A Camper Nicholson 32

At the moment, my wife and I love a 1975 Camper Nicholson 32 that’s for sale and we could afford if we wanted to. There’s all sorts of things we like about it (blue water capable, strongly made, long keel, etc.).

At the same time, I read Jeff H’s posts, which continually kind of question the wisdom of “long keel boats being safest and best for beginners and long range cruisers, and those who want to be…).”

The bottom line, it seems, is that the there are costs to having the long keel, heavy displacement, and 30+ year old boat. As you found with the Tayana, light wind performance could be less than adequate. Getting around in tight marinas could be harder. Resale could take longer.

So, for us, the plan is coastal cruising for the next 10 years or so, hopefully leading to some ocean crossing after that. Ergo, we don’t need the compromises of the Camper Nic 32 yet (like the small, deep cockpit). If our intermediate goals are just coastal (up to two months in the inside passage to Alaska), then a lighter, easier to maneuver, better in light winds, and easier to resell boat makes better sense.

Others may want or need the blue water boat right off the bat, but moving more slowly up the ladder might make more sense. If we went for the blue water boat right now, when we still have two kids, the small cockpit, lack of an aft cabin, narrower beam, etc., may all be more expensive than they’re worth if they aren’t needed.

Owning vs. Sailing

Sailing a wide range of boats before owning something large never seems like a bad idea. We joined a club in the Portland area that allows us to sail 20-37 footers, and for more variety we can charter a wide range of boats in Puget Sound.

It seems like we all start with the idea that a heavy “safe” cruiser is the way to go, but sailing some of the new designs can be real eye opening. Just last weekend we were doing over 7 knots in moderate wind in a modern 37 and having a great time.

So, owning in the long run is great, but sailing everything you can beforehand is a fun experience — and don’t forget to give the lighter, fin keel boats a chance.

Cal 20 Restoration 6

We had a great experience at Schooner Creek Boatworks yesterday as we launched our Cal 20. After all the hectic preparations, it was great to be met by helpful and enthusiastic help when it was time to raise the mast and have the boat lifted and lowered into the basin. For neophytes like us, this was just what we needed.

Here’s the pictures from the day:


Today, we plan to sail/motor to McCuddy’s later in the afternoon. Before then, we need to work on our old Evinrude 6 hp since the new Mercury 4 hp hasn’t arrived yet. We were graciously offered the loan of a 3.5 hp today if we can’t get the Evinrude running reliably enough. Hmmm– maybe meeting the people who enjoy boats is best part of sailing.

Cal 20 Restoration 5

Well, we’re close. Our launch is set for tomorrow afternoon. The ninth set of restoration photos is at


The previous photo set ended with the application of six coats of VC Tar2 barrier coat, and this new set starts with our VC 17 anti-fouling coats. After that, we re-installed all deck hardware (bedded with Life Caulk), applied two coats of West System clear epoxy to all brightwork, installed brightwork, installed new hardwood backing plates, sanded and waxed the mast, installed new mast hardware (heavy duty spreader brackets, sheaves, jib sheet block), sanded and waxed the topsides, installed new rub-rail (from Steve Seal), painted the name on the transom and put on new license numbers.

The hours involved with this list were significant– just chasing down replacement stainless nuts and bolts took a lot of time. We’ve worked all weekend on the boat, and all evenings after work. I couldn’t take many pictures, because it’s getting dark sooner and normally it was too dark to take pictures once we finished for the evening.

Tomorrow, we’re scheduled for an afternoon launch at Schooner Creek boatworks. One missing part: our new Mercury 4 HP four stroke hasn’t arrived yet, so we may revive the original 6 HP Evinrude to motor from the launch site to our mooring with the fleet. Maybe we’ll go sailing in all our spare time when this is done…

Cal 20 Restoration 4

Aurora is nearing completion as we approach exhaustion. The eighth set of restoration photos is at


In the last week, we continued to have problems with the deck paint. On the second from last coat, we covered the boat with a tarp too soon and “cross hatched” most of the high areas. On Wednesday evening after an hour of sanding off the cross hatch, we finished the final coat and left the boat uncovered overnight, only to find that the morning dew turned the shiny finish to caulk in the morning. Ugh. To recover, we had to change color to Matterhorn white (couldn’t wait to special order what we had before), and did two more coats in the morning hours (my brother took two days off from work) so that the paint could dry all day before be covered with a tarp. It looks great now, but at $70 a quart, and one quart per coat, we definitely don’t want to do any more.

After the decks, it was almost a pleasure to do final hull repairs and prep, including the removal and filling in of both thru hulls (which were there for the marine toilet). We finished the painting of the deck, and cleaned and sealed the deck hull joint with 5200. We then used boards and ropes to secure the boat laterally so that we could lower all four trailer pads at once to paint the bottom. Pretty much all the weight of the boat is on the bulb of the keel, and the four support boards did a fine job of holding the boat as we painted the bottom, although we won’t go aboard again until the boat is back on the pads.

We chose VC Tar2 for our barrier coats. It’s glossy black and went on well. We needed two hours between overcoats, but we still managed to apply six coats in one day, starting at nine a.m. and finishing after nine p.m. The six coats took four quarts, and doing all the coats in one day allowed us to use part of a quart for one coat and then the rest on the next (four hour pot life). Between coats, we also “color matched” the topsides with repair resin and started to fill in scratches. The boat spent the last eight years sitting on barrels, so there are more than a few topsides imperfections. Still, we’d rather sand, clean and wax the topsides than paint them, so…

Today we’ll apply two coats of VC-17m anti-fouling paint (amazing how fast it dries), and tomorrow we hope to put the boat back down on the trailer pads and get started on re-installed deck hardware. We ordered a new Mercury 4 HP 4 Stroke outboard for it yesterday, but it won’t likely make it for a launch next Friday, so our new launch date is Friday, September 16th.