1979 Cal 39

We have a Cal 34 so we were pretty stoked about seeing this boat. In fact, I figured Mike had already made up his mind before we even saw it. They are great blue water cruisers and a boat like this would feel familiar to us. Plus this is a two cabin model, so that is an added bonus. It’s too bad that we had not made the second trip to see the Allied Princess 36 before we looked at this boat. Before he saw the Princess, Mike was already thinking this would be our boat. But when we went to see poor Escapade, he still had stars in his eye for that Princess, floating so elegantly in her little slip, slightly tugging at her tethers. By comparison Escapade, up on the hard with her huge belly showing, looked altogether like a pregnant walrus on an exam table. It was an emotional roller coaster he could not sustain. Mike might have still had scales on his eyes due to the Princess siren, but I wanted nothing more than to get to work sanding that pathetic paint job off the hull of Escapade and cover her up decently.

She’s faster than she looks, I’ll bet.

I’m not saying she’s the one. She isn’t perfect, but she’s the closest thing we’ve seen so far. She is a very tall rig, for one, which tells me she will likely sail well into the wind. Since that’s mostly the direction we sail, that’s good. She has lots of winches, although most of them will need refurbishing. One or two will not budge. And there is a substantial leak at the mast.  All her canvas needs replacing, but, oh well. The traveler is probably not much better than ours, but we could fix that. On the outside, she is a Cal, so I know she is good and that anything we don’t like could probably be changed. She isn’t a ketch rig, but we’re not attached to that. But she also isn’t a center cockpit, and we might be attached to that, depending on the master cabin. So let’s look below.

Broker Curtis Adams in the salon. Nice, big fridge/freezer to the right. 

First impression was that this boat seemed very comfortable. The settees are nice, and have plenty of useful cabinet space above and behind the cushions. The table, while directly in the middle of the floor, actually leaves plenty of room to walk by and can be unbolted from the floor if necessary.

The galley is definitely not an after thought in this boat. There is a very large refer that I can actually reach. It’s big enough that I will never use all the space. I could likely store a watermelon in it. There is a separate freezer. Be still my heart! And the oven door not only opens all the way, but it slides underneath the stove and out of the way. Very cool, indeed!

Nice stove/oven with a rail to hold onto. Freezer to the right, fridge to the left.


This oven has never seen a pan with food in it.

Then there is the second cabin. This is directly to port at the companionway. It is a large quarter berth, with good storage, and its own separate head. Now we do not require a second head, but we won’t turn it down if it’s offered. At the very least it’s a good, big storage closet. Actually there is a ton of storage on this boat, most of it easily accessible. Wow!

Bad photo of the second cabin, but there are drawers behind the door, and a hanging locker beside it.

I didn’t get photos of the V berth, apparently. And I didn’t get a photo of the main head. They are nothing to write home about, so that’s probably why. But they are adequate to the task. We are simply spoiled with the size of our v berth in our Cal 34. I’d bet it’s the largest one on a boat that size. The one on this boat is narrower and smaller, but still fine, and there are plenty of clear hatches that let in light. That makes a big difference.

If we had to make a choice today, I’d probably choose this Cal 39. I think it is a boat that would do well sailing the waters around here, in our usual light summer winds, and also would do well on the open ocean. Part of me wants to make an offer on this boat right now. But the other part says to wait because we haven’t looked at that many boats, and I’d really like to see more center cockpits. I also continue to have a little hankering for that Spencer 44, and boats of that type. They are big and heavy,  they need a lot of wind to get going, but on the open ocean I’ll bet they are fabulous. They are also so comfortable, and much of our weather up here is just nasty. That’s why the interior of the boat is so precious to us.

In the end, we haven’t sold our Cal 34, Moonrise and can’t have two boats. So we’ll sleep on it. We’re in the ‘education’ phase of shopping right now, not the buying phase.

I’d like to also mention broker Curtis Adams. I will tell you that he is one good sales person. He knows the best way to let people look at boats is to just be there to answer questions and get out of their way so they can poke around. He spent two hours sitting there waiting for us. And then he talked to us about the boat and gave us some very good information about sales tax and how to reduce the amount we have to pay. He also talked to us about the sale of our own boat. I think sales must be the hardest job in the world, but he has such a great attitude. He deserves to sell a lot of boats.


7 thoughts on “1979 Cal 39

  1. I just came across your comments. My wife and I purchased this boat for many of the reasons you stated. If you want, I’ll give you the ‘low-down’ on what is really contained and what we are working on. BTW we sailed her down to San Francisco and arrived July 8, 2012

    • Glad you found our blog! yes, we would love to get the inside scoop on this boat. I believe Mike read about your sail down to SF on the Cal owners forum. I will send an email to you directly. Thanks! Regardless of what work you need to do, that’s going to be a beautiful boat when you are finished. Hope you got an excellent deal on her.

  2. Greg got a hugely good boat. The fin keel, spade rudder, relatively light displacement, and tall mast is the first thing to look for. You need to be able to sail the boat that you retire on. The Cal 39 is like the Catalina 38 only much larger for living space. Just because I’m prejudiced doesn’t mean that I’m not right. Our Catalina 38 is a dream in all conditions. We were recently motoring home against big seas and a 25 knot wind. We fell off about 15 degrees under reefed main and sliced ahead at 5 knots, riding up the swells and sliding down into the troughs. The Pacific Seacraft 37 that we were cruising with fell behind, even with her engine of 2x our hp. We watched them bash into each wave instead of riding over the top as we did. They settled then came to a halt with each big swell. Oh for a helicopter making a video of the two boats! I cant retire to Mexico but will save up and fly down there for trips once in a while. Best of luck with your sale of Moonrise.

    • That’s a compelling argument for the Catalina 38! We will try to look at one of those. Yes, we completely agree on the fin keel, tall mast, rudder, and displacement. We DO want to be able to sail the boat we get. Our first boat was a Catalina 27 and we loved her. Would love to know how that Cal 39 is getting on. We really liked the boat, just were not in a position to buy at the time. If you know anyone who wants a really good Cal 34, point them in our direction.

  3. I have a 1979CAL MKII in Miami for sale, wrong coast, but right priced. If interested, look at the south florida craiglist $22k firm, I have too many boats and not enough time to sail them… So I hate to part away but I am closing on a 35 catamaran and need the mooring

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.