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wannabe4 09-23-2010 12:43 AM

Cal 39 vs E 38-200 vs Beneteau First 38
Ladies and gentleman,

I have researched the above 3 boats and would now like to know your opinions please.

My intent is to liveaboard fulltime, cruise Mexico, the caribbean and quite possibly cross oceans as some point. I like all three and these are my impression & thoughts.

-all three perform well and have good PHRF ratings in the low 100 range. All 3 point high.

-the BF 38 may perform slightly better but marginally

-the build quality of the BF 38 is the best of the 3 and probably the best offshore boat when the going gets tough due to construction. Having said that the Cal 39 would also do well. The E 38 is built as a robust coastal cruiser and with perhaps some mods could also be tough enough offshore.

-the interior of the BF 38 has the finest finish, but the E 38 is also well appointed. The Cal 39 is a bit more workman like but the 1982-1984 Miii's with the aft cabin are also well done with nice joinery

-the accomodations of the E 38 in terms of berth size/length are the best of the 3 followed by the Cal 39.The v-berth of the BF 38 is smaller due to the long,fine entry.

-tankage in the Cal 39 is superior, followed by the E 38 and then the BF 38 with its 30 gallon fuel tank.

-All 3 have over 6 feet of draft [exceptions being the shoal draft models] This makes them not as well suited for the ICW and Bahamas. ossibly a shoal draft version of the Cal 39 [5'6"] would do best in those areas.

-all 3 have vulnerable spade rudders but nimble and swift.

The price range of all 3 is similiar give or take 10K.


#1- Beneteau First 38 by a very slim margin over the Cal 39 due primarily to the finer finish and possibly superior construction.

#2. Cal 39. Superior to the E 38 due to slightly more robust construction.

#3. E 38. Still a suitable boat for offshore but not as strongly constructed as the other two boats.

Your comments please!!! :)

wannabe4 09-23-2010 11:55 PM

Come on guys....does nobody have anything to say about these 3 boats?

dhays 09-24-2010 10:07 AM


Originally Posted by wannabe4 (Post 647524)
Come on guys....does nobody have anything to say about these 3 boats?

They all sound great. However, since you are talking about buying an older boat, I would think that you should start to look for all of the three and go with the one that is in the best condition, the best location, and the best price.

If you decide that you want a particular boat, you may have slim pickings. For example, I only find 4 Cal 39s on

daviddupzyk 10-07-2010 06:21 PM

wannabe 4

i owned a cal 39, cruised it through the slot, down to colombia and up the west side of del caribe. the boat was very good to me. she was a shoal draft. you might want to research the naval architect william lapworth, if you have further interest in the cal 39. sorry, but i can't speak for the other boats.

COOL 10-08-2010 01:45 PM

Any of the three will sail like a train upwind,
but all have large sail plans with massive
The Ericson is quite fast in light air,
but will be slower and more diffucult to
manage in breezy off the wind sailing.
The Beneteau will likely have the best
overall sailing performance.

beebopbogo 04-14-2015 10:58 AM

Re: Cal 39 vs E 38-200 vs Beneteau First 38
Here's my website containing everything about living aboard my Cal 39 from Quicken expense reports to maintenance tutorials to climbing the mast (with photos):

I've owned my 1978 Cal 39 MKII for 2 years now and absolutely no complaints. She was in fair condition when I bought her for $28,000 in Hawaii in 2013. There have been a few cases of corrosion in the wiring, the winches needed some lubing, new sails, new bottom paint, added solar, re-stepped the mast to replace the stainless steel step and added all new rigging while I was at it.

But as for the boat, never any leaks, dry interior, quality teak interior looking very nice, and no complaints at all! I live-aboard and sail inter-island every few months and race twice per week.

She's fully loaded down with cruising gear, but we still manage to come in the top third in the beer-can races.

Sailing the rough channel crossings, she sometimes slams hard into the seas when hard against the wind in 8 foot seas or higher. But falling off a few points fixes that until we're in smoother conditions.

Sailing downwind with following seas is hard work! Steering requires a lot of muscle, first holding strong right pressure when a wave passes from the aft, then a 3/4 turn of the wheel in the opposite direction until the next wave comes. That's a lot of hard steering when on a shift more than 4 hours. And the self-steering wind vane can't hold the pressure, so it's man-power only. Perhaps dragging a line behind would help, but never tried it.

At any other point of sail, however, just trim the sails and lock the steering. She'll go for hours through the trade-winds without ever touching the helm.

Most cruisers I've sailed next to require me to reduce sail to match their speed. With jib only, I can out point and out sail the Catalina 38. The only exception so far is the Nordic 44 which outperformed my Cal 39, but what do you expect. That Nordic is a sweet boat!

Sorry I have no info on the other two boats for direct comparison, but I am still very happy with my Cal 39!

1978 Cal 39 MKII TM

svHyLyte 04-14-2015 09:27 PM

Re: Cal 39 vs E 38-200 vs Beneteau First 38
Having owned and sailed a Cal for 26 years and having subsequently owned and sailed a Beneteau for 13 years, given a choice, I'd stick with the Beneteau.


JimsCAL 04-16-2015 08:42 AM

Re: Cal 39 vs E 38-200 vs Beneteau First 38
Since this thread is almost 5 years old, I assume the OP has made his choice.

beebopbogo 04-16-2015 08:48 AM

Re: Cal 39 vs E 38-200 vs Beneteau First 38
The beauty of old boats: the info is ALWAYS helpful (I wonder which he chose.)

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