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  #1  
Old 03-26-2009
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Cal 31 and 34

Hey,

I sort of ask this question in my introduction post, which I understandably didnít get much feed back due to the location of the post. So I figured I would legitimately ask the question in ďbuying a boatĒ.

I plan to move aboard this summer, with the intention of coastal cruising in the beginning (2 years), then sailing from BC to Mexico, with offshore passages intended in the future.

Iím wondering if anyone has experience with both the Cal 31 and 34. Iím wondering if there are any major differences in sailing characteristics while offshore. From what Iíve researched so far it seems the 2 are very similar boats, with the major difference being the cockpit size of the 34 being much larger. If this is the only major difference then Iím leaning more towards a particular 31 due to its inventory.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks



Oh, I have also found a Dufour 31 that seems to meet my criteria, but there isnít much info out there. Does anyone know how this boat might compare to the Calís (sea worthy/speed/ upwind performance)?
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Old 03-26-2009
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This reminds me of our (wife's and my) recent experiences buying boats. 3 years ago, we decided to buy a sailboat. At the time, I had a 1975 Tolly Sedan. GREAT boat, built like a tank, and I had it in top mechanical condition. I think this answers some of the age issue. Quality lasts (Tollycrafts are amazing boats), and there is no substitute for maintenance.

Still, it was time to change.

We looked at a LOT of boats, and kept coming back to the Catalina 310. It was 31 feet, we both loved it, and it just felt like "our boat." Unfortunately, at the time, used ones were hard to find in our area, so we thought REALLY hard about buying a new one. However, there was this used creampuff Catalina 350 for sale that was available for less than a new 310, and it was WELL equipped. It didn't really feel like "our boat," but the price and equipment list were right, and we were a little wowed by the value and scale of it. We went ahead and bought the 350.

Let me say right here that the 350 was a great boat, and I have no real complaints about the quality, or the deal we got, or even the performance of the boat. It JUST wasn't right for US. We sailed the daylights out of it, but for some reason, we never came to that place where we LOVED the boat.

Moreover, the 350 looks a LOT like a stretched 310, and was one of the reasons we THOUGHT we would learn to love it. Still, it was size that was the main issue. It was actually MUCH bigger than a 310. The beam was wider, it was almost 2 tons heavier, and the windows were so high, we had a hard time seeing out when we were below (we are BOTH short in stature). The extra size made it harder to board without steps or other aides. And as much as a bigger boat sounds great, it just wasn't "our boat."

We ended up selling the 350 last year. This year we took possession of a very nice used 310. I have to say here that we almost bought something else, but when the deal fell apart, a 310 came on the market that was BEAUTIFUL, and we ended up veiewing it, and making an offer. We are MUCH happier with this boat, and I am sure we would have been happier (and less poor) if we had listened to our hearts a little more 3 years ago. BTW - I have a significant other. If you do too, I encourage you to consider their feelings...

The conclusion to my long story here is this. Get on the boat, commune with it, sail it, and see if you can determine whether the boat is right for YOU. The difference between a 31 and 34 or 35 I can tell you from experience can be HUGE. If you are talking live-aboard, HUGE could be an under-statement. The apparent value IS a factor, but your experience and enjoyment hinge on much more than the price and equipment list.

Hope this gives you some additional things to consider. Good luck shopping! Shopping can be one of the more enjoyable stages in the boat ownership process.
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Old 03-30-2009
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Hi Freerider,

I had the same question (almost exactly) a little over a year ago. I looked at 3-4 CAL 34s. All of them ranged in quality from very clean and well equiped to one project boat. As the other poster mentioned... None of the 34s felt like "our boat". I did like the 34, I really liked the 34... But when a 31 came on the market I wound up in the same posion. The 31 was Very Clean, Well equipped and looked pretty sharp. When we stepped on board the 31, it just clicked... that was our boat...

That said, I did a fair amount of due diligence and really I have to say there isn’t much difference between the 31 and the 34. The interior cabin is exactly the same (well... there is a Mk I and Mk II version of the 34... so there could be a difference depending on which 34 you are looking at).

As far as sailing characteristics go, I can't say there is a difference. I have only taken out two 34s on test sails so it’s hard to say with 100% confidence that they are the same in all conditions, but to me they both felt about the same.

Physically they share almost the same LWL, and beam. They both draft the same and (I could be wrong here...) I believe the rig is the same height as well. As I mentioned earlier the interior on the Mk II 34 and the 31 are identical. The only difference at a physical level is the extended overhang in the stern (the bigger cockpit). This means there is less storage space in the cockpit. For coastal work I doubt the extra storage space will be missed... for off-shore work, this may be more of an issue (I have not, and may not take mine off-shore so I'm not concerned about this).

To me, the 31 just seems like it would be easier to get into and out of anchorages/slips. Moorage is charged by the foot, so you save a bit here and there on moorage fees. I live aboard, and was able to get a smaller slip (this saved me 40$ a month or so).

One thing that I did like about the 31 was that the cabin seemed to be much "lighter". When I checked out the 34s the cabins seemed dark and somewhat cold. The 31 has a hatch above the main solon (I'm not sure if that is standard on the 31 vs. the 34, or if mine was added) that really added a lot of light. It's a small thing, but when you live aboard it can make a difference (especially in the PNW).

Overall I think it's a bit of a tossup. Go with the one that "feels" good to you. They are both VERY sturdy, well built boats. Either way you'll be happy, just pick the one that is best for you, and your budget!
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S/V Priorities (79' CAL 31)

Last edited by WhatTheFoley; 03-30-2009 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 03-30-2009
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Thanks Foley, you seemed to verify exactly what i was hoping for. A certain 31 i've been eyeing seems better cared for, and has a better inventory.

There's parts of me that want the bigger cockpit for the time spent at anchor (85-90%), and I have this idea in my head that the 34 will be better offshore, but it could just that, 'in my head'. Considering, as you said they are physically VERY simliar. If i'm not mistaken i think the 34 is actually 33'3", with a 26' LWL and the 31 at 25'8" LWL

Approx how long is S/V Priorities' cockpit?
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Old 03-31-2009
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Guess I was a little bit off with the LWL but I knew they were really close...

I'll go down and messure it tomorrow to be sure, but I can layout full from the cabin trunck to the transome with some room to spare and I'm 6'2".

I will say it gets a little tight whith a lot of bodies in the cockpit. I find that more then 4 people in the cockpit is a tight fit. Single handing though, it is kind of nice to have most everything at arms reach.

At anchor I havn't really found it to be too cramped. I've been able to have a nice dinner with friends and not feel as though anybody was uncomfortable.

I've done a little bit of racing, and things can be a little tight when you need to take down the spinaker, and sheet the jib... but it's very managable with a little bit of practice...

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. I'll see if I can get your a real messurment tomorrow night.
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Old 04-01-2009
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Hey Freerider,

I got your PM. Tried to send a response but I guess I don't have enough posts under my belt to reply. So I'll get back to you as soon as I can post another message or two!
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