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Old 06-12-2005, 20:52   #1
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Cal 34s - Interesting Reports

I've been surprised recently by doing some research on Cal 34s. The Practical Sailor review of them wasn't bad, especially for the Mark IIIs, and I noticed that even these start in my area at around $23k. A search on the Latitude 38 site shows that one was circumnavigated, and others have done significant touring in both the Pacific and Atlantic.

Obviously, these boats are getting old, but owners continue to invest in them. A Mark II is listed in my area with a new diesel, peel job, nearly new sails, etc.

As for now, I've lined up about two weeks of charters for next summer, but in the future the Cal 34s might be worth a closer look for a less expensive family cruiser with the possibility of longer-range work with appropriate enhancements and structural review.
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Old 06-12-2005, 22:09   #2
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I can attest to that

The 1970 2-30 I own has the same waterline as same era cal 34's and with the extension her topsides are real close to. The previous owners had her down to Costa Rica. I've had her to Catalina twice now in three months from San Diego. The last trip was a sleigh ride for sure small craft advisory but not really bad. Surfing 6 ft swells quartering on the stern, wing and wing, and 8 to 11knts. My chartploter was giving me top sog of 8.1knts and our average was 6knt. Comfortable but a long trip for the guests even with a DVD player and laptop. It took 18 hours the boat was comfortable enough to cook a lassagna.

have to love it.
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Old 07-12-2005, 04:35   #3
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Cal 35

These early Cals are impressive. We met and spent some time with Altair a Cal 35. Once the finish transiting the Panama canal they will have completed a 5 year circumnavigation. Not bad for a ya sailor cruiser.
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Old 07-12-2005, 06:50   #4
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Jim, the C34 is a delight to sail and, personally, if I were taking her offshore I'd much appreciate the tiller of the Mk I's, all other things being equal.

However, if you are considering longer-range cruising on one, I'd give a think to the following:
1. She really was built at a time when the market was more regional (vs. national) and these were mostly sold in lighter wind areas like Southern California. She's a great light air boat but the 'structural review' you mentioned would be important. In that vein...
2. The monococque hull-deck structure of this boat is dependent on the main bulkheads, which also anchor the rig and take that loading. While tabbed in, this is simply a wooden (ply + veneer) bulkhead which can be damaged by leaky chain plates, which in turn compromises the entire structure. Look at that carefully.
3. On a boat this old, how does one satisfy those nagging doubts WRT the integrity of the rudder and rudder post, and the keel attachment? I simply don't know and would worry about these issues a lot.

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Old 07-12-2005, 08:38   #5
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Also a big structural issue on the 34 is the hull to deck joint which has minimal contact area and which is very exposed to damage behind the rub rail. I talked to one fellow who had removed the deck and reset it and who claimed that a large portion of the joint had no bond left.

Beyond the issues above, the other major issue that concerns me with the Cal 34 is the cut out at the companionway which is well below the flood plain of the cockpit. The 34's have a very short after deck and so the volume of cockpit rises to the top of the transom making pooping quite likely in heavier going. With the low sill on the companionway this would suggest that downflooding right over the engine is quite possible.

Other criticisms are that these boats do have a limited carrying capacity, they are not the most ideal rig for offshore or short-handed useage, the extensive use of liners on the later boats makes maintenance and updating more difficult, and they were somewhat lightly built. I also agree with Jack that the tiller verions are far preferable.

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Old 07-12-2005, 11:05   #6
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Euro Cruiser once whispered in the wind:

2. The monococque hull-deck structure of this boat is dependent on the main bulkheads, which also anchor the rig and take that loading. While tabbed in, this is simply a wooden (ply + veneer) bulkhead which can be damaged by leaky chain plates, which in turn compromises the entire structure. Look at that carefully.
Jack
It's interesting that you note this-- the Practical Sailor review noted the same issues with the lightweight tabbed bulkheads, which they believed were inherited from the Cal 40 with had the same issue. I believe they noted that in the Cal 40, the rule was to reduce sail when the V-berth joints popped loose.

You are also correct about the rudder assembly and the keel-hull attachment. Repairs of most of these issues are possible, but in the end the costs may put the boat into the "less than a bargain" category. (And the boat won't be worth a great deal no matter how much is put into it.)

I probably won't be buying one of these, but it's interesting that a boat of this design and price point has been cruised to the extent that it has.
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Old 07-12-2005, 11:20   #7
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Quote:
Jeff H once whispered in the wind:

Other criticisms are that these boats do have a limited carrying capacity, they are not the most ideal rig for offshore or short-handed useage, the extensive use of liners on the later boats makes maintenance and updating more difficult, and they were somewhat lightly built. I

Jeff
Once again, I'm impressed by the thoughtful and detailed advice and information that is exchanged on this site. Thanks for the reply.

To gain more hands-on knowledge, we plan to charter next year instead of own. One of the boats we plan to charter for a week is a Crealock 34, which should give us a good idea of it's performance and liveability with our two kids along. We'll also be on a range of smaller coastal cruisers (Islander 28, Catalina 27, San Juan 26) for short trips.

One concern I have was just voiced by Capt. Lar in a recent post-- boats that are 20 years old or more, but haven't been maintained well, are going to have signifcant problems. A well-made boat, like a Crealock 34 or a Tartan 37, may be a bit better, or they could be worse.

In our market in the Pacific Northwest, name brands and availability have a big impact on price-- Tartan 37s sell for much more than on the East coast or Great Lakes area, for example. Most common East coast boats (like Tartans, Sabres, Bristols, etc.) are going to carry a premium because they are rare here.

When we buy, it's going to be tough to find a balance of age, quality, and availability. I had an interesting talk with a broker in Seattle who recommended taking advantage of the situation-- for example, buying a well-maintained Tartan 37 from the Great Lakes area, and shipping it back. The cost difference would more than cover the $6-8k shipping costs, the boat may be in better shape from being stored in the winter and used in fresh water, and reselling it later in the Pacific Northwest would raise the price. Once we have a plan to afford such a venture (around $70k), it might not be a bad idea.

Still, it's fun to think about the $23k local "bargains," despite all the flaws and possible pitfalls.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-12-2005, 12:25   #8
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Charter is a great way to try out different boats and it is a cost effective way to get your sailing time in without the other responsibilities of boat ownership. Remember all the issues you consider when buying should also apply when chartering. You are loading your family onto a boat and heading out. Plan to do your own survey of all you can see and have your own check list for safety, fire and all the rest. " It's not what you expect, it's what you inspect. "

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Old 07-12-2005, 20:28   #9
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Very well made

Here in this photo you can see that the previous owners of my boat had the hull and deck completly laminated into one structure. This was done before the hull was barrier coated and the whole boat recieved Sterling LP.



Here you can see the 2x8" post that supports the mast right middle. This little gem for $34,000 and a capsize ratio of 1.92. I will never disagree that there arn't better suited boats for Blue Water cruising though.

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Old 07-12-2005, 22:12   #10
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Quote:
capt lar once whispered in the wind:
" It's not what you expect, it's what you inspect. "
Thanks for the reminder-- I've seen the Crealock 34 and the Islander 28, and they looked great. I haven't see the Catalina 27 or San Juan 7.7 yet, but we'll visit them and do an inspection before showing up for the four day cruises.

Windthief,

Nice pics-- your interior is impressive. We checked out two Cal 2-29s earlier this year (not as refined as yours), and they looked like nice coastal cruisers as well.
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Old 07-12-2005, 23:30   #11
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Tiller vs. Wheel in Cal 34

Quick follow-up...

Two mentioned a preference for the tiller in the Cal 34 Mark 1. Normally, I'd agree, because I like the feedback and simplicity of a tiller. (It was one of the things we liked about the Islander 36 we looked at.)

The only time I get turned off by a tiller in a boat this size is when it is awkwardly placed in the cockpit. In the Cal 34 Mark 1, the Practical Sailor review noted that this was a complaint of some owners:

"The long boom of the original short rig [of the Mark 1] overhangs the cockpit awkwardly, with the mainsheet traveler just forward of the aft end of the cockpit. According to owners, this makes access to the cockpit lockers a nuisance, as well as squandering cockpit space. The tiller occupies the entire forward half of the cockpit, so that the helmsman sits just aft of the dockhouse, while the sail trimmers sit further aft."

(The Mark II and Mark III were changed to a higher aspect sail plan with a 2' taller mast and a 3' shorter boom.)

I generally have to pay attention to things like this, since we'll often have four in the cockpit. Was there some other reason the tiller in the Mark 1 was recommended that I missed?
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Old 07-12-2005, 23:34   #12
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Nice Interior Shots

Hey Windthief.

That's a nice shot of your boats interior. Nice paint job?

By the way did you check your PM ?
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Old 08-12-2005, 05:30   #13
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Just a short note to mention that I also have seen a Cal (a 34 as I recall) on the Chesapeake who's owner had reglassed the entire hull deck joint; had forgotten about that until seeing Jeff's comment. OTOH I think the design of the joint makes this an easy, inexpensive and worthwhile project for a boat to be subsuequently taken offshore.

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Old 17-10-2011, 12:23   #14
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Re: Cal 34s-- interesting reports

Despite the age of this post - can anyone enlighten me on the design of the Cal 34 (mark I) keel? What I want to know is if the boat has a built-down keel, with a trun of the garboards, thus giving a place for bilge water to collect. The Cal 2-30 and the Cal 40 have this feature. (I owned a 40 back in the late 70's, and really appreciate this feature). With several boats since then, I am looking for a smaller, older Cal. (I just rejected a Cal 2-30 I looked at this weekend as being way too run-down - and a little small.)

And while on the subject, what is the blistering potential of these two models? Presumably they have been fixed by now, but it still would be useful information.
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