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Old 04-11-2014, 12:04   #1
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Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

Hi
As we begin our process of looking for the boat to eventually replace our old wooden seabird, we're asking for help with evaluating boats.
We want a blue water capable boat no larger than 34 ft. For the time being we are sailing in the Washington San Juans and Gulf islands as we gain skill, but our dream is some longer distance cruising. We've read some and looked over James Baldwins good old boat list, but still feel pretty ignorant.
This particular Cal 34 has been on Craigs list for a while. Part of the difficulty in selling it is that it is out in the San Juans and not easy to go see. I've talked with the owner and we are thinking of hopping the ferry and going to look.
Cal 34' Sailboat, wilderness equipped, free San Juan moorage

The owner has had the boat 12 yrs and done extensive work on it-even to replacing all of the aluminum hull to deck rivets, cleaning up the fiberglass joints and replacing with stainless as well as using something to seal the gap. I was having trouble following him on the phone.
He was a shipwright in the past and a perfectionist so has kept the boat in top condition. I didn't ask him the age of the boat, but need to. The moorage is a real attraction. It's free and in the middle of the San Juans in a very protected bay. He's has a boat there for 30 yrs and made the mooring himself.
So is the Cal considered a good cruiser for off shore? Our neighbors at the marina have a Cal 27 which they live in and cruise the coastal waters. He says the Cal is not considered an off shore cruiser and we want that option in a boat.
We're not quite ready to buy yet, but if an unusual opportunity comes up we could make a move. Right now we are working on the seabird decks at the Marina, so we've got plenty to do! But we need to start our looking and deciding what we are looking for.
Hugh and Jeannie
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Old 04-11-2014, 13:37   #2
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

In my opinion it isn't anymore of an off shore boat that any other boat. It is just a 1967 model that has managed to stay around. That doesn't mean you can not take it off shore, just like you can in any other boat.

There are lots of similar threads here and I wouldn't expect this one to take a different direction than them.

Bottom line really is that only you can decide if a boat can go off shore with you on it.
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Old 04-11-2014, 13:52   #3
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

Lovely design in its day but getting long in the tooth. I think Sailor boy 1 has made a good point, its up to each individual.
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Old 04-11-2014, 14:15   #4
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

I like Cals, But would never call it an offshore boat. many on this forum disagree though. (go look at the debate raging on the "rudder failures" thread).
My opinion is offshore "newbies " need a boat that "takes care of them" as best as possible. That boat would be overbuilt and very strong and comfortable... would not have a spade rudder.
BTW, a slightly newer very clean Cal 34 sold on CL in Seattle about a year ago for $12500. Hard to compare though without all the data.
You don't want to be in the position of buying a lighter boat, putting at least as much $ into it as you paid for it... and then after sailing it long enough and in some blue water... decide you need a real offshore boat!
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Old 04-11-2014, 14:29   #5
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

An offshore cruiser is a boat that somebody takes offshore. Their have been everything from 8' dinghies on up that have crossed oceans. The Cal 34 was built to appeal to mostly daysailers who'd take occasional short cruises. That's the case for the vast majority of boats. Fortunately, Cal put a lot more into the boat than is common in todays production boat. The hull is solid glass and thick. The sail plan is easy for a singly hander or small crew to handle with roller furling on the headstay. Biggest negative in the overall design is the large cockpit. They really need additional drain capacity to evacuate a boarding sea. That's a relatively easy thing to do by adding a couple more drains and the requisite plumbing. The fixed ports in the main cabin are a bit large so ability to add shutters when needed would be a plus. I don't like outside flange hull to deck joints. It sounds like the owner has taken care to deal with that issue by replacing the fasteners with stronger, longer lasting SS rivets.

Other than the above, the boat is as capable as anything currently out there ocean voyaging. Yes you can get a a metal, purpose built boat for high latitude sailing but then you are talking a whole bunch, like multiple times, what you'll be paying for the Cal. Have sailed my comparable era cruiser to Hawaii and contemplating a sail to Alaska next summer and back to Kona.
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Old 04-11-2014, 14:48   #6
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

Hi Hugh and Jeannie.

You are asking for opinions on whether this boat (linked) is good enough for sailing offshore (Pacific Northwest, North Pacific).

While I don't own a boat like that, and I generally agree with the statement made by Sailorboy up above (Bottom line really is that only you can decide if a boat can go off shore with you on it.), I will offer an opinion since you asked for them.

I looked at the linked boat via the net. I read the description carefully. I then looked at the photos. I considered the asking price. I considered other boats I have found for less that $20K that are about that size. I considered the age of the boat and the "customization" done to it. I considered that I like classic boats, and I considered that having some boat is probably better than having no boat.

IF you owned that boat and asked me to do some day sailing around the SJ islands (short hops) I would enjoy that with you, because I like sailing enough to endure a little discomfort for a short time in relatively safe locations. You could own an antique woody (it appears you do) and I would enjoy the day sail.

But, if you asked me to go offshore with you down the Pacific coast to San Francisco or to Hawaii on that same boat, I would refuse (pass). My gut (experience) tells me that I would not feel "comfortable" on that boat for offshore voyages in the North Pacific. This gut feeling really has nothing to do with the size of the boat, as there are smaller boats that I would do a Transpac on. Nor is it solely a matter of age of boat, as there are some older boats (even woodies) that I would love to sail on across the seas. My feeling is based on a combination of age, design, and condition of the boat and systems.

Just about any boat will do in benign conditions (low winds, low waves) on lakes or bays. But, offshore sailing in more dangerous regions like the PNW (Washington and Oregon coast, Northern California coast, etc.) are different.

So, I would "pass" on this boat IF you desire a boat for offshore sailing or longer voyages in the North Pacific. That is my opinion and others will have theirs, naturally.
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Old 04-11-2014, 14:48   #7
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
My opinion is offshore "newbies " need a boat that "takes care of them" as best as possible. That boat would be overbuilt and very strong and comfortable... would not have a spade rudder.
Guess that rules out the old Cal-40s that are in the cruiser hall of fame

Just to stay in the Cal world
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Old 04-11-2014, 15:01   #8
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
Guess that rules out the old Cal-40s that are in the cruiser hall of fame

Just to stay in the Cal world
Yep It does, I raced on one. Watched the bow topsides oil can in and out in rough weather too! Obviously it can be done in even a Buccaneer if you want to bad enough.
Rudders aside, here's the difference I see:
I hit a rock at 5.5 knots motoring in my Taiwan built Passport 47. It hit so solidly that the boat stopped dead. My wife and I were both on the deck after. There was no detectable damage other than a scrape on the keel.
I managed a Catalina 42 that was in charter. A charterer hit a rock at 5 knots and the boat had a small leak. Upon inspection: the engine bed had come partially loose from the hull, there was a fine crack in front and behind the keel, the galley cabinetry had come lose from the hull. It was an extensive repair requiring engine removal etc.
To me that's the difference between a Blue water boat and one that is not. It has nothing to do with whether someone has taken one bluewater before. People do all kinds of things without a safety margin... but that doesn't mean the average Joe should!
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Old 04-11-2014, 18:00   #9
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

Thanks so much for all of the advise given. It is well taken!
Reading the posts helps us to evaluate this boat, but also to understand better what we should be looking for. We are not very experienced and don't want to make an impulsive ignorant decision.
We do need to know about the specifics that we need to look for.
Heavier boat, full keel, smaller well drained cockpit, what type of rudder,, engine, weight etc.
Hopefully we can narrow down our specifics and search til we find what we are looking for.
So more advise, please.
I know everyone has their preferences and boats they love, but let us know what you love and why if you can.
Hey steady hand we'd love to do a day sail in our antique woody with you
Hard to believe it was originally built to circumnavigate and has done its share of sailing from here to Alaska, but I don't think I'd have wanted to go around the world in it-though others have in the same design.
We'll check out the other threads for beginners
Thanks
Hugh and Jeannie
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Old 04-11-2014, 20:33   #10
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

H and J,

Thanks for the nice offer of a ride on your wooden boat. I am always interested in older boats and wooden ones warm my heart.

You asked for more suggestions.

Here are two sites that have reviews of "blue water sailboats" or boats known for "offshore" sailing and cruising.

Bluewaterboats

Sailboat Reviews of Offshore Cruising Yachts : Bluewaterboats.org

This site has nice reviews and illustrations for many boats. Collaborative effort with different boats added over time. I like that it adds links to other reviews on many of the boats and has some comments from owners of those boats. Also includes the basic data on the boats (LOA, SA, Draft, etc.).


____________
Atom Voyages

Atom Voyages - Home

A list of 71 blue water proven sailboats up to 32 feet long. None longer. List is from the point of view of one sailor who has good experience on long voyages. Here is a quote that shows some of his preferences (or criteria) in his list:

"Aside from a few exceptions, all boats here meet the following criteria of proven seaworthiness, moderate draft under 5-foot, tiller steering, room for one or two people to live-aboard in reasonable comfort, fiberglass construction for ease of maintenance and availability, and this sailor’s idea of functional and attractive design."
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Old 04-11-2014, 21:16   #11
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

The price seems quite high given the condition the pictures portray. And no diesel conversion. I wouldn't even go to look at it without much better, recent, high resolution pictures.

On a tight budget I would rather attempt a circumnavigation in a somewhat modified (cockpit drainage, stronger chainplates than stock, sea hood, improved cabin entry boards etc) Cal 34 than a leaky Triton 28 the way James Baldwin (he still owns the Atom) did. Twice. BTW, he helped me do the survey on my Cal 34.
A 1967 Cal 34 is a Mark 1 and with its long boom is considered to carry enough sail to have mild weather helm tendencies, many have been modified to a shorter boom. Mine has too many modifications to list on a single page, most of them were very expensive for the prior owner owners.

Cal 40's were built light but strong. A lot of them were worked pretty hard in offshore race conditions and it was considered routine to freshen the bulkhead tabbing prior to a race. They don't oilcan if they are properly maintained. The age of the Cals is not important, most have been extensively upgraded and in any older boat the care and maintenance is primary.
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Old 05-11-2014, 02:36   #12
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

I sailed a Cal 34 mark 1 from Seattle to Hawaii and back in 85. Now own a Cal 40.

The Cal 34 has an integral keel, no keelbolts to worry about. The hull deck seam is fiberglass taped together on the inside of the hull. It does have a steel beam under the cabin sole for mast support that has rusted out on some boats. This needs to be inspected.

Later Cal 34s, the mark 2 and 3 have a shorter boom and taller mast. The mark 1 develops weather helm when you heel it too much, reef a little early.

Search the forum for debates on fin versus full keel and spade versus other kinds of rudders. There are those that only see full keel, attached rudder as safe, and others that have a different opinion. You should do more research than what you've seen so far in this thread before you make a decision. As you can probably tell from the boats I sail I'm not worried about a well built spade rudder.

Where are you guys finding all those rocks offshore to hit anyways??
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Old 05-11-2014, 03:13   #13
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

H & J,

I would not consider that boat, myself, for a circumnavigation. However, I'm feeling quite amazed that it has been used only as a fair weather boat in the San Juans. (Nothing on the sale site about dealing with winter, and all light air sails.) However, as a transitional boat, that you would have stewardship over, while sailing around and developing opinions about what you'd like in your next boat, why not?

We all have to start somewhere. I started sailing other people's boats, first a 26 footer and a 31, with a woman friend who got me into sailing, then a 30, with Jim, then a 36, and now this boat. Who knows what your future will bring.

I hope you make wise decisions along the way, and benefit from them.

Ann
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Old 05-11-2014, 04:12   #14
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

Cal 34's are good boats. Friends/Neighbors of mine took theirs on a long cruise down to Mexico from San Diego, & had a great time. And for lounging in warm weather, that boat has a great cockpit. I wouldn't hesitate to own one myself. Just that she'd need the appropriate level of tuning & TLC depending on what I wanted to do with her.

Still, all of what's been said applies. Especially about the engine. Ditto on putting both a real stove, & heater in (given the climate up there). Also, there are a few other key things which stand out via the pictures.

- Lack of a hatch turtle/garage. To prevent water on deck from creeping (or pouring) in around the companionway hatch. And on a boat that size & design, such is guaranteed when going to weather in 15kts or better, give or take.

- ZERO chafing gear on the lines to the mooring ball definitely raises some red flags! Especially as I lived up there for 10+ years, & well know of the 50kt - 70kt storms which sweep through every third day like clockwork, from Oct to Mar/Apr.

- The mooring's 30yrs old, yet is listed as corrosion free. How? And what kind of upkeep's been done on it? As that's a LONG time for any kind of chain to be submerged. Including it's attachment point to the weight at the bottom.

- Also on the mooring, the lines to the boat are simply connected to the top of the mooring ball. That bears closer inspection, as few mooring balls that I've run across aren't designed nor rated for strenuous loads via that connection point.

Typically on moorings, there's a BIG shackle affixed to a short chain leader (which is shackled to the primary mooring chain). The shackle on the lead is what the primary connections to the vessel get hooked to for anything aside from using it as a spot for lunch.

Also, while the free mooring thing is attractive... if you plan or need to do any serious work/modifications on her, such can be tough (on first timers especially) when shuttling EVERYTHING back & forth via the dingy. That, & not having a firm platform like a dock to work from if working on the topsides. Ditto on setting up your own DIY electricity for your power tools, when on the hook.


And if you're serious about the boat, & going cruising on her, ponder this. Realistically about 1/3 of your budget will go for the initial purchase, then another 1/3 or so for fitting her out, & the last 1/3 for initial post purchase buys plus to start a cruising kitty.

Just to get an idea of the outfitting number. Were it me, I'd:
- Pull the rig, & inspect every nut, bolt & tang, etc. In addition to replacing all of the rigging wire. And probably the turnbuckles & toggles too, barring recent recipts from a good, & well known rigger. In addition to that, I'd pull + inspecting the chainplates as well. As more often than not, on vessels in that age range can have some significant corrosion on them on the sides which bolt to the bulkheads.
Ah, while replacing the rigging wire, I'd likely adding a Solent or cutter stay, with attendant halyard. Plus, a furler most likely.

- Re-bed ALL of the deck fittings. Including possibly the hull to deck joint (a weak spot on some Cal models).

- Figure on building a new rudder, as alluded to by another member, above.

- Rig her with all new, double, lifelines. And add big backing plates to the stanchion bases if needed.

- Add a Windvane for self steering.

- Add a pair (or more) of heavy duty bilge pumps. Manual & Electric.

- Set up your navigation gear. Both electronic, as well as old school.

- Pick up a few $k in spares for the engine... alternator(s), starter(s), water pump & impellers, upgrade the fuel filtering system to twin Raycors. And is the fuel tankage in place both in good shape, & have sufficient quantity.

- Fit her with a new suit of sails, & have the current ones tuned/beefed up.

- Add a dodger

- Figure out a dinghy system that'll work for stowing aboard

- Do you want a water maker, & or need more water tankage?

- Plan on switching to mostly, or all chain ground tackle. Including a windlass (with spare parts, if it's electric. That & adding 2-3 more anchors.

- What's needed in terms of safety equipment? Life jackets, harnesses & tethers, plus jacklines, an offshore flare kit, life raft?

- Add a pair of solar panels, & an "inexpensive" wind generator.

I could go on, and am not trying to dissuade you. Just give you some idea of the basics, in terms of fitting out, & the why behind my numbers.

I think that bottom line, Cal's are great. And that likely the 34 would serve you well (assuming she's structurally sound) given the appropriate level of fitout for what you're doing with her. Though as to going off on her to cross oceans will be a thing more served by your experience gained over time. Including say, doing some cruising in WA & BC. Plus if you're thinking further afield, then going down the coast would both be fun, & a skill/judgment + confidence builder. Especially as there'd be a fair number of other cruisers in close vicinity.

From there, the heading out further is up to you (plays to the experience thing). That & whether or not you're comfortable with the way the boat handles with the 2 tons of gear & equipment which you've added to her.

To get a 2nd opinion, from seasoned professionals. Pick up copies of Lin & Larry Pardey's books, ditto on the Dashew's. As well as Beth Leonard & Evan Starzinger www.bethandevan.com And for a different point of view on cruising, snag a copy of "Voyaging on a Small Income" by Annie Hill. She & Pete cruised tens of thousands of miles on maybe a few hundred $ per month. The book's a Really good read.

Also, do some crewing on boats in your area. Both via notices on electronic, plus old fashioned bulletin boards. And by all means do a good bit of it on racing boats.
I say that, as racers as a matter of necessity, push boats, sails & gear too hard. And do things which at times seem questionable from a good seamanship POV. But it's precisely because of that, that you learn how to handle hairy situations. In addition to adding a lot of tools to your sailing toolbox.

PS: You guys have seen this one right? http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1977...s#.VFoGzHnwvDc
It looks to be a MK III, which typically start at 1.5x & upwards of what it's asking price tag is. Plus she's got a diesel, & a few other "standard" amenities.
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Old 05-11-2014, 05:00   #15
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Re: Opinion on this Cal 34 wanted

CORRECTION: Sorry, but I'm as yet under-caffeinated for the day, and thus made a goof or three in my earlier Tome.
The correct address for Beth & Evans website is www.bethandevans.com
Also, the Pardey's, & Dashew's have websites as well, they're just not handy at the moment is all.

Plus, I didn't realize that Cal 34's have glassed hull to deck joints, as the other poster put up his message while I was typing. Anyway, IMO, a glassed joint is the way to go, compared to a mechanically fastened one anyway.

Ah, & if you happen to purchase a MK I with the long boom & are feeling ambitious, you could have a go at building a short bowsprit. With the subsequently bigger jib, it might even things out a bit. Plus give you a bit of extra sail area for when it's REAL light ;-).

Good luck with your search, as well as your sailing to come!
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