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OK I have my eye on a 1969 Cal 36, good condition but very original boat. Then I notice an ad for a 1976 Pearson 36 and I like them, looked at one last year, but sold before I even looked at it. This is for a live aboard, but will be sailing all the time, and hope to do some cruising coastal cruising in the near future.

Pearson sounds to be in slightly worse shape but not a lot
Pearson has Pressure water, and a water heater something I would add to the Cal.
Pearson has propane stove, I want that, and would likely add that to the Cal.
Pearson layout seems to be better for liva-board, mainly due to bigger head.
Pearson is going to have the fake wood all over the place and more synthetic surfaces.
Cal has a tiller and I really like that, Pearson has wheel, and it is forward.
Cal does not look like it has had any upgrades in over 10 years, but good maintenance.
Pearson has auto pilot, and small chart plotter.
PHRF is pretty close for both, though the Pearson seems a bit faster but not enough to bother me. (I am a pretty laid back sailor and have no plans on racing)
I really like the looks of both, and they seem to have similar reputations as far as build quality.

So on the face of it the Cal comes out in condition, but I will want to spend some money on updates and the head is really not set up for a shower. I don't plan on showering on board much but want to be able to if need be. So I think it is kind of a wash. Cal is a 2 day sail away, Pearson 3 or 4.

Assuming neither boat has anything serious show up in survey (such as the milled steel support under the mast on the Cal) is there anything that would sway you one way or the other? Am I missing some that screams "No don't buy that boat they cause warts...." or some other issue.

Both have recently rebuilt A4s, not my ideal, but not a deal breaker.
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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Tough choices. The Cal might edge out the Pearson in quality, but it will probably depend on what you find in person. I'm looking forward to hearing what you find out!
 

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bell ringer
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Assuming you like each the same far as layout etc. get the one in the better condition (doesn't matter which was "better" back in the day, just which is better NOW)
 

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Here are the layouts starting with the Cal




And the Pearson



Depends on both condition and updates I would think. With A4's I wonder what else hasn't been upgraded from original - rigging (over 10 years old?), reefing (roller or slab). And at those ages every pump or mechanical item could need replacing. How about sails?

But at the right price either could be a good buy. With A4's and needing other changes certainly less than 20k, maybe a lot less unless a lot of updating has been done.

I like the Pearson for layout, beamier as well, but as posted Cals have a nicer interior finish.
 

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Senior Smart Aleck
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Either would be a great choice!

Last year, there was a nicely updated Cal 36 for sale in the Annapolis area with an almost new Vetus diesel in it.
 

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The Pearson is nicely laid out and has useful stowage (drawers/lockers!) in the forward cabin. I also recall there being more than 6' of headroom in the forward cabin. (It surprised me because the cabin looks like it gets quite low up forward.) The quarterberth and pilot berth are good sea-berths, and the galley and nav station are big enough to be useful and comfortable to work in. The salon table being offset to port makes moving forward & aft simple, without disrupting what may be out on the table (If you're living aboard, stuff will be out on the table.) There seems to be a good amount of freeboard forward, which should help keep her dry. The skeg on the rudder makes threading through lobsterpots or crab buoys less nerve-wracking. Having the helm forward in the cockpit means the dodger protects the helmsman as well as the crew, and makes handing up drinks and communicating with belowdecks easier. It also means a solo helmsman can handle the jibsheets if need be, and the main sheet is right there as well. The Cal is supposed to be a nice boat too, but the Pearson 36 I saw - about 20 years ago- stuck in my mind. You can always paint over the formica or glue real veneer onto the beautifully flat surfaces.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)

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I passed up on a Cal 36 I am still kicking myself for 3 years later. It was in Holland MI and the guy selling it wanted out bad (in over his head). The interior was pretty rough, floors replaced with plywood, and everthing was cetol brown... It did still have the functioning and ever curious keel trim tab/ flap!?! The reason I'm kicking myself the asking price was $8k and it went for $5. It was a sound hull and decks, the insides were ugly but solid... ohwell! I like the lay out of both. They both have the table off to the side.

I've seen showers done in much smaller heads than whats on the Cal, it's possible to plum in. I think for me If they are both about equal in condition, the nicer interior materials would be a big plus for the Cal. I'm a suck for asthetics! Sure you can paint the formica and it looks a ton better than the original greenish fake wood grain crap in the Pearsons (That being said I'm looking at a Vanguard). It just still doesn't hold a candle to the beauty of varnished mahagony (besides when its inside it doesn't need constant attention)!

A4s can be great or a pain in the ass, like any other engine. Get familiar with how to clean the carb (idle jets are hugely imporant!). I pull mine and clean/ check it every year before launch (I just want a trouble free summer). Also an electronic ignition kit ups the reliability a ton. Also if you have the common thermostat or lack there of problem check out Indigo Electronic's they have lots of upgrades and accessories for the A4, including a new thermostat set up.

Good luck and happy hunting/deciding.
 

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My advice would be to look at the equipment. They are both great boats, and the layout to you seems like not too big a deal to you - so think of the boats as a collection of parts. What are the upgrades you would need to add to the Cal to bring it up to the level you would like - both in terms of cost and time. Now do the same calculation for the Pearson. Consider the big ones (standing rigging, engine, sail wardrobe) and medium (pressure system, water heater, autopilot, overall electronics age/condition). If you are like many of us, buying, mooring and maintaining the boat uses up a lot of funds, leaving not much else for upgrades...so sometimes a well-equipped shabby will be a better decision than a well-maintained spartan....
 

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The 36 is different from the 365. The 36 was a Shaw design, I think and he said it was among his favorites. I have a friend who sunk some money into a 36 and did extremely well racing her in PHRF racing. I do remember hearing that there was a problem with the keel dropping on a couple of old Pearson 36s. If you go with the 36, have your surveyor look very carefully at the keel.
 

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Both the 36 and 365 were Bill Shaw designs. The 36 was a classic 70s era racer-cruiser, similar to the smaller Pearson 30 and 10m of similar vintage. The 365 was an all out cruiser. MUCH slower than the 36 PHRF 204(!) vs 138 for the 36. The Cal 36 is 150 if you're interested.
 
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