My beloved CAL 21
Resting on the foredeck of my CAL 21
Cal 21: On the tiller.

I have owned my little CAL 21 since 1987. After sailing her in Prince William Sound, Alaska, for four years, the North Channel in Ontario, Canada, became her cruising ground (1995-2003). Seven years ago, I reluctantly upgraded to a Bayfield 25. Covered with a large tarp and with the cabin well ventilated (utilizing a mice-proof screen), my good ol' CAL now rests in my driveway in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, waiting to be recalled to duty--perhaps by a new owner. (At this point, I couldn't quite bring myself to put up a "For Sale" sign. But this should not keep you from making a reasonable offer.)

The specs provided on the CAL 21 Sailboat web site state that the boat comes with a "360 lb. cast iron retractable keel." This is not the case with my boat. The lower section of her swing keel is made of lead (cast around an iron core plate). I will soon add pictures that I took when I laid bare the iron core and rebuilt the fiberglass that covers it.

From the previous owner I inherited the following set-up, which I never saw a reason to change: A sturdy wooden box-like structure, on top of which a winch is mounted, covers the keel slot opening. The cable does not attach to the hook, which the keel also has, but to an eye near the trailing edge of the lower (lead) keel section. (Well, not any longer: Last time I sailed her, the eye tore out. Obviously, this needs to get repaired.)

I always sailed with this set-up in place, which enabled me to lift the keel whenever there was a need for it: gunk-holing, beaching the boat, running aground, and getting into this secluded lagoon that fixed-keel boats can't get into.

CAL 21 almost on the beach

Click here for more "beach photos."

The inside of my boat's hull is ugly, but well insulated, quiet and free of condensation thanks to the foam which the previously owner had generously sprayed onto the entire inside (hull and ceiling).

I installed a simple electrical system which served me just right: My 4 hp outboard charges a 36 Amp/hour gel-cell battery--sufficient capacity to run the lights, fan, depth finder, radio and autopilot. I never ran out of juice during any of my five-week summer trips, during which I typically burnt between 4 and 6 gallons of gasoline.


Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any comments or questions:

Axel Schmetzke

Last updated: Wednesday April 07, 2010