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Old 09-23-2014, 04:51 PM   #1
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Californian 38 and the Grand Loop

I am contemplating the purchase of a 1983 Californian 38 with the intention of doing the Grand Loop but I wondered if other owners consider this a suitable vessel for this journey. I would also like to hear from any Californian owners who have done (or have considered) doing the loop and what experiences they had. Any issues (like bridge heights) I should be aware of? Any reasons why this might be a bad idea? Any insights would be much appreciated before I make a $60,000 mistake!
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Old 09-23-2014, 05:04 PM   #2
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I am contemplating the purchase of a 1983 Californian 38 with the intention of doing the Grand Loop but I wondered if other owners consider this a suitable vessel for this journey.
I've never done the ICW, but the 38 Californian is a great boat. What engines are you talking about? You will draft about 3' of water and I've seen twin Grand Banks do it, so can't imagine why not??

You certainly want to research it, before you go, as there are many pitfalls and local knowledge issues to cruising the ICW that you want to be aware of.
Best of Luck!!
Larry B
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Old 09-23-2014, 05:15 PM   #3
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It has the the original 210 Cat Diesels. I don't think draft is an issue and I THINK I'm OK with bridges but of course, there's no mast to drop, like a trawler, so it either fits or it doesn't. My original plan was to buy a single engine trawler (a Monk 36 actually) but I like the Californian much better and frankly, the price is right. I'm a bit concerned about fuel consumption but I can live with that, as long as there are no obvious "gotchas" that I'm missing.
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Old 09-23-2014, 05:18 PM   #4
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I own a Californian but have never done 'The Ditch". It's something I'd love to do. If I was buying a boat for the trip, I think I'd want a single-engine boat with a keel-protected prop. I have often considered adding keels to my twin Californian for prop protection, but it just wouldn't be cost effective...especially in areas with a forgiving bottom like my waters in the California Delta and SF Bay.

Don't get me wrong...I love my Californian. I bought it wanting twins so I have no regrets. It's just that I've repaired the running gear a couple of times due to bottom contact and debris strikes. For the most part, insurance has covered the costs.
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Old 09-23-2014, 05:59 PM   #5
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It has the the original 210 Cat Diesels. I don't think draft is an issue and I THINK I'm OK with bridges but of course, there's no mast to drop, like a trawler, so it either fits or it doesn't.
The N/A 3208 Cats are fairly economical and if you keep the speed down below 10 knots, you should do quite well, fuel wise. If I'm going to run slower, like under 8.5 knots and while fishing, I often run on one engine and free wheel the other prop which has some fuel savings, but best of all the boat is so much quieter on one engine. If the boat has BW Velvet Drives then that will be an option for you as well.
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:34 AM   #6
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You make a good point, which I hadn't considered. I wonder how difficult it would be to add some sort of prop protection? Even if we weren't contemplating doing the loop, the water in Florida is notoriously shallow - I regularly ran my sailboat aground. I guess we would just have to be extra careful.
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Old 09-24-2014, 01:46 PM   #7
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Try this site Dalesman... and if you google it, hundreds of Looper bolgs will pop up.. What a great undertaking.. wish I had the time to do it.. my single engine (tunnel protected prop) would make a great Looper boat..

Great Loop Cruising: A Guide to the Looper Lifestyle - AGLCA
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Old 09-24-2014, 04:50 PM   #8
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This site is what got me interested in the Great Loop. How to cruise America's Great Loop
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Old 09-24-2014, 05:01 PM   #9
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I remember hearing out of the corner of my eye that you gotta come in with air draft at less than 21 feet to get out of Lake Michigan.
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Old 09-24-2014, 08:14 PM   #10
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... If I was buying a boat for the trip, I think I'd want a single-engine boat with a keel-protected prop. ...
A single, keel-protected prop/rudder was my first priority in selecting a boat, considering the shallow waters of the San Francisco estuary and having gone aground several times previously in keel-protected sailboats without any damage whatsoever.

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Old 09-24-2014, 08:21 PM   #11
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...and you were there, Mark, when having a second engine, after fuel contamination of one side, saved my day. I personally think the redundancy of twins with prop protection and roll resistance of bilge keels is the best of both worlds.
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Old 09-24-2014, 08:32 PM   #12
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Yes, Al. And yet the percentage of space/volume devoted to engines and drives is much higher for you. None of my single-engine vehicles/vessels have failed because of engine problems over the last 45 years. Besides, I'm always in range of AAA and BoatUS.
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Old 09-24-2014, 09:08 PM   #13
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We have a Californian 34 that we took to Marathon from Baltimore via the ICW. Only issues we had were caused by brain burps on the part of the captain; wrong turns, failure to look at the navaid behind you, etc. Hopefully we will get to some more of the Loop in the near future.
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Old 09-24-2014, 09:20 PM   #14
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I remember hearing out of the corner of my eye that you gotta come in with air draft at less than 21 feet to get out of Lake Michigan.
19'1" to pass south of Chicago. That's the lowest bridge on the loop that has no alternative.

In the East your route is determined by air draft as the West part of the Erie and the Champlain have lower bridges.
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Old 09-24-2014, 09:23 PM   #15
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...and you were there, Mark, when having a second engine, after fuel contamination of one side, saved my day. I personally think the redundancy of twins with prop protection and roll resistance of bilge keels is the best of both worlds.
I remember. ... Wasn't that due to (crappy) plastic fuel-inlet caps which you subsequently replaced with steel?
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Old 09-24-2014, 09:28 PM   #16
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I don't know the draft of the Californian 38 you're looking at but I can't imagine it being a problem. Plenty of boats with drafts up to 5' do the loop without problems. Obviously places they can make mistakes, go off the preferred course, and run aground but that's true with any draft. Some boats with 6' drafts do it but 5' or less is preferred.
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Old 09-24-2014, 10:47 PM   #17
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I remember. ... Wasn't that due to (crappy) plastic fuel-inlet caps which you subsequently replaced with steel?
Whatchu callin' "crappy" Willis?

My old (assume original 36 year old) nylon cap failed under the pressure of a chair or some wooden dock steps I was transporting. Yes, I replaced both caps with SS caps.

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I don't know the draft of the Californian 38 you're looking at but I can't imagine it being a problem.
My PowerBoat Guide lists the 38 Californian draft at 3'6". Clearance is listed as 14' 6" (assume canvas up, antennas down). The aftermarket radar mast on my 34 LRC requires 15'8". Probably not a problem with clearance above or below the water.
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