We travel on a 1978 Cal 39 MK II, hull number 17. Bill Lapworth designed these boats to cross oceans–swiftly. The design continues to win ocean and bay races to this day. Our Cal is fast and nimble, unassuming and sturdy.
In addition to an excellent sailing boat, the Cal 39 has a comfortable interior with a spacious salon, a perfect galley (kitchen) in all conditions (small enough to brace oneself on a long tack, big enough to roast a chicken while cooking all the side dishes); a comfortable quarter berth for guests, sleeping underway, and storage; a head with a sink and shower (yes! a hot SHOWER!); and a great v-berth for sleeping two people (as long our anchorage isn’t too rolly.) There are two hanging lockers for clothes, and we store most of our tools and extras behind the settee seats.
The Process of Buying
Almost as soon as I decided to live on a boat while pursuing my PhD in Berkeley, I decided I should buy my own boat and use it for my research. It took me two years and I looked at over 25 different boats, but when I sailed on Oleada‘s sister ship, Back Bay, I knew I had finally found the design that was a perfect balance of liveability, sailing performance, and price. Much of my research on boats was done with the assistance of my “dock dad,” a wise and experienced sailor who talked me out of many, many bad decisions. I found Oleada, then Far Niente, on Craigslist, thanks to a tip from the owner of Back Bay, and the two young gentlemen who had fixed her up sold her to me within a week–the day before I graduated with my Masters from the Energy and Resources Group. Josh and I met the day I had her hauled for her survey, and he and I have been sailing (and working on the boat) together ever since.
Although the initial price tag for Oleada was a bargain, I ended up spending the majority of my money on improvements. Owning a boat is a big commitment for me: I sold my house in Moab, UT, and put that money straight into the boat. I have not regretted this for a nanosecond.
I purchased Oleada in May of 2014, and she was underway to México by January, 2015. Before we departed, she received new bottom paint; a complete overhaul of the exterior of the rudder (which, unlike the hull, had endless blisters over its foam core;) new standing and running rigging; a sanded and repainted mast and boom; a completely rewired mast and all new lights; a shiny new shaft and propeller; a watermaker (with a water tank gauge installed underway;) new engine mounts; a new hot water heater; a new fridge compressor; new raw water pump; new exhaust; all new navigational equipment (GPS and chartplotter;) all new radar equipment (including the dome); new anchor, roller, and chain; a new holding tank (to replace a leaky bladder, uggghh;) a repositioned and updated battery bank; three new solar panels; a new mainsail; new electric bilge pump(s); a new manual bilge pump; a macerator pump; and a dodger. Although this reads like a list of stuff, this comes down to the time of energy of Josh and me for researching, purchasing, and installing. (Okay, mostly Josh on installation. There aren’t many people in the world who can install a watermaker flawlessly their first time, sail any boat calmly in all conditions, and cook world class French toast. This is Josh.)
This was an abnormal amount of work in a short period of time, but we had a deadline and a couple of months of terrible weather that gave us more time to make fixes. With company and crew of a fisherman friend, Josh sailed the boat to San Diego, where I met him for our sail to Baja and beyond.
This is all to say that, with the help, generosity, and time of friends, one can quickly fix a (great old) boat and get underway!