Our Second Boat

In 2008, We became the caretakers of a 1975 Cal 34 named Moonrise. Cals are well built and reasonably fast sailboats and the 34 foot size was large enough for us to feel that we had stepped up in the world without feeling too overwhelmed.

Moonrise at anchor
S/V Moonrise at anchor. More of this, please.

We have sailed Moonrise for the last four and a half years in the Puget Sound and beyond. Our most adventurous trip to date was to Barkley Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. With more exposure to the “real” ocean, we had a chance to feel what it would be like to cruise to more exotic locations.

Along with a larger boat comes a larger commitment of time and money. It is easy to justify such commitments when the whole family takes such pleasure in the same activity. A 37 year old boat is going to need work and Moonrise was no exception. In our five years with Moonrise, we have added roller furling for the headsail, a dodger, new house batteries, a new GPS, new cushions, cookware and dozens of improvements, large and small. Melissa and I think of our boat as a small (very small) cabin or condo. We enjoy working on our boat and making her ours.

And then there is the engine. Our first trip, sailing and motoring from Olympia to Tacoma was pure foreshadowing of the many times I would spend peering into the engine compartment trying to sort out cooling, charging, starting, stopping and exhaust problems. If you have seen A Christmas Story of “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” fame, you will recall how the father does battle with his furnace. Cursing, smoke, and small explosions emanate from the basement while the rest of the family huddles in the kitchen. This scene was replayed with cruel regularity with the Westerbeke 4-91 on Moonrise. Freshwater pumps fail. Fuel Pumps leak. Exhaust elbows crack. High temperature alarms buzz and fumes billow. After 4 years, everything on the engine has finally been replaced. It’s reliable and strong and purrs like a kitten. Now it’s time to sell the boat, right?

Our library of sailing and maintenance books grows as does our confidence to overcome any adversity. This is where having a good working relationship with your spouse is essential. We may have shared the special hell that can only be found in our boat’s engine compartment, but we also share our dream of cruising to warm tropical beaches together.

Melissa has written several posts on Moonrise and her interior. Here are links to those posts:

A Tour of Moonrise – Part 1

A Tour of Moonrise – Part 2

A Tour of Moonrise – Part 3

A Tour of Moonrise – Part 4

In November 2013 we sold Moonrise to a lovely couple from Vancouver, B.C. We wish them best of luck and adventures!



5 thoughts on “Moonrise

  1. For three years I owned a Cal 34 with an atomic 4. Thanks a lot for the flashbacks!!! While an atomic 4 is not a valid engine worth discussing, there’s a reason your engine is called ‘westerbreak’ in cruising circles!

    • Glad we could take you back in time Kit. I did not know the Atomic 4 was an option on the Cal 34.

      I was down at the boat today to run the engine and putter for a bit. The old Westerbeke started right up with just a second of white smoke. If there had been any wind, I would have taken her for a spin, but the lowering clouds and still air warned me off.

  2. Have a 1978 CAL MKIII W30, so far no problems, but engine needs some TLC in the paint department. Live in the San Juan Islands and thinking about selling her….Lots of upgrades on deck with rigging, deck hardware, sails, auto pilot, new head & pluming, mast plate & clutches, upgraded winches, additional SS 11/4″ track, new LED lighting in cabin & salon, newer batteries, new mast lights & running lights, custom SS bow plate extended 3″. Have new electrical panel, engine gauges & chart plotter to install. she is in real nice shape.

    • I have a W30 in our ’78 cal 34 III and i have not had many major issues with it as of yet… the fuel pump and starter have been rebuilt and i have had numerous minor issues with the raw water pump but the more i read the various scattered postings around the more paranoid i become… is there an authority website or blog that you all know of that i should read.. also i am very interested in seeing how you fabricated and installed your steel bow extension as we were considering a double headsail setup in the future. my engine is getting up there in years… wonder what to expect next?

      • Patrick,
        Of course, in my posting, I write for dramatic effect. The old Westerbeke is old but it is a good engine. It is true that the cooling system gave me fits, but the pump was rebuilt and things are fine. I also rebuilt the fuel pump and she works like a champ. These maintenance issues are probably no more challenging than most other engines and they have happened over a period of years.
        Still, to your question of a site for advice on our boats and their engines, if you have not joined the Cal Sailboats Yahoo Group, I would urge you to do so. There are many Cal owners that are very knowledgeable and passionate about their boats. The link to subscribe is: One member of the group, Joe DeMers is the owner of a Marine engine shop on the east coast and is particularly helpful regarding engine matters for the group. Here is a link to his site:
        Lastly, for parts and some assistance with Westerbeke engines, I have had decent service from Torrenson Marine : I have ordered parts from them and they have some online diagrams that can make part selection a little easier. You may want to sit down when looking at the prices for parts on these older engines though.

        Good luck and drop me a line if you have specific question about your engine. I may have some experience that you will find useful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.