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catalina sailboat review

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  • Sailboat Reviews

The Catalina 25

Like most catalinas, the 25 represents good value for the money, but sailing performance and construction quality are average at best..

[Updated December 6, 2018]

catalina 25 specs

The Catalina 25 is not exceptionally fast, stylish, or spacious compared to newer widebody models, and while the construction and workmanship are adequate, they too are not exceptional. But because of the builders strict adherence to a philosophy of offering a relatively spacious design, relatively well made, at a reasonable price, and backing up the product with generally good customer service, the Catalina 25 has turned out to be one of the most successful small cruising sailboats ever built, with 5,332 boats sold between 1976 and 1990, when the company ceased producing the model as demand tailed off.

The Catalina 25 Design

During those 14 years of production, the design went through a complete metamorphosis, starting out as a very simple and inexpensive trailerable swing-keel design, and ending as a relatively sophisticated minicruiser. As vice-president and chief designer Gerry Douglas says, The last boats we built had diesel inboards, hot and cold pressure water systems, and extremely complex electrical systems. They were like little Catalina 34s. It was what people wanted in the late 1980s.

If you consider all model years, you can find Catalina 25s with five different keel configurations: cast iron swing-keel, cast iron fixed keel, cast lead wing keel, cast lead fin keel without glass jacket, and in later boats, a lead keel encased in fiberglass. In the later boats there was a choice of fin keel, wing keel, or swing keel, and standard rig or tall rig. However, the swing-keel model, with a board-up draft of 2′ 8″, accounted for well over half of total production. Most Catalina buyers over the years have been cruisers rather than performance-oriented racers, and for many cruisers, the attractiveness of a boat suitable for shoal waters and trailering is undeniable. Relatively few Catalina buyers are avid racers, it seems. If the hundred or so owners who answered our survey request are an indicator, only a small percentage rate as important either the fin keels much more efficient foil shape and lower turbulence, or the greater light-air efficiency of a two-foot longer tall rig mast that increases sail area by almost 10 percent.

As the design developed over time, features changed enough so that in a number of respects the early boats are very different than 1987 and later model years. As a consequence, its imperative for prospective buyers to know what model year theyre looking at when shopping for used boats. Prices can vary from less than $5,000 to more than $16,000, not only dependent on condition, but also model year and features.

catalina 25 hull

For example, at various times there was a choice of two different interiors: a dinette arrangement, and opposing settees. A flip-top (Catalinas version of the pop-top), which provided standing headroom, was a popular feature that was optional until 1987, at which time it became standard. In fact, in 1987 the entire boat underwent a major design change, yielding among other things a more contemporary deck and a more refined interior, with less teak and more fiberglass.

Performance and Handling of the Catalina 25

The Catalina 25, with a PHRF rating of around 228 for the standard rig or 222 for the tall rig, is not especially fast for its size. In fact, the swing-keel version, which is noticeably slower upwind than the fin-keel version, probably deserves an even higher time allowance than its been given. The fin keel is generally acknowledged to sail close to its rating, at least once the breeze pipes up to 10 knots or so. The swing keel is not as hydrodynamically sleek, and the keel lifting cable is out in the open where it causes extra drag, intensified if seaweed gets hung up on it.

The boat (especially the keel version) balances relatively well, tracks satisfactorily, and is quite maneuverable if sails are properly trimmed; it can be unforgiving if they are not. Several owners com plained to us of a heavy weather helm in a breeze.

The tall rig is a bit more tender than the standard rig, but definitely adds speed in light air. One just reefs a little earlier to maintain helm balance. But despite its virtues, the tall rig has a drawback mentioned by several owners: Unless you have a sailmaker chop off the bottom 12″ of the sail, the boom swings too low over the cockpit. This, however, may be the fault of some sailmakers; the consensus is that Catalina-supplied sails were not as well-made or well-shaped as those obtained from other sailmakers.

Under power, the Catalina 25 will make about 5- 1/2 knots with a 6-hp. outboard, and you can coax an extra 1/2 to 3/4 knot or so out of the boat with an 8- hp. or 9.9-hp. engine. (Theoretical maximum hull speed in ideal conditions is around 6.3 knots.)

The outboard is mounted on a fold-up transom bracket mounted off center to accommodate the outboard rudder. Some owners complained that the motor is difficult to raise and lower. Others observed that, in rough seas, when the boat pitches, an ordinary 20″ shaft outboard prop has a tendency to ventilate, particularly if the auxiliary is used under sail and the boat heels away from the side on which the engine is mounted. The owner consensus is that a 25″ extra long shaft largely solves that problem.

An inboard diesel engine would also solve the problem, but is not recommended; an owner of a 1986 model equipped with a 10-hp. Universal engine reports his boat is very slow under power, at least with the two-blade prop hes currently using. A three-blade prop might help, but would also significantly increase drag under sail.

Another disadvantage of the transom-mounted outboard is that its difficult for the helmsman to control. One owner who told us hed rigged remote engine controls in the cockpit said, Its the best thing weve done.

The boat needs to be reefed in 15 knots of wind (a jiffy reefing main was standard in later boats, though a roller furler for the jib was not). Above 15 knots, weather helm becomes very heavy if the main is left unreefed; one owner observed that she tends to round up in strong winds, or if heeled more than 15 degrees.

A short traveler is integrated into the stern pulpit, and although this works well while cruising, and

permits use of a bimini to protect crew from too much sun, mid-boom sheeting and a mid-cockpit traveler work better for single-handed daysailing and racing. Consequently, many owners have added the inboard traveler, some with a snap-on mainsheet block so they can switch back and forth.

A peculiarity of the design is that the distribution of the boats components evidently caused listing, in some boats to starboard, in others to port. For example, in the 1981 dinette model, owners complained that the dinette, engine, fuel tank, galley, and head were all on the port side, causing the boat to list noticeably to port. Catalina evidently took these complaints to heart, but the results were not totally effective; an owner of a 1982 model complained that batteries, holding tank, and outboard on the starboard side produced a list in that direction.

Other owner responses to our questionnaire included the following:

The absence of a bridge deck is a possible safety hazard when sailing offshore in a big following sea.

Narrow (7″ wide) sidedecks make going forward somewhat difficult. So do the 22″ high stanchions when the boat is heeled, impeding passage forward on the high side; shorter stanchions would help, but wouldnt be as safe.

The lifelines don’t lead to the top of the bow pulpit, but instead run to the deck at the bow to provide a slot for a deck-sweeping genoa. This can make the foredeck area insecure in adverse weather conditions. Bails on the top of the pulpit and pelican hooks on the lifelines would be an improvement, since it would then be possible to raise the lifelines in heavy weather or when a high-clew jib is being used.

Catalina 25 Interior

Compared to other boats available in the 1970s an early 1980s, the Catalina 25 is relatively spacious below, though some readers complained that the aft double is really only a single quarter berth and that the port side settee berth is not long enough for an adult. Newer beamier designs, of course, have the advantage of more elbow room below.

At least one owner improved sleeping accommodations by building a plywood platform which fits between the table on the port side and the settee on the starboard. The aft berth cushion, under the cockpit sole, was shortened slightly to fit on this platform. When in place, the platform results in an athwartships berth about 6′ 4″ long and 5′ 1″ wide, big enough for a double sleeping bag. When not in use, the plywood platform stows on the aft berth.

catalina 25 specs

Light and ventilation below is very adequate, as long as theres a breeze from forward. Because the forward hatch slopes down the forward edge of the cabin trunk, when open it becomes a very effective windscoop. Boats with pop-tops have additional ventilation.

The pop-top was an extra-cost option, and a very popular one. Reader praise of the pop-top is almost universal, with comments from Buyer interest is much higher on boats with pop-tops to Contrary to what some folks say, this pop-top does not leak in the rain or spray. Headroom is 6′ 4″ with the pop-top raised.

Until the 1983 model year, when the company redesigned the icebox so it would, as one owner reported, keep block ice for three days, the icebox was severely under-insulated; many owners reported that it would only hold ice for less than a day. Another complaint was that the icebox drains directly overboard, and as a consequence, if the drain is left open when the boat heels, water enters the icebox. One reader killed two birds with one stone: We keep our trash in the built-in cooler where it is out of sight, and use an Igloo cooler which is bigger and works better.

Construction of the Catalina 25

The Catalina 25 has a full fiberglass hull liner, which makes it easier to keep the boat clean but at the same time can make repairs and adding owner-installed custom components more difficult.

Several owners judged that Florida-built Catalina 25 hulls, though adequate in strength, are not as well finished as the California-built boats. And several others commented on gel coat chipping and cracking, voids, pits, and crazing, particularly in stressed areas such as at sharp changes of direction in the cockpit, and corners of hatch covers, though these problems didnt seem to be a function of builder location.

Bottom blistering seems to have been a fairly common problem on Catalina 25s when an epoxy bottom coat had not been applied under the antifouling paint to prevent water incursion. Catalina now has a 10-year no-blister warranty, but during the era of the Catalina 25, the company had a five-year warranty with gradually diminishing payments during the period. Judging from reader response to our questionnaire, some owners were not entirely satisfied with that arrangement.

In the swing-keel version, Catalina used an ordinary galvanized steel trailer winch to hoist the keel, and although there are no doubt some 20-year-old boats that still have the original winch, many owners have had to repair or replace some or all of it, particularly when the boat is sailed in saltwater.

Another problem with early swing keel models involved breaking the pennant. At the lifting point on the trailing edge of the swing-keel there is a tapped hole on a flat area into which screws a stainless steel eye. A swaged fork fits over the eye and pivots on it as the keel swings up or down. The factory fixed the eye in place with Loctite, but over the years the eye could rotate, so that the clevis pin became parallel to the keel instead of perpendicular to it. Then it would bind, and eventually end up bending and then breaking the wire at the joint of the wire and the swaged fitting. To solve the problem, Catalina came up with a device to keep the eye from rotating, but some older boats may not be retrofitted. Owners and prospective buyers of older boats should examine the swing keel to be sure the eye is solidly fixed in place.

Several owners complained that there is no mechanical lock to stop movement of the swing keel,

which even at anchor can move laterally in its trunk, banging, thumping, and making it, according to one owner, hard to sleep through the night. Catalina offers a retrofit kit to alleviate the problem, composed of nylon or neoprene washers -but according to some owners, this cure is only partially effective.

The surface of the cast iron swing keel was said by some of the performance-oriented owners to be comparatively rough as it came from the factory. They advise filling and sanding fair and smooth for better sailing speed. We would add that the keel should be checked regularly for corrosion, and an epoxy barrier coat should be maintained on the surface to prevent excessive rusting and deterioration.

Deck and cabin hardware, while generally adequate, is considered sub-par by some owners, particularly on the early models. For example, the type of closed-barrel turnbuckles Catalina used are hard to inspect without disassembly, and as a result tend to corrode internally, sometimes freezing or completely failing. Later models have the open-barrel type, which is preferable.

The forward hatch for several model years was attached with self-tapping screws rather than throughbolted, causing the hatch to become loose in some cases. By 1983, bolts had replaced the screws. Other relatively common complaints include rusty screws on deck fittings, broken boom goosenecks, insufficient bow eye backing plates, tillers splitting (on one boat the tiller split twice), and problems with rudders delaminating and splitting along the edge.

A particularly common problem noted is that rudder gudgeons and pintles break or come adrift

from the transom. The repair involves installing a handhole inspection port on the inside of the transom to gain access to the fastening bolts. One reader said his lower pintle had broken under racing conditions, but that he had cured the problem by adding a third pintle and gudgeon halfway between the top and bottom fittings.

Several other readers reported that their boats had loose gudgeon bolts, stress cracks in the transom at the gudgeon attachment points, and transom leaks. One owner reported the transom cracked below the motor bracket because of lack of reinforcement behind the bracket.

The hull-deck joint on some models used selftapping screws rather than through-bolts. Several readers experienced rain and spray leaks along the rail. Portlights also have been a source of leakage problems, as have cockpit scuppers, rudder gudgeons, and various pieces of dealer-installed deck hardware, mostly due, we guess, to inadequate bedding procedures and backup plates.

Trailering the Catalina 25

Despite the fact that a bare Catalina 25 weighs approximately 4,150 lbs., the boat plus trailer, loaded for a weeks cruise, can easily weigh over 6,000 pounds. That means its necessary to tow with a big pickup or van equipped with a towing package, and virtually eliminates prospective trailer-sailors who only have access to an ordinary passenger vehicle, no matter how powerful. (An exception: Big cars built before the advent of downsizing and integral frames. For example, one reader says he pulls his 6,000-lb. rig successfully with a 1973 Olds 98).

The Catalina 25s mast is deck-stepped on a hinge, but several readers complained that no factory method is offered to make mast-raising safer and easier. Still, some owners have devised their own systems, with which they seem to be satisfied. One who made extensive modifications figures it takes him a mere 45 to 60 minutes from the time he pulls into the parking lot at the launching ramp until hes sailing away-and only a little longer than that to reverse the procedure.

One reader pointed out that with the swing keel model the rudder is deeper than the retracted keel (unless its a folding rudder, which Catalina offered as an option in some model years), which can produce problems at the launching ramp under some conditions. Another owner feels that his fin-keel is as easy to ramp-launch as a swing keel, provided an extra-long trailer tongue extension is used. We think that might be true on some ramps, but not on others.

If youre shopping for a Catalina 25 already equipped with a trailer, check the GVWR (Gross

Vehicle Weight Rating) decal before you buy. It indicates the loaded weight of the trailer in pounds, i.e. the sum of the carrying capacity of the trailer plus the weight of the trailer itself. One reader ordered (from a Florida dealer) and paid for a trailer with a 7,000 lb. capacity rating. What he got was one rated for only 5,000 lbs. He was prompted to check the decal because, he says, The trailer looked skimpy. He weighed the combination with the boat stripped and it came to 5,620 lbs. The dealer claimed it was the same trailer they always use for this boat an the dealer passed me off to the Florida plant, who passed me off to the trailer manufacturer, who finally made good after Frank Butler got into the act-after seven months of hassling.

New or unseasoned sailors making their first or second foray into the boat-buying game may find that the Catalina 25 is an attractive choice. The boat is relatively easy to handle, can be single-handed without too much trouble, and while not fast in the racing sense, is fast enough to satisfy many cruisers. The interior is big enough for two to cruise in relative comfort, while the overall size of the boat is not daunting to most newcomers to the sport. Other advantages for new sailors are that Catalina, in most cases, does a good job with customer service, and theres a quarterly 100-page glossy publication for all Catalina owners (from 8′ Sabots to all the way to Catalina 42s) called Mainsheet which offers support and helps to keep communications open between owners.

Asking prices on used Catalina 25s range from around $4,000 for older (late 1970s) models that probably need some work, to around $16,000 for newish (late 1980s) models fully equipped and in like-new condition, probably with an inboard engine and a trailer included. A price of $7,000 to

$8,000 is typical for early to mid-1980s boats, though we noticed a wide range, presumably based on condition and accessories.

Prospective buyers should check for bottom blisters (which can be expensive to repair), evidence of problems around the keel bolts or pivot on the swing keel, rudder connection problems, cracks in turnbuckles or rigging terminals, leaks around windows and hull-deck connection, and other common (and correctable) flaws.

Also check for which of the many extra-cost options have been installed-options which many experienced sailors would say should have been standard: boom vang, genoa winches, pop-top with canvas enclosure (originally two separate options), basic electrical system with running lights and cabin lights, galley equipment, head, lifelines and stanchions, and sails. Check especially the brand of sails; many readers report that they have been dissatisfied with Catalinas own brand of sails.

Overall, we think the Catalina 25 is not fancy or fast, but is economical, a fair sailer, and roomy for its size-a good boat for non-racers who don’t have a big budget and for relatively new sailors who want to get their feet wet in the sport.



Mr Nicholson,

Thank you for the report on the Catalina “25” I’ve Been searching for an older (less expensive) under 30’ single handed sailboat for the past several months and finally today someone posted a Catalina 25’ on buy, sell, or trade in the Destin Florida area. The elder gentleman wanted to restore it but a bad hip has preventing that, so he sold it to me. I started sailing about 20 years ago with a Balboa 27’ with a swing keel (what a life saver). Lost it in the divorce. There are many sand banks and shoals here in Choctawhatchee Bay and a swing keel is what a newbie needs. I don’t think this Catalina has a swing keel, at least I don’t see the crank in the cabin. The ships dimensions in your report help immensely. I have not done an inventory yet on board (they left a lot of stuff) I hoping the main is useable and I have already inspected and cleaned the storm jib, I don’t see a Genoa (Bimini) or any other jib sail hidden away. Anyways, thanks for your report I look forward to getting it under sail.

We’ve had a 1985 Catalina 25 swing keel since 2006. I’ve sailed a lot of different boats over more than fifty years. This boat has been a good investment for fun and reliability. I’ve never reefed in the near fifteen years sailing it on the Monterey Bay. We’ve burried the rails on more than one occasion and while it does weather helm in heavy winds, it’s easily managed and I’ve never been worried about a knockdown.

Have 1985 Catalina 25 swing keel, #K4978. I don’t know if it’s the standard or tall rig. Can I tell from the HIN#?

i am new owner of a 25ft 1981 catalina and i need 1 simple measurement .. height of wing keel from the bottom of keel to the bottom of the boat as i am building a trailer to get it home with..

sorry fin keel

I am looking to buy a fixed keel Catalina 25. The keel seems short ar 4 ft when I would have expected 5 ft for a boat this size. My question is does this make the boat more tender with ballast less lower in the keel. And how does this affect performance say against the swing keel model

Did you get to sail ‘er this summer? We have a 1980 fin keel and as long as your co-captain doesn’t mind 10 to 15 degree heel, you’re not afraid to reef the main in a blow and you’re not sailing in a hurricane, you’ll find that 4 feet of keel is plenty.

Hi Peter, We’ve had our 1986 C25 SR SK for four years now. Our mooring mates have an 81 TR FK and we oftentimes run them together. While the Tall Rig makes theirs a little tender, proper trim seems to mitigate most puffs. As for our Swing Keel, typically deployed fully, we notice we cannot point as high but routinely we are keeping up around 6kts. I do notice in the SK, with the other owners aboard, that we have gain positive comments for our sails so I guess that is where you have a tough time making scientific comparisons, lots of variables. We have an even less fair comparison, a C25 Capri who has newer nicer sails and a seasoned skipper who wins most regattas and that fin easily allows him to point with a larger sail plan. The more I write, the less I think this will help you; however, for a swing keel, we’re plenty happy from a non-competitive perspective and don’t have envy/regrets when looking on those with fixed.

We have a Catalina 25 from 1983. We are in a humid area. We love the boat! Our son wants to add an air conditioner of some form to make it more tolerable to sleep on hot nights. I do not want to overwhelm the interior where I sit at the table to prepare meals and do artwork. What suggestions might you have for our situation? Thank you!

Pardon it is an 89 not an 83 Catalina !

I have a 1985 22ft and the cable for the keel broke can this be loaded onto a trailer?

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Catalina 309

  • By Jeremy McGeary
  • Updated: August 10, 2006

catalina 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 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 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 22 Review

Catalina 22 In the Florida Keys

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

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.


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 .


Catalina 22 Sailing

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.

Catalina 22 Rig and Hull Profile, 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.


Catalina 22 Fin Keel, 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

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 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.


Catalina 22, Note 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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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


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.


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.

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.


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.


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




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6 thoughts on “ catalina 22 review ”.

Had no idea that a Catalina was that affordable! Definitely going to get a yacht someday soon!

Excellent review. The only suggestion that I can make is that a matrix that compares the various features and problems of each model and age boat would be extremely helpful. I will use this review as my guide for the purchase of a Catalina 22. Congratulations on a very professional job.

Jim Vaughan Grass Valley, Ca

  • Pingback: Used Catalina 22 | Pualwalker

Great informative article! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge!

Great review that I will keep going back to for more research on things I had to skip over. I’m a senior age guy and have spent my life boating and commercial fishing but never sailing. I’m definitely going to buy a Catalina 22. This boat was recommended to me by my sailing instructor Gary of Outercape Sailing in Wellfleet Massachusetts. I live in Provincetown Massachusetts with a great harbor and Cape cod Bay. I’m so thankful for all this information. Thanks Peter Cook

Thanks for all the help. I am looking to purchase one right now but on all sites they are minimal at best. Can’t blame the people for not wanting to get rid of one unless trading up. Thanks again.

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