Gunkholing is a good thing....if you know how to anchor!
I can't help you with the 135 vs 185 fuel burn but can tell you what little I know about the Californian line. Much is documented in the Californian Section of Trawler Forum
, so a read through those threads and posted magazine articles might be helpful.
I have owned my 34 Californian LRC for 7 years. We have twin Perkins 4.236 naturals at 85 HP each. We consistently burn 3 gph total at 7.5 kts for a 2.5 NMPG efficiency. With 250 gallons of fuel, we can go 75 hrs/550 miles with a 10% reserve before refueling. Not exactly big world "long range cruising", but that's a lot for the CA Delta and SF Bay, so I guess it's all relative.
We have traveled throughout the CA Delta and much of the SF Bay estuary in our time with this boat and are very pleased with its handling and efficiency, except for following seas which get a little squirrelly and hand-steering is needed to counter the roll/heading changes. In head seas the ride is solid and dry. I credit the Carolina flare of the bow for the dryness.
The previous owner would take annual trips from SF to Monterey, CA in her and said she was very stable. Personally, I have not taken her out in the big water yet, except for a short foray beyond the Golden Gate. I would think it's important to pick your weather carefully.
The vessel is very stout and predictable with a couple of Achilles heals. One is the fuel tanks are located outboard of the shaft logs. Without dripless logs, the sea water gets flung onto the steel tanks and causes corrosion. My tanks were replaced and dripless logs installed by the PO so the problem was solved for me. The other issue is that the aft corners of the pilothouse (at least on my 34) seem to be inadequately supported and some sag occurs causing a minor water pooling on the deck. It's an easy fix to support from below, but I have not done it yet.
I'll second Capt Jon's words about easy access to all systems for maintenance, inspection or improvements. It would be very crowded in the ER with the Cat 3208s, but no problem with my 4 cylinder inline Perkins. I can easily get to all tanks, batteries, water heater, shower sump pump, hoses, and engine components. The ER is cavernous for a boat this size and we really appreciate the walkaround decks, both of which come at the expense of interior space, but that's a compromise we're pleased with.
There are a quite a few around with gasoline engines and I'd personally steer clear of those since I prefer diesel for safety and efficiency. I've run across a quite a few Californians in my travels of SF Bay and the CA Delta and all I meet are very pleased with their boats. We feel the same.
Californians are neither the high end for fit and finish nor the low end. The interior of my first model year (1977) 34 LRC doesn't hold a candle to a more modern Grand Banks but it's a level of quality and finish that we find comfortable. I suppose that might be true of any 37 year old boat. The later models like Jon's 1988 have a much better joinery. I have a friend with a 48 CPMY and it's beautiful and huge by comparison!
For the money, Californians offer a real value for the dollar without many of the compromises of mass produced boats. They have a more classic and unique look, but the exterior brightwork of earlier models means more work. Personally, I love the classic lines and the look of teak and willingly put forth with the labor to keep her looking her best. It's just part of the entire boat owner thing! I love it all!