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post #53 of Old 05-14-2012
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Re: Cal 21 Owners

A few more thing to address the low number of CAL 21s built. I don't think it was problems stepping/unstepping the mast that "killed" the CAL 21. I know of many other similar trailerable sailboats that have had longer production runs than hte CAL 21 where the mast is not easier to deal with. My thought is that the 21 was JENSEN Marine's answer to the Venture 21 and maybe the Catalina 22, in some ways the CAL was better than either of those, in other ways less desirable. I know that for my family, the CAL 21 was much better set up for our use/needs, but the other boats had there good points too.
The CAL 21 was a sort-of "entry-level" CAL and was built (structurally) to the same standard as her larger (and in hte case of the CAL 20, slightly smaller) sisters. However, the CAL 21 was slightly more expensive than the Venture 21 and slightly less featured compared to the similarly priced Catalina. The CAL 21 was more or less "built to a price" and thus lacked a few nice features of more expensive boats, like drains for the cockpit seats (we eventually added some to prevent the typical puddles in the aft corners), a sliding main hatch, and access from the cockpit to stowage space under the cockpit. For us, the low price, yet great quality of a CAL, made the 21 very attractive, but the one feature that I still, to this day consider to be the Best/Worst feature of the CAL 21 may have potentially soured sales. THE KEEL! I feel that the CAL 21 is the only "True" RETRACTABLE KEEL boat from that era. Almost all other similar boats had "swing-keels", and thus would suffer drag from the always there keel cable, more drag from the always wide-open (on the bottom) keel trunk, and most others had cast-iron keels (contrary to the sales brochures, the keels on our CALs are fiberglass and lead, the only iron/steel is the backbone inside the keel). To be honest, MacGregor changed to a fiberglass encased keel eventually and the Cat 22 now has a lead-ballasted keel).
I have a feeling that the 21 was (after the first year or so) a low-production boat, and maybe not one that the dealers were pushing (unless located near a Venture Dealer?) and it may be that CAL couldn't hold the price down as low as they felt necessary after a few years?

Suprisingly enough, if you look up copies of YACHTING Magazine from the early to mid 1970's.... you will find that the CAL 21 was a pretty active RACING class! WOW! The CAL 20 was always know for is the 25 and the 40.....but the CAL 21 was active enough to have a National Class Association at one time. Racing should have brought some sales......but, apparently not? Now, I also don't know how much Jensen Marine promoted or assisted these Class (One-Design) racing activities, and that can affect popularity. Unlike other classes (O'DAY Mariner, Venture 21, Catalina 21, San Juan 21, CAL 20), I don't think CAL-Jensen ever mentioned the Class Association in their brochures.

Again, I suspect it was the well-intentioned, but maybe slightly complicated Keel set up that hurt sales more than mast raising. For our use, where we launched the boat in hte Spring, kept her on a mooring all Summer, then hauled out in the Fall. The Keel was a good feature, we had a "fixed keel" boat with all the performance and stability of a fin-keel boat. Yet, while hauled out.....we had a "centerboard" boat that sat long to the ground and was easy to work on without a tall ladder (storage cost at the boatyard was also based partly on height in those days, so with the keel retracted we saved $$). We could have even bought our own trailer and hauled/launched ourselves and stored boat in our own own yard (in fact for first 3 seasons we had a home-made cradle on wheels that we used to haul the boat out on the beach at my Grandparent's summer home).

Jensen "jumped on hte bandwagon" of small, entry-level, trailerable boats when they introduced the 21 as a 1970 model, but I have a feeling the 21 was never a major product in the line up. More than a few owners of larger CALs were introduced to CAL-Jensen by the 21, but the 21 may not have really fit the CAL focus. One last theory, the 21 may have been an attempt by Jack Jensen and Bill Lapworth to enter (actually, re-enter) the trailerable sailboat market, but perhaps Jensen's parent company, Bangor Punta felt the boat was not selling enough.....and dropped production. Perhaps it is the other way around? BP was pushing the idea, Jack Jensen didn't like it and thus didn't push the model. I tend to lean more towards Jensen and Lapworth being behind the boat 100% at least to try the idea! The original CAL, the California 24 was a trailerable boat, but with a shallow, full-keel that housed a centerboad, a good example of the early trailer-sailers, more "trailer-transportable" than really "Trailerable". More set up to allow visting other sailing areas by trailering than as a boat that was dry-sailed. Perhaps the 21 was seen the same way, better for exploring new waterways reachable by trailer than as a dry-sailed boat? Read the advertising copy and you get the feeling that Jensen Marine (or at least their ad agency?) knew little about the reality of trailering, now read a Venture/Macgregor brochure, which one makes that "15 minute" prep and launch sound realistic? I get a kick out the idea of using the CAL 21 as a camper while travelling, great idea...except with the mast carried like in hte brochure picture (I will post later), the jumper shrouds prevent opening the hatch! <GRIN!>

One last bit of "trivia" CAL used the same ramp for this photo shoot as used for years by Venture/Macgregor!

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1970 CAL 21 (sold 2008)
Other boats
1979 O'DAY DS II
1969 O'DAY Widgeon

Last edited by rjohnson; 07-20-2016 at 12:29 PM.
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