Category Archives: Cal40

Information and photos about Cal 40 upgrades.

standing rigging, staysail stay, running backs, doublehead rig, heavy weather jib, mast pumping

Illusion has a removable staysail stay.  The staysail tack fitting is one third of the way aft from the stem to the mast and the staysail stay, when set, runs parallel to the headstay.  That is all pretty conventional.

The staysail tack fitting has identical pad eyes above and below the deck, with a G10 backup under the deck.  There is a tie wire with turnbuckle below deck.  We tension the stay with a half-Navtec turnbuckle above deck, that is allowed to twist due to the swivel on the Tylaska snapshackle.  There is a twist shackle used to attach the tack of the staysail.  We used the half-turnbuckle on a snapshackle approach so that the hanks on the genoa staysail can slide over it, nearly all the way down to the deck.  On deliveries or when cruising we sometimes keep the staysail hanked on the staysail stay, in a bag, when it isn’t being used so it is very nice that the staysail can slide down close to the deck.

We have a 1/4 inch SS staysail stay for deliveries but for Hawaii races when we want to use the staysail as part of a double-head rig with a JT or blast-reacher for the first 2 days, we use a Vectran staysail stay.  It gets a little chafe from the hanks on the staysail.

sheave used for both pole topping lift, and as staysail halyard. Note anti-chafe rods.

sheave used for both pole topping lift, and as staysail halyard. Note anti-chafe rods.

Our genoa staysail is made very heavy and serves both as a genoa staysail for doublehead reaching on the first 2-3 days of the Hawaii races, but also serves as our heavy weather jib for beating in over 30 knots.  It’s size allows it to count as the heavy weather jib under the OSR’s.

We carry the genoa staysail along with a double or triple reefed main in above 30 knots upwind.  We’ve carried it upwind in 42 knots true on the way from Hawaii to the Northwest, with a triple reefed main.  That was the top end of that combination.

Our removable running backstays attach via T-tangs in the vicinity of the removable staysail stay, which is also attached with a T-tang.  For inshore racing we remove the runners and the staysail stay.

Just below the staysail stay T tang is our topping lift exit.


inshore racing mode with no runners and subforestay


We have a somewhat heavier than usual topping lift and sheave, that we use as the staysail halyard as well as for a topping lift.  Once the kite is up we disconnect the staysail stay and lash it aft.  Of course it has to be stowed aft for dip pole gybes.

Beating, in 30-40+ knots, a Cal 40 balances perfectly under a staysail and reefed main, better than if one uses a storm jib or heavy weather jib set on the forestay.

We have kept the normal Cal 40 forward lowers.  They reduce the mast pumping when sailing upwind in heavy air, but for long beats like Hawaii to Alaska or Hawaii to California, it is nice to set the staysail


runners and subforestay installed

stay and running backs.  With that gear set the mast does not pump at all.

We have Navtec -10 rod everywhere except the backstay is -8 rod.   We’ve chosen to keep the forward lowers but if we sailed without them we’d go up a size on the rods, to -12, on the lowers.



half turnbuckle allows adjustment and allows staysail to drop to deck


tie wire under deck to bottom of chain locker bulkhead


stanchion bases, toe rails, mooring cleats


We located our stanchions to be at convenient locations relative to the sheeting positions, shrouds, and winches, and still meet the maximum OSR spacing.  Our hull to deck joint is glassed so we do not need a continuous toe rail to conceal the deck overlap on the hull flange.

So we put on a J24 style toe rail where the stanchion bases are maximum outboard, and the toe rail has independent pieces of teak that are between the stanchion bases.  There are several advantages.  One is that if you have a collision and damage a piece of the toe rail, it is easily replaced without a major woodworking project.  When we milled the original toe rail teak pieces, we made a few spares.  Another advantage is the leeward deck drains quickly because there are large open outlets adjacent to all stanchion bases.  Finally by having the stanchions maximum outboard, it makes it easier to sheet the foot of the genoa inside the lifelines and outside the upper shrouds, and gives more clearance to winch handles.

For backup plates we use 1/2 inch G10.  We filled the gap outboard of the deck core and inboard of the hull flange with epoxy mixed with filler.

The mooring cleats are maximum outboard right on the toe rail so we don’t need chocks, and there is no chafe.  The mooring cleats are similarly backed up with G10.

The bow and stern pulpit legs terminate on pad eyes.  We find we use the additional attachments often when changing headsails etc.

We were a bit worried that the lack of a continuous toe rail might change the Cal 40 look, but it looks fine.


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anchoring gear, chain storage, bow roller



When cruising Illusion we temporarily install an anchor windlass.  When racing, the windlass comes off and we have a painted G10 plate that attaches to the deck with the same fastener holes and is painted to match the deck.

When cruising we carry 200 feet of 5/16 G4 chain, 250 feet of 3/4 nylon rode, and a 44 lb Rocna anchor as our primary ground tackle. We have only used the nylon rode once, when we had to anchor in a depth of 100 feet in Alaska.  We carry a Danforth HT20 for a stern anchor and a Fortress FX37 as a storm anchor with associated rodes.

We had the normal headaches with the chain “castling”, i.e. piling up into a cone, then toppling over, which makes a major hassle to pull the chain out the next time you drop anchor.  The frustrating solution, especially when doublehanded which is nearly all we do, is for one person to be in the forepeak spreading the chain around.

We stumbled on a terrific solution for Cal 40’s.  The Cal 40 has a web that attaches the two sides of the hull in the forepeak locker.  Forward and below the web is a space between the web and the hull, that extends down under the storage area under the forepeak bunk, and opens to the bilge just forward of the mast step.  As you can see in the photos, we cut a round 6 inch hole in the web, positioned just where the chain falls.  The chain neatly falls through that hole and then slides aft and down.  All 200 feet of 5/16 chain fit between the web and the hull, and the weight ends up much farther down and aft than if the chain just sits in the chainlocker.  It works so well we wonder whether Lapworth had that in mind originally.  It is the best solution to chain castling that we’ve seen on any boat.

We tie the nylon rode up under the gunnel to keep it dry and out of the way.  We can quickly release the coil of nylon if we need it by undoing the clam cleat.

We replaced our bronze stemhead fitting with a fabricated SS one.  The forestay chainplate is in exactly the same location as using the class stemhead fitting, so we are still a Cal 40.  The stemhead fitting includes a roller that is right adjacent to the chainplate.  It is enormously strong including for sideways loads, and adds nearly no weight because it is part of the stemhead fitting.  Having the chain roller be strong for side loads turns out to be important given the tendency for Cal 40’s to sail around at anchor.

We don’t miss the sharp mooring line chocks that were part of the original stemhead fitting.  Instead we mount our mooring line cleats right on the rail so that mooring lines tie to them and have a fair lead without chocks and with no chafe.  I recall that George Griffith expressed frustration that the Cal 40 was not set up this way originally.

We have a large shackle that keeps the anchor in the roller when under way, keeps the chain from jumping the roller, and that we also use to dead end the inboard end of our snubber when we are at anchor.  By dead-ending the inboard end of the snubber to that shackle, there is never any chafe on the snubber or on the hull as the boat sails around at anchor.


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emptying sink when under sail, new counter

sink drain pump, FW plumbing

Some Cal40’s have tried to move the sink closer to centerline in order to make it drain when under sail.  We instead borrowed an idea from kayaks.  We put a Bosworth Guzzler diaphragm pump under the sink, and made it operable by pulling on a line.  The Bosworth pump company makes pumps that are perfect for this and have a spring internal to the pump so that the handle extends by itself and only needs to be pulled down.  It works great.  In a few pumps you can empty the sink even when rail down on starboard tack.  This is one of our best upgrades.  The line with the black ball, coming out of the cabinet below the sink, is the line that actuates the pump and empties the sink.  There is a Harken Bullet block turning the line under the pump handle, and a Harken upright Bullet block just inside the fairlead in the cabinet through which the line runs.

An additional benefit is that any diaphragm pump has two integrated valves, so if you forget to close the thru hull when beating on starboard, the sink doesn’t fill, although we also have a normal valve that we shut off when we remember.

Sally found an outfit that makes custom SS sinks and counters for restaurants and fishing boats, and had them make a custom sink with built in drainboard and fiddles for Illusion.  It allows Stan to spash water around with abandon when washing dishes and it all finds its way down the drain.

In the photo above you can see two quick disconnect plumbing fittings.  We have two freshwater tanks (one in bilge and one under head counter) and two freshwater pumps (an electric pump and a foot pump in the galley).  These quick disconnects allow us to hook either FW tank to either pump.   If we are really trying to conserve water we run the pressure pump on saltwater, leaving the galley foot pump as the only source of freshwater on the boat.



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Engine installation and engine box.


We installed a Yanmar 3GM30FV.  Bob Pearce did the installation, and did an outstanding job.  We use the 2.61 reduction gear, the built in V-drive, and an 18 inch two-blade max prop.  We power about about 6.25 knots at 2700 rpm, using about 2/3 gallon per hour.

When we bought Illusion, there was no engine and the Walthers V-drive was ruined.  We found that if we used an engine with a built-in V-drive, and moved the engine forward and down in the boat, it could perfectly connect to the existing shaft location.   Of course we had to build new mounts.  Moving the engine forward, down, and saving the weight of the Walthers V-drive were bonuses of this approach.  Using an engine with an integrated V-drive also allowed us to move the forward edge of the engine box aft, so we gained room on both ends.   Moving the engine forward allowed us to put in a bulkhead at the forward end of the cockpit well, i.e. the aft edge of the bridge deck that runs down to the hull.  This bulkhead stiffed the boat and carries our traveler load.

The engine box pivots on two removable spring-pin hinges on its forward lower edge.  We designed the engine box so that when it pivots up and forward, it just clears the wood trim under the companionway.  The box is all one piece so that water that comes down the companionway never can get to the engine, it just flows around the engine box then onto the cabin floor, then into the keel well.  If we need to do serious work on the engine we remove the box by pulling the two hinge pins and set the box on a settee.

The box is shaped to be used as the two bottom steps of the companionway ladder.  The first step just clears the transmission/v-drive, the second step clears the top of the exhaust mixing-U, and then we have two more steps that are part of a SS ladder that pivots down from the companionway.

It’s hard to describe but the photos might make it clear.

The gauges above the engine box are engine-hours, oil pressure, coolant temperature, and fuel vacuum.  They are all mechanical gauges except of course for the hourmeter.

The waterlift muffler is aft of the engine, against the new bulkhead that is at the forward side of the cockpit well.  The exhaust goes up from the waterlift muffler to just under the bridge deck, and then goes aft via a fiberglass exhaust tube, at a slight angle down, all the way to the transom.

We replaced the standard Yanmar-Hitachi alternator with a Balmar, and upgraded to a serpentine belt.  It is terrific to never have any belt dust.





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Freshwater and diesel tanks in keel well, bilge pumps.


We have both the diesel fuel tank and fresh water tanks in the keel on Illusion.

The diesel tank is clearly visible, and sits on top of the encased lead ballast.  It is a conventional aluminum tank that is painted with Gluvit and sits on two G10 fore-aft runners so that water can pass underneath it from forward in the boat into the keel well.

We fill the fuel tank directly via the visible port.  We had no easy way to run a fill hose from the keel well to the deck.  It also turns out that filling a fuel tank directly into a large opening is easy because you can see the fuel level, it is trivial to avoid overfilling or spills, and there is never a problem with a vent spurting.  The key is to have a large opening.

Because the vent doesn’t need to have large capacity to let air escape during filling we use a tiny 1/8 inch vent line that is visible.  The vent line is only there to let air in to replace the used fuel, which is very slow, 2/3 of a gallon per hour maximum in our case. The vent line runs to a clear PVC pipe that is inserted in the cabin vertical support pipe, and is full of silica gel.  The vent is open to the inside of the boat through a pin hole at the top of the PVC pipe full of silica gell.  The idea is that the silica gel keeps the fuel dry and keeps moisture out of any air that enters the tank via the vent, and there is no possibility of water entering the vent line because the vent line does not go above deck.

It seems to work.  The bottom of our tank is clearly visible through the fill port and we’ve never seen any moisture.  My suspicion is that most water in fuel tanks gets there through leaks in the deck fill, and directly via the deck vent when there is green water on deck or during wash downs.   Many race boats use the same approach as we use on Illusion, and fill the tanks directly down below, and only have a tiny vent line that runs high up in the accommodation but does not go above deck, avoiding any possibility for water entering through the fill or vent.

Directly aft  of the lead ballast we have a G10 partition that keeps a 6 inch area open to the bottom of the keel for bilge strum boxes and bilge pump hoses, and it allows us to visually see to the bottom of the keel well.  Aft of that partition is an off-the-shelf fresh water bladder tank.

The diesel tank holds about 50 gallons and the freshwater tank holds about 35 gallons.

We put the freshwater in the bilge because it was a good use for the unused volume, and it seemed dumb to have a keel full of air.

Also visible in the photos is our engine raw water intake.  The corrugated hose runs to the cockpit operated diaphragm bilge pump.  The white PVC hose and pipe run to the diaphragm pump in the head, via a Y-valve, so that we can use the diaphragm pump that is associated with our Lavac head as a backup bilge pump.

Our electric bilge pump is a portable, 3800 GPH, centrifugal pump that has a coil of collapsible hose and a long wire with battery clips.  We carry it in a bag as an emergency pump.



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Below is a close up of the cabin post that supports the deck.  You can just see the blue silica gel that is inside the clear PVC pipe, that is inside the post.   We have to re-dry the silica gel about every three years since we installed it.



As with any boat with stainless steel chainplates extending through a cored deck, we worried a bit about crevice corrosion where the ss stayed wet in the deck.  We pulled the chainplates for an inspection and found tiny traces of crevice corrosion.  A machinist confirmed that crevice corrosion is sometimes like rot where it can be more extensive inside the metal.

After discussions with various naval architects, we decided to replace the chainplates with bronze.  We used Alloy 954 which conveniently is available from McMaster Carr in exactly the same width as the chainplates.   Bronze is somewhat stronger than 316 stainless, and is immune forever to wasting or crevice corrosion.  1/4 inch bronze plate is delivered slightly over 5/16 in thickness.  We just widened the deck slots to fit the new chainplates.

We reused the bronze bolts after cleaning them up running them through a die when immersed in kerosene, and made new G10 backing plates.  We saturated the main bulkhead in epoxy when the plates were off and covered the bulkhead with a layer of 10 oz X-mat on both sides.

We asked our Naval Architect friends why SS is commonly used for chainplates when bronze is stronger, lasts forever, and the extra cost isn’t significant given the labor.  The answer was that sailors like things to be shiny.  We like never having to think about crevice corrosion again.


CAL40cal40 hull lines






When Sally and I bought Illusion in 1988, she was a wreck, having sat out of the water for 7 years with multiple bullet holes in the hull, no engine, broken rudder-tube, and part-time homeless folks living onboard.  After a very busy two years with lots of help from Ron Moore, Bob Pearce, Alan Wirtanan, and Hap, we first raced Illusion in the 1990 Pacific Cup.

We didn’t know it when we bought her, but Illusion turned out to be a well-known New York Yacht Club Cal40, originally owned by Bus Mosbacher and Vince Monte-Sano.  There is a half-hull of Illusion in the NYYC model room apparently because Mosbacher/Monte-Sano won the NYYC annual regatta or cruise.  Bizzy Monte-Sano visited Illusion when he was in San Francisco a few years ago and filled us in on lots of stories.  Bus Mosbacher skippered Weatherly, sail number 17, in the America’s Cup, so Illusion’s original sail number was 1700.

We did the normal upgrades to Illusion.  New Ballenger rig/boom, new engine, glassed the hull/deck joint, new rudder, faired hull/keel, new LPU deck/hull, new wiring, new deck gear, new chainplates, new electronics, and new sails.  The only original sail that we occasionally use is a Ratsey and Lapthorne spinnaker staysail.  Illusion remains a “class” Cal40 with all original dimensions.

We bought Illusion in 1988 intending to go cruising, but old habits die hard so we mostly raced.  We’ve raced Illusion to Hawaii 5 times.  I set the singlehanded Transpac record in 1992.  Sally and I won the Pacific Cup overall fleet in 1996, sailing doublehanded.  We won class in the Transpac and 3rd overall in 2003 sailing with Cal40 legends Jon Andron and Skip Allan on our four person crew.  Sally raced Illusion with a four woman crew in the 2005 Transpac and got 2nd in class.  We’ve also won the Northern California inshore YRA series and the offshore OYRA series, and have competed in countless Farallon Races, singlehanded, doublehanded, and crewed, and won our share.

We’ve found that Illusion is a terrific boat to race shorthanded, mostly because the Cal 40 has such “nice manners”.  It steers terrifically under autopilot.  That results in part from the fact that the Cal 40 doesn’t have a wide stern, and so doesn’t try to turn whenever it heels or rolls.    Of course Cal40’s are legendary in their ability to carry sail downwind, as seen in the photos below.  In all of our Hawaii Races, shorthanded or crewed, we’ve never had to douse the kite for control, and the autopilot could steer at any time with the kite up.

In 2014 we finally decided to give cruising a try and sailed Illusion to Mexico.  We’ve been cruising Illusion in the Sea of Cortez and on the Gold Coast of mainland Mexico for the last two years.  Sally and I were not sure that we’d enjoy cruising but we’ve had a terrific time.  Part of the reason is that cruising is stress-free in a boat that we’ve raced so much doublehanded.  The cruising community in Mexico thinks that we’re nuts the way we wait for high winds to set the kite and go downwind, and are willing to sail upwind in breeze.

Below are posts describing various upgrades we’ve made to Illusion.    But first some photos…

Stan and Sally

Illusion Transpac 2003 1st class 3rd fleet

Illusion finishing 2003 Transpac. 1st in class, 3rd in fleet. Crew: Sally Honey, Stan Honey, Skip Allan, Jon Andron

C40 Illusion 2001 SF Lightship Race 1st in class all girl crew

C40 Illusion 2001 SF Lightship Race 1st in class all girl crew

Cal40 IllusionFinishing 2003 Transpac

C40IllusionFinishing 2003 Transpac

Illusion 1993 Doublehanded Farallones Race 1st in class passing under Golden Gate Bridge

Illusion 1993 Doublehanded Farallones Race 1st in class passing under Golden Gate Bridge returning from the Farallones.