an old boat to start the year with…

I know I’ve talked about the Bill Lapworth designed CAL 34 more than a time or two but it is the boat I happen to be sitting on while writing this. 

Back in 1969, when “So it Goes” was new, the boat sold for $15,950. or thereabouts. Today, a turnkey CAL 34 in good shape with no actual issues will set you back somewhere around $15K. Considering it’s a fifty-three-year-old boat, that says a lot.

The CAL 34 is a great example of what makes sense in a VolksCruiser. It sails well with good accommodation and has a reasonable draft (five foot). Plus, it looks like what most folks think a boat should look like.

Truth is, the boat is, all things considered, a pretty brilliant design. Bill Lapworth’s use of space is quite the optimum layout, and you’d find that coming up with something better is nigh on impossible. I know I’ve tried to no avail.

I’ll add that the whole looking like what most folks consider a boat’s supposed to look like is no bad thing. Blending in to keep a low profile makes sense for low budget nomadic VolksCruiser folk.

Like most boats of the late 60s and early 70s, the CAL was a well-built sailboat. Their longevity is testament to that fact. Sure, the interior had little in the way of bespoke carpentry, but competently done. Far too many people confuse anything less than a high end furniture finish as somehow being deficient. On a cruising boat, a durable and easily maintained finish just makes a lot more sense.

The mistake most people make when working on a boat like the CAL 34 is to forget just how good a design it is and try to morph the boat into something it’s not. Of course, if you really feel that you need a Hallberg-Rassy you should get one. Trying to make a CAL 34 into a new Hallberg-Rassy is a lost cause you’d want to avoid unless your kink is of the yacht induced masochism variety.

As far as things go, the best practice concerning classic plastic sailboats is to keep the boat as close to what it looked like back when it was new. You might find that getting a brochure is a big help.

Well, maybe best not to emulate the plaid upholstery.

Next up are some changes that would make sense…

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