• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Catalina Smile

Mar 13, 2016
Catalina 320 Tacoma
Hello! I'm making an offer on a 1993 Catalina 320 and we will have it hauled during the survey. The current owner mentioned that the keel had a "Catalina Smile" and we will look closely at that during survey.

Can anyone tell me what the stub material for the `93 320 is? Fiberglass I hope, but I understand that plywood was used up to a certain year. Anybody have any other experience/suggestions to consider?

Thanks! Mark
Jan 12, 2013
Catalina C27 - Tall Rig Door County, Wis
If you have a smile you have a failure, sorry dont know the hull date when they quit using wood as a filler/buffer in keel but a small drill hole a 1/4" in will tell you fast! other faults improper torque on bolts , grounding,,but Id bet compression is the cause,,
Jun 8, 2004
Catalina 320 Dana Point
I've not ever heard of a 320 with the "Catalina Smile" problem, have you looked at the bolts from above ? The center ones can be seen in the bilge, you will need to remove 2 floor panels to view forward and aft bolts. The bolts are rather large and closely spaced, when combined with the keel bedding materials I'm dubious of a smile developing without some cause.
I found this previous discussion that may be useful.
Last edited:
Sep 8, 2014
Catalina 22 Swing Keel San Diego
I hope your offer took the 'smile' into consideration. Fixing a Catalina Smile (the right way) involves hauling out and a few weeks on the hard, maybe more than a month (time in the yard depends on how many bottom related jobs you want to tackle, and if its DIY or you are paying someone else to do it).
I am sure there are several videos out there on Catalina Smiles and the repairs... I don't recall if the deadwood in a '93 320 is plywood or otherwise, but in either case my preference would be to separate the keel from the hull. Its been on the boat 23 years, and since the smile developed chances are water got to the forward keel bolts and for sure rotted out the deadwood if it is in fact plywood. I would want a really good look at that those keel bolts and the chance to replace that deadwood if needed, strip the bilge and repaint it, then get a good seal when re-fitting the keel. I'd media blast the bottom and keel too, if I'm going to be in the yard and doing a job that big I'd want to have a fresh epoxy barrier coat and new bottom paint.
I hope your offer reflects what it would cost to have this professionally done, I can see this job being $7500 for just the Catalina Smile, add another $2500 for the media blasting and painting. I don't know what your yard rates and haul out fees are in your area, but I could DIY this job for $3000 or less.
Mar 13, 2016
Catalina 320 Tacoma
Thanks a lot for all the feedback. Unfortunately, this is the busy time of year in our boatyards and I can't get a haul out scheduled until April 7th, so I haven't seen the underbody yet. There is fresh water in the bilge from a couple leaks and a very wet winter, but the bolts look good from above. My surveyor is familiar with the problem and ready with torque wrench, hammer and probe.

If the separation cracks are minor, I plan to strip the hull down to gel coat, let things dry and then repair the "smile" with West System G-flex then epoxy-coat the bottom before painting. I'll develop plan B when I see the boat out of the water, if things are worse.

Thanks, CloudDriver, for the cost estimates. I plan to let the yard do the dirty work and then I'll do the G-flex and bottom seal/paint, so the costs will be somewhere in the middle of your range. And, yes, we will negotiate with the owner after the survey.

Apr 23, 2012
Catalina 310 Sandusky, OH
Just this week I emailed Warren Pandy at Catalina re. keel repairs on my 310. He sent me attached drawings and procedure, which are generic for Catalina. G-flex is the recommended solution, despite the drawing reference to Marine-Tex. The 310 has no wood in the stub area, only fiberglass. Torque on the 1" bolts for the 310 is 100 ft-lb. Double check with warren@catalinayachts.com. He has always been completely helpful.


Feb 26, 2004
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Thanks, ru. Catalina Smile solution. Just to be able to find it again when someone else asks.:)
Mar 13, 2016
Catalina 320 Tacoma
Thanks all for the feedback! We did the survey last week and there was no separation between the hull and keel! The owner said he had patched the small gap with 5200 2-1/2 years ago and that repair seems to be holding up just fine. The survey was very clean and we closed the deal this morning, so I'm the new owner of a 320.

I should be able to wait until this fall to do the full G-flex repair and new bottom paint. We'll be moving the boat down to Tacoma this weekend, just in time to watch some of the Clipper Challenge race boats arrive.
Oct 29, 2019
Catalina 320 Breakin’ Wind Ft Myers
So what is the “smile” where does it show? On the joint between the keel and hull?