Boat Reviews By Owners
1970 -- 33' 3" CAL YACHTS / JEMSEM MARINE
Model: Cal 34
Cockpit: Long, spacious, quite dry. Cushions of thick vinyl in cool 1960s aqua blue. Graced by classy teak coaming, something boat mfrs quit doing by the late-70s. Mine's wheel steered. Came with mid-boom sheeting of the main, which I proudly broke in 20-25kts of wind, happily replacing it with sheeting aft where it belongs. So main is sheeted at the helm station. Traveler is from a Cal 40 with 8:1 purchase. Have ST 2-sp winches (40) for the jib. Cockpit has ample length for sleeping outside on mild SoCal nights.
Cabin: I looked at a number of competitive boats - Erickson, Ranger, etc. The Cal 34 cabin is VERY spacious in comparison. Stand-up room for all but NBA stars. Huge portlights make cabin very light, even at dusk. Really open feel, with huge dinette to port, inline galley to stbd. The early models have no nav desk, which is a waste of space anyway (I use the dinette for nav, or just take the chart kit and handheld GPS to the cockpit). Instead, you have two 6'+ quarterberths that make excellent sea berths (and/or sail, etc. storage). Dinette table stows to make double berth; V-berth very spacious for a boat this size. Overall, I couldn't be happier with the cabin. Good ventilation at head and forepeak, but the salon needs dorade vents or a hatch; gets a bit stuffy under So Cal's hot summer sun.
Construction: Very strong, good quality. Ironclad reputation for being bulletproof. I've heard more stories from owners who ended up on frigtening conditions (e.g. gale, 16' waves), but the boat just didn't care. No one seems to reef until 20+ kts of wind (including me). They don't even come close to making 'em this way any more, so these boats are a real find.
Handling: Really sweet in a seaway - comfortable, climbs and drops nicely on the swell (I'm a surfer, so that counts). I have a new fully battened main and 120 jenny. Performs quite well in light airs; under 10 kts, can do half the wind speed or better. 10-15 kts, doesn't seem to pick up much speed (maybe my sailing skills need fine tuning?). 15-20 kt, she comes alive and performs well, no need to reef the main until gusts start topping 20 consistently. Handles fine when motoring, can turn within its own length because of fin keel and spade rudder aft. Backing up is a challenge: not much bite from the prop and strong prop walk to port.
Engine Room: I've got the original Atomic 4 in really clean condition and I love it. Trusty, starts like a Toyota, no sickening diesel smell. I run the blower religiously, for 2 min. before starting, while running (b/c it's charging the battery anyway), and for a at least a minute after shut down. The A4 is 30 hp and has tons of power for a boat of this displacement, meaning I can power through ocean conditions effortlessly at 6 kts at my conservative cruising RPM.
General Comments: I've had her a little over a year. So far I've taken her a number of times to Santa Catalina Island, 22 miles offsore across San Pedro Channel. Usually a beam reach both ways, or close reach over and broad reach back. Had her to backside of island, about 70-80 mile round trip. I plan to get her to the northern Channel Islands off Santa Barbara, where there's more wind and pristine islands to explore. Again, she rides beautifully in a seaway, making her an excellent choice for these offshore adventures. I like this boat better the more I sail her!
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Date Submitted: 2007-07-30
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