Home . Articles . Boats . Boat Test . High-Caliber Cruising

High-Caliber Cruising

2008 November 1

The Caliber 40RLC combines seaworthy construction with contemporary accommodations

You don't have to ask the question "Want to go sailing?" twice to anyone on the SAILING Magazine staff. The occasion was the Caliber 4OLRC Boat Test on the Lake Michigan waters only a stone's throw from the office doorstep. The office cleared out in minutes on a fine fall afternoon complete with a 15 knot southerly blowing across the lake, still warm from the summer sun.

The Caliber 4OLRC was easy to spot as we headed out the dock to one of the few remaining sticks left in the marina. There is no mistaking this boat for a coastal cruiser or a lightweight racer. Its beefy bowsprit and cutter rig give it the stamp of a seaworthy offshore cruiser.

Caliber Yachts of Clearwater, Florida, is run by the McCreary brothers. George runs the business side of the operation, while his naval architect brother Mike is the designer of the entire line of Calibers. Placing great emphasis on solid construction and offshore design, Caliber has steadily grown since 1980. The latest development is the Long Range Cruiser line, including the Caliber 4OLRC.

As we piled aboard and set about making ready to sail, I took a look around the well-thought-out deck layout. The overall effect is a clean modern look. There is just a hint of teak on the coach roof, bowsprit and cockpit, enough to add a bit of style, but not enough to make teak maintenance an endless chore.

The Caliber 40 is set up for short-handed sailing, with all sail control lines lead aft to Lewmar winches and rope clutches. All winches are self-tailing and there is Harken roller furling for the genoa. Roller furling is an option for the staysail, which is flown from a removable inner forestay. The 40 we tested had the Dutchman mainsail handling system to make furling after sailing easy, but in-the-mast roller furling is also available on the Z-Spar mast.

Ted Meljac of Great Lakes Marine Service, the Caliber dealer in Grafton, Wisconsin, handed us the keys, and we slipped the lines and headed out. The Caliber 40 handles comfortably under power, driven by a 50-horsepower Yanmar 4JH 2BE, but like most cruising boats, it needs a sure hand while backing to avoid stalling the rudder.

As we headed out the gap, the southerly filled the sails. We had everything flying as we took off on a reach at more than 7 knots. The cutter rig allows for variety of sailplan options. The self-tacking staysail is rigged to a track before the mast and makes tacking as easy as a sloop.

As we hardened up, we realized we had a bit more canvas than was prudent, but the Caliber 40 shouldered it well. It laid over and the helm became somewhat stiff, but the boat tracked well to weather. Reducing sail was so simple it surprised the racing contingent on board. With a simple pull of the roller-furling strings, the Caliber 40 stood back up and sailed on at about 7 knots. Though it was more comfortable with reduced sail, the boat felt steady and in control even when overcanvassed sail. It was obvious once I stepped below, with 14 solid Whitewater opening portlights and numerous Lewmar opening hatches on the coach roof, that the main saloon is bright and airy. The 6 foot 4 inch headroom and 12-foot beam add to the open feel folds all the way up against the bulkhead, creating a large conversation area.

The galley is immediately to port of the companion shaped arrangement has lots of usable storage space. There is a double sink, two-burner stove and icebox. The navigation station is tucked aft of the galley. There is good access to the bilge through opening doors in the teak-and-holly floor.

To starboard of the companionway is the aft head and small double stateroom with hanging locker. But the real creature comfort can be found in the forward stateroom. With a double berth to port and a hanging locker and vanity dresser opposite, it is spacious, taking up as much area as the main saloon. Factor in the immense forward head and separate enclosed show with a Plexiglas door and you have yourself a suite at the Ritz.

The forward layout is a result of a clever use of the space created by the forward watertight bulkhead. Like those on board the Whitbread Round the World Race boats, this bulkhead will keep the boat from flooding in the event it's holed on the bow. Building a safe offshore cruiser is what the people at Caliber pride themselves in, and the watertight bulkhead is only one component in its well-constructed boats.

Caliber takes another unique approach to fuel and water tanks, using the wasted space under the cabin sole. The integral water fiberglass tanks hold 195 gallons and are built-in to the bilge before the interior is laid in. They are laminated directly to the hull. The Polylite special-purpose resin used in the lay up is approved by the FDA for food contact application.

The tank capacity helps put the "long" in the Long Range Cruiser or LRC as the folks at Caliber Yachts have aptly named the line the boats that also includes the 3OLRC, 35LRC and 47LRC. The Caliber 40 can carry 230 gallons of fuel, in two separate tanks built-in next to a cruising range of about 1,600 nautical miles.

Diesel fuel is supplied by two independent fuel systems. If one tank becomes contaminated, you can switch to the other with the engine running. The control panel for this system is located in the large port lazarette. It's also the spot where you'll find the fuel filters, one for each fuel system, making the messy job of changing them a little bit easier.

While I was in the lazarette, I realized I could crawl down into the "engine room" to reach both sides of the engine. This might be a bit cramped for a larger person, but I found everything within easy reach. There is also access to the engine by removing the companionway steps.

I stepped back into the cockpit for a last look around deck. From the swim step with a freshwater shower to the tip of its sturdy anchor roller on the bowsprit, this boat is one well-built cruiser. And for $181,950, it represents a good value in today's cruising market.