Tender Cal 31 Vs. Stiffer Handling - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 03-18-2012
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Having just acquired a pretty nice 1979 31' Cal, I have some comments regarding the handling. The tender part of the boat as compared to say a Catalina 30 of similar, or even newer vintage does ring true however, one feature I've found at the helm as compared to even newer Hunters & Catalina's was the "feel" at the helm is superior with the Cal! Maybe I'm wrong, but from the limited experience I have had with the others, the Cal has the best handling hands down.

Yes, the boat does tend to lean more (more tender) than a Catalina, but, it's more nimble/responsive, sporty and easy on the helm, more than others I've skippered. Possibly the only boat that felt this sweet was a Tayana 55' I briefly skippered during the club's training cruise. All sailboats lean, however. The ones that do earlier, may seem to cut through the oncoming waves instead of pounding into them.

And yes, small cockpit means less comfort for more than 2 or 3 people, but for typical sailing, even single handling, the ease of the winches right there near the helm for the genoa, the mainsheet right there, and the traveler line can be easily reached for quick de-powering of the mainsal when needed, something I just learned after starting sailing like about 40 years ago... Plus, a smaller cockpit means less water that can fill the cockpit up.

Every boat has it's pros and cons. However, with some ingenuity, some of the shortcomings of the boat can be overcome. I.e., went out yesterday, September 5th, 2012, during a good blow of around 20+_ mph of wind right off Dana Point. Boat handled well with a reefed main and the 100% jib most of the way out. I was told by a sailmaker on Shelter Island, San Diego, that based on the construction of the sails (Starboard), they are Original. Now, they are getting some use!

CHECK THiS OUT: I'd guess with the wind around 15-20+ just yesterday 8/5/12, we briefly hit just over 9 MPH (the gps I had got switched to mph and now fixed) at our fastest (just under or at 8 Knots), easily averaging over 7+ MPH under reefed main & most of the jib out. The boat was in the groove, for sure. Also, was able to sail wing & wing on the way back recently from Catalina on a dead run with the auto pilot keeping the course, while I just kept the jib sail full manually handling the jib sheet, and keeping an eye on the main sail to steer clear of accidental gibes. But, the handling was very good, easy, actually, thanks to auto pilot; and with no small thanks to a reliable wind from behind.

West Marine in San Diego put in a great Boom Kicker, thanks to Bill referring it to me, he even was the one to install it and make the appropriate adapter so the whole thing would work out properly. Way to go Bill at West Marine,San Diego, CA!!

No worries about quickly lowering main sail (either for reefing or all the way) without setting the topping lift and having a potentially serious event! The boom will not fall/lower, nice! Plus, the heavy duty boom wont come down on anybody or the dodger or the new bimini. This safety feature of not having to first set a topping lift is so worth the cost of having it installed!

Last edited by Mark S.; 08-06-2012 at 11:25 AM. Reason: string of posts w/common thread
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Old 03-19-2012
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Re: Tender Cal 31 Vs. Stiffer Handling

I love my cal, I'm just wishing for a 40, till then. Great you got the boat as they are to good to let slip away,I can see you are taking care of her!...Dale
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Old 03-19-2012
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Re: Tender Cal 31 Vs. Stiffer Handling

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Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
Yes, the boat does tend to lean more (more tender)... All sailboats lean, however.
I enjoy leaning! Leaning is fun!
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Old 03-20-2012
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Re: Tender Cal 31 Vs. Stiffer Handling

Thank you, Dale! She sure looks good on the outside, even better when Driscoll's Shipyard in San Diego preps and applies a new bottom paint. The existing multiple repaintings without removal requires extra work, I'm told. There is a prop shaft issue that a young man working at the yard at Driscoll's pointed out.

I'll try to upload some pics showing that.

Again, thank you, I really think this boat is and will even be a sweeter "daily driver" as long as it's affordable. After all the work I"m having done on it (and learning what I can along the way), 'Seasters' should be good for at least safe coastal cruising work. That's what I'm after with her.
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Old 07-19-2012
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Cal 31 handling

We left June 28, 2012 and ended up staying (me for the whole 2 weeks plus) aboard Seasters. Had a 5 1/2 motor with calm conditions, but with thick fog surprising us just after leaving the harbor. Had to get our bearings with the GPS to go out away from, instead of towards San Juan rock just off Dana Point. First trip without a real captain, just me now...slowly motored out of the fog and got our bearings towards Avalon, a bit more than 5 hours away, 30+ miles.

On the way back, we motored about 45 minutes (Cpt. Voyle said about 1 hour we'd get good sailing weather) until the wind picked up enough to sail. Beautiful sail, then lack of wind, so motor sailing fit the bill. then winds adjusted with taking out the boom preventer from the main sail. A couple minor glitches that were dealt with fairly easily led to s smooth sail with the leading edge of a hurricane spawning a couple of thunderstorms thankfully, quite a distance both north and south of us.

Within 2 hours of reaching Dana Point harbor (7 hour total trip), we sailed upon increased winds of about 15-20 knots, some gusts a bit more, hitting just over the theoretical hull speed I believe at some times (we nudged just over 7 knots), fun, but that 's a chance for a nasty surprise. When I began thinking of whether or not to reef, training kicked in and thus I reefed before things got worse, but thankfully, the wind did not increase this time (and shortly thereafter, decreased)..I'm glad I will hedge my bets, anytime. We basically were on a run to keeping the waves at the quarter section of the boat's stern all the way from Avalon the last hour or so under just a reefed main, taking a more leisurely sail power, than pushing the envelope. Autopilot is sure nice for most of the trip, which is a beautiful sail!

And, the last part of a magical trip to a magical place named Avalon, we were greeted and followed for about 3-5 minutes by a good sized pod of dolphins towards Dana Point harbor during the most "technical" part (running downwind in a pretty good wind) and final leg of a wonderful sail. These Dana Point dolphin crew rock, thank you!

Last edited by Mark S.; 07-22-2012 at 04:46 AM.
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Old 07-22-2012
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Re: Tender Cal 31 Vs. Stiffer Handling

Thank you, but the pressure is on, now, to keep the boat looking nice, it is a project after project. Kind of fun, though. It costs about $1,200 for wax and teak re varnishing, but I think the teak I can do, and most if it stays covered. The boat sure was pampered in many regards, esp.with the new Yanmar Diesel super-well installed in San Diego, CA. And to rub it in, my neighbor on the other side keeps his boat super clean. But, I use Seasters, she is my vehicle to get where I want to go, and I want to surely get there. So, bling & vanity are a distant 2nd compared to safety & function, so It's kind of a combo of the two. Have a great one!
Mark





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Originally Posted by Lake Superior Sailor View Post
I love my cal, I'm just wishing for a 40, till then. Great you got the boat as they are to good to let slip away,I can see you are taking care of her!...Dale
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