkable stability, which I could appreciate even on a 15-knot day. With a 110-percent genoa and full main, even a small crew can sail this boat hard in strong winds, an important consideration for a long-distance passagemaker. If the wind pipes up over 20 knots, simply roll up the jib and sail under full main, finally reefing in 30 knots. Above the water On deck, the layout is simple and efficient. A large, T-shaped cockpit separates the helmsman from the crew, with a comfortable bench seat aft that contains a lazarette and propane locker below. The 60-inch wheel is partially recessed into the cockpit floor and just the right size for sitting to windward or leeward when hard on the wind. Unfortunately you have to reach through the spokes for the engine throttle, something I found distracting when maneuvering at closer quarters. I would have preferred to see it on the starboard side of the cockpit. The main traveler and its controls are immediately forward of the helm, with two Lewmar 46s controlling the double-ended mainsheet.

Two long, contoured seats allow for sunbathing and are extremely comfortable when heeled, with sheet winches (electric on the test boat) close to hand. All halyards and sail controls are led aft to the cockpit, with two convenient self-tailers and an army of stoppers close to the companionway. You can raise and lower the main from the cockpit, especially if you invest in a Leisurefurl mainsail, such as was fitted to the test boatÑpractically essential if you are shorthanded.

The J/46 has one of the least cluttered decks I have ever encountered, with good nonskid, well-placed stainless steel cabinhouse grabrails and a locker recessed into the deck forward. The builder provides a single stainless steel anchor roller, but I would recommend investing in the second, optional one too. A convenient anodized toerail with well-placed fairleads surrounds the boat.

Down below You step down from the cockpit into a spacious main cabin, with a U-shaped galley to port and a navigation station to starboard. A small aft cabin lies under the starboard side deck, complete with double berth, a set of drawers and a hanging locker. This would make a valuable seagoing berth under way, but is hardly large enough for prolonged occupation. A head with shower is tucked behind the galley to port, with easy access to the Yanmar diesel from both the aft cabin and head as well as the companionway steps.

The saloon is airy, with three opening ports and lots of hatch ventilation, and the test boat was finished in cherry wood joinery. Teak is another option, but I found the cherry stunning. A U-shaped dinette with table is immediately forward of the galley, and with the conventional berth/settee opposite, you can sit at least six people down to dinner in comfort. There is a pilot berth outboard the dinette.

The galley is palatial, complete with a Force 10 three-burner stove with an oven, a large icebox (refrigeration is optional) and deep, double sinks. The U-shaped design allows you to wedge yourself securely in a seaway, but I would recommend installing a galley strap for the stove if bound offshore, as there is nothing to support the cook from the back while at the stove.

The navigation station opposite has a comfortable, forward-facing seat, with a large chart table with a hinged top. A useful shallow shelf outboard covers the battery space. There is plenty of room for electronic devices of all kinds, with the electrical panel behind your head. There is nothing particularly innovative about the saloon, but it is functional at anchor and at sea, with well-placed grab handles, rounded surfaces and a stainless grab post on the corner of the galley.

From the saloon you pass into the spacious forward cabin, with a larger head and separate shower compartment to port. Locker space lies to starboard of the head. Both heads have white plastic surfaces that are easily cleaned.

The forward cabin itself is a huge V-berth with central insert and shelves and lockers outboard. This is where I would sleep in port, for there is room to move about and stretch, a large hatch overhead for air and room to sit if you wish. No sartorial excesses here, just a thoroughly practical layout you can dress up any way you wish. Under sail The J/46 is a comfortable, well-appointed boat, with an interior finish that is very different from the somewhat austere decor of other racer-cruisers in the J Boat line. But this boat really shines where it matters, out on the ocean.

I backed the 46 out of the slip with fingertip control, the 76-horsepower Yanmar was barely audible in the cockpit. The remarkable steering, with only a full turn lock-to-lock, gave me the confidence to maneuver the boat at close quarters without wishing for a bow thruster. While passaging, the boat should cruise comfortably at 8 knots at about 2800 rpm, depending on the propeller installation.

Instead of the usual near-calms that seem to appear every time I head out for a boat tests, there was a magnificent 12- to 18-knot afternoon breeze, which suited the boat perfectly. We raised main and jib and hardened on the wind, making a comfortable 7 knots in the lighter puffs. When a gust came, the boat heeled and accelerated fast, with almost perfect balance and a level of control that I associate more with tillers than wheels. Above all, it was quiet, moving effortlessly over the chop and allowing almost no spray aboard. I got the impression it would be a dry boat in rougher conditions, an important factor when beating to windward for 20, 30 miles or more.

We cracked off on a reach and set the asymmetrical spinnaker from its convenient sock. Then the boat really came alive, reaching at speeds around 10 knots sailing on a beam reach. I never felt it was sailing out of control, and the boat could have carried the spinnaker in a lot more wind without a moment of concern. The ease of handling was also a revelation. True, setting spinnakers and large genoas on a boat this size can require a cast of more than a couple, especially on long passages and in strong winds, but the basic configuration of main and 100-percent genoa allows for astonishingly easy handling and safe passages under a wide range of open water conditions. A spinnaker snuffer with lines led back to the cockpit can ease the hoisting.

No 46-foot performance cruising yacht is cheap, but there is a lot for the dollar with the J/46. This is a boat that begs for sophisticated electronics linked to one another. I must confess to being a novice at such things, but it was fascinating to sail with an autopilot linked to GPS, radar and instruments. The boat could be fine-tuned effortlessly. Such electronic sophistication doesn't come cheap, but you would get more out of your 46 with such wizardry.

J Boats offers various refrigeration, power, and cruising packages, as well as a wide range of stand-alone options, so you can customize your boat to your heart's content. But what stands out with the J-46 is its blazing performance, exceptional comfort at sea and ability to make long passages in comfort.

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The J46 Sailboat Specs & Key Performance Indicators

The J46, a high-performance cruising yacht, was designed by Rod Johnstone and built in the USA by J Boats.

'Breezing Up', a light displacement J46 performance cruising yacht.

Published Specification for the J46

Underwater Configuration:  Bulb fin keel & spade rudder

Hull Material:  GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall:  46'0" (14.0m)

Waterline Length:  40'6" (12.3m)

Beam:  13'10" (4.2m)

Draft:  6'3" (1.9m)

Rig Type:  Masthead sloop

Displacement:  24,000lb (10,886kg)

Designer:  Rod Johnstone

Builder:  J Boats (USA)

Year First Built:  1995

Year Last Built:  2003

Number Built:  35

Owners Association:  J Boat Owners

Published Design Ratios for the  J46

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio:  19.7

  • Less than 16 would be considered under-powered;
  • 16 to 20 would indicate reasonably good performance;
  • Over 20 suggests relatively high performance.

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio:  39.2

  • Under 40: less stiff, less powerful
  • Over 40: stiffer, more powerful

3. Displacement/Length Ratio:  161

  • Under 100: Ultralight
  • 100 to 200: Light
  • 200 to 275: Moderate
  • 275 to 350: Heavy
  • Over 350: Ultraheavy

4. Comfort Ratio:  26.7

  • Under 20 indicates a lightweight racing boat
  • 20 to 30 indicates a coastal cruiser
  • 30 to 40 indicates a moderate offshore cruising boat
  • 40 to 50 indicates a heavy offshore boat
  • Over 50 indicates an extremely heavy offshore boat

5. Capsize Screening Formula:   1.9

  • Under 2.0 (the lower the better): Better suited for ocean passages
  • Over 2.0: Less suited for ocean passages

read more about these Key Performance Indicators...

Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the J46

eBook: How to Avoid Buying the Wrong Sailboat

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of 19.7 suggests that, in the right hands, the J/46 will have enough performance to leave most other sailboats of similar waterline length well astern. 

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 40.0 means that the  J/46  will initially stand up reasonably well to her canvas in a moderate breeze, but she'll need a reef in the main to avoid heeling excessively in a gust.

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 161, tells us the J/46 is clearly a light displacement sailboat. If she's loaded with too much heavy cruising gear her performance will suffer to a degree.

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.9 tells us that a J/46 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 

Sailboat-Cruising.com says...

About the boat:.

The J/46 sailboat is a comfortable, well-appointed sailboat that excels in detailed examinations of safety, comfort, performance, seakindliness under way, systems, quality of construction, materials, finish, value for the money, as well as intangibles like aesthetics, pride of ownership & all-around fun. The J/46 is a 46-foot masthead sloop that promises to be an exceptional cruising boat and one particularly liberating for a couple eager to go anywhere under sail, without the need for additional crew.

It has two dedicated sleeping cabins and two heads. The forward cabin has a large V-berth with ample storage space. The aft cabin has a large double berth with hanging locker and bureau. The main salon has two settees with pilot berths outboard and a large drop-leaf table. The galley is aft to port with a three-burner propane stove and oven. The navigation station is opposite the galley to starboard. The head is aft to port with access from the salon or aft cabin. The second head is forward to starboard with access from the forward cabin.

The J/46 sailboat is known for its excellent performance in light winds. It has an easy comfortable motion at sea under sail, and is capable of offshore or ocean voyages.

In terms of 'fors', the J/46 sailboat is known for its excellent performance in light winds and its easy comfortable motion at sea under sail. It is capable of offshore or ocean voyages. In terms of 'againsts', there are no major issues reported about this sailboat.

About the Designer:

The designer of the J/46, Rod Johnstone, is a boat builder and yacht designer from the United States. He is known for designing the J/24 sailboat which is the most successful one-design keelboat of the past 35 years with over 5,300 boats built to date.

Other sailboats designed by Rod Johnstone include:

  • J/24: The most successful one-design keelboat of the past 35 years with over 5,300 boats built to date.
  • J/35: A 35-foot sailboat designed for racing and cruising.
  • J/105: A 34-foot sailboat designed for racing and cruising.
  • JY 15: A 15-foot sailboat designed for recreational sailing.
  • J/80: A trailerable sailboat designed for racing and cruising.

About the Builder:

J Boats is a sailboat manufacturer that has been in business since 1977. They are known for their high-quality racing and performance-cruising sailboats. Sailboats built by J Boats include:

  • J/22 - A 22-foot keelboat that is easy to sail and race.
  • J/24 - A 24-foot keelboat that is one of the most popular keelboats in the world.
  • J/30 - A 30-foot keelboat that was designed for racing and cruising.
  • J/32 - A 32-foot keelboat that was designed for cruising and racing.
  • J/33 - A 33-foot keelboat that was designed for racing.
  • J/34c - A 34-foot keelboat that was designed for cruising and racing.
  • J/35 - A 35-foot keelboat that was designed for racing.
  • J/37 - A 37-foot keelboat that was designed for racing and cruising.
  • J/40 - A 40-foot keelboat that was designed for cruising and racing.
  • J/42 - A 42-foot keelboat that was designed for cruising and racing.
  • J/44 - A 44-foot keelboat that was designed for cruising and racing.
  • J/46 - A 46-foot keelboat that was designed for cruising and racing.

This additional info was drafted by sailboat-cruising.com using GPT-4 (OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model) as a research assistant to develop source material, and believes it to be accurate to the best of their knowledge.

Other sailboats in the J-Boat range include:

A J/40 performance cruising yacht

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