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Cal 20 in Vancouver, BC

11335 Views 55 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Faster
So the boat buying process is in full swing. We've secured moorage (joy of joys!) at Lynnwood Marina. We've decided to go for something a bit smaller than we'd originally thought, and he's leaning pretty hard on a Cal 20, especially as there's one that looks like she's been well maintained in North Vancouver for $1900. He needs the space, as he bought another boat. We took a look at her the other night, but it was dark, and despite a high powered light, there are a few more things we'd like to check out. The current owner is being kind enough to let us take her out tomorrow morning and she how she is in the water. We couldn't take a look at the sails or a good look at the electrical, which we'll do tomorrow. Apart from that she seems seaworthy - he's done a lot of work/replacement.

Any thoughts on these boats? Is this a reasonable price? Anything we should be particularly attentive to on our sea trial?

Thanks so much!
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Cal 20s are good solid boats, though obviously quite small. You should watch for all the usuals, delamination, leaks, rigging conditions etc as these are all pretty old boats. For under $2K you'll get some fun sailing with these boats and there are a lot of them around if you ever want to get into some class racing. Also, with the seller being a 2 boat owner I suspect you can safely offer something less. These were the boats of choice for the old Jibset Sailing school, which had a standing offer of a prize for anyone who could actually knock them over - very stiff boats.

One thing, though, with moorage at Lynnwood... Mooring on the North Shore puts you between two bridges, each with considerable tidal currents (often flowing faster than your boat will travel) This places some restrictions on when you can leave and return to your marina, careful attention to tide and current tables is required. In your case, as sailing is limited in the Harbour itself you'll need to go through a bridge narrows either way. English Bay is the better part of an hour with neutral tide, with Indian Arm half that distance through Second Narrows.

In order to make sure you can safely transit these areas you need to be certain that the outboard engine is reliable and powerful enough to help you get through the inevitable times when you can't quite time your passage for slack.

I suspect that, if this all works out for you both, it won't be long before you're looking to move up, but this may be a good way to "test the waters" as it were. Good Luck!
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Thanks for the quick reply!

We've debated and debated how to go about getting on the water this summer, which at the moment is the priority. There is NO moorage anywhere closer to English Bay. Thunderbird - 5 - 7 year waitlist. Horseshoe Bay - about the same. My name is on the waitlist. There's nothing in False Creek or Coal Harbour either (not that we're particularly inclined to spend that sort of $ anyway)

I have my current atlas sitting here just begging to be used ;)

Short of trailering, which at the moment will also require upgrading the truck, this seems the best option. Do you have another suggestion?

We've been told one portlight leaks, but want to check everything out. He originally was asking $2900 and dropped the price to $1900.

The Cal only has a 3 hp on her right now. One of the thigns we'll be doing tomorrow is playing around in the tides to see what she can do. We'll likely be upgrading the engine as one of the first big projects. The upgrade to an upper twenty footer is already planned - this was really just meant as something to get us through the summer ;)
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serah -- we were in your situation in 2006. Due to delays I lost a spot in Mosquito Creek and we ended up keeping our boat in Point Roberts. I've been really happy with the decision (even though we are carless and it involves a lot of walking and bussing!) ever since.

Best part is that you're about 15 nm from the San Juans and 10 from the Gulf Islands. You're about a day's sail from Howe Sound or Nanaimo. You motor for about five minutes to get past the breakwater and you can hoist right away. They also have very relaxed races on Saturdays in fall and winter, and Tuesday nights in spring (haven't tried that out myself but will probably crew this spring). Boatyard, chandlery, restaurants, usual amenities as well.

Call to find out about their availability. Their website says none under 30' but I could swear I've seen space on T dock (in fact I'll let you know on Monday).

p.s. no affiliation with the marina, though I can see how I might come off that way...
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p.p.s. lot less crowded, no tugs pulling logs, no bridges dumping soot, no crazy tidal currents (well, maybe one crazy tidal current)... okay I'm done.

If you were referring to the Georgia Strait Current Atlas, it's of limited use for where you are. You will be needing the current tables specifically for First and Second narrows to time your passages. The real current atlas is somewhat cryptic and mostly of use to long distance racers and tugboat skippers.

There are advantages to keeping a boat in Pt Roberts, esp proximity to the Gulf Islands but constantly crossing borders is a hassle, and many there cruise exclusively in the US as a result. That in itself is neither good nor bad, but you'll miss an awful lot of beautiful territory on our side.

That 3 hp engine is going to be a bit of a problem if you intend to get yourself out to Georgia Strait. btw - you should give the False Creek Harbour Authority (604 733 3625) a call, they may well accommodate a 20 footer at rates similar to the North Shore. They are between Granville Is and Burrard Civic.
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Very true about the border, though a Nexus card ($50, lasts five years) should solve that problem. While I've noticed that we do tend to pick weekend cruises to the San Juans, we're planning longer trips to Canada (like maybe two weeks in Desolation Sound!).

False Creek might have something and the atmosphere there is pretty awesome. It's a tangled web of slips with houseboats, fishing boats, yachts, you name it. We spent a week there last summer and really got to liking the "neighborhood" feel: folks would dinghy across the fairway to borrow tools, or a bit of sugar, or whatever.

However I'm a bit concerned about the level of security. You can walk up to any boat you like. I've gone to visit a friend's boat there a coupla times and nobody ever asked my business. Same friend has also mentioned that stuff -- like outboards -- gets stolen unfortunately often.

The big thing that struck me in comparing False Creek / English Bay to Point Roberts is the crowds. I thought I was used to lots of boats on the water after sailing up Puget Sound... in Everett there were five or six and I've seen as many as eight at a time in the waters just outside the Point Roberts marina. Imagine my surprise when we first motored up False Creek in July, and had to navigate around dragonboaters, scullers, layakers, SeaRays with bikini-clad babes all over them, water taxis, you name it. Hundreds of boats. Okay maybe you can count the babe-infested SeaRays as pro or con, but still, it was crowded. Also, with a 3hp outboard (we had a 4hp at the time) you're in everybody else's way. Also people don't seem to heed the "no wake" signs very well.

Anyway I know may sound a bit harsh in my view of this nautical Babylon, and I will probably visit there again, but it's very welcoming to come back to our home port where I have all the room in the world and everybody who works for the marina knows my face.
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If you choose to go into "the creek" on a summer weekend afternoon, then indeed, Adam's picture is quite accurate. But we are moored at the FCHA and have experienced no more issues with security or vandalism than we did at Mosq Creek - things were not worrisome at either location. They do have a full time security staff there and the docks are regularly patrolled. And besides, gated marinas are usually hit by thieves by water anyway so the gates are no deterrent there.

We rarely have any issues coming and going, though of course there are busy times - after all there are something like 5000 boats moored here. Busy times under the First Narrows bridge (ie slack tides) were much more of a bother than in and out of False Creek.

Convenient access to West and Steveston Marine, Granville Is and the developed waterfront walkways of Vancouver are bonuses too.

But, in this moorage market, you just gotta go where they'll take ya....
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Faster - good to hear that your experience in False Creek has been more or less problem free. And of course I can't deny that it's gotta be the most convenient spot in the world... I know I'd get more sailing in than just Sunday afternoons if the boat was basically a SkyTrain ride away. Plus they have fresh fish and chips I hear :)
.... Plus they have fresh fish and chips I hear :)
True, but you have to like them a lot - most days the lineup is 45 minutes long!
Serah, have you checked out moorage in Deep Cove? The commercial marina there seems to have short waits (or used to anyways!) for small boats. It is also extremely convenient for daysailing in a smaller boat. There isn't much reach for the waves to build, so you can sail in Indian Arm in weather you wouldn't dare sail in other places (like Howe Sound). It can be a gale warning for Vancouver and you might not see more than 10kts in the Arm. We sail a 24 footer almost exclusively in the Arm, mostly due to the long haul out to English Bay, but we never get bored. Reid Point may also be a good option.

What is your budget for a boat? I have seen some nice looking San Juan 24s for sale here on the South Coast, and they probably can be had for under $5000.
Sailors without Borders

Well, I think I also mentioned Point Roberts before in another thread but I'll mention it again. As Adamlien said Pont Roberts does have some pros/cons, the customs one is more perceived than real. I will admit I hate it, can't stand it, bugs the $hit out of me, but in reality, it is just me being ornery, I don't take well to being questioned all the time, but I endure and mollify them best I can. The American Customs like to strut their authority but the bottom line is they depend on us Canadians to financially support that little peninsula so they generally let us through unimpeded (we have Nexus) and I rarely if ever get questioned.
For day sailing you will not be crossing back and forth across the water border so yes your sailing will be in US waters, big deal, it doesn't feel like it. Yes the perception of customs makes it more desireable to sail the San Juans and they are exceptionally beautiful, but it is also a simple matter of pulling into any of the nexus water points and phoning Canada customs, I just get my wife to do it, they are not that bad it is mostly perception that influences attitude. Then we spend a few days cruising the Gulf Islands and call US customs on our return, no big deal really, it is just attitude, my bad attitude.

The staff there know all their customers and recognize me every time, even at this years boat show the woman hailed me in the crowd, so I went over and said hello and asked how many slips are available. She said they are just shy of 50 available slips and expect to have them filled by April 1/09. They have a pretty good setup down there and it is almost 100% Canadian occupied and they have two layers of security. The Customs border keeps out the undesireables and the marina security keeps the honest folks honest so there is little if any theft/vandalism. Sailors travel quite some distances to keep their boats there, I know of some from Cloverdale and Langley. It can't be more than 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver. They have the best location bar none and you can hoist your sails in 5 minutes. It really is all about perception both in travel and customs. There are compromises but you don't have to travel through Burrard currents or Fraser River currents or Sand Heads, Steveston, or out False creek to the Bay all of which take time and gas, and restrict yor sailing venue, I have checked out and researched all avenues and have to say that Point Roberts is worth the perceived hassle. You will sail more if you can get your sails up in 5 minutes, you can spend the time motoring out the inlet/river or spend the time driving your car, take your pick, they both consume time & gas, it is the loaction that wins in the end.
Oh, did I mention, it is common for those sailing out of English bay to remain in the northern islands, Silva Bay and the Sunshine Coast are the most favoured. When embarking from Point Roberts you pretty much have your choice of going anywhere since you are right out there front and center of all those magnificent Islands. The loacation is awesome, the staff are freindly, the tenants are Canadian and it rains less than half the time it does at Mosquito creek or Lynnwood. I know this because I live out Tswassen way and commute into Vancouver for work every day and it can be raining at work when I leave and yet be sunny when I get home.
There are close to 50 30 foot slips available folks, so what are you waiting for!:laugher

Last but not least, they have a freakin Gas Station, something False creek does not have any more. and get this I drive down once a week just to fil up one of our two vehicle with gas and gas is always $.25, 25 cents, twenty five cents per liter less than in Greater Vancouver, this includes the $exchange so you can fill your car tank and save $15 dollar on a full tank plus what you save on boat gas. You can take that to the bank!
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Last but not least, they have a freakin Gas Station, something False creek does not have any more. and get this I drive down once a week just to fil up one of our two vehicle with gas and gas is always $.25, 25 cents, twenty five cents per liter less than in Greater Vancouver, this includes the $exchange so you can fill your car tank and save $15 dollar on a full tank plus what you save on boat gas. You can take that to the bank!
Touche on that one, Capt K..... Still, after 3 years on the North Shore I have to say I really appreciate the convenience of the Creek. Even though AFAIK there are still fuel docks in the Harbour.

But to get this thread back on track, any news to report, Serah??
CK, you've convinced me, and I was already convinced. Good to hear about the continued slip availability.
... and I'm back. Somehow missed that a reply had been posted.

So here's the new situation. That Cal we looked at was a.) in bad shape, with some pretty severe structural concerns that left neither of us even interested b.) over priced and c.) probably not what we want. We looked at a few more in various states of disrepair, and have pretty much decided we want just a bit more boat.

We just spent the weekend over in Victoria looking at boats (mostly Cals) there. On a whim, we took a look at a 24' Swiftsure that we've both fallen in love with, and the price is right at $2000. Her purchase is dependent upon 3 things:
1. That we find moorage here (see below)
2. That when we haul on Saturday morning, all is well (likely using a surveyor)
3. That the sea trial after the haul is satisfactory

The Boat
She's a 1974 24' Swiftsure. The current owner just wants her gone, and wants his moorage at the RVicYC. Though there's been tons of interest, no one in Victoria seems to have anywhere to keep her (sounds familiar!) She's obviously been loved, though likely neglected (though not abused) over the past few years. She needs a lot of brightwork done, but structurally and mechanically she's in good shape. There's a sink, water tank, semi-private head, and a decent sized v-birth ahead of the bulkhead. We'll add a stove, holding tank and possibly a tiny diesel heater. Bone dry bilges. Full set of sails in good shape (including two spinakers) and a 9.9 2-stroke outboard which started on the 2nd pull. The standing rigging looks great, though some of the running rigging will need a few new lines, cleats and blocks, and a bit of work to get more lines back to the cockpit. She's a pretty flat red at the moment, but should clean up nicely after a buff and a wax.

1. She has a "squishy" foredeck. There's about 3 ft. at the bow where you step on the fibreglass and there's about an inch of give. Obviously, it's covered in paint, but it doesn't appear to have any cracks, from the topsides or looking up from the v-berth (though the paint on the inside is cracked, the glass itself looks in good shape) There's no indication of delamination, or water intrusion. We talked with the current owner about this - his answer was that it's not a concern, and that it's simply an oddity from when builders weren't quite sure how to work with glass yet.
Do I need to worry? I can just see myself up on the foredeck hauling down the jib in a blow and falling through the deck. It seems sturdy, though bouncy... Not anything I've ever seen before, though the few people we've chatted with (not connected with the seller) don't seem to think it's a big deal. Should we consider reinforcing that with a laminated plywood crossbeam?

Her rigging is interesting. She appears to have a third set of extra shrouds... with locking blocks at the bottom, and no where to attach them. Each side currently has two shrouds (like the one in the picture) but the rear shroud has another removable, adjustable stay wrapped around it. I'm sorry I don't have a picture. The owner tried to explain it to us, but he wasn't sure where they were supposed to go either, as they seemed to interfere with either the main or the genoa when up. Any thoughts on what on earth these would be, and where they're supposed to go? They attach just below the spreaders.

In short, she's a lot of boat for so little money. Obviously we'll take her out, see how she sails, have a good look at the hull, keel, and keel bolts and decide from there.

Does anyone know anything about these boats? I can't find anything on them at all...

After calling about 20 marinas around here we now have a few options. There is immediate moorage available at Reed Point in Port Moody. We figure about two hours out to English Bay (does that seem reasonable?) So we don't get evening sails in the Bay - we'll go up the Arm or toodle around the end of Burrard Inlet. Weekend trips to the Gulf Islands or Howe Sound. The appeal of this is we're a little under half an hour from home to boat, with only one bridge, whereas getting to Point Roberts is at least 2 bridges and a tunnel. After sitting in traffic for an hour and a half to get from Lonsdale to downtown on Friday, this doesn't seem like a good option to us.

Also, as the boat we've (almost) purchased needs a lot of attention, the closeness to home to muck about on her in the evenings is a huge bonus. Fuel dock isn't a priority, as with just an outboard, it's a portable gas tank anyway.

The other option is to hold out for Burrard Civic. Which is hopefully what we'll do. They don't know yet, but they said it's likely that a 25' slip will open up for April 1st, with no guarantees. If we go that route, we'll hole up in Reed Point for the next month at month-to-month rates (ouch!) and then move down to Burrard.

Yay boat
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The Swiftsure 24 is a cute little boat, there are several around here but they are definitely not a mainstream brand. I've always kind of liked them for what they are, but they will be smallish for the length by today's standards.

The extra rigging is likely a check stay or a running back, (IIRC this boat is a 7/8 fractional rig) used to help tension the forestay when beating. They need to be set up to windward (and released to leeward) on each tack and released when going downwind. This adds a task to each maneouver, and many who are not performance minded often leave them stowed somewhere and don't bother. As long as the integrity of the rig does not require them, all you lose is some perfomance (sail shape and pointing ability).

The squishy deck is a bit of a concern, and to understand the implications fully you need to try to find out just how the deck was constructed. It sounds like delamination of a cored deck. If the deck is not cored (fairly unlikely but possible) then it's simply too thin, and repeated flexing will eventually cause a problem. As I recall the deck has a pretty severe camber, which should help to stiffen it some. However the boat has survived this long, and at $2K you can afford to do some repairs perhaps.

If you get yourself on the Burrard Civic list, be sure to keep at them. If you simply "wait for the call" you'll likely be waiting for years. Did you try the Fishermans' wharf (FCHA)? Port Moody will wear thin in a hurry if you plan to do much sailing on English Bay.

Good luck!
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Serah -- perfectly understand the convenience of the close-to-home marina. Gotta do what works for ya.

I would second Faster's concern about the squishy deck. I'm surprised to hear so many folks saying it's not a concern, especially because "they weren't sure how to work with glass yet." Back when they weren't sure how to work with glass, their solution was to lay it on extra thick. My Catalina 27 is too years older without a soft spot to be found. I don't recall you mentioning a survey... make sure you get a professional opinion.

Also you mentioned something about a photo, but I don't see one!
Two hours is conservative estimate out to English Bay from Reed Point, if you have the current with you. We usually budget 2 hours from Deep Cove.

I don't think you will be disappointed with afternoon or evening sails in the Arm either. I think driving dowtown to Burrard Civic to work on her will get old faster than motoring to English Bay ;)
We've arranged to have Land's End Surveyors out of Saanich come and take a look at her on Saturday morning when she's hauled and being power washed. Seems a bit silly to spend 10% of the value of the boat on a survey, but I'm not crossing the Straight in an unfamiliar boat in the middle of winter without one. And really, it's only $250. Also, if we do get into Burrard Civic (which the fellow I spoke with there thinks is likely) we need to have a 2 million dollar 3rd party liability insurance coverage, which requires a survey anyway.

I'm keen to have someone's opinion on the squishy deck as well. It just doesn't seem right to me. Structurally, I think it's fine, as all the way around the sheerline for a couple of inches in, and for a good foot at the very bow, she's solid, and doesn't flex. As Faster mentioned, there's a very high camber to the deck (which is quite annoying when she's moored, as walking about is awkward, but I imagine it'll be very comfortable when she's over on a 15 degree heel) Doesn't water damage usually occur where water pools, such as along the toe rail? The water would just run right off this bit of the deck, making me doubt it's water damage. When tapped, it has the same "tone" all across the flexible and rigid parts... What do I know though? That's why we've hired a surveyor!

Didn't post this link before, but here's what she'll look like when she's cleaned up - 1977-Swiftsure-24-Valley Boat Brokers-boat- sailboat-sailing-boating-okanagan-penticton-vernon-summerland-peachland-mercruiser-volvo penta-water craft-sport-fishing-bowrider-keel boat-fly bridge-command bridge-sun bridge-power-ron spence-kent hardist

She is a bit small down below for her size, mostly because the quarter berths don't extend back under the cockpit as they do in most boats. The battery sits on the port side, and I can't remember what was in the starboard side. The lazarette hatches aren't big enough to access the fore end of the lockers, so I think there's a bit of wasted space there. The cockpit is relatively small actually. Anyway, as fond as we are of company, and though we fully intend to take friends and family out for day/evening sails, we have little intention of using her to sleep 4 as she's intended. We may convert one of the quarter berths to extend the galley, or a tiny table.

Thanks Faster for the explanation on the rigging. Though the boy and I both come from a racing background (and we do hope to do some racing with her) me thinks that most of the time they'll be left as they are. I'll post some pics hopefully before we take her out on the weekend.

The moorage is starting to be a bit of a roulette game. Month to month at Reed point is pricey (~ $340) but we may do that and hold out 'til end of March for Burrard for a six month term, when the next kink, which is a likely move to Victoria will factor in. *sigh* And then we're back to finding moorage for her - again. Driving downtown won't be a factor (for me at least!), as I live here already. I can walk to the boat in a little over half an hour. If we do stay out at Reed Point, and want weekend sailing, it's likely we'd take her out to English Bay on the Thursday night and keep her on the hook, and sail out from there Friday.
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And yes, we've looked at FCHA, Seycove, Seymour and Deep Cove Marinas. All have waiting lists. I think my name may now be on... oh 20 waiting lists in the area! And yes, once we've figured out what the plan is, I'll call them back and remove my name.

Another question - Does anyone have any experience towing a dinghy with a similar sized boat? If we're doing coastal cruising, a tender would be nice. I have what I called a Galleon 9 (erps has a similar boat, though for the life of me I cannot remember what he called it) It's a relatively heavy fibreglass 9-foot rowing shell/sailing dinghy. She rows much better than she sails, as she doesn't have a planing hull. Anyway, she's heavy, but is quite good about just skiming along the water when towed. Am I insane for considering hauling her behind us? How much would that slow us down? A knot? Two? There's nowhere to stow her on deck. The mental image of towing a boat more than a 1/3 the length of the mother ship is rather silly... How big is too big? Then again, we're certainly not doing this for looks ;) It's likely that we'll have a pup along with us on occasion, and will need shore access.
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