Originally Posted by JimDaddy
Anyway, I'm looking at a cal 20 tomorrow after the race (Berkeley Mid-winters) and would like some feedback for the community on this boat. This will be my first sailboat.
I thought about your question when I went to visit my Cal 20 today with my daughter. (Some ice, but otherwise fine.) Anyway, I don't think there's lifelines on a Cal 20 because they would entirely screw up the jib sheet angles. The jib on the fractional rig of the Cal 20 pretty much sweeps the foredeck (as I learned when we quickly lost our expensive solar powered fan up there). Having lifelines would interfere with that.
I believe this is the same reason why other 20 foot boats, like the Ranger 20, don't have lifelines. Both the Cal 20 and the Ranger 20 originally had bow pulpits to grab onto when you went up on the foredeck, and some had hand rails down the center of the deck (which I think get in the way too much for a Cal 20).
As for hiking out, the original Cal 20 (like mine) had stainless steel hand rails on both sides of the cockpit that pretty much made hiking out impossible. On many of the "racing Cal 20s" at my marina, the stainless steel rails are gone, the mounting holes filled in, and a non-slip strip put on the cowling on each side of the cockpit to make it easy to sit there and hike out a bit.
If you look at race videos of Cal 20s, you'll find a lot of action occurring from the open companionway (like taking down a spinnaker). Crew do go on the fore deck, but it's small enough to hang on without needing lifelines. In fact, their presence might be a hindrance to moving forward and having space. It's just the nature of a smaller boat, I guess.
I really like our Cal 20, and I consider it an easy to sail boat that can handle rougher conditions with aplomb. I don't consider it a super light air boat, like a lot of the newer 20 footers are. The Santana 20s we sailed, for example, were more responsive but also more twitchy. (Which can be more fun, but they are more expensive to pick up.)
Anyway, here's some of my favorite links about Cals and Cal 20s:
There's more, but these come to mind. My restoration pics are listed down in the Cal area of this board.
For the record, I had a great time last weekend at the Portland Boat Show for three hours helping to staff the Cal 20 Fleet 7 display. Schooner Creek Boatworks helps the fleet bring in and set up 2 Cal 20s for anyone to climb on and in to check out, and I pretty much spent the 3 hours up in the cockpits encouraging people new to sailing to come aboard and explore. In a boat show filled with $20k boats and up, it was a pleasure to show off used boats that start around $2k for a great learning and sailing experience. (Our boat was $600 to begin with, but it took around $2k more to get it where we wanted.)
Good luck with your search, and check out Ranger 20s while your at it. In our area, I know of 4 Cal 20s for sale, starting at $1200 and going to about $4500.