Rufus told me, when we bought Convivia, that Bill Lapworth designed the Cal 43 to “flex like a dolphin.” Lapworth quickly discovered that any possible performance edge that could possibly be gained by this design was not nearly valuable enough to have to re-tab the bulkheads after every sail. As a result the later Cal hulls were designed with quite a bit of extra stiffening, but obviously at the cost of weight and that dream that Bill had of making a supple, yielding boat. The early hulls (1-3 or 1-5) were left with a bit of a problem. In our case this problem was addressed by the addition of a set of quite beefy stainless steel supports. These run lengthwise as well as athwartship and do (from what I can tell so far) a decent job of keeping the boat together. There have been a few subtle hints of the suppleness of our ship when we’ve been sailing. The forward head’s doors always fly open, no matter how they are dogged, and there are various other bits that don’t act like solid things should act, but by and large I’ve just taken Rufus’ word for it that this trait was significant enough to warrant the skeleton.
Tonight however, as the gale winds howl and the harbor is all asway, I have come to fully appreciate that our boat is more flexible than others. It started around mid-afternoon when I got pretty miffed at Ruby for repeatedly kicking the saloon table. She was, I thought, kicking it hard enough to make it sway laterally, and since its connected on one end to the mast and the other to a 2″ diameter post that is also keel stepped (or close enough), I was kind of worried that she was going to hur our boat. After the third or forth gruff reminder to knock it off, Victoria stopped reading and told me that nobody was touching the table on their side. I had to get up and look to make sure, but true to her word, no one was anywhere near the table. After a moments pondering I realized that this was the effect that Bill Lapworth had intended. My mind slowly started forming a 3D model of what the hull must be doing. My worry turned into awe, and then satisfaction. I think we’re going to have a really good time cruising this lively craft.