Originally Posted by RedFeather
We were thinking that $125,000ish would be the max we could afford for everything, buy + outfit. You said in one of the posts you mentioned earlier that all things equal, you'd prefer the CAL
40. Why, specifically? I looked and saw only a couple for sale
Last issue first, while there are only a couple for sale
, enough of them were built that there is always 2-6 of them available.
Why do I like the Cal40? Personal reasons and practical reasons.
I have a long history
with Cal's in general. From the time I learned to sail there was member of my club who had a Cal34 that I would occasionally ride on. I raced on Cal 40's for about 3yr. By exposure I picked up an appreciation for the Cal aesthetic.
Also I am an engineer
and more than most I find beauty in function, so utilitarian styling is up my alley so to speak.
I learned what the foibles of the Cal 40 and Cal's in general are:
There is a metal beam across most Cal's under the mast or under the mast post that may have been built of stainless or mild steel
. The mild steel
ones have a propensity to rust out after this long if the PO's haven't been very good at keeping the boat dry. This is a major repair if it needs to be done. The plus side to this beam is that it does an excellent job of resolving the shroud
and mast forces better than most boats.
The Cal 34 & 40 have moderate weather helm
issues. In the case of the 34 this was corrected in the Mark 2 & 3 models with a rig change that made the boat faster too. In the case of the Mark 1 shortening the foot of the main or adding a very modest bowsprit
does the trick (bowsprit adds fore-triangle area which will help speed). For the Cal 40 a redesigned rudder
($1-2k?) is the fix. Some early Cal40's had short bowsprits that either helped with this issue or gave more sail area for racing, reason lost
to time, maybe somebody out there knows.
On the Cal 40 the galley
area is a bit short changed. The biggest problem is that the sink situated well to port will backflood when heavily heeled on starboard tack. This isn't a very common event, and is remedied by closing the drain seacock, though the sink is unusable until heel decreases. This issue is something a fair number of boat suffer from.
The Cal 40's have a reputation for the tabbing between the hull
and bulkheads being a little light. A couple weekends work with fiberglass
would cure this. Don Casey's books
address how to do the work.
While the Cal 40 has nice wide side decks, the shrouds partially obstruct them. For stock Cal40's this is pretty minimal but on some the shroud
base has been significantly narrowed and the shrouds are right in the middle of the side deck. In very heavy weather one will crawl forward if fore-deck work needs to be done. I can crawl past them but folks with wider hips might have a problem This is worth trying out when looking at any boat to buy. A lot of really charming looking boats have very narrow or obstructed side decks. Not a big issue when coastal sailing, but offshore
it becomes a safety
The tradeoff for the wide side decks is a narrower doghouse. This creates a sense of less volume, though this is more appearance than reality. Since berths and storage are outboard
, people walk nearer the centerline and need headroom
there, not outboard
. For coastal sailing I would go with the apparent roominess below. Offshore I'll take the side decks. A side effect of the narrower doghouse is that the railing for the shelf that sticks out from the bottom of the deck makes wonderful handhold for adults, right at shoulder or neck height depending on how tall you are.
Pilot berths, quarter berths and settees galore. Kids and adults all get really good seaberths underway until you get up to about 8 people, but the boat isn't big enough in other ways to cruise with 8.
The Cal 40's have intermediate shrouds despite being a single spreader rig. This makes adding a removable inner forestay that much easier, less to do. I am a proponent of inner forestays. With an inner forestay carrying a hanked on staysail I would be happy to have a roller furling
headsail. I decline to deal with foil luffed headsails in heavy weather when cruising shorthanded.
The boat is pretty moderate, not terribly wide nor particularly narrow, nor particularly heavy or light (by today's standards). Lots of lateral area in the fin to dampen rolling. Moderate draft (6') for its length. It doesn't have any serious behavior problems except the weather helm and that isn't very bad.
Plenty of sail area for it's displacement
so it should do fine in light air with the right sails
Really good bang for the buck. The boats are available for $40-60k. With a $100k budget a lot of repairs
and outfitting can get done.
Since our goal is to go offshore I want to maximize traits that are good underway even at the expense of creature comforts at anchor
or in port. The Cal's designed in the 60's and very early 70's tend to give me more of the features I want towards that end.
If were were just going the sail around here, maybe go down to Baja
or up the coast into the Canadian islands, a Cal 34 would be perfect. If we were going to go cruising offshore indefinitely then we would go with the Cal40 or maybe even the Cal43, but the cruising goal is rather intermediate, years and maybe decades of local and coastal sailing and 1-1/2yr cruising with the kids at an age where they have not yet gotten very big so the Cal36 seems the best compromise.
Staying slightly smaller also improves safety
somewhat. Although the 36 will be slightly more susceptible to being capsized in really bad weather, being just that much shorter (3.5' or about 8%) and a lot lighter (4000lb or 25%) means the boat is a fair bit easier to handle in bad conditions. Being capsized is a fairly low probability hazard compared to lot of other handling problems. For a discussion of this read “Capable Cruiser” by Lin and Larry Pardey
, specifically the chapters dealing with the Cabo San Lucas debacle. While a lot of people would argue that improved technology allows a smaller crew to handle a larger boat, my feeling is that when things start going wrong, the improved technology starts creating new problems to replace the ones it solved
. I prefer to keep to keep a boat simpler which has the side effect of decreasing the maintenance
load and increases the goof off opportunities.