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'77 Cal 2-27 I'm looking to buy - what do you think?

Oct 22, 2014
15,836
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Questions:
  1. What do you think? Anything stand out?
    1. Pictures, if from the Sales Listing are "Marketing Pictures". For a boat $7500 is not a lifetime of savings. But it is not chump change for most. You need to examine the boat with an eye for "dangerous issues". These are the type of issues that a Survey will highlight.
      1. Such as corrosion of through hulls,
      2. Corrosion of engine systems,
      3. Corrosion of chainplates
      4. Leaks in the boat that may sink her
      5. Moisture in the deck near the mast base.
      6. Water lines in the bilge that may indicate damage to the integrity of the hull.
    2. You need to take pictures of the critical areas.
      1. Mast base.
      2. Shroud and stays
      3. Chainplates
      4. Rudder steering systems (wear, damage or corrosion)
      5. Anchor, Chain, rode, windlass, storage.
      6. Base of forward stay, connection at the base of the fore and stern stays.
      7. Keel and hull - looking for imperfections
  2. Currently listed for $7500, does that sound right? .
    1. Perhaps
    2. How are the sails... They will cost about 3500 to replace. You need to see them raised on the boat or plan on purchasing new ones.
    3. How is the hull. Could cost 1800 to fix blisters and re paint
    4. You have about 500 to 900 in cost for replacement of life lines. The current ones look to be plastic covered. You need to look closely at the lines for rust. They are life lines. As you look at them would you trust your life to them should you be swept into them. THEY LOOK TO BE LOOSE - SAGGING in the images.
    5. Are you ready to buy new running rigging?
    6. What do the stanchion bases look like?
    7. What is the condition of the winches?
    8. You should find a rigger to come and take a look at the standing rigging. Even if you do not do a survey.
  3. What things do I want to check/ ask about when buy a Cal 2-27?
    1. The images that caught my eye are the area of the bulkhead below the chain plate it looks like something happened or something is missing. There is a color change of the finish below the chainplate.
    2. Does the door to the head close completely or does it get stuck?
    3. The Atomic gas engine. Gas in a sail boat is one that can be an issue. More so then on a power boat. Being assured that the engine will function is a critical issue for you to use the boat safely.
  4. Does it makes sense to get marine survey for something like this?
    1. That is a personal call. How much will a survey cost you? Is the boat has issues how much are you ready to put into it to get it safe to sail?
You must consider that a 43 years old boat will be one that needs to be fed money to keep it running. Boats are hobbies, just like cars. If you want it to take you to great fun experiences after the initial expenditure to buy the boat you will be feeding it a steady diet of "Hobby Money".

If you want to run down to the boat and go out for a couple hours of sailing, you will be paying to keep it in the water (marina). Hobby Money.

Good luck. I consider Cal boats good boats to sail. I speak from a bias. I have one and know several owners that have them. Welcome to the forum.
 
Aug 7, 2018
179
Catalina 350 Great Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario
I would not spend upwards of $6k for a survey on a $7.5k boat. Or $9k for a survey on a $7.5k boat. Where does it say that a survey has to cost $1000? Even if it does cost as much as $1000, if it determines that the engine is not long for this world (as opposed to simply running during the survey or sea trial) that will avoid perhaps $10k of "surprise" replacement costs. A good ROI in my book.
My last survey was on a Catalina 350 in July of this year was $850 + 2 hours travel time @ 30 per hour. The yard bill to haul was $460 and the mechanical engine survey was $105 per hour (required by my lender) since everything at a shipyard takes at least an hour, it was an hour. The total was 1,475. I seriously doubt that a survey would be any less than $1,000 if it's thorough and professional especially in CA.

As to the survey establishing that the engine is "not long for this world" I don't think any surveyor or diesel mechanic can tell you "how long is left on a motor" They do an oil analysis, a compression test, and lots of other things., and it could still blow up 10 minutes or 10 years after the inspection. The gas atomic in my Cal was replaced just before I bought it because it overheated and the PO was trying to make it back to shore to figure out what the "noise was"

Lastly: No surveyor will provide a "warranty" on anything, nor should they. It's an opinion supported by data and knowledge not a guarantee of future serviceability.

I would not spend 15% of the cost of the boat for an opinion. MUCH can be known by asking the owner and looking carefully at the vessel. sails, dipstick, coolant, bilge, rigging and hour meter, asking the seller every dumb question I can think of and by being left alone on the boat for an hour poking around in every locker. Maybe I am naive but I think the honesty and integrity of a man that has owned a boat for that long deserve respect and consideration. I think sailors are a special breed and MOST would not lie about or hide problems.
 
Last edited:

DArcy

.
Feb 11, 2017
1,197
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
It sounds like a survey will be required by the marina and/or insurance. The last time I had an insurance survey done it was next to worthless, but did cost less than a full survey. The price honestly seems a bit high but not bad for the asking price. There is very likely room to move. In my research in buying a boat a year ago I found the selling price was typically around 15-20% less than the asking price.

I would NOT bother with an engine survey. You can rebuild an Atomic 4 pretty cheap. I had one in my last boat and it was very reliable... until it wasn't :) I worked on it and brought it back into very good condition but it always had good compression and very little oil burnt. The thing that caused most of the problems was actually the fuel tank. I was surprised how available parts are for them, check out Moyer Marine - they are THE place to go (although not the only place) for Atomic 4 parts and service.
 
Nov 30, 2020
12
Macgregor 25 San Francisco Bay
Finally getting a chance to post an update - went and checked out the boat on Wednesday and was pleasantly surprised to find all sorts of extras and everything appeared to be in working order. Every switch I flipped or knob I turned did the job it was intended to do. Got the price down to 6K which I'm feeling good about. Interested to hear what everybody thinks about the new photos.

The owner and I spent 5 hours going through every little thing like the engine, head and seacocks, galley, anywhere moisture can get it, as much of the rigging as could be inspected from the deck, etc. Thanks again everybody for all the advice/ suggestions, definitely helped add some items to the check list.

Pictures say 1000 words and all that, so I'm just going to put up a few posts detailing each part of the vessel and feel free to call out whatever catches your eye, good or bad!

We'll work our way from the outside in -

Sail covers off, standing rigging, running rigging
  • Sails are crisp North Sails with custom green lettering
  • Standing rigging looks good and feels beefy, not amazing but appears to have been upgraded relatively recently
  • Some running rigging is ready to be replaced, but has all been run to the cockpit
  • Sails are - Full batten main, standard size jib on jib boom, spinnaker
  • There is a self-tacking jib boom
  • Original wood spreaders I think?
  • Completely dry around chainplate with discoloration, looks like this was addressed by the PO
  • Forestay and backstay look solid, no rust, definitely not from 1977
  • Decking felt solid around shrouds and kleats, so solid I think it may have even been replaced or something at some point
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Nov 30, 2020
12
Macgregor 25 San Francisco Bay
Down Below/ cockpit
  • New head, but has 'illegal' straight through the hull connection. New porta potty just in case
  • Smells clean down below, especially for a 44 year old boat with original cushions
  • Built-in speaker system with remote controlled head unit and cd changer, works
  • Window seals are decent
  • Generally clean, can use a coat of paint and varnish here and there, as expected
  • Plenty of room for a few adults to hang out comfortably
  • New VHF radio, somewhat new refrigerator unit
  • Everything works
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Nov 30, 2020
12
Macgregor 25 San Francisco Bay
Engine, engine compartment, and bilge
  • This is where I'm where really hoping to hear some feedback since the engine is obviously critical to safety
  • This'll be my first inboard so I've got a lot to learn
  • Original Atomic 4 engine (I think)
  • Hour meter says 673 hours - is that low?
  • Some corrosion on engine, but starts right up and has been maintained
  • Decently organized engine compartment, will be cleaning it up over time
  • Exhaust looks clean, clear water coming out of pisser
  • Plan on testing compression
  • Raw water intake > have been reading about options for upgrading this, luckily its been in fresh water
  • Newly upgrade auto bilge pump
  • 3 gel batteries with less than 1 year, charging system for when at the dock
  • Bilge looks decently clean, I think...
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On the topic of the survey, I really appreciate everyone's input, valid points on both sides. I've decided to hold off on the survey for now since my current marina doesn't require it, but I plan to get a thorough inspection of everything including the rigging sometime in the next year once I've sailed her back to the bay. I feel confident in the safety of the vessel as is, which was really my main drive behind the survey initially.

Let me know if you see any major red flags!

Thanks for looking :beer:
 

DArcy

.
Feb 11, 2017
1,197
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
It's really hard to say from the pictures but it looks fairly good. The crack at the forward port side of the cockpit is a little concerning. The exhaust looks like it will need to be replaced fairly soon. Other than that the engine sounds to be in decent condition. If it starts easy, doesn't have black smoke in the exhaust then the rest is fairly easy to fix. Some of the wiring looks a bit sketchy such as the electrical tape on the water pump wiring but I'm starting to realize that is not too uncommon, still not safe. Flaking paint is a pain to deal with but not a huge deal.

The Loran is a nice artifact :)

The negotiated price seems fair.
Paying 20% of the price on a survey doesn't seem like money well spent. One thing you may not catch that a surveyor would is moisture in the deck. Keep an eye on the stained bulkhead.
 
  • Like
Likes: TheMoose
May 25, 2012
3,807
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
a lot of things look good, for sure. being that you asked. the last photo in post #23 shows peeling paint on the overhead. prolly a moisture issue. that and a full look at the crack in the cockpit. look inside and underneath.
now, we are going to want a lot of sailing photos of you having lots of fun. gear and deck photos get old. :)
 
  • Like
Likes: TheMoose
Oct 26, 2008
4,991
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
As with any old boat, you have a lot to work on! But I think you made a pretty sweet deal. You obviously showed a lot of interest and willingness to see the potential. I think that makes a great deal of difference to a seller. It did in my case. I sold my Starwind 27 to a really great young fellow and he definitely had an aptitude for sailing and boat ownership. I wanted to sell to him above all others whom came to look and I was more willing to part with the boat at a price that I think was to his advantage. It was great to see a young guy following thru on sailboat ownership.

I have one bit of advice. I don't know how quickly or if you will out-grow this boat. By all means, focus on the elements that make the boat safe and sound, and up-grade the running rigging (it will make you feel good). But don't get carried away on expensive upgrades. It's easy to do if you have a propensity for spending money (as I do). When you think about upgrading expensive parts and sails, have in mind your long-term goal. You won't ever recover your investment in upgrades (but they can make the boat more attractive for the next purchaser). If you have in mind to move into your next boat, be very critical about the money you put into this boat. I wish I had followed my own advise, but that is water under the bridge.

For now, it appears that you purchased a boat with a lot of nautical miles under the keel and she looks to be ready for very many more, potentially. You won't believe how much she has to teach you along the way! Enjoy!
 
Nov 30, 2020
12
Macgregor 25 San Francisco Bay
We have cruised a ‘77 h27 for 21 years now. There are very few unique problems to one brand. So look for any evidence of water or corrosion damage. Fiberglass is very resilient, but impact damage is cumulative. Structural cracks around the keel, or bow or anywhere you can see would require follow up. Every deck penetration (mast, stanchions, etc.) is an opportunity for water to do long term damage.
Thanks for the words of wisdom @David in Sandusky, very good point that few problems on small boat like this are unique to one brand.

Have a great day,
 
Nov 30, 2020
12
Macgregor 25 San Francisco Bay
Thanks for all the words of wisdom and encouragement everybody! Always helps to get a bit of a sanity check. I will certainly have my hands full, but having a fun project that gets me outdoors is perfect with everything going on in the world these days. Love the style of this boat and the way it looks, which I think is definitely important considering all the sanding, scraping, and money spending I can expect to do over the years ;)

It's really hard to say from the pictures but it looks fairly good. The crack at the forward port side of the cockpit is a little concerning. The exhaust looks like it will need to be replaced fairly soon. Other than that the engine sounds to be in decent condition. If it starts easy, doesn't have black smoke in the exhaust then the rest is fairly easy to fix. Some of the wiring looks a bit sketchy such as the electrical tape on the water pump wiring but I'm starting to realize that is not too uncommon, still not safe. Flaking paint is a pain to deal with but not a huge deal.

The Loran is a nice artifact :)

The negotiated price seems fair.
Paying 20% of the price on a survey doesn't seem like money well spent. One thing you may not catch that a surveyor would is moisture in the deck. Keep an eye on the stained bulkhead.
Thanks for the advice and feedback @DArcy - Isn't that Loran cool! I pressed the ON/OFF button expecting nothing to happen, and sure thing it fired up ready to go. The boat comes with a new GARMIN marine GPS so I think I'll be in good shape :waycool:

a lot of things look good, for sure. being that you asked. the last photo in post #23 shows peeling paint on the overhead. prolly a moisture issue. that and a full look at the crack in the cockpit. look inside and underneath.
now, we are going to want a lot of sailing photos of you having lots of fun. gear and deck photos get old. :)
Thanks for the words of wisdom @jon hansen, the peeling paint definitely caught my eye as well, hoping that's not the result of anything too serious. That is a really good call to check underneath the cracks in the fiberglass, I'll put that toward the top of my list of things to check in case any water is getting in there.

100% Agree - Sounds like a plan!

As with any old boat, you have a lot to work on! But I think you made a pretty sweet deal. You obviously showed a lot of interest and willingness to see the potential. I think that makes a great deal of difference to a seller. It did in my case. I sold my Starwind 27 to a really great young fellow and he definitely had an aptitude for sailing and boat ownership. I wanted to sell to him above all others whom came to look and I was more willing to part with the boat at a price that I think was to his advantage. It was great to see a young guy following thru on sailboat ownership.

I have one bit of advice. I don't know how quickly or if you will out-grow this boat. By all means, focus on the elements that make the boat safe and sound, and up-grade the running rigging (it will make you feel good). But don't get carried away on expensive upgrades. It's easy to do if you have a propensity for spending money (as I do). When you think about upgrading expensive parts and sails, have in mind your long-term goal. You won't ever recover your investment in upgrades (but they can make the boat more attractive for the next purchaser). If you have in mind to move into your next boat, be very critical about the money you put into this boat. I wish I had followed my own advise, but that is water under the bridge.

For now, it appears that you purchased a boat with a lot of nautical miles under the keel and she looks to be ready for very many more, potentially. You won't believe how much she has to teach you along the way! Enjoy!
Thanks so much @Scott T-Bird, I think I made a sweet deal too. That is some great advice, I actually just bought a Macgregor 25 sailboat a few weeks ago for only $1900 and quickly realized I was ready for a lot more boat, and also one that didn't need so much initial investment just to make it safe. I haven't spent anything on the Macgregor since and I'm still glad I bought it because I rapidly learned a lot of lessons, one of them being what you suggested. I'll be sailing solo most of the time (until I find a lovely lady to join me that is) and feel like this boat is good compromise of something I feel confident sailing solo right now, and something that is capable of sailing to Hawaii or New Zealand, I've even been reading about circumnavigations people have done in the CAL 2-27. This might be enough boat for me for a long while, I'll probably go big though once I really know what I'm doing :thumbup:

Or water under the boat :biggrin:
Thanks for keeping it funny @Justin_NSA :laugh: