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Old 16-11-2003, 17:39   #1
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Cal 39

Any opinions on the older Cal 39's (1970-80's) capabilities as a live aboard/blue water cruiser?
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Old 17-11-2003, 12:58   #2
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Cal Boats

I once had a Cal 2-27. It was built in 76. It had a very strong and fast hull. Also it was roomy inside for a 27. I liked it a lot and wouldn't mind having another one, but longer.
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Old 17-11-2003, 18:13   #3
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The Cal 39's were intended as coastal cruisers and they really were not all that good at that. There is no way that I would ever recommend these as offshore boats from any metric. I do like the older Cal 40 design though.

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Old 17-11-2003, 20:00   #4
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Cal 39

Thanks for the input guys.

Jeff, I'm confused by your comments.Here's the numbers on the boat.Please explain to me where I'm missing the boat. Pun intended

Phrf - 114 -Wing keel (Not a racer, but not a slug either)

SA/D - 18.2 (Strong sail plan)

B/D - 40% (Fairly stiff boat)

D/L - 245 (Medium)

Hull Speed - 7.5

Screen#- 1.94

Here are some comments I've seen on the boat.

"Blue Water Sailing"

Summary

"The Cal 39 seems to be an ideal vessel for an offshore retrofit. With its clean decks and cockpit and open interior, it will be easy to convert this boat to your ideal short-handed blue water cruiser. We see all sorts of doors to remove, heads to replace with lockers, and things we could do with the galley. Maybe we could craft a hard dodger over the companionway and reconfigure the cockpit for short-handed cruising.

With its relatively long waterline (32 feet on a 39-foot LOA), powerful hull design and generous sail plan, it will be a fast passagemaker that will be fun to sail and comfortable to live aboard offshore. The 39's sail area/displacement ratio of 18.2 will enhance her reputation as a family offshore cruiser. The 257 displacement/length ratio means that the 39 will sail extremely well while carrying all the gear and supplies necessary for an extended passage; 150-mile days should be commonplace. The Cal 39's comfort ratio (which cranks displacement, waterline, LOA and beam through an intricate formula contrived by naval architect Ted Brewer) of 31.2 is what one might expect of a moderate displacement (17,500 pounds) offshore cruiser.

Surprisingly few Cal 39s are on the market these days, which is probably an indication of the loyalty owners feel for them. Close to 150 reportedly were built between 1978 and 1986, so you know they're out there."

Bob Perry

"This tis a very handsome boat. The cockpit coamings slope outboard to make comfy seats when the boat is heeled, and they drop away aft to allow easy access to the broad swim platform. The cabintrunk is carefully sculpted to blend well with the sheerline. The 39 is now being built by George Crowell of Little Compton, Rhode Island, who bought the molds from O'Day. If excellence in design accounts for anything, George should find success with the 39.

A revived cruiser that also can take you racing once in a while."


Owner- Rafael Cordero

"Modern American Classic-Bill Lapworth designed sloop-fast cruiser-comfortable-no major weaknesses 10 years of very fine caribbean crusing. "
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Old 17-11-2003, 20:59   #5
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A couple thoughts here, sometimes a boat does not add up to its numbers. Having sailed on these boats, raced against these boats and having seen them underway, they have struck me as I described. Build quality seems pretty mediocre. They just plain do nothing for me. Their motion is not one that I would ever characterize as seakindly and frankly these are the kinds of boats that give fin keels a bad name.

I did want to talk a bit about your numbers and comments on them.

"SA/D - 18.2 (Strong sail plan)"

Actually 18.2 is a little under canvased for a cruising boat. Sail plans with a SA/D below 20 are heavily dependent on large genoas in moderate conditions and below. A sail plan closer to 20 is a moderately strong sail plan and is much better suited to short-handed cruising since you can get by with smaller more efficient sails overall.

"B/D - 40% (Fairly stiff boat)"
Actually B/D has nothing to do with stiffness. Stiffness is a term that only applies to the amount of form stability and not overall stability. 40% B/D on a shoal draft wing keel does not provide a lot of stability.


"D/L - 245 to 257 (Medium)"

245/257 is actually a pretty heavy displacement. That is the range of the early Valliants (240). Something between 160 and 200 is a moderate displacement.

"Hull Speed - 7.5"
This is a virtually useless number as it tells you very little about how much time that the boat actually spends at or near that speed. The answer is very little if any.

" Capsize Screen#- 1.94" and "Motion comfort of 31"

Tell you less than nothing about the likelihood of capsize or about the boat's actual motion. This is one of those cases where the numbers are lying.

Jeff
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Old 17-11-2003, 22:33   #6
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Well Stede?

It kinda depends on what your intentions are out there, are you going to be a coastal cruser/liveaboard or an ocean crossing racer type looking for a fast passage.

One thing that has to be reiterated is that there are NOT a lot of Cal's out there for sale, especially the newer ones (1984+). That must say something about them. Their keepers.
The numbers don't always interpret what you really want. I'd say take a ride on one in differant weather situations, get down in the bilges and all the little hideaway places. Look for any structural problems. On an older boat they'll be evident by now, if there are some. I do know some of the pre 70 - 40's had a little problem with the bulkheads not being attached to the hull very well, but that's hearsay.

Check out some of the CAL forums. See what the owners have to say. My ole 2-27 was a pleasure to sail and I don't remember having any complaints. Just wanted a bigger boat. Ya know what I mean!

The other production vessels I kept an eye on was the Ericsons. Almost had one a couple years ago but someone beat me to it. Their simular to the CAL's. Also not easy to find.
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Old 18-11-2003, 06:29   #7
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While I've been reseaching boats to possibly upgrade to, one thing that has consistantly frustrated me is the inconsistancy of various sources on sailboat design, and construction. A lot of the time the information seems more "speculative",than fact.

Jeff, I mean no disrespect,but some of your comments confuse me. I highly respect your opinion,and as I mentioned before,I'm just trying to learn.Please don't take this as personal.

"SA/D - 18.2 (Strong sail plan)"
Actually 18.2 is a little under canvased for a cruising boat.

John Rousmaniere-Sailnet contributor.

A SA/D ratio around 12 indicates an extreme underigged boat.A ratio double that one is typical of racing boats,and most modern cruisers fall between the
two extremes. Of course,you can carry all the sail you want for light air so long as you can reef early.

"D/L - 245 to 257 (Medium)"
245/257 is actually a pretty heavy displacement.

John Rousmaniere-Sailnet contributor.

"Boats with a D/L of more than about 325 are heavy cruisers. A number between 200 and 325 indicates a light to moderate displacement cruiser,and less than 200 is very light displacement.

" Capsize Screen#- 1.94" and "Motion comfort of 31"
"Tell you less than nothing about the likelihood of capsize or about the boat's actual motion."

John Rousmaniere-Sailnet contributor

The most important performance number is the "range of positive stability(also called range of vanishing stability or latent stability.)

*** John explains this number typically has to be obtained from the builder. He then goes on to further comment.

Stability range can only be provided by the boat's designer,builder,or International Measurements System (IMS) or other rating rule. Another,less precise stability gauge can be calculated from a boat's published dimensions.This is the capsize screening formula". (explanation of formula provided)" If the end result is less than 2, than the boat's relatively safe from capsize and remaining turtled.The capzise screening formula is not an exact measure of stability but an indicator that can be helpful in the tire-kicking stage early in the process."

"B/D - 40% (Fairly stiff boat)"
Actually B/D has nothing to do with stiffness.

Untitled source on the Net.

"The ballast ratio is a measure of the percentage of a boats displacement taken up by ballast. It can give some indication of how stiff or tender a boat may be. Note that it takes no account of the location of the ballast or of the hull shape of the boat. Two boats can have the same ballast ratios with very different righting moments. If the hulls are the same, boat A with all it's ballast in a bulb at the bottom of the keel will be stiffer then boat B with a long shoal draft keel even though they may have the same BR. Racing boats tend to have higher BR's then cruising boats."

***One other item, I was mistaken about the wing keel.The boat I supplied specs.on is has 56 draft, fin keel and spade rudder.

Del - Thanks for your comments. You make some very sound statements.I would love to go take some of these boats out and "kick the tires" so to speak. But regretfully,I live 250 miles inland.My wife stays sick a lot and I can't travel like I'd like to. For now,I research these boats that interest me and seem to have potential.I'm compiling a "second cut" list.When I take my next vacation,I intend to physically check out as many of these boats as I can in an effort to finalize the list even further. I too, really like the Ericson designs you mentioned.One of the boats on my list is an Ericson,and I hope to get some input on her after we're done with this Cal. Thanks!
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Old 19-11-2003, 06:48   #8
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I have a lot of respect for John Rousmaniere. In the early 1980's, in the wake of the Fastnet Disaster,when Rousmaniere's book was being written, his book on the desirable characteristics along with Marchaj's book on seaworthiness were really revolutionary and seminal works. I don't where these specific quotes come from but the bulk of the research that formed the basis of both Rousmaniere and Marchaj's books were derived from studying sailing typeforms of that era, namely IOR and CCA typeforms. Both were notoriously short on stability relative to drag and both had comparatively short waterlines.

Almost without saying there has been huge leaps in yacht design. Based on this understanding of seaworthiness; hull design, weight distribution, rig design, hardware design and layout, etc has evolved dramatically. Almost immediately there were big jumps in the ballast stability of racing boats that took nearly a decade to filter into cruising boats. The 1983 introduction of the wing keel, reintroduced the idea of bulb keels and end plates. At the end of the 1980's, with the death of the IOR rule and increased popularity of the IMS typeform, drag went down as stability and waterline lengths went up. With this greater stability boats were able to carry larger standing sail plans.

Looking at the specifics of your last post:

SA/D:

I don't think that John Rousmaniere are in disagreement on sail area. A SA/D of 12 is grossly undercanvassed. An SA/D of 24 is in the range fo a race boat. Most modern cruisers do fall between the two extremes. With the greater stability of the latest generation of performance distance cruisers They have an easy time supporting a sailplan with an SA/D around 20 or more. This results in a rig that is more efficient and so does not need as much sail area in light air and with modern depowering techniques offer a lot of flexibility well up into very high wind ranges. An SA/D of 18.2 is a little under canvased for a cruising boat. It means carrying more sails, making more sail changes, and carrying less efficient sails.

D/L:
Here I believe that John Rousmaniere's numbers are quite dated. I think I can explain it like this. If you look at a typical 40 foot moderate displacement cruiser of the 1980's you would see somewhere around a 19000 lb displacement on a 32 foot long waterline resulting in an L/D around 260. If we look at a mid 1990's version of that same 40 footer, you would expect to see numbers like 19,000 on a 35 foot waterline resulting in a L/D under 200.

It used to be thought that a boat with an L/D under 200 or so could not carry enough gear and supplies to be a decent cruiser. I think any up to date designer will tell you that L/D has a lot less bearing carrying capacity than does the actual displacement of the boat and that an L/D down as low as 160 can still result in a good offshore cruiser. By any reasoned, objective, and proportionate standard, an L/D of 245/257 is actually a pretty heavy displacement.

Capsize screen and Motion Comfort:
I know that I have explained this to you before but here it is again, both of these formulas were developed at a time when boats were a lot more similar to each other than they are today. These formulas have limited utility in comparing boats that otherwise are very similar. Neither formula contains almost any of the real factors that control motion comfort or seaworthiness. Neither formula contains such factors as the vertical center of gravity or bouyancy, neither contains weight or buoyancy distribution, and neither contains any data on dampening which really are the major factors that control motion comfort or likelihood of capsize.

I typically give this example to explain just how useless and dangerously missleading these formulas can be. If we had two boats that were virtually identical except that one had a 1000 pound weight at the top of the mast. (Yes, I know that no one would install a 1000 lb weight at the top of the mast.) The boat with the weight up its mast would appear to be less prone to capsize under the capsize screen formula, and would appear to be more comfortable under the Motion Comfort ratio. Nothing would be further than the truth. That is why I see these formulas as being worse than useless.

Ballast to displacement ratio:

There are two parts to my reply. First of all one is semantic. The term 'stiffness' does not actually mean stability as it seems to be increasingly popularly used. It refers to the amount of Initial stability (form stability) that a boat has so citing a B/D ratio has nothing to do with stiffness since that only looks at ballast stability and contains no information about the form stability of the boat. Your undisclosed author, used the term 'stiff' imprecisely and incorrectly in this context. (We all make mistakes, stuff happens. I have misused that term myself in the course of conversation.)

But the other issue is much more real. Similar to the discussion on motion comfort and capsizing, there is nothing in a B/D ratio that tells you where that ballast is placed. Small differences in vertical height can make huge differences in stability.

To cite an example, if we consider our 40 footer from the L/D discussion and we look at two separate boats with everything identical including the B/D except that they have different keels and ballasting schemes. The first has a shoal draft encapsolated keel with a low density ballast as was typical in the early 1980's. The second has a bulb keel with a high density ballast. The vertical center of gravity of the ballast of the second boat could easily be as much as a foot or more over deeper than the center of gravity of the first boat. Since the ballast/ disp is 40% in our model, the vertical center of gravity of the whole boat on the bulb keel boat would be 5 inches deeper. This does not sound like much but when you consider that boats like the first boat often have their vertical center of gravity (VCG) at or near their vertical center of buoyancy, the second boat could and usually does have 5 to 10 times more stability at small angles of heel. The significant advantage of the deeper VCG decreases as the boat heels towards a 90 degree heel angle and greatly inncreases in importance as the boat heads towards 180 degrees of heel. In other words the B/D tells you little about stability and nothing about stiffness.

I need to get into the office big time or else I will have to fire myself for being late.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 19-11-2003, 08:15   #9
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Jeff,

Thanks for taking the time to clarify.My apologies for asking some redundant questions-i.e.,capsize screen number. Your explanations make sense to me,and I'm sure I'll have some additional questions after re-reading them, but for now,I have one additional question. When considering potential boats as performance oriented coastal/blue water cruisers,what specific numbers should I really be looking at? I understand your view on the capsize screen ,motion comfort,etc., but for a basis of "qualifying" boats to meet my needs,this has been my approach:

*** Specifically looking at boats in the 37-38 ft.range.On a previous post on another board, you made some recommendations to me.I've been examining those boats,and others for some time now.

(1) Check Phrf of the boat. Baseline I've set is no more than 150
(2) Run other numbers on the boat

a. SA/D
b. D/L
c. Hull Speed
d. Motion comfort
e. BD
f. screen

If these numbers look promising on a boat, then I begin digging deeper to find out about build quality,owners comments,etc. As you've pointed out, some of these values are of no real value. When you were looking for your boat, what criteria did you look at? (Not so much specific numbers, but the process?)

Also, what do you think about the following statements:

"The roll period is very easy to determine, you simply grab a shroud and push / pull until the boat is rocking over a few degrees. Then measure the time it takes for ten full cycles , and divide by 10. The general rule of thumb is that boats with periods less than 4 seconds are stiff and periods greater than 8 seconds are tender. "
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Old 19-11-2003, 10:17   #10
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Stede and all:

This guy John have compiled a list of the "best" cruising boats in various size ranges, including "acceleration" numbers and such.
Looks intersesting, but we all know he is wrong because he did not list any CSYs...

Did not se a Cal 39 either.

http://www.johnsboatstuff.com/Articles/best.htm
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Old 19-11-2003, 11:36   #11
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Hi CSYMan,

You had to get that plug in for the CSY boats,didn't you? Now for some further bad news.On another net site -Mahina.com,the only CSY boat they listed as blue water capable is the CSY 37. I don't take that site,or the one you mentioned as gospel though.Even though it isn't stated, I think on the Mahina site they drop some boats from "the list" because of what they consider inadaquate storage ( i.e.,dry and liquid) areas for long distance blue water legs of a voyage, even though all the other numbers on the boat can be good. Also, I'm not sure how dated their list is.

On the site you provided,if I understand what Jeff is saying correctly, all of the boats listed would be considered under powered,and very heavy compared to the newer designs today.The comfort factor (CF), and capsize risk (CR) are apparently erroneous,so I don't know how meaningful the authors averages are.Maybe Jeff can elaborate? I'll have to read the evaluation criteria further on the Vm/Vh formula to understand that one.I don't have time now, since I'm sluffing off at work.

Of all the boats listed on either site, I don't think I saw any that had the newer types of cored hulls.There are some older models with balsa cored hulls, but no foam types,which also makes me think the sites are some what dated.

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Old 03-11-2009, 06:29   #12
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All, love the thread....but I am a little confused...this boat ostensibly was specifically designed for the TransPac races.....I raced that race out of SDYC, albeit many years ago, and were always near the top of the pack on arrival...many Cal 39's won that race many times.... Now racing across the Pac would be indicative of a boat that is desigend for offshore work, so the question is, is it, or is it not a potential cruising vessel?

Lapworth designed a beautiful, fast, and offshore capable boat that is also capable of very good times in racing circuits.... Where I am I wrong?
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Old 03-11-2009, 07:34   #13
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Cal 39

My old slip mate has sailed his 39 several times from California to mainland Mexico. He raced it in the dbl handed Bishop Rock race and won overall. Most impressive however was last year when he left Oceanside Ca. in March and sailed to Cabo, Marquesas, Fiji, Hawaii then back to Oceanside, dbl handed in 6 months. Les drives that boat hard and it never seems to let him down. He runs a charter service our of Oceanside and has a small web page at Pacific Coast Sail Charters
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Old 03-11-2009, 07:42   #14
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Cal 39 - Thanks, Slacker....

Hey there, thanks a bunch. I've always loved the boat...and I finally found one here on the Chesapeake, and am buying it as we speak. Have done some cruising here on the east coast, and down through the Caribbean, and have no issues with the Cal 39...but was confused by some of the thread here.

The one I am buying came from the San Pedro area not too long ago and is pretty tricked out but she needs some work....something with my credit card AND a toolbox I am more than capable and willing to do!

Thanks for the input...

C
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Old 03-11-2009, 14:50   #15
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Never believe forum comments about a specific boat from people who have not had one. They just want to be a bunch of "experts". When I went to buy my Cal-39 (newer verison) I went to the Cal Owners site and emailed those listed with the same boat. The boat can take you anywhere with proper fitout.
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