Curt Corda is a farmer who’s in love with the sea. The 63-year-old San Diego native has been on the water for as long as he can remember. The first boat he owned was a 15-foot Glastron with a 100-hp 6-cylinder outboard, which he used around Mission Beach. He also has owned Venture 21 and MacGregor 24 sailboats and a Pacifica 44 Sportfisher. He’s fished San Diego Marlin Club tournaments and cruised as far as La Paz, Mexico.
The El Centro, California, farmer’s latest adventure may turn out to be his greatest. In 2011, Corda and a paid captain left San Diego in his 1976 Californian 42 Long Range Cruiser and headed south, down the coasts of Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal and across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida. And that was just the beginning.
Corda and his wife, Julie, are now doing the Great Loop, which will take them from Florida up the East Coast to the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River and accompanying inland waterways to the Gulf of Mexico. “My wife noticed the Great Loop adventure a few years ago,” says Corda. “It looked interesting, and we went to a few [America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association] rendezvous to see if it fit right.”
It did. With the voyage in mind, they bought the Californian 42 LRC in 2010. It’s a West Coast trawler yacht designed by Jule Marshall and built in Costa Mesa, California. The sale was arranged by Charlotte Schmidt Yacht Sales in Ventura, California, at a price of $75,000. They’d spent six months “looking hard” and juggling the size question. “The boat had to be big enough to go south through the canal and small enough to fit the Great Loop,” says Corda. “That’s how I came up with a size.”
The Californian stood out for several reasons. It’s all fiberglass and has a wide 360-degree walkaround deck and good flybridge sightlines. It came with some extras — a RIB, VacuFlush heads — and the Cummins diesels, installed in 2000, had only 200 hours on them. “I also have a soft spot for boats built in Costa Mesa,” Corda adds.
Buying the boat was just the first step. Corda says he put about $80,000 into it in improvements and additions, doing much of the work himself. The list is extensive. Everything below the waterline was redone, from props to through-hulls to paint. On deck, he hinged the mast for lowering and added an electric windlass, new rails and braces, and a life raft and sea anchor.
Inside the twin-cabin cruiser, he installed new bedding and flooring, added a watermaker and did some rewiring. He also installed new batteries and an inverter and changed the lighting to LEDs. He added Mathers electronic engine controls and installed a couple of Pompano helm chairs on the flybridge. “All this was done for the Panama passage, which was to be a prelude to the Great Loop,” says Corda.
With the work completed, Corda headed for Panama in November 2011, with stops in La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. He has logged between 6,000 and 7,000 miles since then. “I have been pleasantly surprised at how she’s handled — she really does quite nicely,” says Corda. At 9 knots, “she waddles through the water, and I have never had a boat before that I could say that about. It’s a comfortable, easy ride.
“We had our first bit of weather on the way to La Paz,” adds Corda. “We stopped to fish the Hannibal Bank — how can you go by and not stop? But we fished about six hours too long; a storm came up, and we got our butts kicked — 12 to 15 hours of 10-foot seas and winds 45 to 50 knots. The life raft was on deck, the [life] jackets on and the sea anchor set. But she rode it out.”
Reliable power from the twin 275-hp Cummins 5.9L diesels helped, Corda says. “It’s a great motor,” he says. “The boat is happy at just under 9 knots, and fuel consumption is about 1.5 mpg.” The 42 LRC tops out at about 15 knots.
Once Corda reached Florida, the Great Loop adventure beckoned. The boat is in winter storage in Pasadena, Maryland. “We’ll be back on the boat on the 1st of June,” says Corda. “It’s up to New York, then the Great Lakes to Chicago by September. We’ll go south on the Mississippi and the Tenn-Tom Waterway to the Gulf of Mexico, then east to Florida and be in the Bahamas by February 2016.
“I am absolutely pleased with the 42 LRC as a cruising boat,” says Corda. “You couldn’t buy a new boat outfitted like this one for what I have paid. And by doing a lot of the work myself, I know my boat.”
And the adventure continues.
The Californian 42 LRC helped set the standard for long-distance trawler performance and comfort during its decade-long production run. The boat rides a semidisplacement hull that’s easily propelled by twin diesels (185- and 210-hp engines were offered). The boat’s salty profile features a prominent bow, high freeboard and a broken sheer. The flybridge helm station is reached by steps from the aft deck. There’s back-to-back bench seating, a wheel on centerline and a large dash with room for mounted instruments and charts. Trim is mahogany.
The layout below starts with a large master cabin aft, with an en-suite head compartment (large shower or bathtub) and a private companionway to the aft deck. Steps lead up to the spacious saloon, laid out with an L-shaped settee with side tables and a fully equipped galley to port. The second stateroom is forward and was offered with either a double berth or over-under bunks. It has its own adjacent head compartment that includes a shower.
Californian Yachts was founded in the early 1970s by Myrna Elliott and Jule Marshall (the founders of sailboat builder Ericson Yachts) with the idea of offering U.S.-built trawlers as an alternative to those built in Asia. The boats were known for their solid construction and traditional styling, which featured mahogany trim. The company, which also built motor-yachts, changed hands several times — Wellcraft and Carver each owned it — before Marshall founded Navigator Yachts, which later revived the LRC series. The 42 LRC proved a popular trawler, with more than 200 built during its production run (1975 to 1984). Pricing on the used market generally starts at about $60,000.
LOA: 41 feet, 8 inches
BEAM: 13 feet, 8 inches
DRAFT: 3 feet, 4 inches
WEIGHT: 31,000 pounds
HULL TYPE: semidisplacement
PROPULSION: twin diesels, 185-210 hp
TANKAGE: 500 gallons fuel, 175 gallons water
DESIGNER: Jule Marshall
ORIGINAL BUILDER: Marshall Boat Co./Californian Yachts
March 2015 issue