Actually, I'm not going into the electric project completely unprepared. I've been reading all I can about it the past month or so, including the wealth of information on electricboat yahoo group. The reason is I've been looking at another motorless boat back then. There're a few boats very similar to the Cal that have been converted, so there's some data available. Anyhow, from all I've read, it should be possible to put together a system that would push the boat at 5 knots for an hour or two, or 4-5 hours at 4 knots, or 4 knots on a portable generator as long as the gas lasts. Total cost should be under $5K, which would make it half of a diesel repower. I realize I'll loose at least half of that investment if/when I sell the boat, but considering the screaming deal I'm getting on the boat, it might still be worth it. Besides, it's a fun project, much more so than trying to hunt down out-of-production parts for an old diesel at the end of his rope. I know there're drawbacks to it, I think I can live with them, given that I don't see any long cruses in the next few years at least, but only time will tell.
I don't know how you can consider a keel boat a dinghy, and I don't think that's what was being suggested earlier. FWIW, I did ASA101 on Merit 25 and Cal 24. Didn't like the Merit much, it just felt too twitchy, Cal felt a bit more solid. They both were easy to handle though, but not nearly as much feedback as a 14' real dinghy I tried a bit earlier. I'm hoping 27' won't be too far away from those two, but we'll see...
Pics, yes, I need to snap a few. My wife's been waiting for them as well (she's far away and can't go visit the boat with me). I've been to see the boat twice now but got so excited both times that completely forgot about the camera. I'm waiting for the seller to straighten out all the paperwork, after that a survey needs to be arranged. Hopefully it won't take more than a couple of weeks. I'll try not to forget to snap a few next time I'm there.
Two thoughts. Firstly, do not make your decision without your wife's agreement unless you plan to do your sailing alone more often than not. An unhappy wife makes for an unenthusiastic crew/partner and that is not what you need. Like it or not, unless you want to do this as "your own" entertainment/hobby the wife needs to feel safe, secure and comfortable aboard the boat. The Bay can get fairly nasty at times and a frightened, nervous, wife doesn't/can't help the situation.
Secondly, the electric drive may have some merits but it isn't likely to be viewed as a positive attribute by many when it comes time to sell the boat, so you may/will be limiting the market for your boat. I realize that there are relatively more "environmentally sensitive" folks in the Bay area than in other areas but they are a relatively small percentage of the population never-the-less and an awful lot of them have a rapid change of heart when confronted with the practical limitations/trade-off's. (That said, I have often thought that a diesel-electric drive would make more sense for a boat then not given that such an arrangement allows one to place the diesel in a more opportune location from a weight and balance perspective with the drive where it needs to be.) N'any case, to test your theory about electric drive you might opt for an electric outboard to begin with which you can do relatively inexpensively. You'll need a fairly sizable battery bank for much running but that's not such a big deal given your objectives and the system will allow you to test your patience/tolerance for such a system. If you like it, an electric outboard can easily be resold and an internal drive substituted. Or not.