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kotyara 10-28-2012 05:26 PM

First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
Hi all,

I've been bitten by the sailing bug a couple of month ago and since then I've been lurking through this forum dreaming about buying my own boat. Well, now I'm getting more serious about it and spent the weekend visiting various boats up for sale, and I would very much appreciate some help picking the right one.

Here's what I'm looking for in a boat:
- Easy to learn on, easy to singlehand. From what I gathered here and on other forums, that means 30' or less with moderate displacement and good maners (not overly twitchy or tippy).
- Should be fast enough to be fun on SF Bay. Some racing is definitely on the agenda, but will probably need to get some experience first :)
- Should be able to get out of the Gate for day or two and be capable of handling bad weather to some degree. I don't plan on going on month-long cruises, but short trips to Half-Moon Bay, Santa Cruz or Monterey should be doable.

Now, here're the boats I'm seriously considering at this point:
- Cal 2-27 (don't know the exact year, they don't have complete paperwork yet).
The cleanest of the lot, inside and out, really spotless as far as my layman eye can tell. Nice ST winches for the jib, 4 secondaries, all lines aft, 2-3 jibs (foil type), spinnaker. Looks like the owner maintained her really well. Apparently, he raced regularly. Inboard engine is a Farymann 1-cyl, reportedly has a blown head gasket and not running. Boatyard quoted $3K to fix it. But, for an extra $900 they'll throw in a 2006 Honda 8hp and mounting plate.

- '77 Pearson 28
Looks roomier than the Cal, but not by much. Not as clean, but definitely not neglected. Hardware looks much more "used". Roller jib. 2 jibs, no spin. But, has a running Atomic 4 that the owner starts up every week. Sounded good, if a bit louder than I'd expected, but then I've never heard them run before. The owners never raced it, just cruised around a fair bit.

- '82 Islander Bahama 28
In decent shape, but has that air of being well used and being maintained just enough to be respectable. Has a Yanmar 2GM20, big plus, but costs $3K more than the Cal. Has an awful name that I would definitely need to change, which brings all the superstitions into play. By the numbers it looks like this will be the least stable boat of the three, but I could be way off on that point.

Cal is $4K (with the outboard), Pearson $5K and Islander is $7-7.5K

What are your thoughts? How do they compare purely on sailing characteristics? Which one would be the fastest, the most stable? How significant is outboard vs. inboard? Any potential problems to look out for, weak areas? I am definitely going to do a survey, but never hurts to know more...

At this point, I'm leaning towards the Cal, simply because it's by far the cleanest of the bunch. I am a little weary of the outboard, but then it might give me a chance to fool around with electric propulsion... or learn how to fix diesels :) Atomic 4 would've been nicer there, with the parts and support readily available. Yanmar is the main reason I'm considering the Islander, as the boat seems somewhat less seaworthy then the other two, but I'm basing this on second/third hand information, so...

I also looked at a Cal 3-30, but it sat in the water for 4 days so needed a lot of work, and an Ericson 29, which was not very well maintained.


svHyLyte 10-29-2012 11:49 AM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
I cannot comment of the Pearson although they were reportedly good yachts. I have sailed on both the Cal 2-27 and the Islander 28. The Islander was a somewhat more costly yacht at the outset than the Cal with quite nice finishes and more elaborate detailing. That said, however, the Cal was quite well built and in similar conditions, sailing out of Sausalito, Ca., we found the Cal a somewhat better sailor. Both yachts performed well however, so I think it is more a question of how well the boats were maintained and are equipped. (For what it's worth, we purchased and sailed a Cal 2-29, the big sister of the 2-27 for 20+ years. Great boats.)

Good luck...

ECS-IB30 10-29-2012 12:32 PM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
If the Islander 28 is anything like the Islander 30, which I would guess it is, you'll find it easy to work on. Mine has been a pleasure to work on, and though I have not sailed her yet, I did motor it across the bay (Chesapeake) using the emergency tiller and she responded well in both forward and reverse - a friend has a Pearson, and the IB30 is broader with more room below - which I prefer. Have not had any experience with Cals, so cannot comment there - but it comes down to what you like!

emoney 10-29-2012 12:44 PM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
Neighbor has the Islander 28 and it's a really nice boat. Having said that, current condition and PO's schedule of maintenance is key here. I, for one, think there's a very large difference in the motoring performance of an outboard and an inboard. I've had both and can say a diesel inboard was much better suited for my uses, which entails about a 2 mile motor out before I can really hoist the sails. Also, roller furling up front is VERY much worth the extra $$. It just makes things a lot simpler, especially if you plan to do any solo sailing.

Most important, however, should be what's the real price for all 3 of these boats? You may be very surprised how much difference there is between "asking" and actual sale price. If that Islander can come down closer to the other 2, then your decision may get a lot easier. I'd go look at all 3 boats, let each owner know that you're a serious and qualified buyer (assuming you are, of course) and prepared to buy one of them, but you're looking for the best value. Get all 3 final prices, and then come back and share with us where you are then. Pics of all 3 wouldn't hurt either.

kotyara 10-29-2012 08:03 PM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
Thanks a bunch for the responses.

HyLyte, could you provide some more details on the Cal vs Islander comparison? Was the Cal faster, steadier, easier to handle? These boats are pretty similar on paper, so anything you could add would help get the picture.

emoney, prices are pretty much set in stone at this point (I did do some bargaining). Islander has another offer pending, so there's not much room there. Condition-wise the Cal is by far the best, the Islander the worst (although still pretty good), and Pearson somewhere in the middle. Engine-wise it's the exact opposite: Islander the best, Cal the worst. I guess what I'm really trying to find out is which one is the better sailboat.

Any opinions on the Pearson? From what I read it's supposed to be a very good boat, but it would be nice to hear from someone who can compare first-hand to the other two.


scratchee 10-29-2012 08:58 PM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?

I bought a Cal 2-27 back in March of this year. Though I learned to sail years ago, this is the first boat I've ever owned, skippered, and single-handed. Mine cost just a little more than the one you looked at, but it had a working Atomic 4.

We've really enjoyed this boat. It's simple, apparently bullet proof, and pretty nice in the interior compared to other boats I've seen in the same class. I love all the wood. I've told many people, "it's the perfect boat for us" (family of four, mostly new to sailing, not a lot of extra cash to throw around, etc.) It's a nice size for doing some overnighters while not being impossible to get in and out of our tight slip. That said, I would not be overly enthusiastic about getting one with an outboard. My own personal preference is to have an inboard, and not having one would be a show stopper for me (unless repairing the inboard worked out in the total dollars.)

As far as changing the name of a boat, my feeling would be to pick a new name, paint it on the transom, and do a dance on the fo'c'sle daring Neptune to do anything about it since it's your own damn boat and not his.

SlowButSteady 10-30-2012 01:50 AM

Re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
I have a Cal 2-27. They're good boats. Very roomy for their size (they're actually about 26.5' LOA), and well built for that vintage. Self-tailing winches are about $1K a pop, so that makes this particular boat that much nicer. Somehow, I can't imagine it costing $3K to change a head gasket; it's just not that big a job, particularly on a little engine like this. If you have any mechanical inclination at all, you can probable do the job yourself. Or, look around and see if you can get someone to give you a more reasonable bid. You can probably save a bundle by pulling the engine yourself and taking it to a shop for the head gasket, and whatever else it needs. Then re-install the engine and have a mechanic align it once you've done all the reconnecting, et cetera. Or, as you said, take the opportunity to fiddle around with electric propulsion. When/if the Yanmar in my boat ever dies, I'll likely replace it with an electric unit; problem is that with just a modicum of maintenance a diesel auxiliary can easily out-live its owner.

That said, if you are really new to sailing, I wouldn't buy that big a boat right now. Instead, get yourself a sloop-rigged dinghy of some sort (FJ, 470, Thistle, Lido, Coronado 15, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera), and sail the bejesus out of it for a year or so. THEN, look at "yachts". You'll be in a much better position to make some intelligent choices about which boats would really be a good fit for you, AND you'll have the sailing skills to have a lot more fun with your new toy. Such a plan may sound like delaying your "dream" for a bit, but in the long run you'll probably save yourself a lot of headaches.

baboon 10-31-2012 02:34 PM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
One thing to keep in mind is what else is wrong with the diesel in the Cal 27. If it does not run at all it is hard to know if it is just the head gasket or is there more damage. I know little about the farymann, but they are old engines and part availability might be an issue. If you go with the Cal you might want to negotiate an engine tear down to really get into what is wrong as part of the transaction. Another option would be to get the price down so you can plan on a total re-power if needed.

Pushing the Cal with an outboard is not a great option. It is 7000lbs so not only does the motor have to be up to the task, but the mount has to be very heavy duty and the stern re-inforced. It can get rough where you are sailing and having an outboard bouncing around at the end of the boat is not so great.

kotyara 10-31-2012 02:50 PM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?
The more I read about Farymann engines, the more I realize that it would have to be scrapped. Apparently, it wasn't that good to begin with, and the parts are not produced any more, so it would be an uphill battle. The price already reflects that fact, so it won't go down (it's already pretty damn low, considering the condition of the boat).

At this point I think I'll go for the Cal and use the outboard to start with (I won't go far in the next few months anyway :) That would give me time to properly research and build an electric drive system, which should suffice for my purposes and still be much cheaper than a new diesel. I might even keep the outboard as a backup! The old diesel might even provide some parts for that, like a shaft coupling.

As for starting with a dinghy, my first try at sailing was on a 14' dinghy, and I didn't much like it. Just couldn't get over the need to always watch the boat so that it wouldn't capsize. Besides, I was led to believe that dinghy sailing skills are not directly transferable to the keel boats...

SlowButSteady 10-31-2012 03:57 PM

re: First boat: Cal 2-27, Pearson 28 or Islander 28?

Originally Posted by kotyara (Post 941058)
As for starting with a dinghy, my first try at sailing was on a 14' dinghy, and I didn't much like it. Just couldn't get over the need to always watch the boat so that it wouldn't capsize. Besides, I was led to believe that dinghy sailing skills are not directly transferable to the keel boats...

Whoever told you that didn't know much about sailing.

Learning to sail is in large part learning to integrate ALL the cues available. If you can master sailing a flippy little dinghy you'll be in a far better position to sail a ballasted boat, particularly when you get caught in nasty weather (and you WILL get caught in nasty weather, sooner or later). But, it's your life. Just do us all a favor and don't get a boat-load of friends and/or kids hurt or killed when you find out how valuable it would have been to have developed your sailing skills on a smaller boat.

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