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Old 09-02-2020, 16:06   #1
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1979 cal 31 opinion

So I were browsing the net and came across a 1979 Cal 31 for sale.
The owner of the boat passed away last year and family trying to sell it.
He purched the boat in 2018 and they send me a copy of the survey done at the time. The two big things are bottom paint( no idea if it was done since).
they pay for hull cleaning every month
One thru hull for the raw water supply to the galley that were recommended.
Again no idea if it was done. Family are out of state so they didn't see the boat.
They said dad did do some work on it after he got it.
Oh at 2018 survey it said engine is original with 500 hours.
In pics the interior and exterior looks clean.
Asking price is 5,500.
Will that be a good boat as a first boat?
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Old 09-02-2020, 17:30   #2
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

Both Jensen Marine maker of Cal boats and Oday were both sold to Bangor Punta Corporation. The Cal 31 and Oday 31 look very similar. I had a Cal 29 and it was a great boat.
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Old 09-02-2020, 18:34   #3
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

Is there anything in particular I should be looking for. I don't know much about boats.
is $5500 a fair price for it??
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Old 09-02-2020, 19:33   #4
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

Tough to say about a 50+ year old boat without at least detailed photos.

If it's a reasonable drive from you go take a look. At the very least you will feel if the boat "sings" to you or is a dud at first glance.

The 70s boats are all over the place in terms of quality of the original build, etc. This was the period when due to spiked resin prices the builders started experimenting with cheaper this or that to make a profit. Some were more successful then others fidning ways that did dimish their costs but not quality. Others not so much. Even within the same company some models or lines were significantly of different quality then the others. Cal has a decent reputation to start with. But that means squant if the boat was poorly maintained by POs or was involved in too many groundings, etc.

I learned to sail in the late 90s on late 80s Cal/O'day 39 model. That was a great boat all around. But its 70s version was altogether another boat. Not better or worse just a different boat.
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Old 09-02-2020, 19:35   #5
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireant View Post
Is there anything in particular I should be looking for. I don't know much about boats.
is $5500 a fair price for it??
If it's in at least decent sailaway condition the price is fair. If it is not - even $0 price would not make sense as it would take much more to make it decent then the boat would ever be eventually worth fixed up.

Unless you want to learn hands the boat maintenance stuff for say eventual cruising or what not.
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Old 10-02-2020, 09:30   #6
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

It's a good first boat at a great price, if what the survey said is all that needs attention. Get your own surveyor and go with him when he surveys the boat. you will learn a lot. All sales should be subject to a survey and sea trial.
Good Luck
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Old 10-02-2020, 10:51   #7
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

One of about that age sold next to me - $20k. Well mantaned, but a lot more engine hours.
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Old 10-02-2020, 11:48   #8
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireant View Post
So I were browsing the net and came across a 1979 Cal 31 for sale.
The owner of the boat passed away last year and family trying to sell it.
He purched the boat in 2018 and they send me a copy of the survey done at the time. The two big things are bottom paint( no idea if it was done since).
they pay for hull cleaning every month
One thru hull for the raw water supply to the galley that were recommended.
Again no idea if it was done. Family are out of state so they didn't see the boat.
They said dad did do some work on it after he got it.
Oh at 2018 survey it said engine is original with 500 hours.
In pics the interior and exterior looks clean.
Asking price is 5,500.
Will that be a good boat as a first boat?
Heck, the engine alone is easily worth the price. While this is not a boat I would be interested in (too small and too old) as an entry level boat, you should definitely go check it out. I wouldn't wait too long. Apparently, it's still in the water, so you want to go and look for yourself before incurring the expense of a haul out and surveyor. If it's a festering mess, then just keep looking.
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Old 10-02-2020, 11:58   #9
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

fireant:

The Cal31 is a excellent first boat, or even a for-ever boat, for a certain kind of sailor. If you know what kind of sailor you are, you will be able to tell, without asking us, whether the candidate boat is the boat for you.

So let's deal first with things that have nothing to with sailing or cruising per se:

Maxim #1 (sine qua non!) is that no man should pay more to ACQUIRE a boat than an amount that he can walk away from with a smile still on his face. This boat clearly meets that criterion. If five and a half boatbux is more than you can write off with no harm to your standard of living you will not be able to KEEP the boat!

Maxim #2 is that NO five ton boat can be kept on the west coast of NA and maintained in it's CURRENT condition, let alone improved, for less that 15 Canuckibux, call it US$10K, PER ANNUM. For as long as you have the boat. If you cannot accept such an additional burden on your domestic budget you are not yet ready to be a boat owner!

Included in the Can$15 per annum is a “sinking fund” so that replacement of engine, sails and other pricey bits such as ground tackle will have been provided for at the time these things become necessary. As they will. To re-engine your candidate boat with a new 20HP Beta, say, professionally installed, will cost about US$15K and a new suit of sails (main and genoa) will cost about US$8K.

In short: Almost anyone can find the money to ACQUIRE a boat. Not nearly as many can find the money to KEEP a boat! If you can go into boat ownership fully cognizant of these two maxims, you can consider the candidate boat: The Cal 31 sails just fine. Some boats sail better and some sail worse. As a novice you will not be able to discern the differences until you have accumulated experience in many different models of boat, that is to say until you have spent many hours in OPBs – Other People's Boats. And if you can arrange for that amount of sailing in OPBs, you hardly need a boat of your own :-).

As for the accommodations of the Cal31: Totally conventional. After all, there are only so many ways you can arrange the furniture in a five tonner. There are minor, functionally trivial differences twixt different models of boat, but your body will adapt to whatever the particular arrangements of your boat are. For a grown man none of them are very comfortable, but your body will adapt to the particular kind of discomfort a given boat offers. For living aboard, five tonners (30-footers) are minimal. Drop to 27 feet and living aboard gets really old really quick.

Handling a five ton boat is really a pieceacake. The basic boat handling that gets you safely out of the marina and safely back in again, I can teach you, if you are a reasonably focused and adept student, in a single Saturday morning. Making way under sail in open water, we'll save for the afternoon. Even a child can do those things, and children do do them all the time. What REALLY matters is the stuff you need to learn to be a SKIPPER, and it'll take you a lifetime to learn that. Most of it is really book-learning, which is why we have Marine Academies. But provided you do read the relevant literature, you can sneak up on the application of that learning while sailing your own boat. Cautiously. That is how a great many of us learned.

As for all the “bags hung on”, like chart plotters: Hereabouts, in the Salish Sea, navigation is really, really easy. Out of SoCal maybe not so much, though Pilotage (Coastal Navigation) is much of a muchness wherever you are, and to teach you to take a “fix” so you know where you are along a coast should take no more than two hours.

One of the secrets to happy ownership of a first boat is to keep things simple. Eschew all the fancy gizzmos advertised in the glossy mags. You do NOT need them. What you need is to learn to be a Skipper. And to DYI maintain your boat. That's best done in a basic, simple boat like, say, a Cal31 kept free of distracting complications and doodads.

All the best.

TrentePieds
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Old 10-02-2020, 12:14   #10
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

I sailed a Cal31 on San Francisco Bay for about 5-years. Solid, stiff boat. In my opinion, a tad better built than either a Catalina 30 or a Newport 30, though the Newport 30 is a bit faster than either. Agree that it's a great first boat that will keep you interested for years without overwhelming with maintenance. I really can't think of any deficiencies beyond the normal age related ailments. Relatively tough little boat for its class
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Old 10-02-2020, 18:26   #11
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

What Trente pieds says...
Plus: expect to find some expensive surprises on almost any boat that old, & certainly a probate sale since the late owner wont be able to point them out.
Its not at all about buying it. At that level its easy. Its all about keeping it.
Having said that, you could have a lot of fun. But be careful about boat ownership - you might find you like it, & that can change your life.
Remember you dont need to own a boat to get all the sailing you can handle.
What attracts you most?
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Old 10-02-2020, 18:28   #12
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

I have a 1984 Cal 31. I sailed on her with the previous owner on the Great Lakes. Since I've had her, I've been dealing with some water entry into the cabin, and she's a big, painful project.

Some things to look at - I'm assuming a typical layout - V-berth in the fore, followed by head to port, hanging locker to starboard, then matching settees with a fold-down table. The 'galley' wraps around the rear of the cabin, with a sink, icebox and alcohol stove. A very big lazarette accessed from the cockpit. Small (slightly undersized), Universal diesel. Wheel steering.

Water entry into the rudder. If stored on the hard, this can cause the skin of the rudder to split when it freezes.

The bulkhead at the front of the main cabin is not securely tabbed to the hull, as the builder used 2 pieces of laminated ply to make the bulkhead. The bulkhead is just a bit over 4 feet wide. The small piece has most of the hull tabbing, leaving the major piece with just a few self-tapping screws and very little fiberglass tabbing.

Look for rot in the aft bulkhead that divides the cabin from the lazarette. I'd climb in the lazarette and examine the bulkhead near where it is tabbed into the hull, on both sides.

Insulation in the engine compartment is likely flaking off or gone. It makes a mess and can clog your pump.

Water entry into the cabin top, causing delamination. Also check around the water and fuel fill.

The cable off the wheel runs through plastic guides. I found one cracked, and I don't think it was related to an impact, just brittle with age.

I think your price is decent, dependent on condition. It is a solid boat, but the wood interior is vulnerable if maintenance is ignored.

Tankersteve
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Old 10-02-2020, 18:29   #13
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

Ps. Engine? 12 hours a year? Really?
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Old 10-02-2020, 19:03   #14
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

Guys thanks for all the advice.
TankerSteve, you did describe the boat to the T. Thanks for the heads up on what to look for.
The last thing I want to do is buy a boat that I would spend more time working on then going out and enjoying it.
Am i putting the wagon in front of the horse? and Learn more sailing / go out with people before getting a boat.

The idea behind the boat is to learn how to sail. Also find out how we like the sailing part.
The main goal is to sell everything we got buy a bigger boat so we can leave on the adventure of our life. If we find that we do enjoy sailing

We plan on having the boat for 1 or 2 years and then sell it. I understand that we will need to take good care of the boat so we can enjoy it with peace of mind and then sell it.

Clivevon I know it sound low but what else I got to go on?

TrentePieds. If one thing I do know about boats is that they are money pits that can put a person out on the street. The reason I'm asking advice and use caution before I jump into the water.

Alex
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:11   #15
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Re: 1979 cal 31 opinion

I had a 1976 Cal 29 and think it is the best boat I have owned. It was fast and could handle any weather. I think 76 is the last year with a teak interior. My current boat had a tired teak interior and now looks fantastic after 2 coats of varnish. As one reader commented, water can get into the rudder and I drilled a 1/4" weep hole in the bottom and epoxy filled it each spring. Cal 29 wires in the mast slapped as the boat rocked. I stopped this with plastic ties with the tails attached installed every foot and rotated 90 degrees. Do this if the mast is down. I hope these comments apply to the Cal31. Look up the PHRF rating and see if the 31 performs. Go for any boat. It will provide fantastic family experiences.
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