Thanks for the feedback. I've now been on two Cal 28's (both '86s), 2 Ericson 28's (an '86 and '87) and a Pearson 28 ('87). Looking at a '78 Sabre this weekend but having trouble finding a Tartan very close by.
The condition of the Cal's has been exceptional. Almost like new. I appreciate the room in the cabin as a result of moving the head aft. Not thrilled with the mast support pole and fixed table. I thought the idea of a deck stepped mast was to get rid of that and open up the cabin a bit. I also noticed that the cockpit in the Cal seems more cramped than either the Ericson or Pearson. Like the top deck though, and the quarter birth with the ports for ventilation. Some very nice touches overall.
I read that Cal was sold to O'day's parent company, Bangor Punta. It sounds like many of you have Cal's from when they were still being built at Jensen Marine. I wonder what impact the eventual sale and move to the east coast had on later Cal model's build quality?
The Pearson's out due to the configuration of the cabin, not sure what they were thinking with that Vberth setup. Overall quality doesn't seem as good as the Cal and Ericson either.
Really like the Ericson's layout, both above and below - cockpit is roomy and the cabin has a fold-up table which gives a little more space to move around. One of the owners was gracious enough to take us on a sail and the boat seemed very manageable for two - or one experienced sailor. Granted, that is probably a result of how it was rigged and the expertise of the owners.
While one was in better shape than the other, neither of the Ericsons were kept as well as the Cal's we looked at. My amateur opinion is that the Cals and Ericsons are of similar build quality. Maybe a slight edge to the Ericson for being a fractional rig, and some of the systems/hull engineering which appear to be meant for their larger boats.
The search continues, but please chime in if you have any thoughts.