My parents owned a Cal 36 from 1968 until 1974 I believe. We raced the boat extensively, including a couple of Transpac (69 and 71) and 72 Mazatlan. The boat was sold to a family
in San Diego
that had chartered one in the Caribbean
and just had to have one. They still own the boat 35 years on, its at San Diego
Yacht Club right next to the club, named Bligh's Spirit.
I have never heard of one with a trim tab -- that must have been a custom modification after the boat was constructed. Probably a very good idea, as a trim tab can be cranked in a few degrees to reduce weather helm
and to improve lift
going upwind. Cal 36 can have a decent amount of weather helm
. Not as much as many race
boats, but a trim tab would certainly be a good thing to have.
They are good solid boats. Simple, so you don't spend your life trying to fix stuff. Everything is accessible and repairable. Easy to sail, as the rig is very small -- only about 40 feet hoist on the jib
In light air, its not a fast boat: a lot of wetted surface, and not much sail area.
In medium to heavy air (anything over 10 knots of breeze) they sail very well. They will surf, like a Cal 40, but nothing like a modern ULDB. They handle very heavy seas and gales well, far better than most boats: the heavier the breeze, the better we did racing.
While we owned it because it was a good racing boat and we went racing 3 to 4 times each week, several thousand miles every year, these were ocean races. This means we lived on the boat underway most weekends for all those years, and for weeks at a time when we'd go to Hawaii
. We did cruise
the boat some too. My brother and I would take the boat with friends for weekends or holiday weeks: nobody over 12 or 14.
Really, its a good cruising boat. Most "cruisers" just have a lot of junk that breaks and needs to be replaced. Most "cruisers" really are impractical underway with no sea berths, unworkable decks, cockpits, galleys, and main cabins. The Cal 36 is really a practical, safe, seaworthy
, and still decently fast offshore
Heaviest weather I can recall
was during a San Clemente Island race, a Whitney series race in February or March, probably 1969, off the Southern California
coast, about 45 knots (that is a HELL of a lot of breeze!) in fully breaking seas. The waves would break, and the soup was so thick it would be right up to the gunwale all the way around the boat! Lots of green water
across the decks. We had two watches: my parents and one of their friends on one watch, and the other watch was me (12), my brother (16) and another 16 year old. No problem. We had dinner underway, the off watch could sleep, not much water
got below. Very few other boats finished that race.