October 2015 Mainsheet Cal 20 report

Many of you have been following Christina Schallenberg’s blogs giving an account of her single handed voyage to Desolation sound. In response to my request for her memories, in summary for the Mainsheet, Christina has provided the following. I like to think that she also did voyage in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Fleet 13 getting its Class charter. This is slightly edited version of her report.


“Why would someone plan to sail from RVYC to Desolation Sound single handed in a Cal20 without a head and with just a 2.5 hp outboard. The simple answer is because -- I was comfortable with it. After racing on Cal 20’s at RVYC for 5 years – mostly with Trevor Hayward, but also frequently with Steve Lowdon – I felt I not only knew the boat, but I trusted it. What’s more, the Cal 20 is easy enough to sail single-handedly, and with her 3.5 ft draught she can be maneuvered into anchorages that are too shallow for other boats – or so the theory goes. However, it wasn’t always easy to find a suitable spot to set the hook. Even if I found one, other skippers would frequently under-estimate my swinging circle and crowd me, which could make for some rather sleepless nights.

The Cal 20 was a charm to sail and cruise on. Granted, I got lucky with the weather and the experience would have been a very different one in sustained rain, but as far as the sailing went, I couldn’t have asked for a better boat. She was safe even when pushed way past my comfort limit, such as in 35 knot sustained winds in Sutil Channel between Cortes and Read Islands. My admiration for the little boat only grew even more as time went by.

All in all, I spent 2 months cruising without interruption, sailing more than motoring, and sleeping and living on “Bluebird”, which has been racing locally for many years at RVYC. I’d have to agree that my cruising experience was more akin to camping on a boat than to cruising as it’s usually understood. But contrary to the expectations of some (“So, do you eat a lot of cold canned food?”) I lived and ate quite well, using my little camping stove in the cockpit. The small size of my cooler was probably one of the biggest limitations, requiring me to stop for fresh ice at least twice a week. But given how exhausting single-handing a sailboat can be at the best of times, especially at anchor at night time,

I was happy to dock in a marina at least twice a week – even if it was only for a good night’s sleep. As it turned out, marinas were also a good place to socialize, as things can get a bit lonely at anchor. So I didn’t mind the “excuse” of the cooler to get to a dock from time to time. But the best memories were definitely made at anchor. The sense of freedom, autonomy and accomplishment that comes from setting the hook after a good day of sailing is difficult to beat”. “With happiness and contentment, Christina”


Bluebird now has a new home in the Desolation Sound area. Christina has returned to Tasmania for her Post Doc work.

Copyright © Cal20 Fleet 13 All Rights Reserved