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  #1  
Old 05-01-2003
el el is offline
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Caliber never mentioned

I have never seen the Caliber 38 or 40 mentioned as a good coastal cruiser on this BB (Chesapeake, Bahamas, VI''s, etc). Why?

My husband and I looked at one last week and really like what we saw. The interior looks to be arranged well for liveaboard, small aft head while underway & large one forward, good size pullman, we like the cutter rig, good tank capacity, and she seems to more solid than the big-three. Good storage. Running rigging properly sized. Unfortunately, we can find relatively few opinions on construction quality, sailing mannerisms, specific problems we should look-out for, etc. Any help will be greatly appreciated! It will just be the two of us.

thanks
el
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Old 05-01-2003
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Caliber never mentioned

El,

Compared to most other boats, there aren''t that many Calibers out there. That probably is why they aren''t mentioned more. But they have an excellent reputation, and in many ways compete with Island Packet, only the Calibers sail better than IPs.

Join the Caliber email list here on Sailnet and ask your questions there. I''ve monitored that list in the past and it has little traffic compared to other email lists. That means the owners are out sailing and not online griping about their boats. That''s a good sign.

Several years ago Practical Sailor reviewed the Caliber 33 pretty favorably FWIW.
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Old 05-02-2003
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Caliber never mentioned

I have always thought that Caliber is a tough company to pigeon hole. They bill themselves as building ''Long Range cruisers'' which to me sounds like offshore capable boats with large storage and tankage. When I look at the actual layout of these boats I see a deck and interior layout that is better suited to coastal cruising and living aboard. They do deliver on the tankage with an impressive water capacity and a fuel capacity that is so large that it is a little silly.

These boats seem to offer a fairly modern underbody and rig that appears to be a reasonable compromise between performance, motion comfort and ease of steering. Design wise these boats have not really benefitted from some of the more recent breakthroughs in rig and hull design from either a motion comfort or performance basis. Neither is the deck laid out for ease of handling. I especially think that their mainsheet layout is totally wrong for a boat expected to spend a lot of time offshore.

These are not high performance boats and watching them underway, the boats that have gone with in-mast furling have really given up a lot of performance compared to the boats with traditional mainsails with slugs. But the boats with the traditional mainsails seem to offer reasonable performance for their weight.

Build quality on these seems pretty good. I consider Caliber''s build quality to be slightly better than Island Packet which I frankly do not consider to be anywhere near as good as their hype would lead you to believe. But the last Caliber that I was aboard had funny little corners cut that really did make sense on a boat of this price and quality. Clearly these boats are more sturdily assembled than boats like Hunter and Catalina that you alluded to.

In my opinion, its hard to say what these boats really are. They are better offshore cruisers than many of the more common production boats out there but not as good as some of the really high quality boats. They are not really the most ideal coastal cruisers or live aboards either. Still they are good boats and have a strong following.

Jeff
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Old 05-02-2003
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Caliber never mentioned

El, I don''t find Calibers as hard to ''label'' as Jeff describes...I just find them to offer inconsistencies with their intended use. They aren''t especially fast for just the reason they give: they''re loaded up, in lay-up, systems, volume, etc., and they don''t aspire to have the ''min. wetted surface/fin keel'' of slippery designs. But I think there are some basic design choices they make that deserve careful consideration by you before viewing them as offshore-capable. Examples:
1. Tankage: they get all the volume by covering hull voids. Rather than tanks which might be removeable or at least accessible in other boats (but with less volume), they seal the tops of the voids and turn what otherwise would be deep, large bilges into tanks. I think this accounts for some of their freeboard, too. Whitby made their Brewer-designed 42'' ketch this way for many years. When the hull began working offshore, the seals between the ''covers'' and the flanges glassed onto the hulls at the tops of the voids would pop and folks would find all kinds of yummy things in their tanks. This can be avoided with proper design and construction...but will the Caliber satisfy you in this regard?
2. Take a close look at any staysail stay. There''s always a dilemma with inner stays: how do you remove and restrain them when you wish to open up the foretriangle to make tacking easy? In newer Calibers I''ve seen with inner stays, they choose to use a ''track & car'' arrangement wherein the track is screwed to the face of the mast and the car takes the top end of the stay. The car is controlled by a halyard, so you can release the inner stay, take up on the halyard, and stow the stay tightly near the mast. This tells me they placed ''stowage'' above the need for the inner stay to do its main job, which is help the boat in heavy weather, when the stay will see continued heavy, dynamic loading. That stay (and its car) is only being held by 2 or 3 fasteners, in a mix of tension and sheer. That seems a poor approach for an offshore boat, IMO.
3. I''m most familiar with their 40 footer. If inspecting that model, I would suggest you stand in the cockpit, say the words "I need to check the chart/use the SSB/download the weather" and then see what you think about the trip to the chart table. (Someone wasn''t working the galley, were they?) Once there, settle in, imagine adding a few radios and other displays in the space (obvious where they would go?), and picture laying out a modified course based on a wx download, or composing and sending some email, while the boat is on her ear of course - very typical tasks for offshore sailors. How''s the ventilation? Can you imagine bracing yourself against the heave of the boat? Room for your legs/feet/knees? Room for a chart & laptop? Easy to communicate with the helm? Their 40 footer has beaucoups berths that look quite comfy, but apparently at the expense of a workable nav station. This seems an especially curious design decision, except when you look at the evolution of their business.
4. They offer full ''integration'' of the electronic package(s) you choose, if buying new. Their work in this area is suspect, at least according to the last two owners of 40 footers I''ve heard from, both savvy electronics guys who could overcome the problems. You might be better to do the work yourself and learn by doing.

Caliber has, at least for the 40 footer and above, recently shifted from a ''production'' to a ''custom build'' approach, which I think is to the customer''s advantage. OTOH it may make delivery skeds a guessing game.

There have been several Practical Sailor ''surveys'' on Calibers that cover not only the boats but the evolution of the company. I think this will explain much about what they do well, and why they manufacture a product not always well suited to long-distance cruising needs. I''d encourage you to read those articles carefully and shape your questions (to a surveyor if buying used; to the company reps if touring the factory) accordingly.

And as if this isn''t the norm these days, this is a small company operating within a continuing weak national economy. Be sure to protect any payments you make, to Caliber or any other manufacturer.

Re: another thread here, consider comparing a Caliber with a Hallberg-Rassy. Unfortunately, the exchange rate stinks for the dollar right now...but that might change and your purchasing plans may not be immediate, either. You''ll get a far better offshore boat re: construction & performance with a later-model H-R, even if you might have to give up a little volume and length in doing so.

Jack
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Old 05-03-2003
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Caliber never mentioned

El the Caliber is a great boat for the reasons you mentioned. You should take a look at the reviews of the 38''s & 40''s that are in Practical Sailor. Cruising World also did one back in 1994 on the 38. As Mitch recomended review the Caliber E-Mails here @ Sail Net. There are several Calibers with liveaboards and I''m sure they will have good honest opinions for you.
As for dealing with Caliber, we have owned a 33 for the last 14 years. During that time we have had great support from Caliber when needed. Last year we moved up to a 38 and the seller also had nothing but good to say about the support he has recieved from Caliber during the coarse of his ownership and also during our purchasing process.
El I think you and your husband will find the Caliber to be a good coastal and offshore boat. The construction is solid and the boat has great ventilation combined with lots of storage. This boat will give you the most bang for the buck.
Good Luck in your search
Paul
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Old 05-06-2003
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I was just reading the old posts on Calibers and in Aug. 2001 RichH stated that the Caliber 35s were beginning to have hull structural failures at the leading edge of the keel. Does anyone have additional info on this? We''re looking at the 40''s.

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Old 05-06-2003
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El, I just looked back through the old posts and didn''t find the post you refer to. I have never herd of a problem with the leading edge the keel however there has been some problems with the foam core rudders and some skegs. Is this what you are refering to?
Paul
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Old 05-06-2003
el el is offline
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Go to the top of this page and do a search for "
Caliber" , then pull-up the one titled: "Caliber 33/35 Information".

I looked through the e-mail archives from the Caliber E-Mail list and do not see any references to the problem.

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Old 05-06-2003
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El, I saw the post in the archives on this message board. I would suggest you e-mail Kathy @ Caliber and ask them about this boat and if they know of any others? It also sounds like RichH was not directly involved and that the support his friend got from Caliber was good. I would also question if the cracking was caused by a grounding or a mishap at a boat yard. Just for the record in the 14 years that I sailed our 33 we have never seen any signs of cracking anywhere on the hull. Also in the boat yard where I store our 38, there are two other Caliber''s(1990 38 & 1994 40) and they don''t show any signs of stress cracking anywhere.
Paul
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