Catalina Owner Reviews

Serving sailors online since 1997

Review of the Catalina 30 by Aaron de Zafra

Year built 1989  
Location of boat Sausalito, CA  
The boat is sailed on Bays, sounds, or protected salt water  
How the boat is used Day sailing  
Normal wind strength 16-22 knots  
Average size of crew 2-4  
Liveaboard? No  
Owner bought the boat in 2004  
If the clock could be turned back, would owner buy again? I would buy this boat again in a heart beat. The Catalina 30 is one of the best boats around in terms of value per dollar and value per foot. Spacious interior, good sailing characteristics, and attractive lines make this a fantastic boat for beginners and experts alike. In fact, my wife and I were in the market for 36' boats but chose our Cat 30 because it offered us every bit as much cabin and cockpit space as the Islandars, Rangers, and Newports we were looking to purchase.  
Gear that's been added The boat is an '89 and we're the third owners (second owner bought it when it was 2 years old). The hull, woodwork, sails, engine, and interior were immaculate... however, we being boat owners, we have to always mess with something right? Since buying 'Tenacious', we've installed new Raymarine instrumentation in a NavPod located in front of the binnacle. A fridge was added (a must) within 1 month of owning the boat. New canvas in 2004, Bose speakers and stereo system in 2004, AGM batt's in 2004 (group 27's), new ProMariner batt. charger (3 bank) in 2004, new 135 jib in 2005, new halyards and running rigging in 2005, new lifelines in 2006. I'm sure there's more but I prefer not to think about it. My daughter must go to college.  
Structural or complex improvements The biggest self-installed change in terms of complexity was the new Raymarine instrumentation. It required a new binnacle guard (try drilling into stainless steel and you'll know how much of a pain that is), new transducers, tight fits for the wiring, and unstepping the mast (for the anemometer). The biggest professionally installed change was the fridge/freezer installation. We converted the existing ice box and have never looked back. Unfortunately our previous boat had a fridge so we were doomed by habit to spend the $$$ on the conversion.  
The boat's best features By far the best features are the volume and the amenities. Also, the MkII's still had a fair amount of wood on them which I particularly like. Hate the maintenance, but love the look.  
Problem areas in terms of design, materials, maintenance, etc. There can be quite a bit of weather helm when you get into the 25kt range on wind. However a quick adjustment of the traveler and it usually does the trick. The standard wheel for the Edson pedestal is a bit small. Unfortunately increasing the size means having to climb over the cockpit seats to get to and from the companion way. Not sure whether that'd be a bigger detriment than the small wheel size.  
Sailing characterisitcs This boat loves about 15-18kts of wind. It seems to perform best on close reaches and beam reaches. All in all for its size it's a great handling boat. I do wish for a bit more speed, but what can you expect... something's got to give.  
Motoring characterisitcs Motoring is just fine. The engine is located amidships below the sinks and offers nearly 360 degree access. It can be a bit noisy down below when you're running at 75% to full power, but again... something's got to give. The upshot is that due to the location of the engine, when it's running and you're in the cockpit it is not too noisy.  
Liveability Many people seem to live aboard these boats. We take it on extended vacations and often stay over night aboard at various points throughout the year. This past summer we had the occasion to invite guests for a few nights and the aft berth offered ample sleeping space. My wife and I sleep in the vee berth, and there is privacy via the factory installed divider located on the forward bulkhead.  
The owner's experience in dealing with Hunter (if any) Catalina's been okay. It tends to be difficult to get in touch with people, but once they respond it's been great having them around. My last boat was a make that ceased to exist in the mid 70's so I'm use to not having ANYONE around for assistance. That said, I like being able to call for specs., and know that new parts aren't far away.  
The owner's experience with the boat dealer or broker, if any No broker... private sale. GO GET LATITUDE 38... only the finest magazine to ever grace the sailing world. It's geared toward the West Coast, but the articles and coverage are top notch. Best of all, it's FREE! The only free magazine people actually seem to read. No... fight over. People actually scrounge for copies of this magazine. ... no, I have no affiliation with Latitude 38. Just a fan.  
Other comments I would definitely buy another Catalina. These are fantastic boats and are well supported.  

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