Catalina Owner Reviews

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Review of the Catalina 310 by John T. Hoffman

Year built 2001  
Location of boat Bath, NC  
The boat is sailed on Bays, sounds, or protected salt water  
How the boat is used Weekends and longer  
Normal wind strength 10-15 knots  
Average size of crew 2-4  
Liveaboard? No  
Owner bought the boat in 2000  
If the clock could be turned back, would owner buy again? We really do like this Boat! She is very comfortable and has an amazing amount of room for a 31 foot boat. We saw this design in 1999 and made our decision after seeing an early version. Ours is actually better than the one we saw and we are happy with our decision.  
Gear that's been added We purchased the boat with most available options, including in-mast main sail furling, roller furling for the head sail and the Raytheon windmachine, depth and speed suit at the helm. We also ordered a dark blue hull, apparently something quite unique for Catalina. She is quite a sight out on the water and garners a lot of comment from other boaters. We also added an external VHF speaker at the helm because the one in the cabin at the nav station cannot be heard in the cockpit. We added a stereo CD system with cabin and cockpit speakers. The preinstallation by the factory of speaker wiring to the cockpit and to the forward part of the cabin was agreat help and saved a lot of work!  
Structural or complex improvements Delivery and commissioning was a real painful and unneccessarily lengthy process. The boat was delivered many months late. When it was delivered, it arrived missing many fundamental components, such as sails, along with most of the comfort items such as cushions. The boat was shipped with upper stays of the wrong length so we had to have them modified. This resulted in our having different, larger turnbuckles on the longer top stays, so they don't quite look coordinated with the turnbuckles on the other stays. But the result works fine and looks okay.  
The boat's best features The cockpit is rommy and very comfortable. The deck has lots of walking room all around the boat. The built-in anchor windlass is real handy and well located in the forward chain locker. The galley is efficient and has a lot of storage. The forward cabin, with its huge inner spring mattress bed, is great! I am a big guy and I very much appreciate this roomy area. The open salon area with the small cocktail table makes the boat seem much larger than it is. For a cruising couple, even with guests, there is plenty of sitting and lounging room.  
Problem areas in terms of design, materials, maintenance, etc. The access latches for the tops of the cooler and the refrigerator broke immediately. They are made of very cheap plastic components. This needs to be addressed by the factory. The screens do not fit in their windows wells on the forward and aft upper hatches, so you cannot secure them in place. It seems that the screens are not the correct shape. We also had leaks galore, and when the boat was delivered the forward salon wall panel was soaked and discolored. The dealer spent days, and many tubes of caulking to correct the many leaks. Some are expected, but this was quite excessive.  
Sailing characterisitcs The boat sails well, though I am still getting used to the mainsail. I have actually had the knot meter tell me that I have reached 8 knots. While that may be the result of some level of calibration error (there will always be some error), clearly the boat can exceed 7 knots! The routing of the mainsheet needs to be re-thought. It is difficult to handle solo. To adjust it and resecure it in the friction cleat requires you to move too far to the side from the helm. I have also had some difficulty in balancing the sails. Part of this is the newness of the boat to me, I suppose, and perhaps the different characteristics of the furling mainsail, but I have heard the same from others.  
Motoring characterisitcs The boat motors well and the engine seems well sound insulated, so conversation in the cockpit is not affected. Conversation in the cabin is, but not badly so. Backing down is tricky with this boat. To control the boat in reverse requires a bit more speed than I would like. Access to the engine for maintenance and pre-operation checks is a breeze.  
Liveability With the exceptional storage and interior living space, the boat is quite liveable for a couple, even for an extended period. The head is quite large for a 31 foot boat and I have plenty of room to shower, even though I am over six feet and larger than most. I sleep better on the forward berth than at home (part, no doubt, because I am on my boat!....a bad day on the boat is always better than a good day...etc...) because the full inner spring mattress is perfect for me and because there is so much room!  
The owner's experience in dealing with Hunter (if any) I found them to be helpful with information and guidance but weak in response time and delivery. We did not get some components for the boat until almost two months after the boat was delivered to us by the dealer! This was not the dealer's fault, it was the factory's late delivery. While I know this is a popular boat and the factory has received many orders for the boat, the production and scheduling process needs a serious look. We ordered the boat in October of 1999 against an early spring 2000 delivery slot. The boat was finally delivered to us on Labor Day weekend and we lost most of the 2000 sailing season.  
The owner's experience with the boat dealer or broker, if any Dealing with our Catalina dealer was typical of such an experience. Our dealer, Dave Condon, of American Marine and Sail Supply, is a good guy who seems to always try to do the right thing. He was at the mercy of the factory and was stuck, as dealers are, between the factory and my wife's and my own wrath over the late delivery and the delayed commissioning as we awaited the rest of the boat's components. For us, the experience was like ordering a new car only to have is delivered late and without the engine or seats!  
Other comments The delivery and commissioning problems aside, we really think that Catalina has a winner in the 310. It will sell well and will become a popular small cruiser for those who seek a comfortable vessel for coastal cruising for weeks at a time with the same living space as a much larger boat.  

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