Cal 31 - Page 3 - SailNet Community

   Search Sailnet:

 forums  store  


Quick Menu
Forums           
Articles          
Galleries        
Boat Reviews  
Classifieds     
Search SailNet 
Boat Search (new)

Shop the
SailNet Store
Anchor Locker
Boatbuilding & Repair
Charts
Clothing
Electrical
Electronics
Engine
Hatches and Portlights
Interior And Galley
Maintenance
Marine Electronics
Navigation
Other Items
Plumbing and Pumps
Rigging
Safety
Sailing Hardware
Trailer & Watersports
Clearance Items

Advertise Here






Go Back   SailNet Community > Boat Builders Row > Cal
 Not a Member? 


Like Tree2Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
  #21  
Old 09-18-2009
clueless
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Houston/Austin
Posts: 184
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Rep Power: 5
dieselboy is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatTheFoley View Post
dieselboy:

Going up to the San Juanís from Seattle is not really a Blue Water crossing (hell it's not really a crossing at all). Though the water is deep, it's hardly ocean sailing. The seas are generally under 3ft, with no swell and you are never out of sight of land. So I can't speak to the CAL 31ís Blue Water abilities.

I will say that in the snotty 20+knt winds and 4-5ft chop that I have encountered, she has taken it like a champ with no hint that she couldn't take more. I read a while back that somebody (I'm sure many) had circumnavigated in a 31. I'm sure she is up to it.

I would of course advise that you thoroughly check-out/inspect/refit any vessel that you want to take out on a true Blue Water crossing!
I just wanted to see how other boats of similar size take rough seas and what not.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #22  
Old 10-01-2009
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: San Pedro, CA
Posts: 10
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
jeflaba is on a distinguished road
Send a message via ICQ to jeflaba Send a message via MSN to jeflaba Send a message via Yahoo to jeflaba
Cal 31 - Not for Bluewater Offshore Cruising

Before I comment on why I think the Cal 31 is not an ocean crossing blue water sailboat I want to give a bit of background so you know where I am coming from.

I LOVE my Cal 31, Imagination. I've sailed for the last 45 years in dinghies, beach cats, cruising and racing boats from 20 to 60 ft. In the last 19 years I have owned her I have sailed my Cal 31 from Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel Island to Chula Vista harbor in San Diego and pretty much everywhere in between, mostly solo. Of the eight channel islands the only one I haven't been to is San Nicholas (60 nm offshore & no safe anchorage). I have sailed OPBs in San Francisco bay and been crew on a Columbia 36 going up around Point Conception. I have also been paying crew on a 56 footer from Ala Wai harbor, Hawaii to Glacier Bay in Alaska and on down to Sitka and Juneau. I would consider myself a competent coastal cruiser with some limited offshore experience.

The worst conditions I have been in on the Cal 31 was 25 kts wind continuous with gusts to 30+ and 12 ft swells at 12 second interval (this is what really counts) sailing solo. In those conditions the top of the line autopilot (TillerPilot 5500) could not keep up and I had to hand steer. If anything had gone wrong I would have been hard pressed to leave the tiller to fix it. I had two reefs in the main and the roller reefing jib was rolled to less than 70% of the fore triangle. We were doing in the high 7 to low 8 kt continuously with spurts to 9 to 10 kt sliding down a swell. I was on a broad reach. After four hours of this I made port and was VERY glad for it!

I have been in worse but only for short periods like when a squall line passes through - over in less than 10-15 minutes. I have also been close reaching in 20+ kt for a couple of hours at a time. I don't have a dodger and was quite wet even in full foulies and wide brim tilly hat. By the time I reached a slip I could wring water out of my underwear and was mildly hypothermic with continuous shivering. I would have been hard pressed to do another hour. Sobering when you consider that worse storms at sea can last three days or longer.

In all of this I never felt like I was in any serious danger UNLESS something broke. I try to thing about what I would do in situations ahead of time but doing it when I am out in it can give me the cold sweats. Losing a shroud or even the mast would be a serious problem in the west Santa Barbara channel only 20 nm from a safe anchorage. Developing a major leak because of a broken through hull or hitting something tough enough to hole me could be life threatening.

So, here are the reasons I would not consider the 31 a true blue water cruiser. First, it is just too small. Yes, I know lot of folks have circumnavigated on smaller boats but the Cal is only 9170 lbs and considered tender. She needs a reef when going to weather in 12 kts if you want to keep her on her feet. The fuel tank holds 15 gal. enough for about 300 nm of motoring in calm seas. There is 50 gal of water storage at 1 gal/person/day = 25 days - no long or even short showers! She is also short on food, equipment, and supplies storage for two and there is no way I would single hand her on ocean crossings. If you did get enough stuff aboard you would have to repaint the water line a foot higher!

Second, there is a major design flaw in the Cal 31 and that is the large main hatch. Not only is it huge it opens at a wide angle so that the hatch boards only have to lift an inch or so before they come out. This is not a major problem most of the time, it's easy to get my big mountain bike down below and out again, but offshore it could prove fatal.

Another design flaw for offshore work is the very large fore deck hatch. Again it is very convenient passing large sail bags and hoping back and forth when I have to raise the anchor and flake the chain coming down the hawse pipe under the V-berth (this is a refit I did). However, the hatch takes 6 dogs to secure it and they have to be REALLY tight to prevent even minor waves from causing some fairly serious dripping. I also worry that the caulking could fail on the Lexan and that would be one seriously large hole (I had a young crew member push on the Lexan and not the frame trying to open the hatch and the sealant failed - it was 25 years old).

Lastly, the engine is marginal. Yes, I know, it's a sailboat but I have listened to cruisers and read enough to know that you spend a lot of time motoring. The 16 hp (on a good day) two cylinder diesel just can't push the boat against much of a headwind. On one occasion I was trying to get back to San Pedro from Long Beach with a torn mainsail lashed to the boom and could not make better than 1.5 kt against a 25 kt head wind. And this was behind a breakwater! I spent a night sailing on my anchor at Johnson's Lee on Santa Rosa Island (33 lb Bruce on 265 ft of chain + 100 ft of nylon). The wind was 35 kt and howling like a banshee. If I had had to motor into that, I don't think I could have made any headway at all.

All this said, if I had a gun to my head, here is what I would do. First, find a way to secure the hatch boards so they couldn't lift out (I would also replace them with boards with at least a 1/4 inch lip not just a butt joint). I would upgrade the hatches with serious offshore quality models - stainless or bronze to replace the opening port lights which are just plastic, not even Lexan. Same with the cabin windows. I doubt they would hold up to a real smacking from a breaking wave. Upgrade the through hulls and double clamp all the hoses.

It goes without saying that the standing and running rigging would have to be new, oversized and top of the line. Sails would need to be serous cruising quality. I am not sure how I would handle the jib. I cannot see going forward to change out a headsail. Roller reefing (not furling) is a must but it has to be designed so that storm winds, when you are running under bare poles, cannot unravel the fully furled sail. If the boom is sheeted to the cabin top, I would consider moving it back to the standard location on the bridge deck (mid-boom sheeting can lead to boom failure). This limits how big the dodger can be and you WILL need a dodger. If you are not going to use a windvane for steering you will need multiple backups for the autopilot and the wiring for it has to be bullet proof (my boat would need a complete rewire). Backups for GPS, VHF and other nav gear including a sextant are needed to prevent Murphy from joining your crew.

You would need to give some thought to where you are going to sleep. The v-berth is going to be full of stuff and you don't want to sleep before the mast anyway - you're the captain not crew! While offshore only one of you will be asleep so you only need one of the two settee berths but it will need lee cloths. We needed them on the 56 footer so I know you would need them on the Cal.

Lots of other stuff too. Where are you going to navigate from? There is no seated nav station. The galley needs some way to secure the cook in a seaway. The storage areas above the settees need to be secured. Imagine the boat on her beam ends - what would fall out? On my boat the original manual bilge pump required me to keep the port cockpit locker open in order to use it - a total no-no (now replaced with one I can use while hand steering if necessary). Also, the cockpit locker hatches have no way to be secured from the cockpit, you have to go below. Where is the life raft going to be stowed? The v-berth is a long way to drag something that big and heavy in an emergency. The cockpit locker openings are too small and the room on deck is quite limited.

That said, I have seen a Cal 34 which circumnavigated and she was extensively modified. I have read about a Cal 25 which was circumnavigated by a couple with two young kids (they were born on board) was had longitudinal stringers glassed in and a hard dodger. The owner said he would never have done it if he didn't already have the boat and the skill to basically redesign it and do all the work himself. FWIW, I know of at least two other Cal 31's in Mexico which have extensively cruised the Sea of Cortez and southward.

Bottom line, the Cal 31 is a wonderful coastal cruiser. She is fast, weatherly, strong, and she has the space below of a 35 footer (of the same vintage). I love mine unreservedly. In the 19 years I have owned her I have never seen another boat I would have wanted to have bought. I will almost certainly keep her into retirement and I plan to do the 2011 Baja Haja (though I am not looking forward to the Baja Bash coming back).

However, you won't have to read very many stories of being caught offshore in a storm before you realize the Cal 31 just isn't the boat you want to be in. Seriously, check out Adlard Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing by Peter Bruce on Amazon and elsewhere. It's a classic and, IMHO, no one should go offshore, even coastwise, without reading this book.
Mark S. and Noclew like this.

Last edited by jeflaba; 10-02-2009 at 01:57 AM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #23  
Old 10-01-2009
cal30's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Wahiawa
Posts: 82
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 7
cal30 is on a distinguished road
WOW ! Jeflaba, what a great review. Big MAHALO for the write up. We're looking to move up (within 2 yrs) from a 27. We strictly coastal cruise Northshore ,Oahu but would probably go inter-island with a good 31. I'm more interested in headroom, as ours is 5'10 and I'm 6'2". Post some pics of your boat if you have time. Again, GREAT report.
Mahalo,
Leonard S/V Holoholo
Attached Thumbnails
Cal 31-ono4.jpg  
__________________
S/V HoloHolo
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #24  
Old 10-01-2009
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: San Pedro, CA
Posts: 10
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
jeflaba is on a distinguished road
Send a message via ICQ to jeflaba Send a message via MSN to jeflaba Send a message via Yahoo to jeflaba
Imagination

Headroom is a great thing. I am 6'3" and the Cal 31 has several places in the main cabin where I can stand up real straight and don't have to be in my stocking feet! The late 60's and early 70's Columbias were well known for their interior headroom but, IMO they are ugly and have WAY to much freeboard.

I don't have any good pictures of my boat, Imagination, readily available but I do have this nice photo from Sept. 2008 in Pelican Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. My boat is the one in the center.
Attached Thumbnails
Cal 31-pelican-cove-santa-cruz-island.jpg  
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #25  
Old 10-05-2009
cal30's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Wahiawa
Posts: 82
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 7
cal30 is on a distinguished road
Headroom = GOOD...

NICE photo!
__________________
S/V HoloHolo
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #26  
Old 10-11-2009
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 14
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
airdog07 is on a distinguished road
cruising around in a small boat

there is lot's small boat the cruise around the world, like contessa 26ft with out motor, home page Bika - Home another contessa The Peaceful Journey -- The Boat Singlehanded Transpac - Sailing California to Hawaii Solo with cal 20 Singlehanded Transpac - Sailing California to Hawaii Solo | YachtPals.com there is also 16 year old at the time sail around the world in cal 24 Dove and Robin Lee Graham - The Voyage of the Dove Round The World, this is cal 29 cruising from Vancouver canada to Tahiti calstart no not every one well do what very few have have did or do, but you don't need 60ft boat with ever emergency gadget to cruise around the world, the David and Jaja Martin cruise around the world with cal 25 (rebuilt from the ground up) had no emergency gear no radio,flare,raft, (PBS documentary Iceblink abut martins good show) here is a pod-cast FurledSails.com Podcast #56 Iceblink most of the cruiser the I read tell you keep it small boat as you can but I'm just a couch sailor but will be sailing soon hope fully, I don't want to become old and regret not doing it take care al
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #27  
Old 11-14-2009
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: San Pedro, CA
Posts: 10
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
jeflaba is on a distinguished road
Send a message via ICQ to jeflaba Send a message via MSN to jeflaba Send a message via Yahoo to jeflaba
Blue Water Cruising the Cal 31

airdog07 is correct, there are many boats smaller than the Cal 31 which have circumnavigated. And some very small boats have made blue water crossings of both the Atlantic and Pacific. I know of the Cal 20 which was in the race to Hawaii and the West Wight Potter (14 ft?) which sailed across the Atlantic.

The Columbia 26 from the late 60's was also a small boat which has a reputation of being strong and stable in a nasty blow. I had a dock neighbor buy one for a song and fix it up really nice. He sailed it to Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel and, in the hands of the right sailor, it could potentially circumnavigate. Even in the hands of my novice neighbor the boat and crew made it through a really nasty blow coming back to San Pedro from Avalon, Catalina. It is, however, tiny inside with barely seated head room for me.

Then there is the Contessa 26. The Cal 31 isn't a Contessa 26. Not even close. If I had a chance to sail either on a long offshore passage I might hesitate to give up the 6 extra ft (the Contessa is 25.5 lod and the Cal is 31.5) and the speed that comes with a fin keel, also the head room, the interior space, etc. to sail the Contessa. However, the Contessa's a real blue water boat born and bred with a full keel and built like a tank. The mold was taken from a wooden hull and the original scantlings in fiberglass were based on the strength of wood not GRP. It was designed in England where coastal cruising can mean the North Sea. The Contessa (and later J.J. Taylor 26 - the same boat) had a production run in the hundreds over forty years. As they say in the UK, this is a case of "horses for courses."

The Cal 31, and remember, I love mine, was built to be a performance coastal cruiser. Raced on Wednesday night and sailed by the family on the weekends on passages of 20 to 30 nm. She does this VERY well, has done so for 30 years and will, God willing, continue to do so for some time to come. But she was built to meet a certain price point and to sell in quantity. Jensen and later Lear Siegler made 360 of them in four years. These boats spend the vast majority of their lives tied to docks in modern marinas. I would have been very unhappy to have bought the Contessa 20 years ago. It would have been slower, smaller, and in most ways the wrong boat for the sailing I have done. Again, horses for courses.

Another note about the Cal 31 as a world cruising blue water boat: Among the things I would worry about (in addition to those I mentioned in a previous post) it just how well the bulkheads are tabbed to the hull. In the nearly twenty years I have owned my Cal 31 I have never been underway for more than 16 or 17 hours at a time. My usual passage is 4 to 5 hours one way. I do this once or twice a month. So, a single four day passage like non-stop to Turtle Bay on the Baja coast is the equivalent (96 hours) of nearly a year of my ordinary sailing (not counting my annual long term cruise to either San Diego or Channel Islands NP). Time at sea, particularly going to weather will work the bulkhead/hull joint and is something I am now conscious of - preferring to reef early and put less wear on the boat. Should this joint fail while in bad weather (when else would if fail?), the boat could work itself into catastrophic hull failure rapidly.

When looking for inexpensive small boats for world cruising, folks turn to mid to late 60's boats, before Lapworth (may God rest his soul) revolutionized the sailing world with the fin keel, spade rudder Cal 40 that swept the Transpac and many other races, and before builders figured out that fiberglass was stronger than wood and the hulls could be made MUCH thinner. These boats were "built tough" because the builders hadn't yet figured out how to do it any other way.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #28  
Old 12-30-2009
Couch Explorer
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Right Coast
Posts: 13
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Melantho is on a distinguished road
I've owned my 1984 Cal 31 for 3 years. In that time we've mostly raced her, but gently (okay we have had two collisions and I did fly the spinnaker in 20 kn recently. I won't do that again.) Despite all that, the boat has stood up to it pretty well. At the moment I've got her torn apart to do a bunch of fixing, tweaking, and general maintenance. It's been a good exercise to see how the boat was constructed in the first place and what issues I need to monitor over time.

I would say that as a blue water cruiser, it could do it. I think the lack of good storage would limit you to no more than a 2 week passage, which could take you to just about any coastal or island-hopping destination. The other defects mentioned can be mitigated, like the large hatchway (I have a line that locks the boards in place).
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #29  
Old 12-30-2009
sandypants's Avatar
S/V Cybele II
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Orange County
Posts: 1
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
sandypants is on a distinguished road
I have a 1979 Cal 31' that I've owned for about a year now. I bought her in Santa Cruz and sailed her south to Long Beach during the Coastal Cup this past June. We wound up stuck in 20-30 knts for about two days from Big Sur to Pt. Conception with 12ft seas at 9 sec. Not Fun; but with a double reef in the main and the 73% jib up she did quite well on the downwind run. (The transom does make steering a bit squirrely with an aft quart sea and larger foresails flying.)
There was only two of us; myself and girlfriend so we stayed close and dropped anchor each night to sleep. This caused the trip to drag out for six days. We both have a proficient level of experience and I planned for just such a contingency even though the forecast was 5-10 knts for coastal waters. Even still the experience isn’t one I’d seek out again. While the boat handled it well, I wouldn’t want to take her through anything much worse.
That being said she is a fantastic vessel. That handles her function (as stated earlier; to race on Wednesday night and cruise with the fam. on weekends) with ease and comfort. She has been serving duty as a weekend channel islands diving platform quite well.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #30  
Old 01-12-2010
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Cal31Ambiance is on a distinguished road
Great discussions and, as an owner of a 1983 Cal 31 that I have had for 14 year and absolutely love, I am in general agreement with Jeflaba's excellent overview of her blue water capability. His comment about the sealant failing on the forward deck hatch was something that I had not considered and really gave me pause. I now have another project checking and securing it for the spring. I sail mostly on coastal cruises in eastern NC and have occasionally ventured off shore to the Gulfstream. I have been through some bad weather (up to 35 Knots continuous in Pamlico Sound) but have never feared for the boat. Without a dodger and the boat's general low freeboard it can be quite wet. Around 1982 when Bangor Punta moved production of the CAL 31 from California to Florida, they switched from the plastic Beckson ports and moved to very solid Atkins and Hoyle aluminum with tempered glass. The fixed cabin side ports were switched from plastic to aluminum framed with tempered glass as well. I would say that this is much stronger arrangement. Prior to 1982, the similarly designed CAL35's and 39's, which are generally thought of as better blue water capable boats used the same plastic Beckson ports. They, too, around 1982 switched to metal ports. I have read widely that the companionway boards were simple butt joints, but mine came with stepped joints. I don't know if the previous owner had them made, but mine appear watertight. 2 Simple barrel bolts at the top secure them in a seaway.
As Jeflaba commented, if someone held a gun to my head and told me to head trans oceanic, I think it could be done successfully in a CAL 31 but, in my mind a 1982-1985 Cal 39 would be my choice for a more comfortable and safer passage. I haven't ruled out a jaunt to Bermuda or even down to the Caribbean or Bahamas in my 31, but for now coastal NC and a Cal 31 are perfect for me.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

 
Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may post attachments
You may edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Cal 20-- Excellent Starter Boat Jim H Cal 8 03-17-2013 11:21 AM
Cal 39 & Bill Lapworth Bluesmoods Boat Review and Purchase Forum 24 05-07-2012 04:57 PM
Cal 39 owners techjunc Cal 3 05-05-2012 06:34 PM
Cal 25 trecksail Gear & Maintenance 0 03-12-2008 12:06 AM
King Ericson or Lapworth Cal tgarrett16 Boat Review and Purchase Forum 3 03-09-2008 07:48 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 09:20 AM.

Add to My Yahoo!         
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
(c) Marine.com LLC 2000-2012