Join Date: Jul 2002
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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.