Well, I own a Cal 25, #256, so I can certainly testify to their excellent purpose as a starter boat. The Cal 25 was built before resin scheduling in fiberglass was optimized. As such, most glass boats (to include the Cal) are over-resined fiberglass tanks. A few notes that I caught looking at the pictures and ad.
Stern pulpit is a nice addition, as are the spreader lights.
The bow hatch concerns me. That looks like the original hatch. After 40 years, that thing is going to be at, near, or past its service life. Check all around the interior for water stains or rotting. Mine was beginning to rot out, so I replace it with a Bowmar Low Profile hatch (1000 series, 21"x21"), which I'm much happier with. Aside from the price (about $519 from Defender)), installation is easy. I ordered one larger that the original hole, so I could cut out a new hole. Took about 1 1/2 hours start to finish.
Paint looks decent for the boat. That's always a plus.
Wiring...well...Cal 25s never had a factory wiring kit. I'd inspect it, because every guy out there thinks he's an electrician...most aren't. My stern light was wired to the block by speaker wire...That was my indication that all the wiring was coming out, no more discussion.
The white streaking is old paint or oxidation that is powdering. Elbow grease and more elbow grease, or elbow grease and some Interlux Brightside
I don't see interior cushions. Does it have a decent set?
To Faster's comments:
1- blisters...well...yea...but I'm from the the group that says, "let solid blisters lay." If you're not going to race, and the blisters are solid, that it's not worth the time to sand down blisters that will keep returning anyway. Besides, it's 40 years old, blisters are a fact of life.
2- I think the "bump is just a shadow from the spreader bars.
3- As a starter, I'd go further than saying you could do worse. I would rank it pretty high as a starter cruiser. Strong hull, easy to sail, and very forgiving to the new owner.
Last words of caution when inspecting the boat. Check for a spongy feel on the deck. Especially around the pop-top and the main beam. Check to see it the beam is sagging or has pulled away from the bulkheads. Spongy decks can be replaced (though not easily). A spongy or saggy beam is a deal killer. Just walk away. Check the keel for cracking at the stern end. A little cracking is fine, but more that a couple of inches is not so good, and MAY be an indicator of separation. Check everywhere for indications of leaks. More specifically:
Chainplates, any through-deck fitting, the portlights (I can see from the picture they are the original aluminum frames, which is fine), the anchor points for the lifelines (U-bolts), the lifeline stanchions, the corners of the cockpit brightwork, the bow hatch. Look for darkening of the wood, if nothing else. I mention those places because mine leaked in all of them when I bought mine (what idiot backplates the lifeline stanchions, but doesn't backplate the lifeline anchors?). Fixing leaks is not too difficult. Some 3M Marine Adhesive 4000 UV and a lot of latex gloves (when it happens, you'll know) can fix that.
I agree that $3500 may be a little high in today's market. I paid $2500 3 years ago for mine, which also needed some TLC and had a bunch of leaks. Mine had a full (and good quality) sail set though, mainsail, 150% Genoa, spinnaker and reek spinnaker, and a good 9.9 Johnson (OMC) 2-stroke. Off the cuff? With good sails $3000-$3250 is fair, and I also agree with Faster on the picture quality. That stern picture does indicate the paint has been maintained. Certainly better that mine when I bout her.
For more information, check out the Cal 25 site, Cal25 DOT com. Under the restorations tab, see "common problems." This should reinforce and add to my list. Also, the Cal forum here and the general forum on the Cal 25 site are good resources of information.
Bottom line? Good, solid first boat. Hard to do better IMHO. Be aware of the common problems and give them honest attention, but you'll like how she sails on the water. $3500 may be high, but if the outboard is newish, the sails are in good condition (stiff, not soft), the cushions are clean (no mildew) or can be cleaned easily) and she doesn't leak, $3500 is a decent price. If ll of thoe criteria aren't met, start lowering the price some and see what the owner does.