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.