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Catalina 30 Review: Features, Performance and Tech Specs

7th feb 2024 by john burnham / samantha wilson.

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The Catalina 30 has had a long and illustrious life and remains to this day a favorite on the used market. Over 6,400 Catalina 30s were sold during its 25-year production run starting in 1974, testament to its solid construction, functional layout, ease of sailing, a modest price, and the strong Catalina dealer network. 

So what makes it so popular? While it’s not really intended as a bluewater cruiser, the Catalina 30 handles coastal and inshore sailing with ease. It is ideal for weekends or week-long cruises thanks to its cleverly thought-out interior space. Overall, the Catalina 30 sails well, is a stable design in stiffer winds, and can be sailed single-handedly by a competent skipper. 

Despite several versions throughout its production run, including the MKII, first built in 1986, and the MKIII, in 1994, the basic dimensions of the model remained unchanged: LOA 29’11", beam 10’10", displacement 10,200 lbs., and standard draft 5’3". Likewise, the interior was never altered. Catalina’s approach to the huge success of the 30 seemed to be ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’.

Catalina 30

Catalina 30. Rightboat seller photo. 

Catalina 30 Key Features 

There have been many versions of the Catalina 30 throughout its long production run, with different configurations. There have been standard and tall rigs, each with a bowsprit option, as well as shoal, wing, and deep fin keels. Following on from the MKII in 1986, the MKIII in 1994 made some noticeable changes, namely a slight widening of the hull aft, which allowed for a transom boarding platform. 

The Catalina 30’s hull, like all of Catalina’s models, is built of fiberglass and polyester resin, with a deck constructed of either balsa or plywood between fiberglass laminates. Belowdecks, the Catalina 30s layout remained unchanged throughout its life. With a wide companionway creating a spacious feel to the cabin, able to accommodate up to four with a separate head, large galley, and cozy saloon, it proved popular and user-friendly. The boat has an aft cockpit with a closed transom.  

While this model undoubtedly ticked a lot of boxes for many sailors, it had a few common problems, as described in various owners forums. Compression fatigue at the maststep on deck and in the bilge under the compression post has been commonly reported over the years and may need to be fixed. Likewise, old wooden spreaders sometimes fail, and leaks and separation may be experienced at the keel-to-hull joint. Ensuring these are all inspected in a thorough marine survey when buying will highlight any issues the boat might have. 

Catalina 30s spacious interior with separate cabin and dinette

Catalina 30s spacious interior with separate cabin and dinette. Rightboat seller photo. 

Catalina 30 Performance

The Catalina 30 impressively straddles the line between performance and comfort, offering decent speeds compared to competitors of the same era, despite a lower sail/displacement ratio of 15.22. The fin keel version has deeper draft, lowering the center of gravity and providing better performance upwind. A higher ballast/displacement ratio means the Catalina 30 stands up well in stronger winds. 

Catalina 30 Why Buy It  

  • One of the top-selling 30-foot sailboats ever
  • Spacious accommodation for up to 4 people including saloon and galley
  • Wide, deep hull creates exceptional space above and below decks
  • Known for its stability under sail
  • Variety of models and variations to be found on the used market
  • Good value for money on the used market with lots in circulation
  • Buying used?: Possibly compromised deck cores and mast steps merit checking before purchase. For other tips when buying a used boat, read our Boat Inspection Checklist  

catalina 30 sailboat review

Galley and saloon of Catalina 30. Rightboat seller photo.

Catalina 30 Technical Specifications

  • LOA: 29.92 ft
  • Beam: 10.83 ft
  • Draft: 5.25 ft
  • Rigging Type: Masthead sloop
  • Hull type: Fin w/spade rudder
  • Displacement: 10200.78 lbs
  • Ballast: 4200 lbs
  • Ballast type: Lead
  • Fuel tank capacity: 21 gallons
  • Sail area/displacement ratio: 15.22
  • Ballast/displacement ratio: 41.18
  • Critical hull speed: 6.70 knots
  • Engines (after mid-1980s): 3-cylinder Universal M-25 diesel engine

Enclosed cockpit and seating of Catalina 30

Enclosed cockpit and seating of Catalina 30. Rightboat seller photo.

Check out all the Catalina boats for sale

Written By: John Burnham / Samantha Wilson

John Burnham is a marine ​editor and writer with ​decades of journalism experience as ​Chief Editor of​ boats.com,​ Sailing World, Cruising World, and ​other boating websites. As a competitive sailor, he has led teams to world and national titles in the International One-Design, Shields, and other classes. Based in Newport, Rhode Island, John is a​ PCC leadership coach, a member of the ​America’s Cup Hall of Fame Selection Committee​, and a ​past board member of Sail America and US Sailing. For more, see  johnsburnham.com .

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

More from: John Burnham / Samantha Wilson

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catalina 30 sailboat review

Here’s All About The Catalina 30: Detailed Review

catalina 30 sailboat review

While many people love and admire the Catalina 22, they tend to forget its equally famous cousin, the Catalina 30. It was once, fondly, known as the ‘most popular 30 footer in the world’, which goes on to show its vast popularity. Although it is no longer in production (it got replaced with the Catalina 309), it still has a loyal fan-base who are always on the lookout to buy used Catalina 30s.

About the Catalina 30

The first model of the Catalina 30 was launched sometime in 1972. The keel boat has a fiberglass body with some wood trim for added flexibility. The rig type is masthead sloop which means a larger headsail and a larger jib. The main advantage this offers is efficiency and optimal use of wind. The tension it creates is ideal for ocean faring vessels or during turbulent weather conditions.

Over the course of time, slight improvements were made to the design of the Catalina 30 while staying true to the original blueprint. In the Mark II a ‘T’ shaped cockpit was introduced and an optional wing keel. The boat was made slighter by the use of aluminum tills and other lightweight metal wherever feasible. The Mark III, with which the craft retired, saw more opulence being introduced to the interiors with stylish cockpit, deck and cabin berths.

Catalina 30 Sailboat Specifications

Here are some details regarding the boat’s dimensions and other vital specifications:

Length Overall ~ 30 feet
Length in Water 25 feet
Hull Weight ~ 4627 kgs
Type Monohull
Beam 10 feet 10 inches
Type Outboard motor
Board Type Fin Keel
Rig Type Masthead sloop
Chassis Fiberglass

More About the Catalina 30

Low Maintenance

With a fiberglass hull and a sturdy engine, the boat requires minimal maintenance. The costs of repair are low and even though it is no longer in production, the spare parts are easy to find due to the network of a loyal fan following the Catalina 30 has cultivated.

High Customization

The boat is well equipped but rather basic in nature. However, it offers ample space and options for customization. Whether you wish to redo the interiors, upgrade the engine (upto 23 hp), add stability to the rudders, or introduce a roller-furling rig, the possibilities are limitless.

Easy Maneuverability

The fin keel that the Catalina 30 sports is known for higher and comfortable maneuverability, although, it can be a tad bit difficult for new boaters to control its directional drift. This is one of the key reasons why, while the boat is popular among lake and river racers, it is not recommended to be raced in the ocean.

Good Performance

If people are still in awe of a boat that was discontinued a decade ago, clearly there must be more to it than design and cost. What works in the Catalina 30’s favor is the ideal combination of a good ballast (displacement ratio), a wide beam, the option to increase the sail area using a tall rig, and a bowsprit. While the average hull speed is 6.7 knots, the boat is known to stay steady and stable even at speeds of around 8 knots. Not the fastest of the racer-cruisers out there, you may argue, but definitely a joy-giving and a balanced one.

In Summation

Even a decade after the discontinuation of its production, the Catalina 30 is beloved among avid sailors. It is one of the most popular selling models in the used boats market and several clubs and forums exist that regularly discuss upgrading and renovating their Catalina 30 to keep it sea-worthy and race-ready.

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  • Sailboat Guide

Catalina 30

Catalina 30 is a 29 ′ 11 ″ / 9.1 m monohull sailboat designed by Frank V. Butler and built by Catalina Yachts between 1976 and 2008.

Drawing of Catalina 30

  • 2 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 3 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 4 / 35 Bradenton, FL, US 1981 Catalina 30 $22,250 USD View
  • 5 / 35 South Haven, MI, US 1977 Catalina 30 $7,800 USD View
  • 6 / 35 South Haven, MI, US 1977 Catalina 30 $7,800 USD View
  • 7 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 8 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 9 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 10 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 11 / 35 Bradenton, FL, US 1981 Catalina 30 $22,250 USD View
  • 12 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 13 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 14 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 15 / 35 Bradenton, FL, US 1981 Catalina 30 $22,250 USD View
  • 16 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 17 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 18 / 35 Bradenton, FL, US 1981 Catalina 30 $22,250 USD View
  • 19 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 20 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 21 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 22 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 23 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 24 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 25 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 26 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 27 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 28 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 29 / 35 Nanaimo, BC, CA 1981 Catalina 30 $22,000 USD View
  • 30 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 31 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 32 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 33 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 34 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View
  • 35 / 35 Cheney Reservoir, KS, US 1981 Catalina 30 $12,500 USD View

Rig and Sails

Auxilary power, accomodations, calculations.

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.

Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio .311 Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.

SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64) 2/3

  • SA : Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D : Displacement in pounds.

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.

Ballast / Displacement * 100

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.

D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.

Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam 1.33 )

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.

CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

With more than 6000 sold, the Catalina 30 is one of the most successful production sailing yachts in history. During the long production run of this basic model there were a great number of variations with standard and tall rig configurations, each with a bowsprit option, and also including shoal, wing and deep fin keels. A MK II version began around hull# 3300 (1986).(T-shaped cockpit is the most notable change) The Mark III (1994) (walk-thru transom with boarding/swim platform standard though offered as an option on earlier models.) Aux. power: The early Yanmar, Universal 5411 and Atomic-4 engines were phased out in favor of the 3-cylinder Universal M-25 diesels during the middle 80s.

SHOAL DRAFT: 4.30’/1.31m SHOAL DRAFT (WING): 3.83’/1.17m

ALT.RIG DIMENSIONS: TALL: I: 43.00’/13.11m J: 13.15’/4.01m P: 37.50’/11.43m E: 12.00’/3.66m SA (100%): 507.73ft2/47.17m2

BOWSPRIT OPTION (STD): I: 41.00’/12.50m J: 13.15’/4.01m P: 37.00’/11.28m E: 12.00’/3.66m SA (100%): 491.58ft2/45.67m2 (photo from Catalina brochure)

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Catalina 30 Review

Used Boat Review By Jack Horner

catalina 30 sailboat review

Several weeks ago I was preparing a survey of a Catalina 30 for a client and found myself looking for other Catalina 30s for sale to help me establish an approximate value. I quickly found more than 75 for sale and was again reminded of the remarkable popularity of this cruiser/racer. Quite frankly, I found myself a little surprised that I hadn’t included a review of the Catalina 30 earlier in this series. Better late than never and perhaps even more appropriate now because 1998 celebrates the 25th year of production of the Catalina 30.

Introduced in 1974, as the big brother to and natural step-up from Catalina’s popular 27 footer, the original design remained nearly unchanged for 20 years. In 1994, Catalina introduced the Catalina 30 Mark III with some subtle changes in styling to give the boat a more “Euro” look. The hull was widened slightly from about station seven (70% of the waterline length) aft in order to incorporate a transom boarding platform and ports were added to the hull sides.

Since 1974, the principal dimensions have remained the same at LOA 29′ 11″, beam 10′ 10″, displacement of 10,200 lbs. and standard draft 5′ 3″. From 1977, shoal draft was offered as an option first with a fin keel drawing 4′ 4″, which was replaced with a winged keel design drawing 3′ 10″ in 1988. The displacement and ballast of shoal draft boats are 100 lbs. greater than the standard draft versions to compensate for the higher center of gravity of the ballast.

By the end of 1997 more than 6,400 Catalina 30s had been built. This is an impressive number, but it becomes even more remarkable when looked at in perspective. Consider that you could combine the production of ten of the most popular 30′ model sailboats built in the US over the last 25 years and still not approach the number of Catalina 30s built. Catalina literature boasts this is the most popular 30′ boat worldwide, a claim that would be hard to argue.

Catalina utilizes a standard lay-up of various types of fiberglass cloth and plastic resin in the construction of the hull. Deck construction includes either balsa wood or plywood sandwiched between fiberglass laminates. The deck is fitted over the hull in a shoe box fashion with a sealant in between. An aluminum rub rail and stainless steel self-tapping screws on about 3″ centers secure the deck and hull together. The keel is external lead fastened with stainless steel bolts. The rig is a simple deck-stepped masthead sloop with single upper shrouds and spreaders, double lower shrouds and split backstay.

Some of the more common problems encountered include deteriorated deck cores, compression fatigue at the mast step, failed wooden spreaders, failure of lower chain plate attachments on older model boats, and leaks and separation at the keel to hull joint. There is also sometimes delamination and damage along the vulnerable deck to hull joint caused generally by minor docking incidents over the years.

The engine of the Catalina 30, upgraded from 11 hp to 23 hp, is located midship beneath the dinette seat. This is, in fact, the best location for an engine in terms of weight distribution; however, it complicates the installation of the engine exhaust, leaves the machinery more vulnerable to bilge water and makes sound insulation more difficult. Except for sound insulation, these drawbacks can be overcome with careful maintenance.

The accommodation plan of the Catalina 30 has been so popular that even though it is one of the easiest modifications for a builder to accomplish, the layout has remained unchanged for 25 years. The companionway opening is exceptionally wide, which, when open, makes the cabin appear even bigger than it is. A cockpit dodger or awning is a must with this design for adequate ventilation of the cabin in inclement weather.

A combination of wide beam, good ballast/displacement ratio of .42, and relatively low sail area/displacement ratio of 15.1 makes the Catalina 30 a very stiff boat under sail. This is a feature many sailors find comforting. Other than developing considerable weather helm as she heels, the Catalina 30 doesn’t have any particularly disturbing characteristics under sail. She is likely a bit slower than some of her contemporaries, such as the Pearson 30 or Ericson 30. If you’re planning on racing, you may want to consider the optional tall rig which increases the sail area by 60 sq. ft. and the SA/D to 17.1. This should result in a much more lively and competitive boat.

There are a number of construction and design features of the Catalina 30 that, in my mind, restrict recommended usage to coastal areas, lakes and bays, but then this is true of many production boats in this class. On the other hand, Catalina founder and president Frank Butler has been quoted as saying that the company goal is to provide its customer with “as much boat for the money as we can.” Size-for-size and feature-for-feature the Catalina 30 is tough to beat. Selection is plentiful, and prices range from the mid-teens to the mid-seventies.

Jack Hornor is an Annapolis-based marine surveyor and naval architect. He can be reached at 410-451-8133 or  [email protected]

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06-05-2013, 06:05  
Boat: Bristol 27
? I've heard that it has weak chainplates, that there is a problem that causes the to drop somewhat. (Catalina Smile) and that they are not strong enough for serious cruising.

And yet I've also heard that they've sailed everywhere, that it's a 10,000 lb 30' , and that there have been almost 6500 of them built! Something is not adding up.

I'll be looking at a 1987 model btw.
06-05-2013, 06:17  
Boat: Mahe 36, Helia 44 Evo, MY 37

and a great value.

smile is the to joint that flex’s a little and cracks the non flexible .
06-05-2013, 11:57  
Boat: 15 foot Canoe
is one of the most popular out there. As my friend Martin says, "kind of like the Chevy BelAir of the boat market."
If you want to know something about them just ask a . I don't think they would charge you to ask their opinions about a particular production boat in general.
There might even be a on the forum that might give you an opinion.
kind regards,
06-05-2013, 12:58  
Boat: Union Polaris 36
boat it is probably the best for your buck. It doesn't have the tankage for distance cruising, but the livable space is almost as much as our 36ft boat.

If I was in the market for a boat to keep at a slip and use on weekends or for a few weeks a year I wouldn't hesitate to buy one again.

Life's a dream, live it!
06-05-2013, 18:08  
Boat: Lagoon 42
30 as a coastal cruiser. For weekends and even a full week to ten days every now and again she is a great boat. The C-30 is well built and is lots of fun to sail. We've done several short (1 - 2 day) legs on our C-30. The C-30 is definitely a coastal cruiser, but comfortable in good to moderate conditions for short passages.

If she surveys well with a reputable surveyor, you will have a very solid, reliable boat. I've owned my '87 for ten years now and sailed her extensively. I am very happy with my C-30.
06-05-2013, 18:42  
— Catalina 34 MkII
— G. K. Chesterfield
06-05-2013, 18:47  
Boat: 14 meter sloop
keelboat ever made. Ever.

You don't suppose there's something more than a glitch there?
06-05-2013, 18:54  
Boat: Woods Vardo 34 Cat
06-05-2013, 18:58  
Boat: hunter 376
. We ended up with a 31, however, since we liked the layout and the and holly sole. I have seen as many as 8 Catalina 30s docked in a row at a local marina. The numbers tell the story. Great mid-size coastal cruiser.
07-05-2013, 08:02  
Boat: Catalina 310
I've heard that it has weak chainplates, that there is a problem that causes the keel to drop somewhat. (Catalina Smile) and that they are not strong enough for serious cruising.
And yet I've also heard that they've sailed everywhere, that it's a 10,000 lb 30' boat, and that there have been almost 6500 of them built! Something is not adding up.
I'll be looking at a 1987 model btw.
07-05-2013, 08:41  
07-05-2013, 14:56  
Boat: 15 foot Canoe
07-05-2013, 15:15  
08-05-2013, 00:37  
Boat: Alberg 30
08-05-2013, 01:47  
Boat: Catalina 310
 
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Catalina 309

  • By Jeremy McGeary
  • Updated: August 10, 2006

catalina 30 sailboat review

What to do to upstage a tried-and-true cruiser? That was the question facing the management at Catalina Yachts when they at last concluded that after 30 years of production, the Catalina 30 had run its course.

The simple answer-to design and build a new 30-was complicated by the presence of 7,000 of the old models. Whatever filled the slot had to be seductive enough to tempt buyers away from a marketplace full of pre-owned boats at attractive prices.

Gerry Douglas, Catalina’s vice president and designer, says coming up with the basic design brief wasn’t hard. It wasn’t very different from its predecessor’s: a simple family cruising boat that’s fun to sail and has potential for low-key racing for owners so inclined. But he did agonize over how the boat should look. Should he stay with Catalina’s proven but conservative styling or try to add a little dash?

He’s succeeded in doing both. The Catalina 309 sports conventional proportions of hull, coachroof, and cockpit profile set off by contemporary half-bullet-shaped cabin-trunk portlights. Also contemporary is the broad beam aft, and Douglas has softened its visual impact by carefully sculpting seats and a boarding step into the transom.

Another challenge was to fit the best possible equipment without busting the boat’s necessarily tight budget; to help do that, Catalina asked its vendors for creative solutions.

Edson responded with a tidy steering console that arrives at the Catalina plant assembled and prewired and requires six bolts to secure to the cockpit sole. The steering system is designed so that it barely intrudes below the cockpit sole, making the berth beneath truly usable by a couple.

Garhauer crafted a ball-bearing mainsheet traveler on which both control lines exit via sheaves under the track on the port side and lead cleanly to the cockpit.

Lewmar manufactured a new winch, a model 34, for the 309’s primaries because the needed capacity fell between its existing 30 and 40 models.

Catalina itself looked hard at its production methods. It changed the hull/deck joint at the stern to run it across the top of the transom and around the transom opening. This removed it from the transom/ hull perimeter, which is difficult to seal on the inside and is vulnerable to damage. A plate at the top of the compression post for the deck-stepped mast butts the step plate, so there’s metal-to-metal contact from the butt of the mast right down to the keel, eliminating a prime source of old-boat maintenance woes. The mast wiring passes through a swan-neck standpipe to prevent water ingress. The chainplates, too, are new, with ball-and-socket joints belowdecks connecting to tie-rods, which lead to an aluminum channel laminated to the hull-liner pan behind furniture in the saloon and head.

One effect of the boat’s broad beam is immediately apparent on boarding. The cockpit is generous in its proportions, and the steering console and integral table serve as foot braces. The bimini looks large, but this could be a symptom of early-hull-number syndrome-an artful dodger maker could no doubt sweeten its appearance.

Other than being wider, which translates into more elbowroom, the arrangement belowdecks isn’t so different from the original 30. The biggest gain is in the aft cabin, on the starboard side, where a double berth fits under the cockpit. To port, the galley has picked up some counter space and storage. It’s also fitted with a Coolmate refrigeration unit that automatically switches from 12 volts DC to 110 volts AC when shore power is available. Opposite the galley is a small, aft-facing chart table served by the aft end of the starboard settee. The switch panel, which employs automotive-type fuses instead of circuit breakers, is mounted on the outboard partition, with space above it and on the aft-cabin bulkhead for nav gadgets.

Forward, the V-berth expands to a double via a sliding filler panel, and just aft and to port is the perfectly adequate head. On the starboard side, a low hanging locker topped with a broad, fiddled shelf contributes to the saloon’s openness.

In the saloon, the center of the starboard settee’s backrest flips down for a beverage/book/game table. The dining table is to port, next to the L-shaped settee, and stows in the aft cabin. A large, hinged table leaf opens to meet the starboard settee. Five can sit around it in comfort. A sixth might need to bring a folding chair from the vast cockpit locker, because Douglas has shortened the L of the dinette, which on the 30 extended over the engine box. On the 309, the engine lives under a removable box that supports the companionway steps, making it totally accessible.

Unornamented, teak-veneered joiner panels decorated only by their grain and minimal teak trim set the traditional ambience, abetted by the “teak-and-holly” cabin sole, which is, in fact, a colored, synthetic laminate glued into recesses in the fiberglass floor pan-another vendor-supplied solution. The whole interior, assembled in customary Catalina fashion in the fiberglass liner pan, promises to be comfortable and easy to maintain, and needs the addition only of a clock and barometer set, a few books, and some well-thumbed copies of Cruising World to make it a cozy getaway.

My host for the test run last February was Ron Frisosky, the southeast regional rep for Catalina Yachts who’s served both builder and dealers for decades. We set off from Miami’s Bayside Marina and motored out to Government Cut.

We’d just begun to settle in when photographer Billy Black zoomed up. “Lookin’ good!” he called over. “But can you tighten up the jib halyard?” Ron fiddled with it some, but once Billy was gone, we decided to tighten it more. I eased the jib sheet so the sail was partially luffing, and we led the halyard back to the cockpit winch, cranked it up a bit, and reset the jammer on the mast. All the while, with the main drawing and the wheel locked, the boat happily reached steadily along. Even after I trimmed in the jib, it just kept on course, untended, for about 10 minutes. That’s the kind of forgiving behavior I like to see in a cruising boat.

This all took place in a nice sailing breeze of maybe 10 to 12 knots and a light chop. The speedo transducer wasn’t installed, but my eyeball-over-the-transom technique suggested a solid 5 to 6 knots. If time had permitted, we’d have had a lovely and quick sail down to Cape Florida with the boat tacking happily through 90 degrees even with the shoal-draft wing keel. I’d have wished to sail in a little more bluster, but for the conditions of that day, Douglas, in his role as sailboat designer, seems to have hit the sweet spot.

Because, in Douglas’ experience, most customers for the 309 would buy in-mast furling as an option, he made the Seldén rig standard, and he designed the sail plan with a taller fractional rig to make up for the inherent loss in area and performance one trades off for handling convenience.

I’m a stand-to-windward helmsman, so it was only when I sat to leeward that I noticed that you can’t see the compass from down there-the price for mounting all the instruments in the binnacle. No matter really, because the coamings would easily accept a pair of auxiliary compasses. When steering, I was pleased to have a real pulpit behind me, with only a narrow lifeline gate giving access to the transom step. When you want to use the transom for boarding or for swimming, the helm seat lifts out and stows outboard of the cockpit on the lifelines.

The deck is cleanly laid out, and the shrouds, set inboard next to the coachroof, offer support, not obstruction, when you move along the side decks. An anchor locker occupies the bow, and to project the anchor’s shank clear of both the hatch and the drum of the Schaefer jib furler, the anchor roller is on a short sprit. A bail welded to this simple stainless-steel channel makes a tack point for a colored funsail of some kind. I thought the sprit looked a little vulnerable, and Catalina has since modified it. I also see potential for a more substantial after-market fitting with a second anchor roller for adventurous owners who need Bahama-mooring capability.

In addition to fitting a holding tank under the port settee, Douglas has managed to squeeze in 10 more gallons of water (not counting the 11 gallons in the water heater) and 6 more gallons of fuel than were aboard the original Catalina 30. In reasonable conditions, the motoring range of the 20-horse Yanmar diesel with 27 gallons of fuel should be in excess of 200 miles.

Frank Butler, founder of Catalina Yachts, is credited with getting more people sailing than anyone else, and it’s clear that Douglas, his heir apparent, means to uphold the tradition. In the 309, he’s created an honest-to-goodness unpretentious yet modern sailboat that begs to be taken out of its slip and exercised. It doesn’t have the varnished teak and retro styling of the new millennium’s gold-plated daysailers, but it offers the same on-the-water fun with full standing headroom and two double cabins. It’s at once an entry-level and a departure-level cruising boat. It’s big enough, at small enough an investment, for a young family; it’s small enough for those with flagging agility to cope with; and it’s a great little sailboat for anyone in between who doesn’t want or need or can’t afford anything more.

Catalina 309 Specs:

LOH: 31′ 0″ (9.45 m.) LWL: 26′ 6″ (8.08 m.) Beam: 11′ 6″ (3.51 m.) Draft (fin/wing): 6′ 3″/4′ 4″ (1.90/1.32 m.) Sail Area (100%): 523 sq. ft. (48.6 sq. m.) Ballast (fin/wing): 4,000/4,400 lb. (1,814/1,996 kg.) Displacement (fin/wing): 9,800/10,200 lb. (4,445/4,627 kg.) Ballast/D(fin/wing): .41/.43 D/L (fin/wing): 235/245 SA/D (fin/wing): 18.3/17.8 Water: 35 gal. (133 l.) Fuel: 27 gal. (102 l.) Mast Height: 48′ 3″ (14.71 m.) Engine: 20-hp. Yanmar diesel Designer: Gerry Douglas Sailaway price with typical options: $95,000 plus freight Contact: Catalina Yachts, (818) 884-7700, www.catalinayachts.com

  • More: 2001 - 2010 , 31 - 40 ft , catalina , Coastal Cruising , keelboat , monohull , Sailboat Reviews , Sailboats
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catalina 30 sailboat review

Are there any cons to a 1987 Catalina 30?

  • Thread starter sf
  • Start date Aug 17, 2004
  • Catalina Owner Forums
  • Mid-Size Boats

We have looked at a 1987 Catalina 30. The interior is in mint condition. However, I have never sailed on a Catalina and would like to know how it sails and if anyone owns one what, if any, are the things they don't like.  

Todd (SV Windwalker)

What's not to like? Or at least that's what you'll get from the folks on this forum (Shoulda gone to the Hunter forum for a longer reply list)... Here's my opinion: C-30's are the most boat you can find for the $ period. Are they fast? No. Do they point well? No. So if you are not racing, nor in a hurry, go for it! For the long list of caviats to my opinion on sailing characteristics, here they come...  

JimmyDreams

wiring harness upgrade? I have an '87 30 and love it. My only suggestion as to the boat you're looking at is to check and see if the main engine wiring harness has been upgraded. Seaward putout an improved harness for our boats and I just made the change last week. I swear the engine actually runs better (it's probably my imagination!) I also replaced the entire engine control panel. Total cost was $350, but I'm happy with it. The easiest way to see if your boat has been upgraded is to see if the engine control panel has a volt meter or an amp meter. If it's a voltmeter, then the previous owner upgraded the wiring harness. If it's an amp meter, the upgrade has not been done. The old control panel had really my only pet peve about the boat: the alarm lights were not very bright and the actual alarm was VERY hard to hear if the engine was running. The new panel has a VERY loud alarm and bright alarm lights. My old tachometer was kinda wiggy and the new one is rock solid. The 30 is a great boat....you'll love it! Jim  

wayne andrews

Just bought one last Feb. 04 I just bought a 1987 cat 30 in miami last feb.. I really like the boat and if you want to go faster than 6.5 -7 knots then you better look futher. Mine has the upgrades mentioned and I would like to know if your nav. table is like the 87 or the 88 couse mine has the 88 interior. It was built in the 10 month of 87. The table has a lift top instead of the box cabinet like in the 87 model. It's a great boat for the money if you like interior volume and comfort.  

Jeff M10656

Jeff M10656

We bought an '88 We bought an '88 last spring. We wanted a MKII and started looking at the 87's figuring they would be the best value. One thing I did find out is that prior to hull #5398, the 30's had wood in the keel sump which eventually leads to the Catalina smile and eventually the fix ($$$ and mess -- search archives for "catalina smile"). That made me upgrade my search for a '88 after hull #5397. There are many good boats out there, so if there appears to be anything wrong, check out more boats. Overall, we love the boat, lots of room for the kids and good sailing characteristics.  

Cat 30 Nav Station the Nav is like the 88  

How do you know what Hull # it is? How do you find out what Hull # it is?  

Todd said it best it is the most boat for the $$$$$. period!!!  

Jeff Martin

Hull Number It is stamped on the stern, upper right. see explanation from IC30A.com "According to my paper work the hull identification number is "CTYN0773M77L". What does that mean?" The hull numbering, as required by the USCG, contains 12 characters; 3 groups of four. The first four are manufacturer and size, i.e. CTY for Catalina Yachts and "N" for 30, "L' for 27, etc. The next four are the serial number of the boat (only the C22 exceeded the four spaces allowed with 16000 boats built-we dropped the "1" at the front). The last four are the year of manufacture and/or model year. This coding changed over the years. If your boat has the old number system. The first "M" means modified. The next two digits are the year built. The final "L" is the month "July" in the modified system. The later system started with an "A" which is Jan, "B" is Feb, etc. The second number is the year built (4=1994) and the last two numbers are the model year (95=1995) C30 # 049 was built in Woodland Hills in 1975. C30 #315 is a 1976. Your C30 #773 is a 1977 . As you can tell by the jumps in the numbers, Frank was cranking out a lot of C30's back then. Your members can e-mail me at [email protected] if they want to know what year, etc. their boat is. David Graas, Customer Service, Catalina Yachts  

Stu Jackson

Stu Jackson

Wiring harness The upgrade is not an enhancement, it is a safety issue. The old connectors can and DO corrode. The boat can start itself when you're not there, and create all sorts of problems. The C30 is a great boat. Many other Catalinas in that size range and years of manufacture had the same old harness. The wiring harness referenc has been posted so many times here - try www.c27.org, tech tips. All should be replaced, asap. Stu  

great I have owned a 87 Catalina 30 tall rig for 4 years. It is a great boat. The universal 21hp engine has never failed and maintenance is easy due to the location. The boat is easy to single hand and handles severe weather well. The Hood yacht system roller furling on my vessel is no good. It appears to be a poor design. Mine has siezed and I am having difficulty finding bearings. I would recomend the boat to anyone. Just keep in mind the depth of the water if you obtain a tall rig with a deep keel.  

G15876

More than yesterday but less than tomorrow... I'm getting to know her better and better everytime we go out and I manage to get more out of her on each outing. Loving her more and more! It is our second season on our C30TRBS 1987 and we just got from two weeks cruising on ...and the feeling we had upon our return home was simply: "What a great boat!" We faced some interesting conditions (25-35 knot winds with choppy seas for Lake Ontario) and she performed greatly. She's no racer but she's a great cruiser and anyone who comes on board can't believe the space down below...nor can we, for a 30 footer she's outstanding. If we had do to it all over, we would definitevely pick the same boat but would perhaps consider an 1989 to ensure that the upgrades and changes mentioned by other forum members are done (Wiring harness, keel support etc.) Have fun on your C30, we sure do! G  

84 C30 We bought our 84 C30 last November. I raced small one designs 30 years ago and really like the stability of the C30. When my wife and I started looking, we happened to see a C25 and a C30 in adjacent slips....the beam on the 30 sold her. A friend went with us last January in 20 knot winds and loved every minute of, he said it was the perfect size boat for Galveston Bay. He commented that the C30 had more interior room than his Moody 36. My only problem, I still react to steering directions as though it had a tiller rather than a wheel...want to go to starboard...turn right just like in the car, aI try to turn to port...hold over from the tiller. This is called driver error and not a problem. Great boat for the money, size and amineties.  

Watch the compression block I have an '87 and I love the boat. The only major problem I have had with the boat was the compression block in the keel (supports the compression post and mast) rotted, and the mast pushed the deck down. Check the block for rotting. If it is rotted, check if the deck has compressed. It can be fixed with time and effort, but do it before the damage is done. In '88, from what I have seen, they did a better job of covering the block so it wouldn't get wet from bilge water.  

C 30 Check out the Catalina 30 Owners site: www.catalina30.com/  

Great boat We bought our 1987 C30 #4821 for the Lake Michigan conditions...light winds become heavy winds, no waves become 4-6 foot waves. The boat handles great. I tend to singlehand which was also a prime requirement. If you can find a Mark III, the walk through transom looks appealing to me. Otherwise, no complaints.  

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Catalina 320

Frank butler's 25-year-old company updates its image with a scoop transom, modern appendages and an innovative layout, but he still likes a solid fiberglass hull. we like the result..

catalina 30 sailboat review

Catalina Yachts has carved a reputation in the production boat world by producing yachts that make owner feedback sound like a mantra. Typical comments are, “They provide real value for the dollar,” “This is not a Swan,” “A lot of boat for the money,” or, “They sail well enough, considering that most own­ers are cruisers.”

Since January 1993, owners of the newest model in the line, the 320, have added a new mantra: “This boat is really fast, and is surprisingly spacious.”

Based on our test sail and factory visit in Southern California, they are correct, especially considering the performance characteristics of earlier models.

Frank Butler opened the doors of the factory in an abandoned aircraft facility in 1969. Since our first review of a Catalina, we’ve been making the point that the company has grown to its position as the largest producer of boats in the country by consistently offering boats that meet the needs of a price-conscious marketplace. Designs have typically carried high-aspect ra­tio mainsails and large overlapping genoas that powered the boats at rea­sonable speeds while offering owners comfortable accommodations below­decks.

Catalina 320

The 320 stands apart from earlier models because de­sign modifications have dramatically altered sailing characteristics while in­creasing the living areas belowdecks and improved crew comfort on deck.

The 320 is pleasing to the eye, partially a reflection of a finer bow entry. While it has a modest over­hang at the bow and almost none at the stern, with a waterline of 28′ it’s clearly the product of the nearly plumb bow/reverse stern thinking so prevalent in architectural circles these days.

One of the design objectives was to improve performance, so modifications were made to the sail plan, keel and rudder, reflecting tinkering that chief designer Gerry Douglas and Daniel Casal began in the early 90s. Casal told us that the primary motiva­tion was to make the boats easy to handle, since they are often sailed as cruisers by middle-aged couples who often struggle to manage overlapping genoas. As a consequence, the mast on the 320 has been moved forward, resulting in an increase in the size of the main and reduction in jib size. This makes it easier for the designer to balance the rig. This boat can be sailed similarly to a fractional rig, and de­powered by furling the jib or changing to smaller headsails before reefing, and by easing the mainsheet when the wind pipes up (instead of flogging the jib). In a blow, trimming smaller headsails will be easier for the typical cruising couple, especially because the boats are equipped with Lewmar Ocean series self-tailing winches.

From a financial standpoint, Casal’s theory is that jibs are less expensive to replace than mainsails, and sailors will be more comfortable in the meantime. When forced to motorsail, more power will be derived from the mainsail, resulting in quicker trips and less fuel consump­tion. The flip side is that large mains can be cumbersome to reef and furl.

Underwater appendages were re­designed as well. Rudder size was increased and redistributed in an attempt to generate more lift per square foot of wetted surface. The new shape is deeper, has a shortened chord and elliptical trailing edge, changes that result in a higher aspect ratio. Keels, a fin or optional shallower version with winglets, were reduced in size as well. The new design is significantly narrower at the top so has less drag, and a lower center of gravity.

Increasing crew comfort also was a criteria in the design of the 320, so the hull tapers outward at a gentler angle at B max (maximum beam), which is located just aft of station six. The payoff is a comfortable, spacious cock­pit that has drawn positive comments from new owners, and increased living space belowdecks.

The result of the sail plan reconfiguration, which carries roughly the same sail area as the Catalina 34, and redesign of the appendages, are high­er pointing angles and better balance at the helm. Coupled with a finer entry and hull design, performance is improved, which even the most casu­al cruiser should appreciate.

Construction

With more than 25 years in business, Butler has overseen the construction of thousands of the 22′ to 42’boats he’s designed, including more than 15,000 Catalina 22s, which was among the first boats inducted into the Sailboat Hall of Fame last spring. It is reasonable to assume the company knows how to properly lay up a hull, though it is continually exploring methods that will reduce cost without compro­mising structural integrity. A change in material from woven to knitted mat was included in the 320, for instance, in an attempt to increase hull strength while reducing displacement and simplifying the fabrication process.

The hull of the 320 is solid fiberglass, nine alternating layers of 1.5-ounce mat and 21.7-ounce roving. Vinylester resins are used on exterior skins above and below the waterline, so the hull is guaranteed for five years against blistering. Seven additional thicknesses of mat, roving and 2415 Pro mat are laid up in the bottom of the hull until a thickness of 1″ is reached. Layers of 1208 Promat, and 2-mm Coremat reinforce the transom and sections where hull and deck are joined.

The hull-deck joint is a shoe box arrangement with a vertical deck flange extending downward over the hull, which results in a joint having both vertical and horizontal mating surfaces. Additional support is provided by a wood section inserted between the hull and liner, all of which are bonded with a putty consisting of filled polyester resin before being through-bolted with stainless steel fasteners located on 7″ centers. It is a strong joint.

The deck is cored with plywood sections, and the cabin top with end­grain balsa.

In typical Catalina fashion, the interior of the boat consists of molded fiberglass liners tabbed to the hull that add strength but make life diffi­cult when dealing with a problem such as occurred with some of the first 3 20s: Inadequate wiring runs were buried beneath the pans during the layout, and chafe and breaks occurred. Those boats were rewired and retro­fitted with PVC conduit; subsequent boats were redesigned to eliminate the problem. As we toured the factory and saw boats in varying stages of production, we were impressed by the level of attention to detail, even on surfaces that would ultimately be covered by the liners. Nonetheless, the wiring problem supports our bias against liners which restrict access to some parts of the hull.

The bilge in early models also proved to be too shallow, so new owners often found water sloshing about amidships. Those boats were retrofitted with baffles, which helps alleviate the problem. Later, the molds were retooled to create deeper cavi­ties below the floorboards. We didn’t notice any problem during our test of the boat.

The mast, a tapered double-spread­er section constructed by Sparcraft, is stepped on deck. However, to avoid stress problems in the deck, loads are transferred directly to a compression post, which is a hardcast anodized tube attached belowdecks to 4″ x 8″ beams laminated to a fiberglass struc­tural grid system.

Wire standing rigging is attached to deck plates that connect stainless tie rods located in the main salon to an L-shaped aluminum bar laminated into the hull that acts as a chainplate.

The 320 is designed specifically for the cruising market and accommoda­tions reflect the designers’ intent to enhance performance without compromising on creature comforts.

The most noticeable characteristic of the space belowdecks is that the boat feels bigger than a 32-footor. In fact, at 11′ 9″, it is beamy. One owner, who considered purchasing similarly-sized boats offered by two competitors, and the Catalina 36, told us that he purchased the 320 because he didn’t feel there was any compromise on space belowdecks, and the boat could be easily doublehanded by he and his middle-aged wife. He says he added a lot of cruising gear with the money he saved.

Catalina 320

The immediate impression upon stepping below is of lightness reflected from the varnished ash battens that line the hull, teak bulkheads and hand rails, and a teak and holly sole. Non­wood surfaces are white, accented by suede-like cushions on two settees. Sunlight filters into the boat from two Lewmar hatches and 10 portlights, four of which open to provide ventilation. Overhead lights are scattered throughout. The companionway steps are rounded up at the ends, making it easier to use when the boat is heeled.

The galley, located to port, has a double stainless sink, Groehe faucets, laminated surfaces, a 5-cubic-foot Adler-Barber refrigerator with 4″ in­sulation, and a Hillerange two-burner stove/oven. A dry locker, three large overhead cabinets, and a pot and pans cupboard aft of the ice box, offer adequate storage space for cruising. The foot of the companionway, has adequate lighting but seems to in­crease in size with the light from a skylight and mirrors that cover a bulk­head. It is not spacious, but has a sink, toilet, and shower with its own sump pump. Access to head hoses is facili­tated by removing the back panel of the medicine cabinet; three through­hulls are located in a cubby near the wet locker.

The saloon has comfortable seat­ing for four people at a table, mounted on a post, that converts to a double berth, and for others on a port settee, the front of which doubles as seating for the navigator.

The nav station table is adequately-sized, but the boat’s electrical panel is located in a spot that would be a better candidate for loran, GPS and other instruments. A shelf located above the panel offers a great spot for books but could better have been utilized for electronics. One owner, who had added instruments, radar and autopilot to the boat, was forced to buy a second panel.

The forepeak is large enough to sleep two adults, and has storage bins port and starboard, and two drawers. A unique touch is that the main panels of the bulkhead separating the forepeak from the saloon are removable, adding to the sense of spaciousness by creating view corridors as well as improving air circulation between the cabins.

The master stateroom is amazingly spacious, considering this is a 32-footer. Accessed to starboard at the foot of the companionway, it is furnished with a queen-size berth and has standing headroom. It has a hanging locker, the only one on the boat (on wet trips, the head might have to be utilized for additional hanging space), and a small bookshelf. Natural light and ventilation are provided by three cockpit portlights.

Another owner, who described himself as being 6′ 2″ and weighing 230 pounds, shared the berth with his wife during a month-long cruise and told us he was very comfortable. Because it’s located below the cockpit, there’s the possibility it will be noisy when sailing through the night.

The engine is located aft of the companionway steps, and is accessed most easily from the stateroom. While it is well insulated and easily accessible when changing lubricants and filters, we wondered about the potential for odors. However, two owners, each of whom have spent extended periods aboard, reported neither odors nor noise problems.

Deck Layout

Owner feedback after 340 boats indicates that the size and design of the T­shaped cockpit is appealing to cruisers and dockside loungers. It’s 8′ 9″ long, 5′ 7″ wide, and has 17″ wide seats with 13″ high, ergonomically­designed backrests, and good storage capacity under the seats.

The helmsman can handle a conventionally mounted 40″ Edson wheel from a seat mounted on the stern, or take a position on either rail. Access to the rudder post for an emergency tiller is aft of the binnacle, which means that the emergency tiller will be steered “backwards” from the stern.

There’s comfortable seating for six in the cockpit, and two additional “observation seats” mounted on the stern pulpit. The helmsman’s seat is removable, which allows a section of the stern to be removed to reach the swim platform and ladder. The port lazarette was designed to provide cruisers with adequate space for two 26″ bicycles, or sailing gear. A removable tray in this compartment has space for electrical cords, winch handles and the like. A second self­contained storage compartment with an overboard vent houses a propane tank, hoses for which are installed in runs along the hull at the factory. Further aft, batteries are stored in a small compartment at the stern. A lazarette to starboard is large enough for stowage of a dinghy or life raft. Water and fuel fillers are on the corner of the stern, so spills should not slop into the cockpit.

Standard equipment includes four Lewmar winches. The primaries are self-tailing 44s, with self-tailing 30s mounted on the cabin top for hal­yards, the mainsheet and traveler controls. This arrangement will work well until owners opt to add a spinnaker, at which point two additional winches will be a must.

Halyards are led aft to sheet stoppers on the cabin top located just aft of the main traveler; controls for the solid vang and topping lift were not, a common complaint among owners not anxious to begin drilling holes in their new boats. Because the main­sheet and vang are the only controls for the fully-battened main, performance-oriented sailors are adding a Cunningham and adjustable backstay, options we feel cruisers should consider as well. One owner said he felt the sail track was inadequate for racing, so upgraded to sturdier gear.

Unlike more performance-oriented designs, the Schaefer 2000 roller furler has been mounted above the deck, which may reduce the efficien­cy of a genoa, in exchange for improv­ing visibility. The tradeoff, though, is a uniquely designed anchor well with two molded areas for lightweight-type anchors and a third for a plow, plus room for rode, which is attached to an electric winch mounted below.

Performance

We tested the boat in 10-12 knot breez­es in the Pacific Ocean and also solic­ited comments from other 320 owners. The boat moves effortlessly under power from the three-cylinder Yanmar that is now standard equipment. It is responsive, turns on its keel and, in the words of one owner, “could be steered backwards through a slalom course.”

The 320 tacks easily, and points to within 40-45 degrees of apparent wind. One owner reported that the addition of sail controls improved pointing ability by five degrees, but since our demo boat had only the mainsheet and vang, we couldn’t achieve higher angles. Purpose-built sails instead of a furler-mounted genoa also would improve performance.

Once into the 2′-4′ ocean swells, we found the motion to be seakindly, though the helm is so well-balanced it takes time to find a proper sailing groove. Sitting behind the wheel made it difficult to see the telltales, and finding a comfortable spot on the rail was somewhat difficult because the cockpit is so wide.

When we hit the groove, however, the boat buried its shoulder and re-warded good helmsmanship with squirts forward, sailing best at about 15 degrees of heel. We are not sure if it would have more feel and sail more efficiently with a tiller, or whether we just needed more time at the wheel.

We discovered the boat has a turn of speed when we overtook two 35-38-footers cruising in the same sailing lanes. One owner, who formerly sailed a Catalina 30, reports that the boat is significantly faster than the 30 or 34, and another won his cruising division the first year on the race course, sailing with a provisional PHRF handicap of 150.

Our only time downwind was spent with just a genoa; we suspect it will need a cruising or conventional spinnaker to improve performance when sailing deep jibe angles.

The sailaway price of a 320 as we tested the boat, including fully-battened main, 135% genoa on a Schaefer furler, 3-cylinder diesel, and assorted otherequipment,is$70,975. We agree with owners who say they are receiv­ing good value. During a tour of the factory, we had the opportunity to see several boats in various stages of production, and consider quality control to be well-above average. The design is well thought out, and the perfor­mance better than we’ve experienced with other Catalina models. The average weekend cruiser will be able to step aboard and spend enjoyable time afloat, but those planning extended cruises will find themselves reorganizing stowage and creating spaces and methods for hanging gear.

Racers should plan on expendi­tures for sail controls and well-cut racing sails.

Owners we talked to said after-sale service was excellent; one mentioned that when he has a problem he simply “calls Frank.”

We liked the boat, and think it bears close inspection.

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Thanks for a marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.

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Best year for 30' Catalina? and why...

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I'll toss out another one: If you could have any Catalina 30, which model year(s) would you want to own and why? Which year(s) would you avoid, and why?  

Wingman, Pre-1988 C30s have a wood laminate keel stub, which is said to cause the "Catalina smile," and which in turn causes crevice corrosion of the keel bolts. A sailor who goes by Halakai on this forum has the whole nine yards on the problem, while another truly wise sailor (Max Munger) says the problem is somewhat exaggerated. I've decided not to give a ***k. I own a 1980 C30, and she's been a great ship. Good luck.  

catalina 30 sailboat review

I have an 83 and the only problem I have had has been leaking windows. I think all 30s over 15 years old have leaky windows and need to be re-bedded. Other than that, no real problems.  

Was it just the 30's that had the wood keel stub? What was in the 34's and 36's?  

catalina 30 sailboat review

Catalina improves their boats throughout the production run. I've never heard of them making a major mistake doing that. The later in the production run, generally, the better. I'm very happy with my 1984 C30. I like the MKII models better because I like the T shaped cockpit. I'm getting old and tired of climbing around the wheel. That being said, I don't care much for the look of the extra ports in the MKIII, but that's just me. In general, I'd prefer a newer one. David  

The hull has not changed over the years. The transom is different, certainly different materials in parts, but the hull remains almost a constant. Find one you like and can afford, have it surveyed, and if you love it, buy it. They made over 10,000 of them before they moved on to the 309, so there are a lot to choose from. Good ones usually don't last long.  

catalina 30 sailboat review

So you would say any 1980 style is good  

catalina 30 sailboat review

They made a lot of them, and they are generally really good boats for the price. The tall rig is much better than the standard rig, and is also much more highly sought after.  

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catalina 30 sailboat review

Catalina Xtreme Parasail

Photo of Catalina Xtreme Parasail - Avalon, CA, US. On the boat!

Review Highlights

Stefanie M.

“ One of the family members had a "wedgie" and we were laughing so hard but David understood the assignment. ” in 3 reviews

Tara R.

“ Sasha helped up book a reservation super easy and super help! ” in 2 reviews

Carrie J.

“ Safe , easy to book and easy to find! ” in 2 reviews

Location & Hours

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205 Crescent Ave

Avalon, CA 90704

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About the Business

Located on Catalina Island, offering single, tandem (two) or three flyers at a time. Catalina Xtreme Parasail operates a Coast Guard inspected vessel that can take up to 12 passengers per trip. The experienced and friendly crew will assist you throughout the boat ride and parasailing excursion. Catalina Xtreme Parasail thrives to ensure you have a safe and exciting time viewing the island from high above! …

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I highly recommend this parasail company! They are easy, simple and so friendly to deal with when booking your activity. My seven year old said it was his favorite thing on Catalina! You can also be an observer if you are not going to go up in the sky if they have room on the boat, I believe it was $26.00, good deal for a 45-60 min boat ride! We booked a late afternoon time slot because the fog/gloom tends to burn off after 3pm giving you blue skies! They are very safe and efficient, once you get on. They have an option where you can get dipped in the water, it's gentle and minimal wetness but fun! Also the option of not getting wet at all and dry landing. If you want professional photos, they have a package for that as well which would be worth it! Definitely call this place up and book your parasailing adventure!

catalina 30 sailboat review

Pretty high up

Photo of Bryan M.

Best in area , safety and fun . Boat guys were awesome and the views were amazing . You can't miss

Amazing and professional . Fun all around with all the safety measures you would want . Everyone gotta do this here

Amazing and professional . Fun all around with all the safety measures you would want . Everyone gotta do this here

Photo of Sam K.

David and Frank are both such genuine and kind people! Seriously made my trip so worth it, they are so experienced and really know how to make their customers have a great time!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!! 10/10 would do again!

the gorgeous view

the gorgeous view

Photo of Kalina V.

Amazing Experience! They gave us get 2 for price of 1 deal as l as it was my husband 's birthday. Friendly. Efficient customer service. It was incredible being lifted 800 feet and looking over the ocean and Catalina's coast. I wish we could fly longer than 10min.

Photo of Mike H.

Entire staff was amazing and operated with complete safety in mind. Felt totally safe and my friends and I had a blast!!!

Photo of Carrie J.

Had a great time! Safe, easy to book and easy to find! Would do it again! We were on a cruise and wanted to book something cheaper than what the cruise was offering and it was perfect.

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I went parasailing yesterday with my family and we all had a great time. David was very personable and quick with the jokes. Perfect for our personalities. One of the family members had a "wedgie" and we were laughing so hard but David understood the assignment. He brought them back in, his assistant quickly fixed the problem and they were sent back out. It was a great time and I'll for sure be booking again in July. Can't wait!

Photo of Stephanie G.

Flew high with Xtreme Parasail on Catalina Island and had a blast! Big thanks to captain Al and deckhand Jaxson for being professional, fun, and super safe. They made even the most scared riders feel ready to fly and we even saw dolphins! Love that the company donates to Susan G. Komen and has a pink boat 10/10 recommend!

catalina 30 sailboat review

The staff, boat, and total experience was outstanding. We truly enjoyed every aspect of the adventure.

catalina 30 sailboat review

Highly recommend! Everything went smoothly and it was a lot of fun. We were even able to check in like an hour early, shop, and then meet the boat 15 minutes before it was time to leave.

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IMAGES

  1. The Catalina 30 Used Boat Review

    catalina 30 sailboat review

  2. 1983 Catalina 30 Tall Rig Shoal Keel

    catalina 30 sailboat review

  3. Tried and True Catalina 30 Sailboat

    catalina 30 sailboat review

  4. Catalina 30

    catalina 30 sailboat review

  5. CATALINA 30

    catalina 30 sailboat review

  6. CATALINA 30 MKII: Reviews, Specifications, Built, Engine

    catalina 30 sailboat review

VIDEO

  1. BOAT LIFE: Day Sail and fishing on our Catalina 30 // Sailing the Pacific Northwest // Ep. 48

  2. CATALINA 30 Mark III Sailing Yacht Walk Through

  3. Catalina 30 sailboat launches into water. Fortress of solitude Lake Erie

  4. Rainy Day Life on a Catalina 30 Sailboat

  5. CATALINA 30 ! NEW WAY INTO THE BOAT! S02E21

  6. Pre-launch boat prep, Catalina 30

COMMENTS

  1. Catalina 30

    By eliminating that cost, Catalina may well be saving as much as $1,000 to $2,000 per Catalina 30. Any way you look at it, that translates into a lower price in the marketplace. The entire Catalina line is extremely popular with new boat dealers, who are required by Catalina to represent other lines as well.

  2. The Catalina 30 Used Boat Review

    The engine of the Catalina 30, upgraded from 11 hp to 23 hp, is located midship beneath the dinette seat. This is, in fact, the best location for an engine in terms of weight distribution; however, it complicates the installation of the engine exhaust, leaves the machinery more vulnerable to bilge water and makes sound insulation more difficult.

  3. Improve Your Catalina 30: Upgrading the World's Most Popular 30-Footer

    Learn how to enhance the performance and comfort of your Catalina 30, the world's most popular 30-footer, from hull and rigging details to systems and propulsion. Find out the common issues and improvements suggested by owners and the builder.

  4. Catalina 30 Review: Features, Performance and Tech Specs

    The Catalina 30 impressively straddles the line between performance and comfort, offering decent speeds compared to competitors of the same era, despite a lower sail/displacement ratio of 15.22. The fin keel version has deeper draft, lowering the center of gravity and providing better performance upwind. A higher ballast/displacement ratio ...

  5. CATALINA 30

    Notes. With more than 6000 sold, the Catalina 30 is one of the most successful production sailing yachts in history. During the long production run of this basic model there were a great number of variations with standard and tall rig configurations, each with a bowsprit option, and also including shoal, wing and deep fin keels.

  6. Owner Opinions Catalina 30 Mark III?

    10 posts · Joined 2007. #1 · Feb 27, 2008 (Edited) My wife and I are talking about moving up from our Catalina 22 to a Catalina 30 Mark III and I wanted to ask owners their opinions about their boats (both good and bad) and also get some advice on common problem areas to look for. Your thoughts on tall rigs vs. standard rigs.

  7. Here's All About The Catalina 30: Detailed Review

    About the Catalina 30. The first model of the Catalina 30 was launched sometime in 1972. The keel boat has a fiberglass body with some wood trim for added flexibility. The rig type is masthead sloop which means a larger headsail and a larger jib. The main advantage this offers is efficiency and optimal use of wind.

  8. Catalina 30 MK II or MK III

    The Catalina 30 Used Boat Review Reviewed in the July 1998 Issue of SpinSheet by Jack Hornor. www.spinsheet.com The Catalina 30 has been called the Chevy Impala of sailboats: A reliable, and pretty well-made, comfortable family cruiser that's easy to sail, designed to be sold at a price that the middle-class family could afford. ...

  9. Catalina 30 MKII

    Catalina 30 MKII is a 29′ 11″ / 9.1 m monohull sailboat designed by Gerry Douglas and built by Catalina Yachts between 1986 and 1991. ... Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay). D: ...

  10. Catalina 30', How seaworthy?

    In 2008 a poorly maintained Catalina 30 drifted from Dana Point California to Hawaii after the novice sailor went MIA going to San Diego. O.C. boat found off Hawaii - latimes. People on a sailboat in a gale "come apart" long before a halfway decent boat will be in any real peril. "Just call me TB".

  11. Catalina Sailboat Reviews

    Practical Sailor is different. Its candor is as sharp as a marlin-spike and its honesty as welcome as a steadfast quartering breeze. And that goes for its acclaimed boat reviews. Over the years, we've reviewed the Catalina 27, 30 and a dozen other Catalina models. For each boat, we take a revealing look at the specifications and construction.

  12. Catalina 30 Reviews, Specs and more

    The Catalina 30 was the largest and longest continuous production keel boat in the world, with over 6,500 hulls produced. 2001 American Sailboat Hall of Fame Inductee. Click the pictures below to link to the full review on the Catalina 30 and please contact the Murray Yacht Sales Team if you want to purchase or a sell a Catalina 30.

  13. Catalina 30

    Learn about the Catalina 30, a popular production sailing yacht with over 6000 units built since 1976. Compare different models, rigs, keels, and auxiliary power options with detailed specifications and calculations.

  14. Catalina 30 Review

    Size-for-size and feature-for-feature the Catalina 30 is tough to beat. Selection is plentiful, and prices range from the mid-teens to the mid-seventies. Jack Hornor is an Annapolis-based marine surveyor and naval architect. He can be reached at 410-451-8133 or [email protected].

  15. BOAT LIFE: Day Sail and fishing on our Catalina 30 // Sailing the

    We couldn't have asked for a better day to take our Catalina 30 sailboat out for a sail! The winds were light, but still enough to fill Blue Moon's sails. Th...

  16. Catalina 30 (the real story)

    As others have stated, the Catalina 30 had the longest production run of any sailboat. It was entered into the sailing hall of fame in 2001. IMHO, it is one of the best all-around boats ever designed and built because it is a cost point that let a lot of people get into sailing that otherwise would have been priced out of the market. It was built in 3 models, named Mark I (1974 to 1986), Mark ...

  17. Seaworthyness of Catalina 30

    Seaworthyness of Catalina 30. So Sun late afternoon we were out in 20 to 25 with gusts to 30k. Second reef in the main and about 4 feet of jib showing. 20k was fine but when it gusted to 30k we had the rail pretty close to the water and a lot of weather helm. We were fine and had a lot of fun despite the messy reefing job, it worked fine.

  18. Common Catalina 30 issues

    Its a wonderful source for the 30 owner. Yes, compression post collapse, rusting non-stainless keel bolts, are just a few of the items you have to be aware of when buying an older Catalina 30. The wooden block under the compression which will rot over time has been replaced with an aluminum unit in the 1988 model and onward.

  19. The Catalina 34, 30 Years Later

    Exactly 1,800 Catalina 34s were built between the years 1991-1999, and the boat has gone through several iterations. The hull we focus on here is the relatively narrower one built between 1986 and 1995, generally referred to as the Mark 1, or Mark 1.5. The Catalina 34 sold between 1994 and 2001 (production run officially ended in 1999) is known ...

  20. Catalina 309 Sailboat Review

    Catalina 309 A molded transom step is one of the many differences between the Catalina 309 and the popular 30. Billy Black. What to do to upstage a tried-and-true cruiser? That was the question facing the management at Catalina Yachts when they at last concluded that after 30 years of production, the Catalina 30 had run its course.

  21. Are there any cons to a 1987 Catalina 30?

    I have owned a 87 Catalina 30 tall rig for 4 years. It is a great boat. The universal 21hp engine has never failed and maintenance is easy due to the location. The boat is easy to single hand and handles severe weather well. u000bu000bThe Hood yacht system roller furling on my vessel is no good.

  22. Catalina 320

    Sailboat Reviews; Sailboats 31-35ft; Catalina 320 ... One owner, who formerly sailed a Catalina 30, reports that the boat is significantly faster than the 30 or 34, and another won his cruising division the first year on the race course, sailing with a provisional PHRF handicap of 150.

  23. Best year for 30' Catalina? and why...

    sailhog. 3336 posts · Joined 2006. #2 · Jul 18, 2008. Wingman, Pre-1988 C30s have a wood laminate keel stub, which is said to cause the "Catalina smile," and which in turn causes crevice corrosion of the keel bolts. A sailor who goes by Halakai on this forum has the whole nine yards on the problem, while another truly wise sailor (Max Munger ...

  24. CATALINA XTREME PARASAIL

    Specialties: Located on Catalina Island, offering single, tandem (two) or three flyers at a time. Catalina Xtreme Parasail operates a Coast Guard inspected vessel that can take up to 12 passengers per trip. The experienced and friendly crew will assist you throughout the boat ride and parasailing excursion. Catalina Xtreme Parasail thrives to ensure you have a safe and exciting time viewing ...