About Swell

History of the Cal-40

In 1963, a man named George Griffith asked his friend and marine architect, Bill Lapworth, to design a new type of boat. They talked Jack Jensen, of Jensen Marine in Orange Country, into building it and Persephone, was launched in 1963. She instantly dominated the local racing scene. A year later, hull #2Conquistador came out of California to win the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC) off Florida, a highly coveted title. In the years to follow, the Cal-40 boats went on to win an unprecedented string of victories in major ocean-racing events. What was originally considered a radical and even dangerous offshore design became legendary among racers and highly influential in boat design to follow.

Like me, Cal-40s love to surf. Their relatively flat bottom is part of the revolutionary design that makes her so fast downwind—she surfs! But like with everything on a boat, there is always a compromise. The flat bottom makes for her equally notorious upwind ‘pounding’. She has a streamlined fin keel, a spade rudder, and is comparatively light for an offshore design. The cockpit is spacious and ends in bridge decks both fore and aft, and is lined on both port and starboard sides by 1” thick teak coamings, onto which I added small wooden extensions to make for more comfortable seating. The interior was designed for offshore racing, with multiple bunks in the main cabin area, but no sit down navigation station. I decided to cut the starboard bunks in half, keeping the fore half a small seat bench and food storage and turning the other into a permanent nav station. The head is on the port side opposite a large hanging locker, and the forward cabin has a drawer setup on the port side and a double v-berth. I’ve made a great deal of changes to the interior to make it more livable for cruising and living aboard, but essentially Cal-40s are simple, strong, relatively inexpensive, and sail like a dream!

Swell’s History

Swell was built in 1966—the 68th Cal-40 to come out of Jansen Marine. From the limited history I’ve uncovered from documents found on board, I now know that Swell was originally named ‘Maria’. Records of her first owner trace her to a J.L. Williams out of Merder Island, Washington. Williams had her rated and certified for offshore racing in 1973. An original customs document shows a change in ownership to three new owners in 1987. Edward C. O’Brion, Larry Cowan, and Maurice Rattray kept her moored at the Shilshole Marina in Seattle, Washington. Sometime after, another document suggests she was relocated to Sausalito, California under the ownership of a Mr. Lowden Jessup. That’s all I know of her whereabouts before our purchasing her from Mr. Tim Yox, who had kept her in the Santa Barbara harbor. He informed me that she had been named ‘Forever Young’ when he’d purchased the boat and had renamed it ‘Alisio’ which is Spanish for ‘trade winds’. Because the boat’s name had already been changed multiple times, and not discovering her ‘original name’, Maria, until well into the voyage, I re-christened her as ‘Swell’ in the company of friends and family after the proper oral request to Poseidon on my 25th birthday, April 28th, 2005. Despite that she has been ‘Swell’ to me ever since, her previous names seem to have maintained a significance under my ownership as well.

At purchase, Swell was in decent condition, but her light coastal use and relatively old age left her in need of more work than we’d originally presumed necessary to prepare her for offshore voyaging. She did have a newly installed Yanmar 51-hp diesel engine, which saved worrying about an unreliable motor. Plus, the tiller had been replaced with wheel steering, which would be easier for my strength. One of the previous owners had added a hardwood ‘skeg’ between the rudder and keel which would serve both as additional protection for the exposed spade rudder and possibly help the boat track better downwind. It had a functioning Furuno radar, a depth sounder, a folding max prop, a hefty Maxwell anchor windlass, a gimbaled 3-burner Seaward propane range/oven, and her sails were in good condition. But Swell would need a great deal of work to be converted into an open ocean cruiser.

Over the two years that followed, under guidance and collaboration with mentor and sponsor, Barry Schuyler, I worked with local marine professionals to overhaul Swell and simultaneously learn about safety equipment, mechanics, electrical systems, rigging, sail and fiberglass repair. Enormous thanks to Barry for his vision, financial support, and patience through the refit process and to the many who helped in countless ways. Special thanks to Neil Pryde Agent, Marty Spargur, James Lambden of Above the Waterline, and Mike Jansen and Mike Jansen Jr. of Jansen Marine (all out of Santa Barbara) for your generous contributions of skill, time, goods, heart, knowledge, and patience in preparing Swell for this voyage. The 18,000 miles of safe sailing behind me are a testament to the quality of your work and profound expertise.



Cal-40 Specs

Length Overall: 39 ft 6 in long (12 meters)
Length at Waterline: 30 ft 6 in (9.3 meters)
Beam: 11 ft (3.35 meters)
Sail Area: 699 square ft (65 square meters)
Displacement: 15,000 lbs (6.8 tons, 6804 kg)
Draft: 5 ft 6 in (168 cm)


Swell Specs

-66 gallons of water in two plastic tanks and one bladder
-110 gallons of fuel in original tank under cockpit and stainless tank added under port berth
-30 gallon holding tank


-Yanmar 4JH2E model diesel 51-hp engine with Walter V-drive, Hurth transmission, 80 amp alternator, and ‘dripless’ PSS Shaft Seal by PYI

-33lb Bruce anchor with 250 ft of 10mm chain plus 200 feet of 3-strand nylon rode
-spare 33lb Bruce anchor
-22 lb Danforth stern anchor with 40 feet of chain and 250 ft of 3 strand nylon rode
-Emergency folding ‘fisherman’s’ anchor
-Maxwell 1300 Windlass (replaced motor 2011, replace gear box 2012)
-Prepared and spliced a heavy, 300ft emergency towing/mooring line
-Chain snubber and long back up snubber that can be used to pull up chain from winch at mast

Givens 6-person liferaft
Backup handheld Garmin GPS
Iridium Satellite phone
Self-assembled ‘Ditch Bag’
Self-assembled Medical kit
Mer-Veille radar detector (highly recommend this for solo sailors, inexpensive and effective, available through Ceil et Marine in France)
Bilge Pumps: Rule 3700 gph pump with automatic switch, one Henderson manual pump, and one Edson manual pump
Parachute flares
2 Flare Guns
Fire Extinguishers
Bear Spray! (For downwind pirates… J)

-Regional paper charts
-Garmin 176C chartplotter
-MacENC navigation program for Mac computers
-Icom VHF
-Icom M802 SSB radio
-Pactor III modem (installed by Shea Weston of Offshore Outfitters, San Diego)

-Full-batten, 3 reef point mainsail and cover by Morelli Sails in Ventura, Ca
-1st headsail—Morelli, 130% furling Dacron headsail
-2nd headsail—140% Kevlar reefable furling headsail, donated by Holly Scott of Charlie’s Charts
-3rd headsail—130% furling Dacron headsail donated by North Sails, San Diego
-Trysail by Port Townsend
-Hank-on storm jib donated by Fred Gamble
-Hank-on back up headsail donated by Katie Cox
-Hank-on, large light wind genoa donated by?  (please get in touch if this was you!)
-Backup furling headsail–90% Dacron upwind working jib, donated by Russell Clark

Other Stuff:
-Custom Dodger and mainsail overhaul by Bennet Garr Sail & Marine Canvas, Santa Barbara
- Added ‘Turtle’ over companionway hatch (Steve Vukas)
-Changed interior layout to remove forward post and center leaf table. I converted the table to mount on forward cabin bulkhead where it can be stored while not in use.
-Added nav station, nav shelf, & seat to starboard side, and galley bulkhead extensions—built by J.K. Meyer Construction, Santa Barbara
-Reed’s heavy-duty sewing machine (donated by Tim)
-Waeco Cold Machine refrigeration cold plate and compressor (Thanks Dad for help with install!)
-Saltwater foot pump in galley
-Achilles SPD-335 inflatable dinghy (donated by Achilles) with Yamaha 15 hp engine (Thanks to Yamaha for discount!)
-Honda 1000-watt portable gasoline generator
-Bosun’s chair with 4:1 purchase ‘falls’ for pulling myself up the mast alone (donated by Marty Spargur)

The following is a list of some of the upgrades, changes, and additions made to Swell under my ownership:

Mike and Mike Jansen Jr, Jansen Marine:

-Reinforced rudder post by inserting stainless sleeve into original post
-Replaced aft side windows
-Added middle cabin hatch
-Overhauled forward/companionway hatch
-Installed Icom 8802 SSB with backstay antennae, tuner, and Dyna-plate
-Installed Monitor windvane (Thanks to Monitor for discount)
-Glass over hull to deck joint: The seam between the deck and the hull was originally ‘caulked’ with ‘dolphinite’ and thru-bolted. It leaked badly even in the rain, so we took off the original teak toerail, which was held on by the bolts that jointly fixed the deck to the hull and glassed over the rail from bow to stern. We glassed in a smaller toerail and replaced toe rail jib sheet tracks by installing heavy-loading stainless ‘D-rings’ spaced along rails (Thanks to Cliff at floating drydock.)
-Added propane tank storage system under rear of cockpit
-Used Spartite to replace wooden mast step blocks where mast passes thru deck
-Installed two self-tailing Antal W52 winches in cockpit
-Replaced mast track (donation by Mike Jansen) and add trysail track

James Lambden, Above the Waterline:

-Re-wired almost entire 12V electrical system—added custom Blue Seas panel display with battery voltage displays, Amps IN and Amps OUT displays
-Designed and installed stainless ‘grab arch’ at helm
-Install Simrad AP16 Autopilot (Thanks to Simrad for discount!)
-Replaced cockpit rudder bearing
-Reinforced deck where pole had been removed in cabin by glassing in a 1” by 4” wood beam across the cabin ceiling
-Glassed in floor between head and closet to make shower pan and added drain underneath
-Installed 110V and 220V Xantrex battery chargers
-Added stainless fuel tank under port berth
-Installed 4 AGM batteries: 492 amp-hour AGM house bank, 92 amp-hour start bank joined with voltage ‘combiner’
-Installed Bilge Pumps: Rule 3700 gph pump with automatic switch, one Henderson manual pump, and one Edson manual pump
-Installed watermaker–Katadyn Power Survivor 160E
-Fuel system—added double Racor fuel filters to engine and Walbro fuel polishing/priming pump (this pump is SO helpful!!)
-Designed and installed custom rotating solar panel setup with 2 85-watt BP solar panels on a stainless pole (reinforced and bolted to the hull) that also serves as support for the davit arm I use to raise and lower the outboard engine on/off the dinghy (I eventually added a wind generator to the top of this pole!)
-Enlarged lower cockpit drains and plumbing
-Changed thru-hole setup–Glassed over engine intake thru-hole near engine and led all plumbing to one thru-hull in forward side of upper bilge
-Added emergency bilge water intake for engine
-Install interior ceiling grab rail

Marty Spargur, Neil Pryde Agent

Re-rigged boom  with internal high purchase pulley system for topping lift and outhaul, and added small winches previously on the mast  (boom donated by Mike Jansen)
Setup 3-point, (jiffy??) reefing system at mast with option to run lines to cockpit
Re-rigged mainsheet to run to winch at front of cockpit
Designed ‘mast-fixed’ spinnaker pole system
Reinforced bow anchor bracket
Added spreader lights and tricolor mast light
Re-wired mast
Replaced bow & stern chainplates
Added bigger bow/stern/deck cleats
Replaced sheaves at masthead and reworked halyards and
Installed wind indicator at masthead
Reinforced/replaced the (lower/upper) tangs
Custom heaving line
Reinforce lifelines at bow & add halyard storage rings
Install removable solent stay with at mast storage system
Added leather chafe guards on spreaders
Replace topping lift
Prepared and spliced a heavy 300ft emergency towing/mooring line

Other Upgrades by Liz

Replaced all standing rigging with 5/16” wire with Norseman ‘swage-less’ fittings (under guidance of Jansen Marine)
Added used Lewmar 40 self-tailing winch to mast (under guidance of Jansen Marine)
Added fixed cabin table supports (donated and fabricated by Jim Cotton)
Re-plumbed head (Dad & me)
Re-plumbed water hoses to head sink (Dad & me)
Installed outside shower on aft deck (Dad & me)
Repainted interior
Built ‘Lazy Jacks’ for easy sail furling
Installed Garmin GPSMAP 172C & antennae (Dad & me)
Built & installed outboard bracket (Dad & me)
Installed interior fans
Added spice rack
Built bookshelf
Installed cockpit speakers (donated by Fred Gamble)
Fixed lightning plate to hull and static dissipater to mast head (Dad & me, Costa Rica 2006)
Raised waterline (Dad & me, Costa Rica 2006)

Added water storage bladder under forward berth (Panama 2007)
Replaced cracked thru-hull valve for head intake (Panama 2007)
Replaced broken forward engine motor mounts (Panama 2007, Thanks to Marcos Villegas)
Installed Mast steps (Marquesas 2007)

Added cockpit seat extensions (with help from Chris McGeough, Kiribati 2008)
Replaced damaged forestay and installed Selden-Furlex Roller Furling System    (FP 2008, Thanks to Selden/Furlex for Discount)
Re-insulated icebox (FP 2008)
Glassed wooden skeg between keel and rudder to hull (FP 2008)
Glassed rear of keel and repaired cracked rudder (FP 2008)
Stripped ‘bubbling’ paint to hull three feet all the around waterline (FP 2008)
Repainted waterline stripes (FP 2008)
Replaced cracked bow anchor mount (FP 2008)
Installed an aluminum plate on deck in front of windlass on deck to protect chain from chaffing (FP 2008)

Replaced and reconfigured broken engine motor mounts (FP 2009)
Installed Air Breeze wind generator (FP 2009) (donated by Patagonia)
Replaced failed solar regulator with Blue Sky Energy Solar Boost 2512i(X) solar   charge regulator (FP 2009)
Installed stainless aft arch with optional sun shade (FP 2009)

Replaced corroded original bronze shaft tube with epoxy tube (FP 2010)
(Thanks to Fin Beven and Doug Grant!)
Built galley steps both port and starboard sides (FP 2010)
Install Mer-Veille radar detector by Ciel et Marine (FP 2010)

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  1. Jean Mondeau

    Its great to see you did so much work on your boat. If your ever interested in more great ideas, you can view my blogspot at jeanmondeau.blogspot.com I highly modified a cal 2-27 and made it a blue water cruiser. My current passion is to help fellow travelers with their pocket cruisers realize their dreams.

  2. lizzy

    Jean, how fantastic! Your passion makes the world a better place. Please keep helping people turn sea dreams into horizon-bound reality!! thanks for letting people know I will post your site in my ‘Resources’ links! Best! Liz

  3. Leah Salazar

    Hi Liz!
    My husband and I met you in front of Gina’s Pizza a couple of months back in Corona Del Mar. I hope you are doing well. I’m sorry it took a while for us to write. Let us know where you are and how it’s going!

    Take care and be safe!

    Richard, Leah & Richard III

  4. Kurt Gurtuna

    I am the first “BN” who took care of “Maria” starting (spring 1968) in 7th grade and sailed/raced and cared for Maria until graduating from HS in ’72.
    My father comissioned Maria and raced the 1967 SORC on her.
    Maria is from Milwaukee Wis. Owned and bought new by Joseph D. Bonness Jr. Of Mil and who gave me my first
    Maria dominated on Lake Mich. I’ve been on Maria in two of the worst storms in Lake Mich on the Chicago-Mackinac Island. Waves breaking down the double reefer main and #4 storm jib…..13 years old I drove Maria surfing on 25 foot waves….. Such memories.
    “Maria”. Will always be my boat of boats.
    I spent my very best, great seasons racing, delivering and caring for “Maria”.
    Kurt 360-420-6799

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