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John Wadman's Barbara Joyce, Yankee #141, Mission Bay, California - Lost in an Arson Fire in Cartagena, Columbia - updated August 12, 2017

March 28, 2011. John posted the following on the Forum. Barbara Joyce is a 'newly found Dolphin', our 175th, despite the her unfortunate loss in the arson fire. We are standing by for more about this boat, and hopefully some pictures. Stay tuned...

I owned Yankee Dolphin hull # 141 which I bought in King Harbor, Redondo Beach, CA in the mid 80's. I gutted the main cabin with a sawzall and built a nice teak interior. I built a propane locker in the forward end of the cockpit footwell with a teak lid which reduced the size of the footwell for offshore sailing. I mounted a Navik self-steering vane on it and got an Autohelm 1000. I added a small solar panel also and rebuilt the entire rig. The mainsail and working jib were original and I added a 155 genoa, a 120 reefable genoa, a storm jib, and a cruising spinnaker. I also added a set of self-tailing lewmar winches on the coamings and moved the original winches aft a bit as secondary winches

In November of 1987 I set sail from Mission Bay on a five year cruise thru Central America, the Canal and into the Caribbean. What a great boat! On a trip from Newport Beach to Mission Bay (bouy to bouy) the boat averaged 6.6 knots on a broad reach in light to medium air. In a winter storm off of Isla Guadalupe, Baja California, running under a storm jib alone, the boat took three knockdowns in one night but popped right back up and just kept on going. That was early on in my cruise and really solidified my faith in the construction and design of the boat. I can't think of a better pocket cruiser for the money. . . attractive design, good speed for her waterline, tough. I'm amazed that Old Boat Magazine hasn't featured the Yankee Dolphin or Pacific Dolphin***. I named her after my mom as a promise to her before she died of cancer. . . Barbara Joyce. She was ultimately destroyed by an arsonist in Cartagena, Colombia.

John, Barbara Joyce

Webmaster Note: Good Old Boat Magazine did do a feature article on Yankee Dolphins in 2004. It is included here on the website. Click here to go to it


August 21, 2013. It took a while but John and your webmaster reconnected. He sent in the following email

 Thanks for (the GOB) article. I would encourage any young person or couple who want to go cruising and go NOW to find one of these boats and do some light modifications and take this boat ANYWHERE! I endured some heavy seas in winds gusting to 50/55 over a 12 hour period while running under storm jib and with the navik self steering vane steering. I was a few miles inside of Isla Guadelupe,  Baja California. I averaged just over 7 knots over the bottom for this period. I felt that the boat handled it better than I did.

John Wadman


May 11, 2016. John posted a lot of stuff on the Forum and we have added his comments on Outboard Motors (exhaust issues), Dinghies and Solar Panels to our Technical Section dealing with these subjects. Click the underlined links to go there.

John also gave us a detailed description of his work to set up Barbara Joyce for serious ocean cruising. This is well worth reading and we have placed it in our Stories Section - the title is Setting up Barbara Joyce. Click here to go there.


August 6, 2017. We got the following email (minor edits) from John. The part about his fix for excessive exhaust and noise from transom well mounted outboards has been included in our Technical Section. Click here to go there. And, we are working on fixing the problems we are having with Forum access.

Hi Ron, John Wadman of Barbara Joyce (hull 141 lost to fire) here.

It's been awhile since I have been on the site. I was thinking about a cruise I did in a 16.5 foot Panga I built in Costa Rica along the north coast to Nicaragua to search for surf. What a wild adventure that was - Complete with Crocs In the Surfline, sharks and a jaguar hunting either crocs or turtles (or maybe two nutcase surfers) on the beach?

It made me think of my beloved Barbara Joyce and my cruise from San Diego CA to Cartegena, Colombia in the late 80s/early 90s. I was reading some posts about the poor engine compartment in the Dolphin and was going to write some observations about that and cures I tried but I can't seem to figure out how to get in and then write about it. I keep trying to have new password sent via email but it doesn't arrive in my email. I'll write my piece here and if you want to copy and paste it that would be great.

I sure miss my Dolphin. If my wife would sail with me, I'd get another one and rebuild it. There are things I'd do differently next time. That boat can be sailed around the world in the tropics during the right seasons.

I took three knockdowns in one night running under a storm jib in winds to 55. The seas were so bad that the evening before a Coast Guard cutter came to within 100 yards of me before I saw it, and I was looking 360 degrees twice when I would be on top a wave every 15 minutes for shipping. Each time the boat went on it's side I ended up on the cabin front. Everything inside the cabin that wasn't bolted down (cushions, books, etc. I had most everything stowed well) was on the floor. I actually used the cushions to wedge myself on the floor and pad myself. The boat came up rapidly each time.

I had the main lashed to the boom (and set at the third reef just in case I needed it) with lots of ties and the main cover on and more bungies around that. My little storm jib was actually a back stay riding sail off a West Sail 32. It was bulletproof and designed to keep a West Sail 32 stern pointed downwind at anchor in a cross current. It was a small triangle and was the thickest sailcloth I had ever seen or handled. I didn't fold it. I just rolled it up.

I was so fortunate to get hit by that storm on the fourth/fifth day of my cruise from Mission Bay to Bahia Magdalena, Baja Sur. it was the worse weather I had  ever sailed Barbara Joyce in and it left me with incredible respect and confidence in the design and construction of the Yankees! In five years of cruising I never experienced conditions like that again. Similar conditions in the Caribbean leaving the Panama Canal for the San Blas (actually an island east of the canal called Isla Grande for San Blas) but never quite as bad as that Aleutians storm that came down the entire Pacific coast. 



August 12, 2017. More from John

Hi Ron,

I haven't resolved the problems with access to my account on dolphin24org Forum. But I saw that you reprinted my notes on several topics having to do with the Dolphins. Thanks. These are solutions and observations I made on Barbara Joyce.

I want to be an encourager to anyone who has one of these boats or who is looking for a great pocket cruiser. Owning and cruising Barbara Joyce was one of the better chapters of my life. That little boat took me through so many incredible adventures. It was 30 years ago that I set sail for Mexico on her. Wow, time has passed so fast. But the experiences and adventures seem like yesterday.

Thanks again. John Wadman 




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