Talk me into a Catalina

Tedd

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Jul 25, 2013
465
Between Boats near Vancouver, BC
My wife and I are currently sailing a 1995 Macgregor 26 swing keel. I won't go into all the reasons we chose that particular boat (trailerability was a strict requirement), but one factor was that we saw it as a "starter" boat. My wife had never sailed before so we decided to get something at the low end of the cost scale in case she decided she didn't like it.

Fortunately, she likes it very much and we're now starting to look ahead to a boat that will be comfortable to spend more time on. At that point trailerability will also no longer be a requirement. So I'm starting to think ahead (i.e., dream about) what that boat might be. We're thinking of something in the 28 to 34 foot range, but most likely toward the bottom of that range, due to cost.

Boats in that range that have caught my eye are Catalina, C&C, Gulf, Pearson, and Tanzer. So: Sell me on a Catalina. Why would a Catalina be a good choice for us? Which one?

Background: We're in the Vancouver, BC area. We sail mainly on Harrison Lake or Indian Arm at the moment, but plan to venture out to the Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound, and so on. Nothing more adventurous than that is in the plan at this point.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,936
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Good information to start Tedd. Is this going to be a couple's boat or a family boat? If so, how big, and what do you mean by a little time? Do you race/regatta/yacht club? Why did you pick Catalinas specifically? Any of the boats you mentioned might fit what you want, yet you have set your eye on Catalinas. Is there a particular one you are looking at?
They have strong support and parts are generally easy to find. They are very reasonably priced for what they are. My understanding is, they sail reasonably well and they are good looking. Catalinas are one of the most successful all-around weekend cruisers ever built.
If you are looking for a basic upper middle end boat for a small family or a couple, that isn't difficult to sail single handed and be comfortable for a few overnights, the Catalina should do it for you.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,396
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
Anacortes Yacht Charter has a fine older Catalina 30 called Tofte. I suggest you charter her for a few days and sail her into the San Juans and back. We like her a lot, have sailed her for a week twice.

Headroom and a really nice v-berth are probably the first two things that will strike you both. If the 30 seems right to you, you are done. If you want more room, then I would think about a 34.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,088
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Tedd, not sure about your approach. Let me offer another path.
Catalina’s are well made popular boats.
But that may not be a good reason for you to choose one for YOUR sailing.

First is your choice of sailing area, which is gorgeous by the way. Do you want to sail all year round or just on the sunny days?
Here are two boats.
4C5E1CCD-E4EF-4E13-9744-4B8EB137EB20.jpeg 409AA451-4E56-4DE9-A4F2-CC6D8FDB395C.jpeg
Similar sized boats sailing on a sunny day in the Gulf Islands near Salt Springs Ils. Notice the difference in salon windows. During a cold foggy morning in a Desolation Sound Bay sipping coffee and the heater running one of them will give you a view of your surroundings one will not.

Do you want to sleep in a V berth or not? Do you want to have overnight guests on board? Different boats have different configurations. This impacts your living experience on board.

I love the Catalina as a boat. But for me and the sailing I want to do I chose differently.

My suggestion is to reflect on the sailing experiences you have had. Make a list of how you felt in those times. What you liked about your boat and what might feel better if you changed it. Then begin looking at boats with those different features.

Example: I really liked the day we sailed in the big wind. But I did not like the way we bashed into the chop and the spray and even a wave or two washed into the cockpit and got us wet.

It is rare to buy a boat then sell it and get a big financial profit. It is your money your choice. Make it wisely.
 

Joe

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Jun 1, 2004
7,447
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
One reason that may or may not be important to you is that Catalina Yachts is still in business as a manufacturer and offers customer support and parts service for all boats they've produced at all stages of ownership. As far as I know the other boat brands you mentioned are all out of business... that includes the recent demise of C&C. However, C&C as an especially strong owner's support group.
 
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Jan 8, 2015
356
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Kerr Reservoir
Ted,
We too started out on a MacGregor 26S sounds like for the same reasons as you. We didn't spend very many weekends on it before my wife demanded standing headroom. When looking at bigger boats, my list was also similar to yours. We chartered several different brands in the 30' range. My wife immediately liked both of the Catalina 320's we chartered for the weekend. She is not a fan of the V berth so having a rear berth was a must. However, taking it out on a day when the wind piped up (after trying out a Beneteau 36s7 the day before) made me feel like I was trying to sail a bathtub. Since I singlehand mostly, I ended up with a performance boat similar to the C & C you are considering.
I will close with: to make the wife happy, get the Catalina!
 
May 20, 2016
2,992
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
@jssailem nice picture of Stu’s boat. If you like Catalina’s then the boat with the blue sail cover ( @Stu Jackson boat aquavite) would be a great choice. It’s at the high end of you length range. The Catalina 34 has a very large interior, many say it as functional as a 36.

The Catalina Rendezvous at Thetus Island or at Roche Harbor ( Canadian and US) are great places to meet folks and discuss common issues.

Les
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,314
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
The conventional wisdom is that the brand isn't as important as the condition (of the hull, rigging, equipment, etc...).

Don't limit yourself thereby eliminating lots of better choices.
 

Tedd

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Jul 25, 2013
465
Between Boats near Vancouver, BC
Thanks to everyone for all the great responses!

I guess there are a lot of factors for some people that I didn't think to mention because the answer is no. No family. No overnight guests. No racing. Trip-length-wise, I guess we don't really know yet. The longest we've done on Dragonfly (our Mac) is three days and two nights. So, longer than that, but exactly how long remains to be seen. I'm sure we'll spend at least a week on it, from time to time. Berth considerations are flexible. We haven't slept in the V berth, only the aft berth. I would guess that we would probably prefer to have an aft berth, but if the V berth is reasonable it's probably not a strict requirement. Neither of us is very big.

I like that Catalina is still in operation. I've owned a succession of cars, racing cars, airplanes, motorcycles, and even bicycles that were hard to maintain because the manufacturer was out of business or offered poor support. I don't particularly want to be in that situation with the boat.


Cowpokee, I liked your comment about keeping my wife happy! That's definitely an important consideration. Part of the reason I've gone from flying, car racing, and motorcycling to sailing is so that Susan and I have something we both love that we can share, which didn't work with those other things. (It worked pretty well with flying, but we couldn't afford that after a while.)

Tedd
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,088
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Neither of us is very big.
That helps to fit into many boats.
hard to maintain because the manufacturer was out of business
This is not a big deal. Boats are mostly a Manufacturers hull and deck - Fiberglass is a universal tool to build with, unlike the nature of metal auto bodies. And the many things attached to the boat that wear out and want repair, like appliances on a boat. These were bought from specific manufacturers and installed on the boat by the builder. Sometimes the original choices were good, other times the choice was for ""minimum cost" and their failure is an opportunity to buy a better products that will serve your needs more effectively.
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,385
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
One reason that may or may not be important to you is that Catalina Yachts is still in business as a manufacturer and offers customer support and parts service for all boats they've produced at all stages of ownership. As far as I know the other boat brands you mentioned are all out of business... that includes the recent demise of C&C. However, C&C as an especially strong owner's support group.
All true. But the C&C that made any boat he might look at has been dead for over 30 years. It was reborn (twice) in name only.
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,385
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
That helps to fit into many boats.

This is not a big deal. Boats are mostly a Manufacturers hull and deck - Fiberglass is a universal tool to build with, unlike the nature of metal auto bodies. And the many things attached to the boat that wear out and want repair, like appliances on a boat. These were bought from specific manufacturers and installed on the boat by the builder. Sometimes the original choices were good, other times the choice was for ""minimum cost" and their failure is an opportunity to buy a better products that will serve your needs more effectively.
Respectfully, I think this is what people that own boats from manufacturers that are out of business tell themselves.

While indeed much of a boat is fiberglass and third party components, there is a large number of custom parts. Everything from woodwork to rails to stanchions to fittings. I sleep a lot easier knowing I can buy those directly from Beneteau.

I’ve bought dozens of parts for each of the three Beneteaus that I’ve owned directly from them that would’ve been impossible to find anywhere else.
 
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leo310

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Dec 15, 2006
452
Catalina Catlina 310 Campbell River BC
We started out with a Mac 26D and sailed it on the lakes in Alberta. We then got a used Catalina 310 back in 2003 and still have her. We find it a perfect couples boat and sail on her 2-3 weeks at a time. This year we put over 1000 miles in 120 days and next year we're looking at even more (Circumnav Vancouver Island). Any Catalina 30-34 would be a nice size for any couple but with kids 32-34 would be better as they have a second cabin. As Les stated join us at a Catalina Rendezvous at Thetus Island or at Roche Harbor and you can see most makes (28-47).
 

JRacer

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Aug 9, 2011
1,239
Beneteau 310 Cheney KS (Wichita)
I have been quite happy with my 1992 Beneteau First 310 (short keel version). Only thing I would change is to go to the deep keel but that is a constraint of the lake on which we sail her. We spend about every weekend on it overnight. Agree with Clay's observation on parts availability and support from the manufacturer on a 26 year old boat. She is a Racer/Cruiser and depending on the previous owner(s), the boat may or may not have been outfitted to race. Either way, I personally prefer a "sportier" boat that will get me where I am going sooner rather than later and would not have one that suffers in the performance category. Can recommend that you look at one of these.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,088
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I sleep a lot easier knowing I can buy those directly from Beneteau.
And Beneteau builds a wonderful boat. You are obviously satisfied and the boat has served your needs.
The need to buy a boat from a builder that is in current manufacture is a personal choice.
I think this is what people that own boats from manufacturers that are out of business tell themselves.
Thank you. You are confirming my point. While some items on a boat are specific to the builder, like the way Beneteau manufactures their interior wood work.

The hardware that requires maintenance, like furlers, a windlass, sails, engines, plumbing, refrigeration, electrical etc. that makes up the bulk of discussion on these forums is not manufacture based for the multitude of boat builders. This is not the case with automobiles. There the car builder more than the boat builder has designed the vehicle around the equipment to be installed
.
I offer that the boat builder has made their boats more universal and easier to repair. Does a builder, like Beneteau, want you to be brand loyal and buy everything from the factory store? Of course. If you need a furler replacement, are you limiting yourself to a Facnor furler, or can you consider the Harken line or one of the many other excellent manufactured furlers used by sailors and racers all over the world. Would the boat owner be a traitor to the Beneteau tradition if they put a Garhauer Marine or a Ronstan block on their boat. I think not.
 
Aug 2, 2009
464
Catalina 315 Muskegon
A Catalina is just one of many boats that could serve you well. I could probably come up with a few advantages if I worked at it (okay, how about plenty of other Catalina owners to provide info when you need it).

I currently sail a 1996 Catalina 28 MKII that I'm extremely happy with. I'm "new boat proof", as there's no other boat I want more than this boat. I serves me well.

Had I found an O'Day, Pearson, etc. in similar spectacular condition I might be just as happy, though.
 

Tedd

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Jul 25, 2013
465
Between Boats near Vancouver, BC
Great discussion everyone, thanks again.

Despite what I said before, I'm not wrapped around the axle about the manufacturer still being in business. If the boat has been popular (such as C&Cs), so that there's information available and a community of owners, that's nearly as good--sometimes better. As John said, a lot of what you need is from third party manufacturers anyway. And I can fabricate a lot of the custom parts, as I have done for my airplane, my racing cars, and my motorcycles. One plus of boats not being mass produced is that there's very little on them that can't be made in a well-equipped home workshop.

One factor is that we'd like to sail all year around. Here in the Pacific northwest that suggests that something with a pilothouse would be a good choice. (Hence my interest in Gulfs and Tanzers.) But I'm thinking that a fully-enclosed cockpit canopy would probably be nearly as good.
 
Mar 6, 2008
691
Catalina 1999 C36 MKII #1787 Coyote Point Marina, CA.
Do not rush. I spent one year and decided on catalina 36. Get the largest boat you can afford. Get ocean friendly boat. This means keel stepped, large engine, all the gear to help you sail. This is a life time investment of both money and time.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,088
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
to sail all year around....with a pilothouse...fully-enclosed cockpit canopy
Now your talking and thinking about the types of conditions prevalent in our Pacific NW waters year round.
A good functioning heat system is another essential for the Salish Sea sailor. There have been several threads on diesel heat or heat pump systems on the forum we all have our preferences. The key is that it functions reliably and the heat gets to the places in the boat that you plan to live.
Beyond comfort
One of the folks I enjoy reading is John from Morgans Cloud. He writes a blog called Attainable Adventure Cruising. He states there are 5 big things that really matter for a boat that you plan to take out on a cruise.
  • Keep the water out.
  • Keep the crew on the boat.
  • Keep the keel side down.
  • Keep the mast up.
  • Keep the rudder on
If you can find or prepare a boat to do these 5 basic things then you should have a safe cruise.

 
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Tedd

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Jul 25, 2013
465
Between Boats near Vancouver, BC
Thanks, Joe, good advice. We're going to continue sailing the Mac for a while, while we save for the next boat, so there's no rush. I'm just trying to build as much knowledge about the different types and makes of boat as I can.

I'm interested in what you said about buying the biggest boat we can afford. I'm not sure how to assess the difference in maintenance cost for a larger boat. On the one hand, since you have approximately the same number of individual parts (and even type and size, in many cases) on a 34 footer as you have on a 28 footer, it would seem that there wouldn't be all that much difference in maintenance cost. Bigger sails and running rigging, to be sure, but perhaps not much difference in standing rigging. And not much difference in plumbing and other systems, either. And yet it seems intuitively wrong that a larger boat wouldn't be more expensive. I'd be very much inclined to go for 32-34 feet, but I do worry that I might be taking on a lot more maintenance cost.

Tedd