Catalina Owner Reviews

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Review of the Catalina 250 by Greg Mathers

Year built 2004  
Location of boat Key West, FLorida  
The boat is sailed on Open ocean  
How the boat is used Day sailing  
Normal wind strength 10-15 knots  
Average size of crew solo  
Liveaboard? No  
Owner bought the boat in 2005  
If the clock could be turned back, would owner buy again? YES! I learned to sail on Puerto Rico on Catalina 22s and never felt safer. After leaving PR I fell in love with the CAT 250, fixed WK, at a Houston boat show. I'd sold my previous boat in PR which was a 86 Hunter 23. Fast but unstable. One thing I knew after owning the Hunter was that I wanted a NEW boat so I wouldn't inherit the other guy's mess. After calling around, and on a twist of fate I found one a previous owner (6 mos) handed back to a broker in Ft. Lauderdale after being told he had to move due to job. Previous owner had put everything on her that I'd dreamed of (GPS / Speed  
Gear that's been added Only thing I've added is a tiller tamer. This gadget allows me to lock the tiller in place and move about as I need to. As I sail her solo much of the time, this is simply the way to go. Tiller extender is great too. Makes it easy to sit in the perch seats and get lots of good vis, or lean on the higher backed part of the cockpit up near the cabin.  
Structural or complex improvements Had a trailer built from an outfit in St. Petersburg, FL (Performance Trailer) that used to be the contract entity to build directly for Catalina. Had one glitch when I went to pick up the trailer - they'd made it so the boat was sitting way too far forward (about 1K pounds of tounge weight). I refused to accept her and the broker made them redo it so the boat sat back farther. After accepting the trailer the second time around I towed the boat from Lauderdale down to Key West. Found myself at one point (by mistake) doing 70 on the Turnpike. The boat and trailer were humming along like a song. No shimmy, no shakes, easy time breaking. Perfect ever since. All the launches in Key West are too shallow so I had to have her lifted in. I find you have to have at least 5 feet of water above the hubs on my trailer to launch. I have a toungue extender but that still won't work in Key West as the ramps don't go out that far / deep. She's been in the water ever since so no problems there. I guess if there is any "project" I'd be capable to advise others on it would be surviving hurricanes. Since being stationed in Key West we've had about 7 blow over. I've got a system down now and merely keep her on a mooring ball in the city mooring field. Strip her absolutely naked, use chafe guards and 3 fresh lines (2 bow, 1 trailer bow hook), get a ball on the winward side of the storm, and say your prayers. I've come back to see boats lining the shores -- but she's always made it through just fine.  
The boat's best features The cockpit is well put together with all lines running back. Lots of room for friends or family. The elevated seats on each side of the stern are superb. I sit in them with a tiller extender and ride the high side like a cowboy at 20 degrees of heel. The hull makes this boat very stable, while at the same time fast. The interior is big and bright. I take my two kids and wife out whenever I can and we spend the whole day in the boat. You just don't get that dark, closter-phobic feeling at all.  
Problem areas in terms of design, materials, maintenance, etc. Only thing that has given me issues is the indoor head and rudder. For the head I just had to learn how to replace a gasket that got rust on it, and once had to pull a critter out of the intake hole underneath. I noticed a hairline crack start to develop in the rudder - along where the bolts go in. I called Catalina and they say it has been a common problem. Without asking, was patched directly through to Frank Butler, the Owner of Catalina Yachts, and had a chat with him. He's a nice guy. They gave me a dealer in FL to send my rudder to and it will fall under warranty. Haven't done it yet because it isn't cracking wider, it's above the water line, and hey, what can I say - I'm procrastinating.  
Sailing characterisitcs This boat points into the wind like a pro. Not sure if it has something to do with my 135% oversized jib or not, but she does well. You can also adjust the traveler for the main but I seldom if ever do that and always make good headway into the wind. (See in a previous review an owner was complaining about how high the bow sits up. I find when I put the jib up that nose bites in, the boat levels, and she takes off. Never been a problem and I've had no steering issues. I've got a tiller though so perhaps that is why.) When I learned on CAT 22s in Puerto Rico we used to sail across a sound between the main island and Vieques. The wind would blow swells through that channel like crazy and you'd routinely be getting 6 footers (sometimes with breakers) coming sideways at you. The CAT 22s would rise and fall on those w/out even heeling. This has been the same experience I've had on my 250. She takes them really well on the high wind days. She makes the most of the wind. Theoretical hull speed is 6.75 knots. I've had her past 8 in 15 knot winds with just the jib reefed on the furler. In 15 she'll do 5 knots with just the main. I usually sail somewhere in there between 10-15 knots. After that it is just too helter skelter - and more like sailing a dingy. In the bigger swells (4-6ft) she handles really well. True to the Catalina form in this regard.  
Motoring characterisitcs Nothing much of note. The 9.9 Yahmaha 4 stroke is reliable and strong. I've motored on no-wind days about 18 miles with no problems. May take a little tending if you have a shrimp boat go by - hate that "out of the water" throttle blast.  
Liveability Comfortable for day sailing and an overnighter or two. We've prepared meals for a family of 4, served drinks and snacks for friends doing a sunset cruise, etc. The perch seats are great for keeping the kids (5 and 7) out of the way in the cockpit and in a safe place.  
The owner's experience in dealing with Hunter (if any) See above. Very customer friendly and they take a real interest in "owner feedback". I've learned that many of the features on my boat came from feedback from owners.  
The owner's experience with the boat dealer or broker, if any Great experience. I'll name the broker because they are a first class outfit -- Eastern Yachts of Florida. They stood by me when my manufactured trailer was out of tolerance and made the manufacturer do it right. I sent them a Christmas card - need I say more?  
Other comments I just may be a Catalina owner for life. Not ready for that "next boat" yet but will be looking hard at Catalina when that time comes.  

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