Jack Jenson, the builder, and Bill Lapworth, the designer, combined their unique talents to produce several memorable boats during the nascent days of fiberglass boatbuilding, the Cal 39 and Cal 40 amongst their most influential designs of the era.
It is really the design that carries the day, and in typical fashion Lapworth was ahead of the curve with the 39. It was a genuine performance cruiser before there really was such an animal, and as such, the design not only seems less dated than others from this period, it is still highly desirable as a capable and affordable cruiser. Somewhere around 150 39s were built and unlike many forgettable boats of this time, the Cal 39 has well maintained its financial value.
Below the waterline, the 39 has a moderate forefoot that trails into a large fin keel. The standard 6 foot, 8 inch deep-draft keel helps the boat track well and the displacement is 14,600 pounds resulting in a displacement/length ratio of 257, which means that the boat can be loaded up and still sail well. The spade rudder is placed well aft, a Lapworth hallmark, and results in excellent steering control, especially when running in big seas. The rig is a standard keel-stepped spar with an air draft of 55 feet. The sail area/displacement ratio is a respectable 16.2, not a light air demon but a very good all-around performer-just what you want in a cruising boat.
These boats are fairly well known for their construction as they have all held up quite well over the years. The Cal 39 hull is solid glass and laid up fairly robust. The deck is balsa-cored in most places and plywood was used in high-load areas. The hull-to-deck joint is the conventional inward facing flange and is both chemically and mechanically fastened.
The interior bulkheads are securely tabbed to the hull and a molded liner is used on the cabin sides and overhead liner. The finish is quite nice, actually better than most would suspect with excellent joinerwork and teak trim. The ballast is lead and the rudder is foam with a thin layer of glass over it.
Cal 39s came standard with Perkins 4108 diesels, a reliable engine that is easy to work on and still easy to find parts for.
The Cal 39 has a classic 'smaller is safer' seagoing cockpit, it holds less water in tough weather and a smaller cockpit results in a more spacious interior. It is also efficiently laid out, that is if the traveler has been moved to a position over the companionway. There is good visibility from the slightly raised helm seat and the winches can be reached from the helm.
There is a locker to port and one aft, which had been converted to a gas locker. The companionway is offset to starboard to make room in the aft cabin.
The Cal 39 interior is surprising. Very cruisable. There is a small pilot berth to starboard and a generous forepeak to enjoy while at anchor. Despite a typical teak finish, the cabin is fairly bright with two or three large overhead hatches and eight portlights, most of them opening. The fabrics are all updated with 'pleather' cushions.
The saloon has a settee and table to port and sea berth settee to starboard. The nav station is usually to port as well and features a decent sized chart table. Tanks take up much of the storage under the settees. The forward cabin is the owner's cabin with hanging locker and large V-berth. The head is accessed from the saloon.
The engine is a Perkins 4108, a 50-horsepower model that delivered about 30 horses at the prop, but that is enough to push the boat through the water at 6+ knots. Fuel capacity is 35 gallons.
The Cal 39 is a very sweet sailing boat, at home in blue water or knocking about the bay. Many 39s have been retrofit into serious cruisers and owners rave about the seakindly motion and good turn of speed. The powerful hull shape can carry sail in a blow and can also be loaded up with stores without sacrificing too much performance. Owners report that the 39 needs a bit of a breeze to get moving. The narrow hull shape heels early and then stiffens up and also rolls running before a following sea. However, it also has enough oomph to surf when the conditions are right. The boat is quite close winded, especially by cruising boat standards, and this is an under-appreciated feature.
The Cal 39 is an ideal boat to consider for long-range cruising, especially if your budget is under $50,000 and you need private accommodations but don't want to sacrifice good sailing.
The Company offers the details of this vessel in good faith but cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy of this information nor warrant the condition of the vessel. Buyer should assume that items on the vessel at the time of viewing, but not specifically listed on this specification sheet, are not included with the sale of the yacht, and should instruct his agents, or his surveyors to investigate such details as the buyer desires validated. Buyer assumes responsibility to verify all speeds, consumptions, capacities and other measurements contained herein and otherwise provided, and agrees to instruct his surveyor to confirm such details prior to purchase. This vessel is subject to sale, price and inventory changes, and withdrawal from market without notice.