• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Cal 2-34 at auction - what to look for?

Jan 16, 2019
15
Looking Cruiser Victoria, BC
I have found a Cal 2-34 (I think, see photos) which is to be auctioned this weekend. I will have a one hour window to see aboard the boat (I have already viewed from the dock), then submit a bid. I like what I have read so far on this model, although I have yet to go aboard any Cal models. From photos, they seem to have fairly spartan interiors.

Engine:
From what I can gather, the 2-34 was only made in 1975-76, and came with either an Atomic 4, Farryman, Yanmar or Westerbeke. I don't want either of the first two, but since I will assume the engine is dead as far as valuation (based on an as-is assessment), it doesn't really matter. Of course, if I see a shiny looking Yanmar, I might be inclined to bid a bit higher.
This model has wheel steering which I assume is original, since it looks like other photos I've seen.

Mast step/support beam:
The mast step on deck appears intact and not sunken, but I am not sure if this model has the dreaded steel support beam below the sole. If it does, how difficult is this to replace (I will assume it is shot, unless I can confirm otherwise)

Sails & rigging:
I am going to assume the sails and rigging are all garbage and bid accordingly, unless I find newer looking sails on board.

Basically, I am thinking I will bid $1000 if I like what I see inside, and consider bidding higher if I see things like sails or engine which justify it.

I am near Victoria, BC, and for reference, I have looked at the following boats for sale, prices in CAD:

81 Catalina 30, newer Universal 3cyl diesel, wheel, no furler, tired sails, average condition: $21K CAD

75 C&C 35-2, VW diesel, dual alt, watermaker, solar, fridge, power windlass, wheel. $25K CAD. Really liked this one, but complex and customized mechanicals more than I want to deal with. I want a simpler boat to start out with.

'81 C&C 30-1, 2 cyl Yanmar, wheel, fridge, power windlass, sails ok to good, boat in pristine condition with original gelcoat, $25K CAD. I liked this boat but felt a bit cramped after the above two, and the showroom condition of the decks and hull would make me afraid of damaging it!

'82 Newport 28-2, 2 cyl Yanmar, good sails, wheel, nice shape. $13K CAD. Liked the boat but felt a bit lightweight, and headroom was an issue.

Sorry for the long post, but would love to hear more about the good and bad of the Cal 2-34.
 

Attachments

Oct 29, 2016
1,589
Hunter 41 DS Port Huron
@sgwright67 welcome aboard the best darn sailing forum in the world.
Don't know anything of the boat but given the red cans in the cockpit I would bet it is powered with an Atomic. The condition of the boat is really sad and will take many hours of buffing and polishing to even start to look presentable.
 
Nov 6, 2006
8,711
Hunter 34 Mandeville Louisiana
Welcome to the forum ! ..Not familiar with that Cal, so I can't offer anything g useful.. I thought same as DayDreamer about the red cans.. someone trying to start the gasoline engine.. May have vintage spinnaker gear; I see a mast track and non-standard turning blocks aft.. No roller furling.. If you are lucky, she may have a set of good sails from having been raced.. Looks like a RayMarine autopilot .. Your thoughts toward the bid sound rational and it sounds like you've done your research.. Lots and lots of "sweat equity" would be needed, but if you have the time and dollars and can locate fairly close to your home for work access, and are fairly good with DIY, you could have a decent old boat ..
 
Oct 22, 2014
12,617
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Welcome aboard SBO.
One CAL sailboat resource is http://richardanderson.net/calsailboats/

I’m thinking it is likely that you will find the Atomic 4 in the boat.
The 34 is a nice boat for cruising in the Salish Sea. The 5ft draft gives you access to more places when the water gets thin.

Regarding your bidding, check the decks for soft spots. Likely you will find a blistering bottom. Check the linkage on the wheel and rudder quadrant. Believe you will find a deep keel. Check for water. Bring a bright flash light as some of the areas you’ll want to inspect will be dark. Check mast is not bent. It is stout like a totem pole. Pair of binoculars will help to inspect rigging. Look for spreader condition likely they are spruce. If so and not painted will be rotten. Mine were. Chain Plates were thick stainless, look for corrosion at the deck line, water stains inside.

Hulls were hand laid and thick. I have found my Cal to be a solid boat in the water.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,377
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Welcome to the forums. With any luck, you will soon be a sailboat owner. :)
The pics you posted make her look mostly dirty. An indication of neglect, but not a sure thing. Unless they say you can't, don't be shy and see if the motor will run. As JS says, soft spots in the deck are bad. It sounds like you've done your research well.
Good luck

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Last edited:
Oct 10, 2011
601
Tartan 34C Toms River, New Jersey
Just my two cents, I did basically the same thing except mine was on the hard. The owner wanted 10K on the internet, got it for 1K.
To answer your question yes it is a Atomic 4, because of the gas cans. Don't be afraid of the motor they are hard to kill, and fairly easy to work on, I rebuilt mine. Be prepared for a lot of work. Honestly I enjoyed mine.
Once you view the inside and get onboard and am still interested bid 1,001.00 (experience from when I bought on EBay)
It would have been better I think if she was on the hard.
Good luck and welcome to the forum.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,264
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Please understand that I am not trying to be sarcastic here at all, but.....

The offer should be $1.00 and you will have it out of there in 24 hours..

A boat like that will cost you a lot more than a well equipped, well cared for model in the end. I have seen this sort of thing repeated over, and over, and over and the "project boat" rarely if ever makes good financial sense. You could put 25k into that boat faster than the speed of light and it would still be worth well under 1/3 of what you have into it. Even a "free" sailboat is not a "deal"...

We have a number of customers who've purchased used boats in the last few years. One customer bought a Sabre, and these are considered good boats. However, he made a huge mistake and went for the absolute least expensive Sabre of that model he could find. Did I say a huge financial mistake..?:cussing:

The one I tried to talk him into, same model only 1 year newer, had a re-built engine, new sails (less than a season), new canvas dodger, bimini, connector and sail cover (less than 1 year old), completely re-wired, new furler (less than 3 years old, brand new electronics (three months old including radar), Espar heat, high output alternator, engine driven refrigeration as well as 12V DC refrigeration, brand new interior cushions, beautifully shiny gelcoat, new standing rigging, recent fuel tank and all bright work professionally stripped and re-finished in preparation just for selling it. Deck hardware had also been recently re-bedded and it had bone dry decks.. The bottom had also been fully stripped and barrier coated three years prior. You could eat out of the bilge. It also came with about 5k worth of spare parts, tools and accessories.

The price "premium" for all this was going to cost him just 6K more upfront. Just 6K more.....! He hemmed and hawed, and over analyzed, and two days later the pristine boat was under contract.... :doh:He was simply an inexperienced buyer and did not know the pure value staring him in the face. He just kept saying "But it is the most expensive one I have seen." Yes it is I kept saying, and it will be your least expensive over the long haul!!!;)

He opted for the beater middle of the pack "value boat" at an agreed price of 28k before survey. Fast forward a couple of years and he now has approx 75K into a boat that is still worth maybe 32-34k on a good day, if that (I was being kind with 32-24 in that market)... This is a net loss to him, over the other boat, of nearly 50k. His boat is still not as nice as the one he did not buy, and I doubt if it ever could be.

He kicks himself every day, especially the days I am billing him for to fix everything that was "deferred maintenance"...;);)

Here's some of what he's had to do so far: New furler, new sails, new interior cushions, new running rigging, new bulkhead (rotted due to leaking chain plate), new teak bow sprit (was cracked in a storm before he bought it), steering cable & chain, new exhaust hose, new dodger, new electronics, new cabin sole, 4 new seacocks, new prop shaft, cutlass & prop, lots of re-wiring, new water pump, new batteries, new head holding tank and hoses, complete re-power, new plumbing, new fuel tank, mast wiring, new ports etc. etc. and on and on and on. His boat still is nowhere near as good as the one he turned down over 6K in up-front costs..... He still lacks a bimini, cabin heat and refrigeration. These items would add approx another 11k if he were to add them to his boat but would not change the market value one dime...

Cheap boats are no deal even if you do all the work your self.

A survey is always a must for any boat, even a free one, because it can save you huge money when you choose wisely not to buy it based on the survey...

After 49+ years on the water, 25+ boats, now working on boats for a living, I now only buy 2 percenters. A 2% boat is that needle in a haystack boat that is in absolutely pristine condition with maintenance, upkeep and upgrades done only with the best materials and care for quality. These boats are hard to find but they do pop up. You'll at least want a boat in the top 10%, condition wise, or it's going to cost you.

Back to the Sabre.... I also do work for the guy who bought the good Sabre (for 6k more). He's a seasoned sailor and very smart buyer. He knew this was a steal of a deal the minute he heard about it and brought his check book along with him. This 2 percenter was a private sale and never hit the open market.. The boat has needed very, very little work, a few hundred dollars to be exact, and he has just been sailing it and enjoying it since day 1. What is the value on that???

My personal opinion is that bottom line price should never be the #1 determining factor when buying a used sailboat though it very, very often is and this is usually a very costly mistake.

CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION

Try to think and project out what will your total cost will be three to four years from now. Be honest with yourself on this because you're only cheating yourself out of time and money... This type of thought process should always be a strong consideration.

People can pour all the crazy money they want into a boat but it still won't change the fair market value much if any. The educated boat buyer will come along and buy the boat that has had 75k put into it and steal it for 35k making it a tremendous value. :)

The uneducated buyer will more often come along and buy the boat that needs 75k put into it and get robbed for 30K and have 95k into a 32K boat in the end......;)

Keep in mind that just between sails, standing and running rigging you can be looking at 15k+ on a 34 footer.... We've not even touched wet decks, rot, shafting, engine, wiring etc. etc. etc.... You will also most likely need insurance, especially if at a marina, and most insurers won't insure without a survey.

Course in my professional opinion, please buy these beaters, it keeps me working....;)
 
Oct 10, 2011
601
Tartan 34C Toms River, New Jersey
Please understand that I am not trying to be sarcastic here at all, but.....

The offer should be $1.00 and you will have it out of there in 24 hours..

A boat like that will cost you a lot more than a well equipped, well cared for model in the end. I have seen this sort of thing repeated over, and over, and over and the "project boat" rarely if ever makes good financial sense. You could put 25k into that boat faster than the speed of light and it would still be worth well under 1/3 of what you have into it. Even a "free" sailboat is not a "deal"...
Just a quick response, purchasing a boat is never "GOOD FINANCIAL SENSE". I agree he will dump a ton of money into it.
I was lucky as I DIY everything and have several marine wholesale accounts for parts I needed, to keep the cost down. Plus I keep her at my friends marina at no cost, I help him there when needed. So I guess it's a trade off.
I personally enjoyed my project, and the finished project gave me a lot of satisfaction.
 
  • Like
Likes: sgwright67
Feb 6, 1998
11,264
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Jan 16, 2019
15
Looking Cruiser Victoria, BC
Thanks for your candor and thorough reply. I will give it careful consideration, and your point about the value of time sailing vs. fixing the boat is important to me, although I do like fixing things, to a degree.
About 10 years ago I bought a VW Westfalia for $1200 in similar condition (although mechanically sound) and put about $500 and some sweat equity into it, camped for one season, then sold it for $6500 in less than 24 hours - I had offers for more, but the first person to offer got it. The difference is it was a rare diesel model, and Westfalias are a unique and in demand vehicle; this is not true for sailboats, and in the case of most of them, "good mechanical condition- sails/rigging/engine" rarely goes with "inexpensive".
So again, thanks for the needed dose of reality. I will probably attend the auction for my own education, as I am learning things from every boat I see.
 
  • Like
Likes: Will Gilmore
Aug 1, 2011
3,840
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
The dinghy looks to be in decent shape, although getting that lump of glasswork on and off the deck would probably be a chore.
 
Jul 7, 2004
6,811
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
While the early Cal's are generally regarded as good boats when we get to the condition level of the boat pictured pedigree means very little. It really boils down to the condition of the vessel as the first consideration.
That goes without saying. But the OP is asking, and the article points out some weaknesses to watch out for in addition to general condition.
 
Jun 8, 2004
2,393
Catalina 320 Dana Point
Bid $1 if you must, no one will be bidding against you.
https://patch.com/california/marinadelrey/the-last-hurrah-for-sad-sailboats
Deputy Bryan White, of the sheriff's marine operations unit, oversaw the lien sale that started at 9 a.m. with an inspection, followed by an auction at 10 a.m. Nobody showed up for the auction.
"It's a reflection of the maritime world," White said. "Boats wear out and are eventually sold to someone who doesn't know what it takes to maintain one."
 
  • Like
Likes: sgwright67

NYSail

.
Jan 6, 2006
2,496
Beneteau 423 Mt. Sinai, NY
My first boat was a Cal 34 Mark III as they were known... 1977. Bill lapworth knew how to build them! What a great boat! Extremely well balanced, strong hull, deep bilge to keep everything dry, encapsulated lead keel.
 
  • Like
Likes: sgwright67
Jan 16, 2019
15
Looking Cruiser Victoria, BC
My first boat was a Cal 34 Mark III as they were known... 1977. Bill lapworth knew how to build them! What a great boat! Extremely well balanced, strong hull, deep bilge to keep everything dry, encapsulated lead keel.
That encapsulated keel is one reason I am interested in this boat, although I may drop of a few zeroes off my $1000 bid if I decide to place a bad at all. At the very least, I might get a dinghy and some parts out of it.
There is another auction for a '91 Hunter Vision 36, which is a much newer boat, albeit an unusual design with an unstayed mast. I suspect that one will fetch the most interest, but I'm not sure I want that boat. I'm sure my wife would prefer the luxurious interior though!
 
Jan 16, 2019
15
Looking Cruiser Victoria, BC
Just my two cents, I did basically the same thing except mine was on the hard. The owner wanted 10K on the internet, got it for 1K.
To answer your question yes it is a Atomic 4, because of the gas cans. Don't be afraid of the motor they are hard to kill, and fairly easy to work on, I rebuilt mine. Be prepared for a lot of work. Honestly I enjoyed mine.
Once you view the inside and get onboard and am still interested bid 1,001.00 (experience from when I bought on EBay)
It would have been better I think if she was on the hard.
Good luck and welcome to the forum.
I thought the same thing when I saw the gas cans, but then I came across a brochure for the 2-34 which claims the diesel came standard. So it's possible someone was using gas cans for diesel, or possibly for an outboard which is now gone. We'll see. I might still consider it if the sails appear in good shape. If I need to buy sails and an engine, then it's not worth it. I will also try to at least turn the engine over to ensure it is not seized or full of water.