Catalina 425 Review (Preliminary)

At the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis this past October, Catalina Yachts staffers mentioned a new project, the Catalina 425, which would return Catalina to the three stateroom sailboat market.  On November 2, Catalina issued a press release announcing the Catalina 425 will be available in the spring of 2016.  The boat’s interior arrangement comes with three staterooms.

The Catalina 425 is a very attractive design, styled with modern lines yet remaining conservative in Catalina’s fashion.  The 425 has high topsides with little flare and large fixed rectangular portlights, a nearly plumb stem (purportedly raked aft only enough to keep anchors clear), a broader stern, and a clean deck profile.  The sheer line of the deck and flare of the topsides should make for a relatively dry ride.  Many sailors will appreciate that the hull has no chine as has been fashionable in sailboat design lately.

Although Catalina is calling the 425 one of their 5 Series boats, the 425’s topside and deck styling and port configuration are dramatically new and different.  The Catalina 425’s design may signal a welcome change in direction for Catalina’s 5 Series design aesthetics.

Below Deck

The Catalina 425 includes a substantial systems area between the aft staterooms, extending from the companionway nearly to the stern.  In addition to providing excellent engine and systems access, this space will provide more sound privacy for aft stateroom residents than is found in most modern production boats that have only a thin partition between aft staterooms.  Presuming Catalina continues to use traditional materials below decks on the 425 as they do with their other boats, these substantial materials will further add to aft stateroom privacy.

Catalina 425 Interior Layout
Catalina 425 Interior Layout

On Deck

The Catalina 425 deck is incredibly clean.  Side decks are unobstructed by shrouds, genoa tracks, or anything else.  The foredeck is a perfectly sized space for working with a foresail.  The Catalina 425 has a large hatch in the stern, which can be used like an inflatable dinghy garage.  There is a retractable swim platform.

The starboard cockpit bench converts to a double berth.  In the port cockpit bench is a “gull-wing” hatch that opens to the port aft stateroom, enabling this space to be easily used for a lazarette.

Hull and Keel

The Catalina 425 is designed with Catalina’s Strike Zone, a watertight crash locker, or collision bulkhead, in the bow.  Crash lockers are crucial safety features that are obvious but rarely included in production boats.  They are not expensive to produce and only take up the least valuable and infrequently used space below decks.  All cruising sailboats should have crash lockers in the bow, and if not provided by the manufacturer, should be retrofitted.

The Catalina 425 has a lead keel, which better absorbs the impact of grounding than less expensive keel metals found in most production sailboats.  The 425 also has an extensive  load bearing grid work in the bottom of the hull, which in addition to preventing hull flex, distributes keel loading and impact forces in the event of grounding.  A shoal draft keel and rudder will be offered.

Being a 5 Series boat, the Catalina 425 hull is laid up with Catalinas 5 Series system.

Rigging

Catalina 425 Hull, Keel, and Rigging Profile
Catalina 425 Hull, Keel, and Rigging Profile

The Catalina 425 has a deck-stepped mast that is well-supported by Catalina’s T-Beam MastStep, which effectively transfers the mast load to the keel.  The backstay is split, which of course eases boarding from the stern, and the spreaders are swept back.  Unlike older Catalina’s the 425 is a fractional rig.  Shrouds are inboard, mounted to the deck at the edge of the cabin house.

The mainsail is roached with vertically oriented battens.  The standard 100% jib is self-tacking on a traveler track mounted on the cabin house.  Genoa tracks are set farther aft, inboard along the base of the cabin house.  The genoa is tacked to the forward end of the anchor roller bow sprit.  The inboard shrouds and sheeting should allow the Catalina 425 to point well to windward.

Resources

Catalina 425 Press Release

Catalina 425 Brochure

Catalina 425 Sailing, Perspective View

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Catalina 22 Review

The Catalina 22 is the most commercially successful sailboat of all time and is one of the 5 inaugural members of the American Sailboat Hall of Fame.  Frank Butler of Catalina Yachts designed the Catalina 22, which was Catalina’s first production boat.  Since 1969, Catalina Yachts has built and sold over 16,000 Catalina 22s.  Catalina continues to manufacture this boat to meet continued sprightly demand.  Continued market demand and production of a family cruiser and racer of this size contrasts with the next two models up in Catalina’s line, the Catalina 25 and the Catalina 27, which are no longer produced.

The Catalina 22 is an excellent day sailer, racer, and weekender.  She has classic Catalina lines and port light configuration that many sailors find timeless.  Although Catalina has updated the Catalina 22 throughout its production run, early boats remain modern-looking and attractive by today’s standards.  Many sailors will prefer the lines of the earlier boats over the lines of the most recent.  With its light displacement and available swing keel, the Catalina 22 can truly be considered a trailer-sailer by any modern standard.

Catalina 22 Racing
Catalina 22 Racing (Courtesy sail-race.com)

Unlike many builders of sailboats available on the used boat market today, Catalina remains in business, and continues to manufacture and source parts for the Catalina 22.  Catalina 22 owners benefit from Catalina Direct, which makes buying many Catalina 22 specific parts very convenient.  As an aside, it’s worth noting that Catalina Direct is a dealer for Catalina Yachts and is not run by Catalina, the manufacturer.  With the vast majority of Catalina 22s still afloat, the boat has a huge user base and a very active owners’ association with racing, the Catalina 22 National Association.  Many owners of the Catalina 22 report that the plethora of information available from other owners, that the manufacturer was still in business, that a version of the boat continues to be manufactured, and that spare parts were readily available, were key points influencing their decision to purchase a Catalina 22.

EVOLUTION OF THE CATALINA 22

Catalina produced the original Catalina 22, called the Mark I, until 1995.  In 1973, a fin keel was offered in addition to the swing keel.  In 1976, a stronger heavier mast was introduced.  In 1986, Catalina introduced the “New Design”, which saw revisions to the rigging but not to the sail dimensions, aluminum trimmed port lights replaced with smoked plexiglass, interior layout changes, addition of a separate fuel locker and battery compartment, moving the forward hatch aft of the foredeck to the cabin house, and addition of an anchor locker.  In 1988, a wing keel option was offered in addition to the swing and fin keels.  In 1995, Catalina introduced the Catalina 22 Mark II, which included revisions to the hull above the waterline, cabin house and port lights, interior layout, pop-top, and offered additional interior options.  In 2004, Catalina introduced the Catalina 22 Sport.   For the Catalina 22 Sport, Catalina redesigned nearly the entire boat except for the hull, keel, rudder, and sail plan, which were left the same so that these boats could compete in one-design racing.

Catalina introduced an additional 22 footer, the Catalina Capri 22, in 1984. This boat has a different underbody from all of the above Catalina 22 boats and is not eligible for Catalina 22 one-design racing.  Catalina continues to manufacture this boat, today called the Catalina 22 Capri.

CONSTRUCTION

Catalina 22 Sailing
Catalina 22 Sailing (Courtesy Gene Neill)

The build quality of the Catalina 22 is good for its intended purpose as a daysailer and weekender for inland and protected waters.  The hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass.  Some Mark I models had plywood stringers, which can rot.  The deck is fiberglass sandwich with a plywood core.  The hull-to-deck joint is Catalina’s preferred shoebox design, but only fastened with screws and chemical adhesive which are sufficient for the boat’s intended cruising grounds.  Interior fit and finish is excellent for this size and class of production boat.  The interior is a molded fiberglass liner.  Interior woodwork is an attractive and durable marine ply with teak veneer with some solid teak pieces for structural loading.

All standing rigging is stainless steel.  Catalina 22s built before 1977 had a lighter, weaker mast, and lighter gauge standing rigging.  These early boats were not designed to carry a headsail greater than a 110%.  A few of these earlier boats suffered mast failures when carrying a larger genoa. In 1978, Catalina fixed this issue on all new Catalina 22s by installing a stronger, heavier mast and heavier gauge rigging that could support the greater loads associated with larger headsails.

Minor blistering was an issue on some earlier Catalina 22s, which was a common issue for boats manufactured during that period.  Hull blistering issues are hit and miss, with some Catalina 22 owners reporting never having any.  Due to the long production run and improvement of fiberglass technology during this time, blistering issues were reduced in each successive year, and were nearly non-existent by the mid-1980s.

As with all early Catalina boats that had aluminum trimmed port lights, leaking is a common problem.  Catalina Direct offers a Catalina 22 specific kit to reseal these port lights.

On Mark I boats, the electrical panel was installed on the side of the aft dinette seat where it can be damaged by kicking when moving about the cabin and by water intrusion between the hatch boards.  Some owners install kick plates over the electrical panel to protect the switches.  Due to the relatively simple electrical systems on the boat, moving the electrical panel to a better location is only a small project.  For the New Design, Catalina moved the panel to the shelf in the port side of the hull.  Catalina moved the panel again for the Mark II model, placing it beneath the companionway steps, which returned it to the same location issues as the Mark I boats have.

Early Catalina 22s came from the factory with through-hull plumbing fittings secured only by single hose clamps, instead of two.  This is of course easy to fix if not done already.  Early boats also had gate valves installed for through-hulls, which was common at that time.  Gate valves should be replaced with proper seacocks.

RIGGING

Catalina 22 Rig and Hull Profile, Swing Keel Model
Catalina 22 Rig and Hull Profile (Consistent Through All Generations), Swing Keel Model

The Catalina 22 is a masthead sloop with a sail-area-to-displacement ratio of around 18 (depending on keel), which puts her traditionally in a medium-cruiser class.  The mast is deck stepped with a compression post below decks to support the mast.  The mast is supported by one set of spreaders and one set of upper shrouds, and two sets of lower shrouds.

Some Catalina 22s came equipped from the factory with boom vangs, while others did not.  Catalina 22 specific boom vang kits are available from Catalina Direct.  All boats came with an adjustable mainsheet traveler.  The jib car tracks are very short, but this is not likely an issue for the vast majority of sailors who will rarely adjust the location of their jib cars anyway.  A small winch and clutch is installed on each cockpit coaming to manage jib sheets. No halyard winches were installed from the factory, but clutches were typically installed at the aft end of the cabin house so as to be accessible from the cockpit.

Catalina has deliberately never changed the dimensions of the rig during the entire production run so that any Catalina 22 regardless of year can compete in Catalina 22 one-design racing.

KEEL AND RUDDER

Catalina 22 Fin Keel, On Jack Stands For Maintenance
Catalina 22 Fin Keel With Fixed Rudder, On Jack Stands For Maintenance

The vast majority of Catalina 22s were delivered with a swing keel.  Over the production run, Catalina introduced two additional keel options, a fixed fin and a fixed wing.  The fin keel has a draft of 3′ 6″ and provides 765 lbs. of ballast.  The wing keel has a draft of 2′ 6″ and provides 708 lbs. of ballast.

The Catalina 22 swing keel warrants its own discussion.  On earlier boats, the swing keel was cast iron and in later boats, cast lead. Beginning with the Mark II model, all swing keels were encapsulated in fiberglass.  The swing keel weighs 452 lbs. and serves as all of the ballast for the boat. The heavy weight of this swing keel prevents many of the annoying banging noises associated with unballasted swing keels. The keel can be raised by way of a simple and reliable manual winch system located below the companionway steps. Little effort is required to operate the winch.

Catalina 22 Wing Keel, On Lift
Catalina 22 Wing Keel, On Lift

The swing keel pivots from a down position to an aft-and-up position on a 1” diameter cast bronze rod hung between stout cast bronze hangers mounted to the underside of the hull. When down, the keel provides a 5′ draft, which is very deep for a boat of this size.  When the keel is fully raised to its horizontal position, the Catalina 22 has a draft of only 2′, which is of course handy for gunkholing or if the water gets shallow when exploring. In the event of a grounding, the keel gently swings back and away rather than getting damaged or causing damage to the hull as can happen with fixed keels and vertically lifting (not swing) keels.  When the swing keel on the Catalina 22 is fully lowered, the keel orientation is high aspect and has a symmetrical foil shape, similar to modern race boats, so that the boat points to weather extremely well and tacks on a dime. When completely raised, only a small part of the keel is enveloped in the hull, with the rest protruding. Therefore when the keel is fully raised, the keel orientation is very low aspect, making for nearly a full keel configuration, enabling the boat to track well with little helm attention, even when sailing downwind.

Catalina 22 Swing Keel Raised, Fixed Rudder
Catalina 22 Swing Keel Raised, With Fixed Rudder

Catalina recommends that Catalina 22 swing keel hardware be inspected every two years if in a salt water environment, and allows for longer if in fresh water. However, some owners in fresh water environments report never inspecting their swing keels after thirty years of use and have no problems.  Catalina also recommended a retrofit be performed on earlier Catalina 22s to reduce the side-to-side movement of the keel along the pivot pin, which could cause the keel to wear through the pin.  If not already done, owners should perform or have this retrofit performed.  A retrofit kit is available from Catalina Direct.

Despite the early swing keels being cast iron, Catalina did not typically install a sacrificial anode on Catalina 22s at the factory.  Catalina 22s should have a sacrificial anode installed, especially if in salt water, although owners of fresh water boats without sacrificial anodes have reported little corrosion.  Sacrificial anode kits, including the drill bit necessary to go through the cast iron, are available from Catalina Direct.  Catalina 22s produced from 1995 onward had the cast iron keel encapsulated in fiberglass, which further reduced potential corrosion issues.

The Catalina 22 has a transom hung rudder commanded by a tiller.  Mark I boats came with a kick-up rudder that may avoid damage if grounded, and can also be secured up when in shallow waters using the factory-installed rudder rigging.  New Design and later, boats were delivered with a solid rudder instead of the kick-up model.  The solid rudder can provide better sailing performance but can be damaged when the keel is raised in shallow waters because the rudder extends beyond the depth of the raised keel.

SAILING CHARACTERISTICS

Catalina 22, Note Deep Forefoot and Beamy, Flat Bottom Aft (Courtesy sail-race.com)
Catalina 22 Racing; Note Relatively Deep Forefoot and Beamy, Flat Bottom Aft (Courtesy sail-race.com)

The Catalina 22 has a very flat canoe body and beam carried well aft resulting in excellent initial stability, and low wetted-surface area contributing to speed.  The boat has a relatively deep forefoot, which prevents the flat body aft from pounding.  Catalina 22s are stiff, and if knocked down, right themselves quickly.  The swing keel is the least ballasted of the boats and is the most tender.  The fin keel is the most ballasted and most stable version.

All three keel configurations sail well on any point of sail.  Catalina 22 owners consistently refer to the boat as “forgiving”.  The swing keel performs the best to windward due to its deep and high-aspect orientation when lowered.  Due to its extremely low-aspect when raised, the swing keel can also perform the best running with the wind.  The fin keel performs better on all points of sail than the wing keel.

The Catalina 22 easily achieves hull speed in light-medium airs.  Many Catalina 22 owners report preferring to reef when winds reach above 10 knots, while others report never reefing even with much higher wind speeds.  The boat has a tendency to round up into the wind when over canvassed, which can count as a safety feature.

ON DECK

Unlike smaller day sailers, the cockpit of the Catalina 22 provides a very secure and dry ride.  The cockpit is large (larger than its bigger sister, the Catalina 25) with a moderately deep sole and wide benches.  Leaning against the bulkhead at the forward end of the benches provides an excellent lounging position facing aft.  The coamings are moderately high, which add to a sense of security when seated.  The benches are long enough for sleeping when overnighting or weekending.

On Mark I boats, the cockpit sole slopes forward so that scuppers are necessarily located at the forward end of the cockpit.  On any boat with cockpit scuppers located in the sole, keeping the scuppers free from debris, especially when the boat is not being used, is a common maintenance concern.  Clogged scuppers can lead to cockpit flooding in heavy precipitation, and eventually flooding below decks.  The scuppers drain through plumbing connected to a y-fitting and then a through-hull fitting beneath the companionway steps.  Catalina Direct offers a kit to install additional scuppers in the transom of the boat to aid the factory installed scuppers.  With the New Design, Catalina began installing scuppers that drain through the transom.

Beneath the port cockpit bench is a relatively large lazarette, accessible from a hatch at the aft end of the port bench.  The lazarette is not big enough for sail storage but works well for storing lines, bumpers, and other equipment.  On Mark I models, this lazarette also functions as a fuel locker, which is functional because the locker is not open to the interior of the boat or the bilge.  The lazarette is vented to the outside by cowlings on the side deck.  The sole of the lazarette slopes downward to forward so that fuel fumes can accumulate in the lazarette.  Some Mark I owners report that fuel fumes can seep through the bulkhead at the forward end of the lazerette into the cabin.  For the New Design, Catalina improved this design so that the fuel tank was separated from the lazarette and vented to the cockpit.  Some Catalina 22s came equipped with a manual bilge pump mounted in the port lazarette, with the pump handle accessible from the cockpit.

A boarding ladder hung from the transom on the starboard side was optional.  While boarding ladders are an easy fit to most any boat, a Catalina 22 specific boarding ladder is available from Catalina Direct.

Moving forward from the cockpit, the side decks are necessarily narrow.  For a boat of this size, the side decks are excellent.  Many boats of this size eliminate side decks all together, especially newer designs, requiring sailors to cross over the cabin house to access the foredeck, which is disastrous in appearance.  Butler maintained the boat’s good lines and proportions by keeping side decks, even if narrow.  Some owners remove their lifelines, which generally looks attractive, and in this case makes moving along the side decks easier.  Considering the limited effectiveness of the lifelines due to their low height, their removal may add to safety aboard on any Catalina 22 unless small children will be aboard.  Due to the size of the boat, there is always some rigging to hold within arms’ reach.

Catalina 22 Mark I With Foredeck Hatch Raised
Catalina 22 Mark I With Foredeck Hatch Raised

The foredeck is a good size for managing a foresail and includes a sufficiently secure bow pulpit.  On Mark I boats, there is a large hatch in the center of the foredeck, which opens to the v-berth below.  On New Design boats, this hatch was moved aft to the forward end of the cabin house, which improves the foredeck for sail handling.  On Mark II boats, this hatch was changed from solid fiberglass to smoked plexiglass.  Due to the rising sheer line of the forward end of the deck, the plywood core in the foredeck is prone to rot if the watertightness of the foredeck fittings is not maintained.  Many owners have addressed rotted cores with various techniques that involve removing the rotted core from below decks.  Addressing this issue from below leaves no adverse blemishes on the foredeck.

Mark I Catalina 22s have no anchor locker.  Many Mark I boats are fitted with an anchor holder mounted on the bow pulpit.  For any Catalina 22 not already outfitted with one, anchor holders are available from Catalina Direct.  Catalina introduced an anchor locker with the New Design.

BELOW DECK

Catalina 22 New Design, Looking Forward from the Companionway
Catalina 22 New Design, Looking Forward from the Companionway

The Catalina 22 has Catalina’s traditional wide companionway with three hatch boards.  With the hatch boards removed, the interior of the boat is greatly opened.  This companionway is an excellent place to stand while under sail from which all operations of the boat can be observed and guests in the cockpit tended with food and beverages.

Headroom is limited at 4′ 4″, which owners report is great for their children.  In 1973, Catalina began offering the pop-top as an option, which swings up on 4 stainless steel struts and increases headroom to 5′ 7″.  Catalina modified the pop-top for the Mark II model, replacing the struts with a hinge at the forward edge, making it easier to raise.

Catalina 22 New Design Layout
Catalina 22 New Design Layout
Catalina 22 Mark II Layout
Catalina 22 Mark II Layout
Catalina 22 New Design With Marine Head Installed Beneath V-berth Insert
Catalina 22 New Design With Marine Head Installed Beneath V-berth Insert

Below decks, there is a wide but short v-berth forward with a removable central insert at the aft end.  On Mark I, New Design, and Mark II boats, beneath the central insert is a large storage area open to the salon.  Many owners keep port-a-potties in this space and some install marine heads.  Some Catalina 22s were delivered from the factory with marine heads installed in this space.  Also beneath the v-berth are two smaller storage areas.  The aft end of the v-berth can be enclosed with the factory-installed curtains, which offers some privacy if used as a head area.

On the New Design models, there is an icebox to port a centerline sink between the aft end of the v-berth and the forward dinette seat back.  To starboard there is a two burner stove and a drawer beneath.  Some owners remove this stove, leaving a deep shelf for storage.

Catalina 22 New Design, Looking Aft from V-berth, Dinette Table Lowered
Catalina 22 New Design, Looking Aft from V-berth, Dinette Table Lowered

Aft to starboard is a settee long enough for sleeping.  On the Mark I models, aft to port is the dinette, which can seat two adults and two children.  Outboard of the starboard settee, and the dinette to port, are shelves built into the hull.  There is storage beneath the starboard settee, the dinette seats if on the Mark I model, and the port settee if on the Mark II model.  On the Mark II model, the port settee continues aft beneath the cockpit, making the port settee long enough for sleeping.  Aft of the starboard settee is the “Captain’s Quarter Berth”, which is uncomfortable as a berth due to low headroom.  Most owners use this space for storing whisker poles, boat hooks, camp stoves, oars, and similar long and flat gear, or mounting radios and other equipment.  The aft most end of this quarter berth is accessible from a hatch in the cockpit.

Catalina 22 Mark I Slide-out Galley
Catalina 22 Mark I Slide-out Galley

For Mark I and Mark II boats (but not the New Design boats), Catalina offered a galley that would slide out from under the quarter berth for use.  On Mark I models, the slide-out galley included a sink, two burner stove, icebox, and storage drawer.  On Mark II models, the galley was smaller, and only included a sink and single burner stove.  The icebox was moved to and became an integral part of the companionway steps.

For the Mark II models, Catalina made the interior more spacious by widening the hull above the water line and widening the interior by 10″.

Catalina 22 Mark II, Hinged Pop-top Raised, Optional Cover Installed
Catalina 22 Mark II, Hinged Pop-top Raised, Optional Cover Installed

VENTILATION

The Catalina 22 has no opening port lights, but none are necessary.  Ventilation on the Catalina 22 is excellent.  The large forward hatch funnels air into the cabin when under sail.  At the dock, owners report that a box fan can be placed in this hatch to effectively force air throughout the cabin.  The pop-top opens the entire salon dramatically. The large companionway contributes to this openness as well.

AUXILIARY POWER

The Catalina 22 is powered by an outboard motor hung on the port side of the transom on an adjustable mount.  Long shaft motors are preferred.  A 5 h.p. motor is more than adequate for pushing the boat even in rough conditions.  Many owners report having Catalina 22s equipped with less powerful motors without issue.

TRAILERING

Catalina 22 On Trailer
Catalina 22 On Trailer

With a maximum displacement of 2490 lbs. or less depending on keel model, the Catalina 22 is easily pulled without a powerful truck as a tow vehicle.  The light weight also enables the Catalina 22 to use a single axle trailer, although the trailer wheels should be of the 5-lug type.  The swing keel and relatively flat bottom also mean that many powerboat trailers can be easily modified to support the Catalina 22.

USED CATALINA 22 MARKET

Catalina 22 Towed By Motorcoach
Catalina 22 Towed By Motorcoach

Catalina 22s can be found on the used boat market typically ranging anywhere in price from $2,000 to $22,000, mostly depending upon age and condition, installed equipment and upgrades, and whether or not a trailer is included in the sale. However, derelict project boats occasionally pop-up for much less. Due to the ubiquity of the Catalina 22, it is always easy to find one for sale on Craigslist, Sailboat Listings, Sailing Texas, and other venues, and there are a plethora on Yacht World. If shopping for a Catalina 22, make sure all swing keel maintenance has been performed or be prepared to do it. Check early boats with aluminum trimmed windows for leaks, which was common but easily repairable. Check for foredeck core rot, stringer rot, and hull blistering, which were hit and miss problems on earlier boats. Otherwise, there is nothing special to consider with these boats that you would not for any other boat.

Special thanks to Jeremy Smith for his contributions to this article.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Catalina 22 Mark II Brochure

Catalina 22 Sport Brochure

Catalina 22 National Association

Catalina 22-Specific Parts Available from Catalina Direct

Catalina 22s Available for Sale on Craigslist, Nationwide

FAMILY CRUISING (SAILING AWAY) ON A CATALINA 22

CATALINA 22 RACING

LAUNCHING A CATALINA 22

Catalina (Capri) 14.2 Review

The Catalina Capri 14.2, known later as simply the Catalina 14.2, is an excellent sport sailboat and day sailer oriented toward family and youth use.  The boat was designed by Ted Carpentier and Frank Butler of Catalina Yachts.  Catalina derived the boat from the Omega 14 produced by Frank Butler’s Coronado Yachts prior to the formation of Catalina Yachts.  After the formation of Catalina Yachts, the Omega 14 design was modified by adding a foredeck and a cuddy beneath the foredeck to create the Capri 14.2.  Since 1983, over 5,200 Catalina 14.2s have been built.  Production continues.

While Catalina 14.2s are frequently used for family cruising, the boat can provide an exhilarating sailing experience due to its semi-planing hull and clearly sporting sail-area-to-displacement ratio of 36.  As a family sport boat and day sailer, the Catalina 14.2 is primarily composed of a large cockpit that easily holds 4 adults.  One owner reports sailing inland lakes and bays of the Outer Banks in the eastern U.S. with his wife and 3 children aboard, and with the cuddy and areas beneath the cockpit seats laden with camping supplies.  Forward of the dominant cockpit, a large cuddy cabin provides storage for day sail, picnic and camping supplies, batteries, and emergency equipment.  As expected for a sport boat or day sailer of this size, the cuddy provides no berths, head, or galley.  (If berths, galley, or head are important to you, consider the Catalina 22, which is also easily trailered.)

Catalina 14.2 Class Racing, Courtesy Arizona Yacht Club
Catalina 14.2 Class Racing (courtesy Arizona Yacht Club)

The Catalina 14.2 benefits from its large production volume, long production run, that its manufacturer is still in business, and a plethora of parts continue to be available from the manufacturer and Catalina Direct.  Active Catalina 14.2 class racing fleets and events exist but are limited compared to some other small sailboats such as Flying Scots, Moths, and Lasers.  Presumably, this is because of the boat’s intended purpose and reputation as a family sport boat and day sailer, rather than a class racing boat.

INDENTIFYING VARIOUS CATALINA 14.2 MODELS

Three models of the Catalina 14.2 have been produced since 1983.  The different models are popularly deemed “Mod 1”, “Mod 2”, and “Mod 3”.  The Mod 1 models have a single open space below decks and came from the factory with a marine plywood hatch to enclose the cuddy and the rest of the space.  The Mod 2 models, introduced around 1990, had a fiberglass box glued inside the entrance of the cuddy, which while preventing water intrusion into the cuddy and the rest of the hull in the event of a capsize, also made the potential storage space in the cuddy inaccessible and made maintenance of the inside of the hull more difficult.  Mod 2 models had a canvas covering over the hatch to hide the box.  Six years later in 1996, Catalina introduced the Mod 3, which removed the fiberglass box and included a water-tight bulkhead at the aft end of the cuddy, making for three nearly water tight areas in the hull, including the cuddy with the hatch installed and a space under each cockpit seat.  Mod 3 boats were delivered with a more durable and watertight plastic hatch for the cuddy.  Also on the Mod 3 boats, the wooden splash guards at the aft end of the deck where removed and instead the deck was simply rounded up from the forward end of the cockpit coamings.

HULL

Catalina 14.2 Specifications, Deck Layout, and Sail Plan
Catalina 14.2 Specifications, Deck Layout, Sail Plan and Hull

The Catalina 14.2 hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass.  The deck is also solid fiberglass laminate with a molded-in non-skid pattern.  The deck is attached to the hull in Catalina’s standard shoebox design.  Unlike larger Catalina boats intended for more rigorous sea conditions, on Mod 1 and Mod 2 models the deck is fastened to the hull only with chemical bonding – there are no mechanical fasteners.  On Mod 3 boats, Catalina also through-bolted the hull-to-deck joint.  Older Catalina 14.2s may suffer damage of the hull-to-deck joint so that the water-tightness of the joint is compromised.  After suffering such damage, many owners strengthen the joint with mechanical fasteners with relative ease, as the joint is easily accessible at the gunwale.

Due to the design of the Catalina 14.2’s gunwale and exposed hull-to-deck joint, installation of a rub rail can serve to protect the hull-to-deck joint from damage.   Installation is straightforward.  Several rub rails from Taco Metals in Miami, Florida work well, particularly their flexible vinyl models with inserts.

The hull is stiffened with several plywood stringers beneath the cockpit, which also support the cockpit sole, reducing flex under foot.  The seats normally flex under foot, which while initially unsettling, provides for a more comfortable ride.  Due to the more rounded and thus stronger foredeck and the additional bulkhead at the aft end of the cuddy, Mod 3 boats are stiffer than Mod 1 and Mod 2 boats.

While wood stringers could be cause for alarm, few Catalina 14.2s see enough water left in the hull to cause rot.  If rot is discovered, replacing the stringers can be difficult due to tight working conditions inside the hull.  A few owners with rotted stringers reported solving the problem by knocking out the old wood and pouring water-resistant closed-cell expandable foam under the cockpit sole and seats.  Depending on the density of the foam selected, positive buoyancy is an additional benefit of such a repair.  Water-resistant closed-cell foam is crucial for this application.  The 4lb and 8lb density US Composites closed-cell foams work well for this application, providing both structural strength and positive buoyancy.

Catalina 14.2 Capsized, Hobie Baby Bob Prevents Turtling
Catalina 14.2 Capsized, Hobie Baby Bob Prevents Turtling (courtesy Major H)

As delivered from the factory, the Catalina 14.2 lacks positive buoyancy materials in the hull.  If the hull is allowed to fill with water, the boat will sink.  On Mod 1 and Mod 3 boats, securing the cuddy hatch board fast whenever underway is paramount.

Catalina fitted foam plugs in the end of the mast on later boats, intended to provide some buoyancy in the mast to prevent turtling if capsized.  However, the relatively broad beam of the boat limits the effectiveness of this design because most of the mast remains out of the water unless turtled.  Many owners fit Hobie Baby Bob flotation bulbs to the top of their masts so that if the boat is knocked down, the boat does not turtle.

KEEL CONFIGURATIONS AND RUDDER

The vast majority of Catalina 14.2s were delivered with a pivoting centerboard that kicks up if grounded.  The centerboard is held in place when down by a shock cord that is connected from the aft end of the top of the centerboard to the transom at the end of the cockpit.  The rudder also kicks up.  Earlier boats have a solid wood centerboard while later boats have a foam-cored fiberglass centerboard.   Rudders are wood or foam-cored encapsulated in fiberglass.  Solid HDPE rudders are available from Catalina Direct.   A medium-aspect fixed keel was also offered that added 200 lbs of ballast to the boat, which makes her slower but more stable, closer to an older-style traditional day sailer.  Catalina named the boats with the fixed keel the Catalina 14.2K.

As a semi-planing boat displacing little water, the centerboard model requires no centerboard trunk.  The centerboard simply slides through a slot with only a few inches separating the floor of the cockpit from the water below.  With enough speed, water can spray up through this slot into the cockpit.  Catalina Direct offers a canvas gasket to surround the centerboard in the slot, which prevents this spray.

RIGGING

The Catalina 14.2 is rigged a as a fractional sloop with a self-tacking jib.  The mast is anodized aluminum and supported by a stainless steel headstay and single set of swept-back anodized aluminum spreaders with stainless steel shrouds.  The shrouds include adjustable brackets rather than turnbuckles that make rig adjustments quick if not entirely precise.  However, the headstay includes a turnbuckle which can be used to achieve precise rig tuning.  There is no backstay, which makes un-stepping the mast easier and frees up the cockpit under sail.  The rig is very light-weight so that one person can ease the mast down when un-stepping and push it up when stepping, although another person is handy to guide the mast with the forestay.  All other rigging hardware is stainless steel.  In 2012, Catalina changed to a Selden made rig.  From the factory, the boom has no uphaul so that when the mainsail is dropped, the boom falls into the cockpit.  Some owners install an uphaul, rigid boom vang, or boom kicker to prevent this.

As appropriate with a family sport boat or day sailer, all control lines are easily accessible from the cockpit.  The mainsheet is managed from a stout spring-mounted pivoting block and jam cleat in the center of the cockpit.  Jib sheets are managed from jam cleats on the side decks.  The side decks also include a jib car track and cars that allow precise adjustment of jib sheeting angle.  With sails of this size, no winches are necessary.

ON DECK

Catalina 14.2 Cockpit and Deck
Catalina 14.2 Cockpit and Deck

The cockpit of the Catalina 14.2 offers good sole depth, seat width, and coaming height for relative comfort in a sport oriented boat.  The coaming height and side deck height may be considered low for some less interested in an exciting sail, or more accustomed to day sails in a Flying Scot or a more traditional day sailer design.  The cockpit seats are long enough to sleep upon.  The relatively small surface area of the cockpit sole, cockpit seats, side decks, and forward deck are small enough to prevent much flex.

Forward of the cockpit above the cuddy is a solid deck which is handy when dealing with the jib although feels less than secure in rough water.  The side decks are reasonably wide as well.

The only brightwork on the Catalina 14.2 comprised splash guards installed at the front of the cockpit and above the hatch to the cuddy, only on Mod 1 and Mod 2 boats.  These boards are easily removed for complete refinishing if necessary.  Mod 3 boats had this brightwork eliminated.

UNDER SAIL

Catalina 14.2 Exciting Sail, Courtesy Vincent Malo
Catalina 14.2 Exciting Sail (courtesy Vincent Malo)

The Catalina 14.2 can be a very exciting boat to sail.  Hiking straps were installed throughout the cockpit from the factory.  With its semi-planing hull, the boat achieves speeds great in excess of a displacement hull sailing boat.  Its relatively deep centerboard and rudder provide excellent grip for pointing to windward.  Riding close to the water, the boat’s occupants easily sense the speed at which they glide over the water.  Due to its semi-planing hull and small size (and like most small sailboats), the Catalina 14.2’s pointing ability suffers immensely with blown out or otherwise worn out sails.

AUXILIARY POWER

Catalina 14.2 Outboard Bracket
Catalina 14.2 Outboard Bracket

The Catalina 14.2 did not come from the factory with any auxiliary propulsion, but an outboard motor mount was an option.  Many owners use rowing paddles for auxiliary propulsion, but due to the beam of the boat and the orientation of the side decks, paddles are difficult to use.  Many owners install small outboards, 1-3 h.p. are more than adequate for propelling the boat.

Electric trolling motors are a popular choice for auxiliary propulsion with a battery installed at the aft end of the cockpit against the transom or in the cuddy.  Either way, the battery should be installed in a watertight battery box secured in place with mounting hardware.  Due to the easily-driven semi-planing hull, electric trolling motors are an effective means for auxiliary propulsion, with only the smallest 30 thrust-lbs models necessary for adequate propulsion.  For owners interested in sailing into a headwind off a beach or against a tide, auxiliary propulsion is paramount.

TRAILERING

Catalina 14.2 On Trailer
Catalina 14.2 On Trailer

The Catalina 14.2 is easy to trailer with nearly any vehicle due to its light weight of 340 lbs.  Due to its light weight, trailers require only a single axle.  The relatively flat bottom and retractable centerboard make trailers intended for power boats work as an effective trailer.  Trailering is easy due to the boat’s simple rig – only the forestay must be disconnected to unstep the mast.

In addition to an excellent family sport boat and day sailer, the Catalina 14.2 also makes an interesting tender for the right liveaboard or cruiser.  With its weight of 340 lbs, the boat can be rigged for davits or simply towed if the sailor is not against towing a dinghy.  Despite being a semi-planing boat and having an open slot for the centerboard in the cockpit sole, the Catalina 14.2 with its wide flat bottom has more initial stability than most tenders and can be well laden with crew and supplies without shipping water through the slot.  However as the boat is laden, its ability to point to windward suffers greatly.  The same owner who reports sailing with his family, children, and camping supplies, also reports being unable to point better than a beam reach without auxiliary power as the boat was so overladen.  With a larger electric trolling motor, large battery installed, and combined with a solar panel for charging the battery, the Catalina 14.2 can power through adverse currents with excellent if not unlimited range.

Catalina 14.2 With Full Crew
Catalina 14.2 With Full Crew

Due to the excellent build quality and simplicity of the Catalina 14.2, the ready availability of spare parts, and that the manufacturer is still in business producing new Catalina 14.2s, resale values of the Catalina 14.2 remain high.  New boats sell for over $6,000.  Nevertheless, neglected Catalina 14.2s can be had on the used boat market at a steep discount, making the boat a potentially excellent value on the used market.  Prices vary widely between $1,500 and $4,500,  depending on the year of the boat, installed accessories like motors, condition of the sails, hull condition, the condition of the trailer if included with the boat.  Neglected boats can be made ship shape for a modicum of investment compared with larger boats and typical tenders.  At the time of writing, only two Catalina 14.2s are available on Yachtworld.com, but many making good options are available on Craigslist.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Used Catalina Capri 14.2s for Sale on Craigslist Nationwide

Catalina 14.2 Brochure

CATALINA 14.2 UNDER SAIL, TACKING

CATALINA 14.2 RIGGING GUIDE

CATALINA 14.2 CLASS RACING

Columbia 45 Review

Bill Tripp Jr. designed the Columbia 45 to be a center-cockpit motor-sailer, but she’s more like a modern deck saloon before her time. From 1971 to 1976, Columbia Yachts built a total of 180 Columbia 45s. Many have crossed oceans and they make great live-aboards for coastal cruising and island hopping.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Columbia 45 boasts voluminous space below with standing headroom throughout including two good staterooms and two heads (and many with dual showers), excellent storage, decent tankage, a sturdy hull and easy-to-manage rig, and powerful auxiliary power. However, the boat is often overlooked on first impression because of an ungainly deck house design and because of its motor-sailer classification.

A Columbia 45 Sailing Off the Coast of Brazil
A Columbia 45 Sailing Off the Coast of Brazil

Many sailors immediately discount a motor-sailer as a boat that does neither well, but such a discount is not warranted for the Columbia 45. Her hull design is based on her smaller sister, the Columbia 43, which is well-regarded as a sailing boat that finished respectably in many races.

The Columbia 45 benefits from being designed as a cruising boat, and not having a design manipulated to compete under any racing rule. She has no extremely pinched stern, no extreme overhangs, no aggressive initial tenderness, and no huge head sail necessary for power, and no mizzen sail peculiarities. She has moderate overhangs fore and aft, moderate beam, and a generally conservative yet modern hull form. Her sail plans are reasonable.

Columbia 45 First Impression
Columbia 45 First Impression

Unfortunately the Columbia 45 suffers from an ungainly appearance by modern and traditional tastes due to the styling of her deckhouse and cockpit. The deckhouse is tall and square fiberglass with large portlights facing forward and on the sides. The sides of the deckhouse continue aft without portlights to form the cockpit seats and coamings, which simply looks odd, unbalanced, or an incomplete design. The portlights on earlier boats were aluminum rimmed with clear glass as was common in boats of this vintage, but later boats featured more attractive smoked glass, and later smoked plexi-glass portlights flush with the house.  Some of the boats with the flush smoked-plexiglass lights had a wide horizontal stripe aft of the portlights intended to improve the look, but which mostly fail to do so. Fortunately, the ungainly and dated design of the deckhouse can be corrected with relative ease by a handy owner (more on that later).

Columbia 45 Deep Draft Sloop and Interior Diagram
Columbia 45 Deep Draft Sloop and Interior Layout Diagram

HULL, KEEL CONFIGURATIONS, AND RUDDER CONFIGURATION

Some early Columbia boats had inferior build quality and suffered from hulls that would oil-can. The Columbia 45 came later, escaping hull-related build quality issues.  The hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass.  Hull and rigging are consistently reported to be “heavy” and “stout” by owners.  The topsides give 5′ of freeboard which enable more room down below and fewer swamping waves in heavy weather.

The Columbia 45 came from the factory with a deep fin keel drawing 7’3” or long shoal draft fin keel drawing 5’3”. The deep fin keel weighs approximately 10,300 lbs. Considering overall displacement at 25,000 lbs, the boat a very respectable ballast-to-displacement ratio of 41%. The long shoal draft fin weighs 2,000 lbs more, giving a ballast-to-displacement ratio of 46%, which keeps the boat stiff despite the higher location of the ballast.

Columbia 45 Shoal Draft Ketch and Deck Diagram
Columbia 45 Shoal Draft Ketch and Deck Diagram

Both keels are cast iron, attached to the hull with galvanized steel bolts that are bolted through the fiberglass, a piece of plywood sandwich on the inside of the hull, and additional fiberglass. The plywood strengthens this high stress area, but is likely to have rot issues due to its location in the bilge.

The rudder is skeg hung, which while not as responsive as an independent spade rudder, is safer for cruising. The rudder is relatively large and has plenty of grip on any point of sail.

RIGGING AND PERFORMANCE UNDER SAIL

The Columbia 45 came with either a masthead sloop or masthead ketch rig. The ketch rig has approximately 10% more sail area than the sloop. Despite the larger sail area of the ketch, the performance of the two rigs is roughly the same due to inefficiencies associated with the mizzen on many points of sail.  With either rig, the deep fin keel is the best performer.  For sailors who prefer a sloop, the ketch can be converted to the sloop with relative ease (See Owner Improvements below.).

The main mast (or only mast if the sloop configuration) is keel stepped. The mizzen mast (if the ketch) is stepped on the rudder skeg, which is an excellent structural design element. The working jib is self-tacking with its own car and track forward of the mast, making for easy fore-sail handling.

Halyard winches are located on the masts.  There are only two sheet winches, both located in the cockpit.  Additional sheet winches could be installed (more on that later).

Columbia 45 Sailing
Columbia 45 Sailing (courtesy http://www.lattitude38.com)

While the Columbia 45 has sail area less than its more respected smaller sister, the 43, and the 45 is heavier than the 43, their sail-area to displacement ratios are comparable. A ketch-rigged fin keel Columbia 45 has a ratio of 14.6 while a sloop-rigged shoal draft Colombia 43 has 15.8. The 45 has much the same rigging as the 43, but carries less sail area than the 43 because the boom must be elevated above the 45’s raised deckhouse, which is also a common compromise on modern deck saloons.

AUXILIARY POWER

The Columbia 45 came from the factory with engines sized for a motor-sailer, but today they are closer to standard engines installed in many new sailboats. Columbia installed 4-cylinder Perkins diesel engines, either a 4-107 making 45 hp, a 4-108 making 50 hp, or a 4-2326 making 65 hp. Apparently, a few boats near the end of the production run had 6-cylinder Nissan engines, making 100 hp, installed when Perkins engines were in short supply.

Unlike the potentially problematic v-drive of the Columbia 43, the 45 has a straight drive shaft with traditional stuffing box to a 20” 3-bladed prop, with either a 13 or 14 pitch. The shaft is slightly off center to starboard, which allows the shaft to be removed without interfering with the rudder skeg. This arrangement causes the boat to move to starboard in forward and reverse, but not so much as cannot be corrected with rudder adjustments.

SYSTEMS

Although Columbia is not known for installing good marine systems on their boats, systems access on the Columbia 45 is excellent making repairs and upgrades relatively easy if they have not been made already.  Access to the engine, batteries, and diesel, fresh water, and holding tanks is through large hatches in the raised saloon sole. A separate propane locker is situated in a lazarette in the aft deck of the boat. The electrical panel is a good location to the outboard of the companionway steps.

Tankage is good for a cruising boat, but not outstanding, with 132 gallons for diesel in an aluminum tank (with a factory option for a second tank of equal volume) and 120 gallons for fresh water (with a factory option for a second tank of equal volume). Holding tankage appears to have varied. Unfortunately, the diesel tanks were glassed in place and are nearly impossible to remove without major cutting.  The water tanks were part of the hull liner.  Some owners have installed thank liners to repair leaking diesel and water tanks.

DOWN BELOW

Columbia 45 Saloon
Columbia 45 Saloon Looking Forward From Companionway

Like many modern deck saloons, the saloon area of the Columbia 45 at the foot of the companionway steps is raised, allowing views of the exterior through the large portlights in the deckhouse. Some boats also came with an interior helm station in this area, complete with wheel steering, engine controls, and instruments.  This raised saloon area was often not fitted with any furniture from Columbia, allowing owners to install whatever furniture suited them.

Forward of the raised saloon and two steps down to starboard is the dinette, which has ample storage cabinets outboard for dishes, cups, etc. There is small opening portlight above in the topsides and an opening hatch directly above for ventilation. By modern standards for a boat of this length, the dinette is woefully undersized, fitting only two adults comfortably.

Columbia 45 Galley
Columbia 45 Galley To Port, Head Door Forward To Port, V-berth Forward

To port of the dinette is a wraparound galley, which is also open to the raised saloon. There was some variation in galley configurations over the years; and some boats have a bar setup between the galley and the raised saloon. The galley is generally excellent with a wraparound counter, a gas range and oven forward, a large icebox aft, and a deep two basin sink outboard. The outboard location of the sink will cause drainage problems on a starboard tack for owners who refuse to heave-to during meals. An industrious owner could swap the locations of the icebox and sink. There is ample storage inboard of the range and oven, and below the counter. Above the sink is a small opening portlight, and an opening hatch above for ventilation.

Columbia 45 V-berth
Columbia 45 V-berth

Forward of the dinette and galley to port is the forward head with shower. There is storage above the sink and below. The head has no opening hatch so that ventilation could be an issue, although some boats have dorade vents installed. To starboard is an absolutely huge hanging locker.

Forward of the head is the forward stateroom with a v-berth.  There are storage drawers to starboard at the entry, and small shelves along the inside of the hull above each bunk. There is a large opening hatch in this stateroom just above the entry for ventilation and emergency egress.

Columbia 45 Aft Cabin Looking Forward
Columbia 45 Aft Cabin Looking Forward, Ensuite Head Door To Starboard

Aft of the raised saloon to port are two steps down into the owner’s stateroom, which takes up nearly one third of the interior volume of the boat. There is standing headroom except above the berth, and plenty of floor space to move around.  There is a small opening portlight for ventilation, which is covered if the room is fitted with the hanging locker.

Upon entering, to port is a large hanging locker or a settee with storage above and behind, and to starboard is a large ensuite head with a separate shower stall. The head has storage above and beneath the vanity. There is a portlight in the topsides above the settee and a portlight in the topsides in this head. There is a small opening portlight in this head for ventilation. To starboard aft of the head and forward of the master berth is a good-sized hanging locker.

Columbia 45 Aft Cabin
Columbia 45 Aft Cabin

The master berth is more than queen size, stretching from the port to starboard sides of the boat and all the way to the aft end of the stateroom. There is a center insert at the forward end of this berth like what is common in v-berths. Unfortunately on the ketch rig, this berth is interrupted by the mizzen mast. There are storage drawers beneath this berth, and small shelves along the sides of the hull above the berth. There is a storage locker at the aft end of the berth.  There are small opening portlights on either side of the berth for ventilation and a large opening hatch for ventilation and emergency egress.

ON DECK

Like a modern deck saloon, the cockpit is open to the rear deck at the aft end. A hard dodger was optional from the factory.  The deck is essentially flush everywhere except for the raised deckhouse.

Columbia 45 Cockpit
Columbia 45 Cockpit

The cockpit seats are long enough for lounging. Beneath each cockpit seat is a large locker. Unlike a modern deck saloon, the Columbia 45 came with single wheel steering installed in the center of the cockpit rather than twin helm stations as is popular now.  Columbia installed a relatively small wheel, but it is still a little difficult to get around it.  A larger folding wheel could be installed, which would update the boat and be easier to get around.  The boat only has two sheet winches, which are located at the aft end of the cockpit coamings. Unfortunately, there is not enough space to add another set of winches on top of the cockpit coamings, but a set could bet added at the forward end of the cockpit on the aft top of the cabin house.

Aft of the cockpit is a rear deck, which is flush with the cockpit sole so that cockpit draining will never be an issue (as long as the boat is not overloaded in the bow). The aft deck mostly taken up with the opening hatch for the master stateroom below, but still makes boarding easy when docked stern-to. Aft of that hatch is a lazarette.

To move forward, one invariably exits the cockpit to the flush aft deck and moves around to the side decks, rather than climbing over the cockpit seat coamings and taking a steep step down to the side decks. On the ketch rig, the mainsheet can require a little negotiating when exiting the cockpit aft, but the location of the mizzenmast just aft of the mainsheet makes for a nicely placed handhold.

The side decks are narrow but wide enough for one to move about comfortably. Due to the high deck house with handholds, moving forward to the mast feels very secure. Halyard winches are located on the mast. Forward of the mast, the deck is flat and uncluttered, with only one opening hatch to negotiate.

There is a stout bow pulpit for working forward. The anchor locker is small for a boat of this size but there is a huge space for rode.

OWNER IMPROVEMENTS

Nauticat 525 Looks Like the Columbia 45
The Nauticat 525 Looks Like the Columbia 45

The aluminum-framed portlights (if on an earlier boat) in the deckhouse can be replaced with smoked plexi-glass portlights, and then the sides of the deckhouse can be painted black to match the smoked portlights. Such a treatment creates a look similar to current boats from Nauticat Yachts, and also somewhat reminiscent of older boats in the Southerly line or Jeanneau Sun Odyssey DS (Deck Saloon) line, or perhaps an Oyster from a distance.

At the time of manufacture, ketch rigs were more popular than today.  Although ketch rigs offer advantages to the cruising sailor, such as sail area management without reefing and using the mizzen as a riding sail while at anchor, some owners have converted their ketch rigs to sloops for better windward performance and simpler sail handling.  This has the additional benefit of removing the intrusive mizzen mast from the aft berth.  For the Columbia 45 ketch, the main mast was the same height as the mast of the sloop, but the boom was shortened by 1.5′.  By removing the mizzen mast and replacing the boom on the main mast, the ketch can be converted to the sloop rig with relative ease.

It’s worth noting that the interior arrangement of the Columbia 45 lends itself to great flexibility, allowing the configuration to fit a larger crew. The undersized dinette could be replaced by over and under bunks, and converted to a private cabin with a bulkhead and sliding door. The raised saloon could be made the primary dining area. The huge berth in the owner’s stateroom could be cut away on one side and a desk and chair installed.

Ventilation is less than adequate if sailing near the equator, but the fixed portlights could be replaced with opening portlights, or opening hatches and dorade vents installed as many owners have already done.

BUYING A COLUMBIA 45 

Columbia 45s are available on Yachtworld from $20,000 to $70,000, depending upon condition. For a boat of this vintage, condition varies widely. Prospective buyers should be particularly careful to inspect electrical systems and tankage, keel bolts, bolts at the bases of the mast(s), and the plywood sandwich above the keel, in addition to the items one would inspect in any boat of this vintage.

Special thanks to Brandon Ford for his contributions to this article.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Columbia 45 Specifications from Sailboatdata.com

Columbia 45 Yachts for Sale on Yachtworld.com

Columbia 45 Original Factory Literature for Sale

VIDEO TOUR OF THE COLUMBIA 45

COLUMBIA 45 MOTORING

Catalina 25 Review

The Catalina 25 is a good racer/cruiser for inland and coastal waters available at reasonable prices. This sailboat benefits from a large user base, active owner’s forum, and easy availability of spare parts.

View from the Bow of a Catalina 25 In the Bahamas
View from the Bow of a Catalina 25 Cruising in the Bahamas

The Catalina 25 is a good racer/cruiser for inland and coastal waters available on the used market at very affordable prices.  This sailboat benefits from a large user base, active owner’s forum, and easy availability of spare parts.

Designed by Frank Butler of Catalina Yachts in Hollywood, CA, over 6,000 Catalina 25s were built from 1976 through 1990, and all in the U.S.  She is designed as an inland and coastal racer/cruiser within budgetary reach of any American.  She is well suited to her purpose in terms of design and build quality although some owners have sailed their Catalina 25s through the Caribbean (like this fellow), to South America, and even to Hawaii.  The Catalina 25 was one of the most successful and longest running production boats ever built, and continues to have a strong following and interest.  The standard rig with swing keel configuration is the most popular.

A Catalina 25 Racing Under a 150% Genoa
A Catalina 25 Racing under a 150% Genoa (Photo Courtesy of T.J. Witten)

The Catalina 25 has a huge user base, a very active owners’ association with racing, and a plethora of information available about maintenance on their forum (located here).  Unlike many builders of used sailboats on the market today, Catalina has remained in business and continues to manufacture and source parts for the Catalina 25.  Catalina owners benefit from Catalina Direct, which makes buying many Catalina 25 specific parts very convenient.  As an aside, note that Catalina Direct is a dealer for Catalina Yachts and is not run by Catalina, the manufacturer.  Many owners of the Catalina 25 report that the plethora of information available on their very active owners forum and the multitude of users eager to help, that the manufacturer was still in business, and that spare parts were readily available, were key points influencing their decision to purchase a used Catalina 25.

Catalina 25's Conservative Design Makes for a Classic
The Catalina 25’s Conservative Design Makes for Enduring Handsome Lines

The Catalina 25 is a masthead sloop with a modern but conservative design, resulting in a boat that continues to have a relatively modern appearance.  She has a modern canoe underbody and broad transom.  With a waterline length of 22’2”, her length on deck to waterline ratio is equally modern.  Other design elements include a traditional sheer line, a slightly raked bow, a plumb stem with stern hung rudder, and the standard well-known Catalina cabin trunk and port configuration.  Like other Catalina sailboats built during this time, the earlier aluminum trimmed salon ports were later updated to smoked plexiglass.

CONSTRUCTION

Construction quality is good for the Catalina 25’s intended purpose as a racer/cruiser in protected and coastal waters.  The hull is constructed of solid fiberglass and the deck is wood cored.  No reports of oil-canning, hull flexing, or other structural problems exist for the Catalina 25.  The deck is joined to the hull by a shoebox-type flange, sealed with polyester putty, and mechanically connected with self-tapping screws or through-bolts.  The interior is a liner set into the boat before the deck is installed, which is a standard for Catalina and other production builders in the industry.  Although liners reduce access to the inside of the hull, Catalina 25 owners report it is of little consequence on a boat this size as most areas can be accessed by some angle or another.

Minor blistering was an issue on some earlier Catalina 25s, but not all.  Due to the long production run and improvement of fiberglass technology during this time, blistering issues were reduced in each successive year, and were nearly non-existent by the end of the run.  A 1987 Catalina 25 hauled after years of neglect and very few blisters were present.

  Despite the wood coring, soft decks are not a common problem on Catalina 25s.  Catalina 25s rarely have core rot after years of neglect.

RIGGING

Catalina 25 Rig Profile
Catalina 25 Rig Profile

The mast is deck stepped on a stainless steel tabernacle with a keel-stepped wooden compression post.  The tabernacle allows the mast to be raised and lowered, which owners report takes about five minutes after learning how.  The mast has one set of spreaders and is supported by three sets of shrouds, two sets of lowers and one set of uppers.  Catalina 25s were rigged with high quality stainless steel.  Jib car tracks are outboard, but due to the relatively narrow side decks, this likely does not compromise sheeting angles significantly and makes going forward easier.

Catalina offered some variation in rigging.  A standard rig and a tall rig were offered.  To provide increased sail area, the tall rig mast is approximately two feet taller than the standard and the boom is attached to the mast approximately one foot lower than the standard.  Some Catalina 25s came from the factory with internal halyards while others are external.  Some came with an adjustable backstay while others did not.  Some lacked a boom vang.  All came with hank on foresails although many owners have retrofitted roller-furling systems.  Early Catalina 25s appear to have lacked backing plates for deck hardware while later boats came from the factory with backing plates installed.  Either way, most owners of earlier Catalina 25s have installed backing plates where they were lacking.  All running and standing rigging components continue to be available from Catalina Direct.

KEELS

The Catalina 25 came in three keel configurations, initially a swing or fin keel, and later a shoal draft wing keel that replaced the swing keel model.  The keel bolts on the fin keel were not originally stainless steel and were prone to rusting, but stainless steel was used in later models.

The fin is a relatively modern fin type design, deep but not too long, drawing 4’, connected to the hull by five  bolts, and providing a very respectable ballast-to-displacement ratio of 41%.  Although not as short or deep (high aspect) as more modern designs, the longer design (lower aspect) permits a stronger connection to the hull that better withstands groundings and other stresses unlike more aggressive high aspect designs.

The fin keel was originally cast iron, but in the early 1980s the design was improved so that the core of the fin was cast iron, which was then encased in lead, and then encased in fiberglass.  Earlier boats with cast iron keels should have protective anodes installed if not already done.  Many owners have encased their cast iron keels in barrier paints to stave off rust, which efforts appear to be largely successful.

The wing keel is roughly as long as the fin, but reduces draft to 2’10” and gives a very respectable ballast-to-displacement ratio of 40%.  Fin-to-wing keel conversion kits are no longer manufactured but continue to be available on occasion.  Some stiffness is lost when converting to a wing keel.

The swing keel model deserves a separate discussion.  Ballasted swing keels have been relatively rare designs, especially as their contribution to the overall ballast of the boat increases.  However, a dedicated following for ballasted swing keel performance cruisers continues to enjoy the boats built by Southerly Yachts in England for the premium blue-water boat market.  Also, Jeanneau Shipyard in France has just launched a ballasted swing keel in their Sun Odyssey line which may indicate a return in interest to the advantages of a ballasted swing keel boat.

Catalina 25 Swing Keel, Partially Lowered
Catalina 25 Swing Keel, Partially Lowered

On the Catalina 25, the swing keel is cast iron, and pivots from a down position to an aft-and-up position on a 1” diameter cast bronze rod hung between stout cast bronze hangers mounted to the underside of the hull.  When down, the keel provides a 5’ draft, which is deep for a boat of this size.  The keel weighs three quarters of a ton and serves as all of the ballast for the boat, giving these models a modern ballast ratio of 36%.  The heavy weight of the keel prevents many of the annoying banging noises associated with unballasted swing keels.  The keel can be raised by way of a simple and reliable manual winch system located below the companionway steps.  Little effort is required to operate the winch.  When the keel is fully raised to its horizontal position, the Catalina 25 has a draft of only 2’8”, which is of course handy for gunkholing or if the water gets shallow when exploring.  In the event of a grounding, the keel gently swings back and away rather than getting damaged or causing damage to the hull as can happen with fixed keels.

When the swing keel on the Catalina 25 is fully lowered, the keel orientation is high aspect and has a symmetrical foil shape, similar to modern race boats, so that the boat points to weather extremely well and tacks on a dime.  When completely raised, only a small part of the keel is enveloped in the hull, with the rest protruding.  So therefore when the keel is fully raised, the keel orientation is very low aspect, essentially a full keel configuration, enabling the boat to track well with little helm attention, even when sailing downwind.

A Catalina 25 Keel Pin Showing Little Wear After 25 Years of Use
A Catalina 25 Swing Keel Pin Showing Little Wear After 25 Years in the Water on a Freshwater Lake

Catalina recommends that Catalina 25 swing keel hardware be inspected every two years if in a salt water environment, and allows for longer if in fresh water.  However, some owners in fresh water environments report never inspecting their swing keels after thirty years of use and have no problems.  Catalina also recommended a retrofit be performed on earlier Catalina 25s to reduce the side-to-side movement of the keel along the pin, which could cause the keel to wear through the pin.  If not already done, owners should perform or have this retrofit performed and a kit is available from Catalina Direct.  Despite the swing keels being cast iron, Catalina did not typically install a sacrificial anode on Catalina 25s at the factory.  Catalina 25s should have a sacrificial anode installed, especially if in salt water, although owners of fresh water boats without sacrificial anodes have reported little corrosion.  Sacrificial anode kits, including the drill bit necessary to go through the cast iron, are available from Catalina Direct.

Interestingly, the swing keels themselves were cast in Mexico and shipped to Catalina.  Some keels have the word “MEXICO” cast into their side, which is not usually apparent if the keel has been faired.

RUDDER

The Catalina 25 came with a transom hung unbalanced spade rudder.  The rudder draws 2’10” so that it is somewhat protected by the keel, even the swing keel when raised fully.  The unbalanced rudder can require some effort if sail trim is not correct, or when racing or in rough weather.  Some Catalina 25 owners have upgraded to a balanced rudder, which they report enables steering with just one finger.  Balanced rudders are available from Catalina Direct.

SAILING CHARACTERISTICS

All three keel configurations sail well on any point of sail and owners consistently refer to the boat as “forgiving”.  Catalina 25 owners disagree as to whether the fin keel or the swing keel point to weather better.  Racing ratings indicate that the fin is the best performer with the swing keel close behind.  The masthead sloop configuration means a headsail is required for best performance.  With both the approximately 16:1 sail-area-to-displacement ratio of the standard rig and the approximately 17.75:1 ratio of the tall rig, in either configuration the Catalina 25 easily achieves hull speed in anything but the lightest of airs.  The relatively flat canoe body and beam carried aft cause Catalina 25s to have good initial stability.  The 36-41% ballast-to-displacement ratios mean Catalina 25s are stiff, and if knocked down, quickly right themselves.  The swing keel configuration is the stiffest, followed by the fin keel, and then the wing keel.  Many Catalina 25 owners report preferring to reef when winds reach above 15 knots.  The original mainsail provided by Catalina is a little baggier, even when new, than many sailors would prefer.  This was reportedly done intentionally by Catalina to improve Catalina 25 downwind performance to the slight detriment of windward performance.

AUXILIARY POWER

Most Catalina 25s are powered by an outboard motor on an adjustable mount.  Most Catalina 25 owners prefer a motor close to 10hp, which easily drives the boat at hull speed, even in rough conditions.  Some owners report 6hp is sufficient in calm waters.  A long shaft outboard with a shaft length of at least 25″ is preferred to keep the prop in the water in rough conditions.  Roughly 150 Catalina 25s were delivered from the factory with an inboard diesel, which was located behind the companionway steps beneath the cockpit sole.  Engine access for the inboards is expectedly cramped, but decent from the quarter berth and the companionway steps.  A few Catalina 25s appear to have factory-installed sail drives, or perhaps undocumented refits to sail drives by previous owners.  Catalina 25 owners who are active in racing prefer the outboard motor because the increase in PHRF rating, which is not always given by a race committee, is not typically enough to offset the drag caused by the inboard’s prop.  Outboard motor mount kits for owners upgrading 2 stroke motors to heavier 4 stroke motors are available from Catalina Direct.

TRAILERING

Catalina 25 with Swing Keel on Trailer
A Catalina 25 with Swing Keel on a Trailer

The Catalina 25 was partially marketed as a trailer-sailer.  All three keel configurations have been pulled on trailers regularly by their owners, but the swing keel model is by far most popular for trailering.  However most Catalina 25 owners do not report trailering their boats with great frequency, likely due to the boat’s weight requiring a substantial tow vehicle and dual-axle trailer.  Some owners report their total trailering weight to approach 8,000 lbs, considering the weight of the boat itself, the trailer, and the equipment, gear, and supplies stowed on the boat.  In addition, stepping the mast is more complicated than a day sailer, requiring the use of a special rig to handle the large mast, which is available from Catalina Direct or can be built at home by an owner with designs available on the Catalina 25 forum.  (For a more trailerable Catalina, see the Catalina 22.)

POP-TOP

Standing In the Salon of the a Catalina 25 With the Pop-raised
Standing In the Salon of a Catalina 25 with the Pop-top Raised

A pop-up cabin top was an option on early models and later became standard.  The pop-top is another interesting Catalina 25 feature that deserves its own discussion.  The pop-top raises head room in the salon to 6’4″, improves ventilation mightily, and enables a 360 degree view of the outside of the boat while standing below.  The Catalina 25 can be sailed with the pop-top up, but only in light airs because it requires disconnection of the boom vang.  Some Catalina 25 owners report raising the pop-top partially so that they have standing head room below but have protection from rain.  An optional pop-top tent allowed the pop-top to remain up while keeping the salon protected from the elements.  However, the pop-top does introduce an element of risk if the boat were turtled, but a boat designed for inland and coastal waters is not likely to see conditions that would cause turtling.  If one intended to take the boat beyond coastal cruising, a model without a pop-top may be preferable.

View from Inside Catalina 25 Salon with Pop-top Partially Raised During Rain Storm
View from Inside a Catalina 25 Salon with Pop-top Partially Raised During a Rain Storm

DOWN BELOW

Fit and finish of the Catalina 25 is not luxurious but is better than expected at this price-point.  Wood trim is solid teak and bulkheads are teak-veneered marine grade plywood.  Accommodations are typical but very good for a boat of this size due to its moderate freeboard and beam carried well aft.  The original Catalina 25 marketing materials indicate the boat sleeps five, although one owner reported regularly sleeping with his wife and five children on the boat, as well as two guests on one occasion.  The accommodations should be acceptable for any average-sized couple or typical family.

Catalina 25 Interior Layout
Catalina 25 Interior Layout

The Catalina 25 cabin sole is the pan liner and has a respectable wood-like look modeled into it, patterned after a teak and holly sole.  The settee and berth cushions are 3” foam, which some owners have upgraded to 4”.  The original cushion covers vary from the what would now be considered hideous, patterns of the late 1970s and early 1980s, to the more acceptable patterns of the late 1980s and 1990s.  The ceilings have an unobtrusive pattern molded into the fiberglass.  No pattern is molded into the sides of the hull.

All lights installed in Catalina 25 by the factory were an inexpensive grade product designed for the RV industry rather than marine use.  Many of these lights are still in use on Catalina 25s, but many owners have replaced these lights with marine grade equipment, in part because their domes were prone to crack and because replacement domes are no longer available.  Several options for direct fit Catalina 25 replacements are available from Catalina Direct.

Catalina 25 V-berth, Port Light forward, Storage Forward and Below
Catalina 25 V-berth, Port Light forward, Storage Forward and Below

Forward is the v-berth, which has the typical central insert so that either more maneuvering room or more bed space can be had.  This berth can sleep two average-height adults.  One Catalina 25 owner reports having three children sleep here comfortably.  Catalina installed one light on the port side.  Fresh air is provided by the large opening hatch, which can be tightened in place partially opened to enable air flow but prevent young children from wandering about on deck unsupervised.  Additional natural light is provided by a port light just aft of the anchor locker.  A huge space beneath the v-berth is accessible from hatches beneath the cushions and in some boats, a door in the bulkhead supporting the aft end of the berths.  Some boats also came with a shelf in the bulkhead supporting the port side of the v-berth.  Many Catalina 25 owners use the space below the v-berth for storage or additional systems or tanks.

Catalina 25 Head with Sink, Opening Port Light, Storage Below
Catalina 25 Head with Sink, Opening Port Light, Storage Below
Catalina 25 Head with Marine Toilet, Storage Behind
Catalina 25 Head with Marine Toilet, Storage Behind
Catalina 25 Head with Portable Toilet
Catalina 25 Head with Portable Toilet

Immediately aft of the v-berth is the head.  Some Catalina 25s came from the factory with an accordion door fitted between the v-berth and the head.  Other Catalina 25s have been retrofitted with this additional privacy feature by owners.  The head does not afford standing room but is comfortable for sitting so that a shower is not a good upgrade (although some owners install cockpit showers).

Catalina 25 heads came in varied configurations, with a portable toilet or real marine head to port, and a sink or locker to starboard.  There is a platform on which both toilets would sit, which elevates a portable toilet to a comfortable height and enables easy access to the plumbing of a marine toilet, making maintenance of the marine toilet or conversion from a portable to a marine toilet straightforward.  Most Catalina 25s had a large deep shelf along the inside of the port side of the hull behind the toilet and some had hanging storage above the shelf.  If the sink was fitted, Catalina installed a light, a Whale flipper-type faucet for cold water only, an opening cabinet below the sink, and typically a shelf above the sink along the inside of the starboard hull.

Thankfully, Catalina changed the port lights on each side of the head to a version that opens, both of which are fitted with bug screens.  Catalina 25 owners report that with the v-berth hatch and both ports open, there is excellent ventilation when performing necessary business.  Owners also report that due to the angle at which the port and starboard ports are situated, water can collect in them.  Although leaking is not typically an issue and replacement gaskets are readily available from Catalina Direct, water can splash down into the head if these ports are opened after a recent rain.  Parts for the plumbing and marine toilet are available from Catalina Direct, including everything needed to install a marine toilet with holding tank in a Catalina 25 previously without one.

Salon of a Catalina 25 with Traditional Interior, table lowered
Salon of a Catalina 25 with Traditional Interior, Table Lowered
Catalina 25 Traditional Interior with Table Leaf Closed
Catalina 25 Traditional Interior with Table Leaf Closed
Catalina 25 with Traditional Interior, Table Raised, Showing Swing Keel Trunk
Catalina 25 with Traditional Interior, Table Raised, Showing Swing Keel Trunk

Aft of the head is the main salon, if a Catalina 25 could be said to have a main salon.  Almost all Catalina 25s came from the factory with an accordion door fitted between the head and the salon.  There is standing headroom in the salon for below average-height  adults, and for anyone shorter than 6’4” on pop-top models with the pop-top raised.  Newer Catalina 25s had the cabin sole lowered a few inches, increasing headroom.

The salon area came in three configurations, one traditional-type with a settee to port and starboard and a fold-down drop-leaf table, and the two other dinette-type configurations with a dinette to port and a settee to starboard.  All three interior configurations have a galley area in the aft and port corner of the salon.  All three configurations have a starboard settee running the full length of the salon with a shelf built into the side of the hull behind the back of the settee, which is long enough to double as a berth for an average sized adult.  The fresh water tank is located forward beneath this settee and the dual battery box is located beneath the aft end.

On the traditional layout model, the port settee and shelf behind built into the hull are a little shorter than the starboard settee, to enable space for the galley area.  This settee can double as a berth for a child, teen, or person of below average height.  The drop-leaf table can mount to the forward bulkhead when not in use, freeing up space in the salon.  Many Catalina 25 owners report leaving the table down but with the leaf closed which enables passage fore and aft on the starboard side of the salon while leaving a convenient table for one or two on the port side.  Owners also report that a Catalina 25 specific retrofit offered by Catalina Direct is required to keep the table from tipping over when used in this manner.

Catalina 25 Salon with Dinette Interior, Acordian Door To Head
Catalina 25 Salon with Dinette Interior, Accordion Door To Head

There is a difference amongst the dinette models in that some had the older fore-and-aft seating arrangement while others had a more modern L-shaped arrangement.  In both cases the table lowered to create an additional berth.  Both the more traditional dinette and L-shaped configuration also benefited from having a shelf built into the inside of the port hull like with the traditional interior layout.

In all configurations, the black water holding tank is located beneath the port settee or dinette seat.  Catalina typically installed one light above each shelf along the hull.  Some Catalina 25 owners have cut holes into the backs of the settees to create additional storage space.  Swing keel models with the traditional layout have a narrow wooden box about one foot long at the fore end of the salon which houses the keel trunk, and which most owners report using as a coffee table.  In swing keel models with the dinette interior, the keel trunk is concealed beneath the forward dinette seat.  There are bilge access hatches in the cabin sole.

Catalina 25 Galley with Dinette Interior, Swing Keel Winch Below Companionway, Fuse Panel Behind Sink
Catalina 25 Galley with Dinette Interior, Swing Keel Winch below Companionway, Fuse Panel behind Sink

The Catalina 25 galley area has slightly more head room than the rest of the salon due to the cabin sole being lower there than elsewhere so that an average height male can nearly stand up.  Catalina 25s came from the factory with a two burner pressurized alcohol stove dubbed by owner’s as the “curtain burner”.  Most alcohol stoves have been replaced with a newer and safer appliance.  The space allotted for the stove is outboard to port and large enough to support a gimbaled multi-burner range and oven, or a medium sized microwave oven.  Aft of that space is the ice box, roughly 5 gallons in size, and which can keep a 10lb bag of ice for two days.  Some Catalina 25 owners have upgraded the insulation around the icebox or installed refrigeration kits.  Inboard of the icebox is a single sink.  On all Catalina 25s, the factory installed a light above the ice box, and Whale flipper type faucets for cold water only.  Some owners have upgraded to pressurized and hot and cold water.  Replacement parts for galley equipment and all interior plumbing are available from Catalina Direct.

Aft of the sink on the bulkhead is the fuse panel, switches, and battery selector.  Accessing the wiring to this panel is relatively easy through the lazarette.  Some Catalina 25s were equipped with shore power from the factory, and if so, the alternating current switch is typically located here as well.  Shore power is another popular upgrade by Catalina 25 owners, with kits available from Catalina Direct.  Replacement electrical components are available from Catalina Direct.

Catalina 25 Quarterberth
Catalina 25 Quarter Berth

Aft of the starboard settee is the quarter berth.  This berth is long enough to sleep even the tallest adult.  If the boat is equipped with an outboard, then there is extra space to stretch out where the inboard motor would otherwise be located.  Many Catalina 25 owners use this space for storing long items, such as boat hooks, spinnaker poles, tents, etc.  At the aft end of the quarter berth is a self built into the transom.  There is also a transom inspection port near there.  Catalina installed a light above the forward end of the quarter berth.

VENTILATION

A Catalina 25 with Windscoop Mounted In V-berth Hatch
A Catalina 25 with Windscoop Mounted in V-berth Hatch

Ventilation is extremely good on the Catalina 25 due to the already discussed opening hatch and ports, and is especially good with the pop-top cabin models.  However, even owners without the pop-top models report being able to sleep in comfort, even in warm climates, by using a Windscoop in the hatch in the v-berth, or by running a box fan in the hatch in the v-berth, both of which can funnel air through the entire boat.  Some Catalina 25 owners report an additional box fan is necessary in the hatch way to improve the funnel effect, especially in the aft quarter berth.  Other owners have installed marine air conditioning, while others have installed simple inexpensive household window air conditioners in the bulkhead between the aft quarter berth and the lazarette – they open the lazarette when running this setup in order to circulate air to the air conditioner, and the air conditioner’s condenser simply drips into the lazarette and into the bilge.  Many Catalina 25 owners have installed solar-powered ventilation fans in the v-berth hatch or in the head to ventilate the boat when not in use.

Catalina 25 Companionway and Bulkhead-mounted Cockpit Instruments
Catalina 25 Companionway, Bulkhead-mounted Cockpit Instruments, and Halyard Winches On Deck House, Port and Starboard

ON DECK

Up the four steps from the salon through the large companionway is the Catalina 25 cockpit.  For an inshore boat, the large companionway is nice.  The relatively large companionway makes it possible for someone to stand in the salon and be connected to the goings on in the cockpit, and provides additional light and ventilation to the salon.  At the base of the companionway is a respectably sized bridge deck to prevent down flooding into the salon.  Catalina 25 owners report that the rake of the companionway can enable rainwater to leak onto the companionway steps and the salon sole.  Many have canvas or other covers over the hatch boards when away from their boats or during rain.

The cockpit of the Catalina 25 is large for a boat this size.  Six can sit comfortably in the cockpit and eight can squeeze in.  The benches are comfortably broad with decent backrest coamings.  The coamings are wide enough to install additional cleats and winches, cup-holders, and bimini covers or cockpit awnings.  A bimini kit specific to the Catalina 25 is available from Catalina Direct.  Many Catalina 25s came from the factory with open cubbies installed in the coamings and many owners have installed cockpit stereo speakers.  A retrofit is available from Catalina Direct for Catalina 25s without these cubbies.  The benches are long and wide enough for an adult to sleep comfortably under the stars.  The rake of the cabin trunk at the forward end of the benches makes for a comfortable backrest when lounging.  Cockpit cushions are available from Catalina Direct as well as other suppliers.

Catalina 25 Cockpit with Crew
Catalina 25 Cockpit with Crew

For safety, the Catalina 25 cockpit is self-bailing.  Early models had the scupper drains in a horizontal position in the cockpit sole, which as in other boats were prone to clogging with leaves and other debris.  Later Catalina 25s were updated with drains oriented vertically in the transom at the level of the cockpit sole, which do not clog.  A stainless steel rail surrounds the cockpit.  Lifelines extend forward of the rails.  The lines open on either side at the forward end of the cockpit.  A stainless steel swim ladder hangs from the stern, and can be lifted out of the water when not in use.

Catalina 25 with Owner-installed Cockpit Table (feeding kids in the cockpit makes for easy clean up)
Catalina 25 with Owner-installed Cockpit Table (feeding kids in the cockpit makes for easy clean up)

All Catalina 25s came with a tiller, and the cockpit is setup well for tiller use with two benches that run the length of the cockpit.  Racers will appreciate the feedback of the tiller steering, but some more cruising oriented Catalina 25 owners have retrofitted wheel steering with relative ease due to the short distance from the cockpit to the rudder and easy access to necessary spaces beneath the cockpit.  The tiller on most Catalina 25s can be raised out of the way when not sailing, although some boats came with two bolts connecting the tiller to the rudder, in which case most of those owners simply removed one of the bolts so that the tiller could still pivot up and out of the way.  Replacement tillers specific to the Catalina 25 are available from Catalina Direct.

Most Catalina 25s have their halyard winches at the aft end of the cabin top, which cannot be reached by the helmsman without a tiller extension, but which are well situated for crew to operate.  Some earlier boats had their halyard winches mounted to the mast, although many owners have reconfigured their boats so that all lines lead aft.  Many owners have fitted the Tiller Tamer available from Catalina Direct, which allows them to leave the tiller unattended while moving forward.  Not all Catalina 25s have Jib sheet winches but if they are installed, are typically found on the cockpit coamings within very easy reach of the helmsman.  The mainsheet is also within very easy reach of the helmsman.  The Catalina 25 cockpit is large enough for crew to operate both the mainsheet and the jib sheets without interfering with the helmsman.

Beneath the port bench is a very large lazarette for a boat this size.  One Catalina 25 owner reports being able to easily store a 110% working jib, 135% drifter, and a 155% genoa in this locker along with his shore power cable, fenders, a throwable life preserver, and many miscellaneous items along the shelf built into the starboard side of the hull.  He particularly appreciated not having to clutter up his v-berth, which he and his wife actively used, with sails as is done on many boats.  The Catalina 25 lazarette can be secured with a padlock to prevent theft or a pin to prevent down flooding in a knockdown.

Catalina 25 Bridgedeck, Manual Bilge Pump Handle Port
Catalina 25 Bridgedeck, Manual Bilge Pump Handle Access to Port

All Catalina 25s came with a manual bilge pump, which was mounted in this lazarette so that the pump handle when installed, protrudes from the side of the left cockpit bench.  Access to this pump is easy from inside the lazarette.  The manual pump is not self-priming and is of little use except in emergencies.  Many owners have upgraded to electric bilge pumps running in tandem with the manual.

The earliest Catalina 25s had the fuel tank situated in this lazarette, but later the aft end of the lazarette was divided into a separate fuel locker which is accessible beneath an additional hatch under the aft end of the port bench.  The problem with having the fuel in the lazarette as in the original design is that the lazarette drained to the bilge enabling a possible build-up of explosive fumes on boats equipped with outboard motors and lacking bilge blowers as inboard boats have.  In the updated Catalina 25 design, the fuel is in a raised locker that vents to the outside and has no connection to the bilge.

Beneath the aft end of the starboard bench is a storage compartment not specified by Catalina for any particular use.  This compartment has a rubber gasket, and so some owners use it for dry storage while others use it for a cockpit cooler, large enough to hold ice and a 6 pack.  Some Catalina 25 owners report using this compartment for live bait.

Almost always, cockpit instruments are mounted in the aft cabin trunk bulkhead.  Owners report replacing and installing new instruments is straightforward due to easy access.  While typical and practical for boats of this size, if the cockpit is full, crew and guests can block the captain’s view of these instruments, and he or she must ask the person seated closest to them about readings.

Going forward, the side decks of the Catalina 25 are necessarily narrow, but not uncomfortably so.  The lifeline stanchions are at the low height of 22” typical for a boat this size, but are functional if one pulls up on the lifeline when holding on, which plants feet firmly on deck.  Most Catalina 25s have handholds running the entire length of the cabin house top.  The shrouds are placed directly in the middle of the side decks so that going forward requires a little navigation although owners seem to move forward with ease.  Replacement life lines and stanchions specific to the Catalina 25 are available from Catalina Direct.

Catalina 25 Bow Illuminated By the Deck Light
Catalina 25 Bow Illuminated by the Deck Light

The bow is a nice space for working with a sturdy pulpit surrounding the anchor locker.  Catalina 25 owners report this is a nice rail on which to lean while hanking on jib sails in a chop.  The anchor locker is large enough to hold an appropriately sized Danforth anchor and plenty of rode.  The anchor locker drains overboard and can be secured with a padlock or pin.  Replacement bow pulpits and stern rails specific to the Catalina 25 are available from Catalina Direct.

In 1990, the Catalina 25 was discontinued and the Catalina 250 was introduced shortly thereafter.  While the Catalina 250 is also a good boat, it began Catalina’s shift toward day-sailers in this size class.  The Catalina 250 used water ballast with a centerboard to improve trailering ability, but a wing keel model was also offered for sailors interested in a more traditional setup.  The Catalina 250 also lacked a number of the liveaboard-type cruising features of the Catalina 25, but did benefit from a better enclosed head.  Catalina produced the Catalina 250 for a number of years, but later moved entirely to day-sailors for this size class of boat.

Catalina 25 Family Sailing
Catalina 25 Family Sailing

Catalina 25s can be found on the used boat market typically ranging anywhere in price from $4,000 to $15,000, mostly depending upon condition, installed equipment and upgrades, and interior updates.  However, derelict project boats occasionally pop-up for much less.  Due to the ubiquity of the Catalina 25, it is always easy to find one for sale on Craigslist, Sailboat Listings, Sailing Texas, and other venues, and there are a plethora on Yacht World.  If shopping for a Catalina 25, make sure all swing keel maintenance has been performed or be prepared to do it.  Check early boats with aluminum trimmed windows for leaks, which was common but easily repairable.  Check for blistering, which was a hit and miss problem on earlier boats.  Otherwise, nothing is special to consider with these boats that one would not for any other boat.

Special thanks to Scott Bond, Steve Milby, Frank Oliver, Dave Bristle, and Kyle Koeper for their contributions to this article.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Catalina 25, 250 & Capri 25 International Association

Catalina 25 Specific Parts Available from Catalina Direct

Catalina 25 Specifications, and Printed Brochure and Equipment List from Catalina Yachts

Catalina 25s for Sale on Yachtworld.com

COCKPIT VIEW VIDEO OF CATALINA 25 SAILING ON CALIFORNIA DELTA

CATALINA 25 CLASS RACING

VIDEO TOUR OF A CATALINA 25 WITH POP-TOP, TRADITIONAL LAYOUT, AND SWING KEEL

C&C Landfall 38 Review

Today, the C&C Landfall 38 is a fantastic 38 foot cruiser, if you can get over it’s wood cored hull.

C&C Landfall 38 Layouts
C&C Landfall 38 Layouts

The C&C Landfall 38 is a masthead sloop designed by Robert Bell of C&C Yachts, built from 1979 to 1985.  The Landfall 38 was designed for the cruising market and not for racing, which means that its design is only partially flawed by the influence of racing rules at the time of its inception – she is somewhat pinched in the stern.  Fortunately for buyers today, the boat was never very popular with cruisers who had difficulty believing traditionally racing-oriented C&C could produce a good cruising sailboat.  Only 180 C&C Landfall 38s were built.

The C&C Landfall 38 covers the bases with features and design elements requisite for consideration as a cruising boat today.  Her mast is keel stepped.  By modern standards, she has a longish fin keel.  Some cruisers may eschew her spade rudder for a rudder protected by a skeg or the keel itself, but a spade rudder is at least sufficient for a class B boat.  The combination of longish fin and spade rudder is a nice compromise resulting in a boat that both tracks and tacks well, can go to weather reasonably well, and makes little leeway.  Her ballast ratio is 38.92%, which is slightly higher than most of today’s production boats.   Combined with her 12′ beam, she is relatively stiff.  She has a 5′ draft, which is only 1-2′ less than most good sailing cruising boats, making her only a little less stiff but great for the Florida Keys or Bahamas.  C&C Landfall 38’s displacement is 16,700 lbs.  Her sail area to displacement ratio is 15.93, just putting her under the figure of 16 considered for cruiser/racer boats.  Her length to displacement ratio is 271.48.  Her pinched stern will make her less ideal for running downwind than a boat with beam carried all the way aft.

C&C Landfall 38 Tumblehome
C&C Landfall 38 Tumblehome

The C&C Landfall 38 is an attractive boat.  She has a nice sheer line with a teak toe rail, sleek and relatively modern looking deck house (resembles a Catalina, although missing additional port lights forward), moderately raked bow, wineglass-like slightly raked transom with a small counter cut-out just above the water line, and nice hull lines with slight tumblehome.  From any angle, she appears nicely proportioned.

DOWN BELOW ON THE C&C LANDFALL 38

Fit and finish on C&C Landfall 38s is top-notch.  In addition, these boats were built when manufacturers still used solid wood instead of veneers, which goes to durability as well as overall appearance.  There is some variance in interior wood choices and other accents.  The original interior fabric choices appear to be rather conservative, resulting boats with original fabric not appearing particularly dated.

The best characteristic of the C&C Landfall 38 is her interior layout because it is unique and could be most functional to the right owner.  Forward, there is a private cabin with a good-sized v-berth, good for 1-3 children or 1-2 adults.  This cabin includes a bureau to port and a hanging locker to starboard.  Along the hull above the v-berth are the typical small shelves.

C&C Landfall 38 Main Salon
C&C Landfall 38 Main Salon

Aft of the v-berth, there is the main salon with port and starboard settees, and a drop leaf table that seats 4 very comfortably but could seat 6-7 with relative ease.  There is ample storage in cabinets above the backs of the settees, behind sliding doors.  Additionally, some C&C Landfall 38s have a storage cabinet on the bulkhead separating the v-berth from the main salon.  Hand holds run along the entire length of the cabin ceiling, port and starboard, in the main salon.

C&C Landfall 38 Galley
C&C Landfall 38 Galley

Aft of these settees, to port is a relatively large U-shaped galley with near-centerline dual sinks aft with storage beneath, cold storage to aft and port, a gimballed range and oven outboard to port, storage in cabinets with sliding doors outboard to port.  Some C&C Landfall 38s have additional storage cabinets above the sinks and additional counter space forward with storage beneath.  Others have an odd cut out in the bulkhead above the sink into the aft cabin.

C&C Landfall 38 Separate Shower Stall
C&C Landfall 38 Separate Shower Stall

Directly across from the galley to starboard is a large head with either a separate shower stall or a large linens closet.  Most C&C Landfall 38s appear to have had the separate shower stall.  There is storage behind the toilet, below the sink, and above both, all with either hatch or sliding doors.  Having the galley and the head amidships is ideal for comfortable usage.  Having so much space dedicated to the galley and the head maybe ideal for liveaboards.

C&C Landfall 39 Captain's Quarterberth
C&C Landfall 38 Captain’s Quarterberth

Aft of the galley and head is the most unique and interesting aspect of the interior layout.  This is the captain’s cabin, separated from the galley, head, and main salon by a bulkhead and door.  To port is a double quarterberth with nice storage cabinets or shelf outboard along the hull.  To starboard is a navigation desk.  In between, slightly offset to starboard is the companionway to the cockpit.  There are storage drawers to port of the companionway ladder.  Cruising families will immediately recognize that this arrangement affords the greatest safety with children.  If mom and dad take the aft cabin in a C&C Landfall 38, they can easily watch the companionway, for both children wandering off and the unlikely intruder.

VENTILATION ON THE C&C LANDFALL 38

C&C Landfall 38 Navigation Desk
C&C Landfall 38 Navigation Desk

For ventilation, the C&C Landfall 38 has one large opening hatch above the v-berth, one medium opening hatch above the main salon, one small opening hatch and dorade vent above the galley, and one small opening hatch and dorade vent in the head.  The smoked port lights in the main salon do not open.  Some boats for sale today have an additional 2 dorade vents installed forward.

ON THE C&C LANDFALL 38 DECK

C&C Landfall 38 Cockpit
C&C Landfall 38 Cockpit

The cockpit on the C&C Landfall 38 is smaller than ideal for what is likely to be used as a class B boat today (Class B being used for coastal cruising or island hopping but not far offshore).  It has a standard T shaped layout with wheel steering and relatively easy maneuvering around the wheel.  The helmsman will be comfortable when heeled due to the humped seat behind the wheel.  Others in the cockpit may not have as much comfort because the other cockpit seats forward of the wheel are not long enough for lounging.  There is a lazarette beneath the starboard seats.

C&C Landfall 38 Aft and Side Decks
C&C Landfall 38 Aft and Side Decks

On some C&C Landfall 38s, all sheets are led aft to pairs of winches on each side of the cockpit seats within easy reach of the helmsman making for easy single handing.  On other boats, some winches are installed aft of the mast on the cabin top, making sailing with two or more preferable.  The original C&C drawings for the Landfall 38 show two winches installed on each the side of the cockpit and four winches installed aft of the mast.  If some boats have this configuration, it would offer the greatest flexibility for single handing and sailing with plenty of crew, enabling crew to spread out with some working outside the cockpit.  It appears that there was some variance in the design of the cockpit coamings so that on some C&C Landfall 38s there is only room for one winch on each side, while others could support two.  On all boats, two halyard winches rest on the cabin top to port of the starboard set companionway, and are easily accessible at the front of the cockpit, which is not far from the helmsman due to the small cockpit.

The side decks on the C&C Landfall 38 are large, but the shrouds are set almost athwartships in the middle of them, which while not necessarily problematic, is less than ideal considering that moving the shrouds slightly inboard would make for an unobstructed walkway.  There are ample hand holds along nearly the entire edge of the cabin house and a few more on the top of the cabin house amidships.

C&C Landfall 38 Ventilation and Mast Pulpit
C&C Landfall 38 Ventilation and Mast Pulpit

The stern rail is split with a swing down swim ladder, which is easy to use due to the nearly flat transom and the presence of a small aft deck behind the cockpit.  This configuration will also make boarding the C&C Landfall 38 when moored aft-to much easier than on most boats of this era, as guests and crew can walk around the wheel from outside the cockpit, rather than being blocked by it, before moving forward.

Lifelines are not short and are supported by reasonably stout stanchions.  Forward of the mast is a stainless steel grab rail.  At the bow, there is a substantial pulpit and large anchor locker with windlass.

C&C LANDFALL 38 AUXILIARY POWER

C&C Landfall 38 Engine Access
C&C Landfall 38 Engine Access

The C&C Landfall 38 was powered by various Yanmar 30 hp diesel engines, which are reportedly sufficient for driving this hull.  The engine is located beneath the cockpit.  Engine access is behind the companionway steps and from the aft quarter berth, with no access from above in the cockpit.  While this results in little room above the engine, there is little risk in water leaking from the cockpit onto the engine.  Due to the placement of the engine beneath the aft cockpit, a v-drive gear is necessary.

CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PURCHASING A C&C LANDFALL 38 

A significant design characteristic affecting the longevity of C&C Landfall 38s is the balsa cored hull.  The hull of the Landfall 38, along with most C&C boats, was entirely cored with wood, even below the waterline.  The wood coring is even continued around the through-hull fittings, unlike some other boats in which solid fiberglass is used around through-hulls to prevent leaks form destroying the wood core.  Coring with balsa allowed C&C to achieve a stiffer hull with less weight.  Achieving the same hull stiffness with fiberglass alone would have made for a much heavier boat.  For performance, lightness is ideal, for longevity, balsa coring is a major caveat.  Any leaks at through hulls or through the deck to hull joint could cause the structural wood core to rot, making the hull weak and likely to fail.  However, other reviewers, including those cited below, indicate that there have been few problems with the cores on these boats.  A thorough inspection of moisture in and delimitation of the hull should be a part of any survey before purchase.

For C&C Landfall 38s, naval architect Jack Horner advises that the smoked port lights in the main salon, deck hardware fittings, and the deck to hull joint can present persistent leaking problems.  Others indicate leaking around the mast passing through the cabin top, which of course is common for keel-stepped masts.

Prices for C&C Landfall 38s on the used market currently range from $30k to $70k.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

BoatWorks Magazine C&C Landfall 38 Used-Boat Test by John Kretschmer

Jordan Yachts C&C Landfall 38 Review by Richard Jordan

Specifications from sailboat data.com

C&C Landfall 38 Boats for Sale on YachtWorld.com

VIDEO TOUR OF THE C&C LANDFALL 38 INTERIOR