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Lightheart
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World Cruising In A Catalina

I've read that the Catalina 36 is rated as a CE "A" rating, meaning it is built to withstand the rigors of blue water sailing. Is this your understanding, or would one be a fool to "sail around the world" in such a boat?

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Allan R
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There have been a number of people that have done so even in a 27' Catalina [URL="http://www.catalinayachts.com/hof.cfm"]Hall of Fame[/URL]. As important if not more so is level of skill and experience.

--

Allan Rex
# 2216

Lightheart
Last seen: 8 years 5 months ago
Joined: 10/24/09
Posts: 5

Thanks Alan for the reference.

I am aware of some of these trans-oceanic trips in a Catalina, but I am more interested in whether the boat itself is built with such trips and conditions in mind. I could have all the skill/experience in the world (which I surely do not have!), but if my boat is not up to the task, it's likely all for naught. I have no interest in testing a marginal boat in what could be life threatening conditions. I'll leave that to real men. ;-)

My boat buying list includes the Island Packet and Bristol Channel Cutter among some others. I am trying to determine if I can add the Catalina to the list (and save some money!).

I am planning a factory tour for this coming week; I'll likely get some answers there.

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mutualfun
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Posts: 455

Lightheart:

It would be nice to hear what the responses are from the factory. Good or bad on the idea of the 36 being used for what your interested in. I am sure everyone would like to know on here.

Randy

--

Randy Sherwood
Mutualfun 1990 # 1057
T/R W/K M35a
Home. Charlotte, Mi.
Boat. St Augustine,Fl.

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deising
Last seen: 1 year 12 months ago
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Posts: 1351

Lightheart,

I love my C36 but would not consider taking her in true blue water conditions (meaning whatever the sea can throw at her because the passage is too long for a reliable weather forecast). Often the boat can take more than the crew, but there are several major factors that make the C36 questionable for world girding, IMHO:

  • lack of "bullet proof" steering gear
  • an unprotected spade rudder (too vulnerable for my taste)
  • a wide cockpit with little way to brace oneself in a nasty seaway
  • lack of an inner stay for bending on a real storm jib

Can you successfully take one around the world? Absolutely possible. You just have to hope the conditions and/or your handling of the boat don't make any weaknesses become critical factors in your survival.

And keep in mind this is just my opinion based on everything I know.

--

Duane Ising - Past Commodore (2011-2012)
s/v Diva Di
1999 Catalina 36 Hull #1777
Std rig; wing keel, M35B, Delta (45#)
Punta Gorda, FL
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/diva-di/

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Rob Kyles
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Posts: 172

Lightheart;2963 wrote:

I've read that the Catalina 36 is rated as a CE "A" rating, meaning it is built to withstand the rigors of blue water sailing. Is this your understanding, or would one be a fool to "sail around the world" in such a boat?

We bought our Mk I in New Zealand, originally sailed here by an American down through the Pacific over 2 years (ca 2005). We have since sailed 12 days (incl. 2 nights at Minerva reef) to Tonga and back (2008) and plan some more trips.

While not the ideal long distance cruiser, some important gear has been added to help make up for the shortcomings mentioned above. In rough order of importance to us:

  1. Inner forestay for a hanked on staysail and storm jib
  2. Separate track and halyard for the Try Sail
  3. Under-deck linear drive autohelm
  4. Parachute anchor and Jordan drogue (Have used both coastally)
  5. Jacklines and tethers
  6. SSB & EPIRB
  7. Life raft on Push pit bracket
  8. Alternative power generation (Solar & Wind)
  9. A new generation anchor (20kg Rocna) and more chain
  10. Hold downs for all heavy loose gear in case of knock down / inversion
  11. Ratlines to lower shrouds (on one side)
  12. A million small things such as 2nd manual bilge pump, Foam fire extinguisher etc

Bigger toe rails would be nice...

As Our offshore experience was nil before my wife and I left for Tonga (had some fast talking to do to be allowed to leave by the NZ authorities). We felt our three trips up and down the often inhospitable East coast of the North Island (in 3 to 4 day hops)were reasonable preparation, and I stand by that. We generally were patient waiting for good weather

Our boat is great for us, although if we were contemplating a circumnavigation I would probably look for something a little more robust.
Hope this helps :)

--

 

S.V. Wind Star

Rob & Margie Kyles:    Auckland ,New Zealand

Mk I  Hull #105 1983   Std Rig, Std Keel

 

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dejavu
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Posts: 430

I posted a very similar question on another general sailing forum a while back and got a pretty negative response from folks who had been "out there". Among the points made were the methods of attachment of interior cabinetry and tankage and what would happen to these elements if you came off a 30' wave or rolled over. The rudder was another concern. The concensus was that for coastal cruising or Caribbean island hopping, the Cat 36 is great, but for REAL bluewater sailing it is better to go with a boat which is designed for that purpose. Add Pacific Seacraft to your list of boats, the 37 is sweet.

--

Deja Vu
1991 MK I # 1106
Marina del Rey, CA

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deising
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Wind Star posts a lot of good items to consider for a blue water boat, but most of them can be added. The key ones are items that are not easily changed.

Most of us should be concerned about eventual resale, too. If you take a coastal cruiser and add a lot of expensive gear to make her more suitable as a world cruiser, you are severely limiting your resale market, IMHO. You will have to find those that want to cruise the high seas in a boat not really designed for that.

You may wish to sate our curiosity, Lightheart, about the reason behind your question????

--

Duane Ising - Past Commodore (2011-2012)
s/v Diva Di
1999 Catalina 36 Hull #1777
Std rig; wing keel, M35B, Delta (45#)
Punta Gorda, FL
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/diva-di/

Lightheart
Last seen: 8 years 5 months ago
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Posts: 5

deising;2974 wrote:

You may wish to sate our curiosity, Lightheart, about the reason behind your question????

No mystery here . . . simply wanted to know if the Catalina could be considered blue water worthy. I boarded one yesterday that is for sale, but believe I will pursue other boats that appear more suitably designed for offshore work. No offense intended, just want to find a boat that is built with our needs in mind. I am a recovering power boater (having sold our Sabreline two years ago) and haven't been in the sail boat camp since mid 1980s when we had a Bristol. I have a lot to learn and relearn!

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Steve Frost
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Opinions about the perfect cruising boat I believe are steeped in outdated ideals. The thought that you need a heavy often poor performing beast of a boat that could stand the rigors of what ever the sea threw at it was considered the standard. Boats like the the old West Sails and other crab crushers were admired for the stout construction and sea kindlyness in nasty conditions. In the day you needed a strudy boat as weather forcasts were sketchy at best and since the boat took forever to get any place you could be exposed to all kinds of it. Navagation was completed by sextent and dead reckoning on old and not allways accurate charts. These old boats had little chance of out running weather systems but it mattered little, as they seldom saw them coming with a barometer their sole source of data.

I feel the current mix of cruisers take advantage of far better weather planning, infininitely better navagation systems, communication systems that allow real time assesments of conditions and the boats are faster allowing more options. In addition modern boats have vastly better systems controls, shortening sails on an old world cruiser could be a life threatening adventure hanking on sails and climbing on the coach roof to reef, as apposed to furling and reefing from the safety of the cockpit.

Yes there are boats built a bit stronger than our Catalinas but, I believe our boats are fine coastal cruisers and I could get in just as much trouble outside the Golden Gate or to the north or south of it with few harbors of refuge. I would bet the the Catalina would take more abuse than most crews would want to put up with. Any voyage requires consideration of the conditions to be encountered. You can now read many accounts of folks completing circum navagations and never encountering winds above 25 or 30 knots, I believe average world wind speed is in the low teens. These modern cuisers plan there crossings and make them much faster unlike there old predicessors who often would launch into the unknown with little knowledge of the conditions out there beyond what there barometer told them and an old alminac of what conditions normaly are in the area. Crossing oceans in a modern light weight cruising catamarns would have been thought as borderline insanity thirty or fourty years ago.
Others may argue but, I think a thirty four foot or larger Catalina can make a fine cruising boat, keeping in mind my personal cruising itineary like most cruisers would not include long stretches in the southern ocean.

Please excuse me as I must now get out of my easy chair and go grab another beer. Do you want anything from the kitchen?

--

Cepheus dream
C36 MK I # 825
MK I Tech Editor No Mas

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deising
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Thanks, Lightheart.

I am glad you mentioned "with your needs in mind." I am not a longtime salty dog like some of you, but even in my decade of serious sailing I can't begin to count the number of folks who inquire about a boat they "might want to take into blue water someday." When the facts were revealed, they would likely never take the boat out of sight of land.

I am a firm believer in buying a boat for the way you will use her.

Best of luck with your search!

--

Duane Ising - Past Commodore (2011-2012)
s/v Diva Di
1999 Catalina 36 Hull #1777
Std rig; wing keel, M35B, Delta (45#)
Punta Gorda, FL
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/diva-di/

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Nimue
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My Catalina 36 would not be my first choice to cross the atlantic, but I think it could be done. I would definitely spend some time adding tabbing to a couple of the bulkheads, add a bolt to hold the mast butt on it's step, and add some serious reinforcement around the rudder post, if I was planning to do serious offshore work. However I think you could go even without doing that, you just might not sleep as well. Certainly some options for easy storm sail deployment would help, but I see no reason to ever go with a full-keeled, overweight boat that can't sail upwind when required.

--
Jason V
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Rob Kyles
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deising, I pretty much agree with all of that. On our offshore trip we saw the spectrum of craft tootling about the islands, some of which were way less prepared than we felt we were.

My opinion is coloured by where we sail. I am naturally conservative, and our coastal sailing is often more challenging than the average passage to Tonga. I would want all our gear even if we never left coastal New Zealand. :) (Actually we've used everything in anger except the EPIRB :o )

I guess Lightheart's question is answered: The Catalina 36 is designed for coastal and lightweight offshore, Cape Horn or the Southern Ocean might be pushing it...

--

 

S.V. Wind Star

Rob & Margie Kyles:    Auckland ,New Zealand

Mk I  Hull #105 1983   Std Rig, Std Keel

 

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Rob Kyles
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Steve I agree, mostly, but of course there are passages that are long enough for weather events to take us by surprise, and then we have to be prepared. I'm no expert, but I've read lots of expert opinion and for myself I believe most problems begin when people push their boats too hard in heavy weather, or are caught 'napping' when running before. I'm banking that passive tactics result in far less stress on the boat and rig (and crew).

The rest of the time I'm happy our 'light', spade-ruddered boat enables us to manoevre into tight berths, sail to windward, short tack up a channel and so on :cool:

--

 

S.V. Wind Star

Rob & Margie Kyles:    Auckland ,New Zealand

Mk I  Hull #105 1983   Std Rig, Std Keel

 

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deising
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You are probably tired of my opinions at this point, but...

I believe we are all mostly in agreement. FWIW, I never said I prefer a heavy, full keel boat that can't sail to windward or manuever in tight spots. I think that is the stereotypical older-style blue-water boat that most of us here don't care to own.

I completely agree that the "old thinking" has permeated far beyond the intended scope. When we were in the dreaming stage searching for information over several years to make our decision (we bought the C36), most of the advice we got was to go for the old style heavy boat. This was despite the fact that our intended cruising was mostly coastal with hops into the Bahamas and Caribbean. The consenus seemed to be that the "lightweight" Catalinas couldn't be counted on to take care of the crew if things got nasty.

I am glad I followed my instincts that the C36 wold prove to be a very seaworthy and comfortable boat for how we would be cruising.

Cheers, all!

--

Duane Ising - Past Commodore (2011-2012)
s/v Diva Di
1999 Catalina 36 Hull #1777
Std rig; wing keel, M35B, Delta (45#)
Punta Gorda, FL
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/diva-di/

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Steve Frost
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Duane,

I recall reading a review of the Catalina 380 several years ago. They were discussing the idea of this being a blue water boat. The yard stick used in the article was the venerable Valiant 40, they were surprised to find the length/displacement ratio was nearly the same on the two boats.

My last boat was an old thirty two foot classic design Cherokee by Sparkman Stephens built by Chris Craft. It had lovely lines and went to weather like a witch but, it was a horrid sea boat. Down wind in any type of following sea it was a handfull. The rudder was way two small and had a poor shape. Regardless several sister ships were cruised successfuly, a woman freind of mine Shirley Larson who lived aboard hers two marinas away from me trucked her boat to Florida and cruised the Caribbian, South America, through the Panama Canal and back to San Francisco with no problems.

I used to sail my little Santana 20, a true ultralite pumkin seed along the coast, it did fine. I would shorten sail early and seal up the boat if it got rough, many times the boat was fully submerged in green water but kept popping up and moving. I cristened this boat by dropping it from about 12to 15 feet lowering it on a sling when the jury rigged sling line broke with me standing on the fore deck to balance the boat. It made a horific noise when it smacked the water but after inspection there was no damage found what so ever.

Catalina's were labled as litely built when they were first produced when compared to boats of the day that were way over built. Now days even the best made boats are made more like our Catalina's. I believe that current production and designed boats are more durable than people think, in most cases capable of for more than their crews. Every week end sailors are bashing and crashing thier boats around San Francisco bay in often heavy conditions, structural failures other than rigging are almost unheard of. There has been some concern about the rudder though looking on our forums there is no indication of many failures. If you sail in skinny water any open rudder design is at risk. My Catalina 36 is a far safer and more capable sea boat than my old Chris Craft even though it has much lower displacement/length ratio.

Last years west coast cruising rally the Ba Ha Ha I noted fully ten percent of the fleet were Catalina's of varying sizes from 27 feet and up, some of these boats contunued on accross the Pacific the rest bashed their way back up the coast. No Catalina casualties were noted.

--

Cepheus dream
C36 MK I # 825
MK I Tech Editor No Mas

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LCBrandt
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Not only could the Catalina 36 circumnavigate - it has.

A couple years ago, a Portland Yacht Club sailor named Craig Mortensen completed a circumnavigation in his C36 Mk I, the S/V Patriot. He gave a wonderful presentation on the experience to our local All-Catalina Association. His photography was superb.

He did his voyage in an unusual manner. I recall he stated that he really didn't like being on a boat for more than about three months at a time, so he would spend two to three months going from Point A to Point B, then lay the boat up and return home for his sanity (and work). Next opportunity, he flew back to the boat for another 3 month stint. To my way of thinking, this is an ideal attitude. No deadlines. He had the freedom to choose the ideal weather window for each leg of the trip. He said he was in no storms at all.

He was hit by a whale in the middle of the night NE of Australia, a collision that damaged the rudder and the prop shaft. He jury-rigged a rudder and, staying in regular contact with the Aussie SAR folks, he sailed about 4 days to the Great Barrier Reef. Due to his limited steering ability, a transit of the Reef would have been extremely difficult, so at that point the Aussies came out and towed him through the reef to a harbor with repair capabilities. Cairns, if I recall correctly.

So, yes. The C36 has the proven capability. But let's face it. His boat had an exceptionally gifted skipper. And Wisdom at sea can cover a lot of shortcomings.

While I love my boat, and have the wish to do a Hawaii round trip some day (Do NOT tell my wife of this!), I recognize that the Catalina 36 was designed to be a great coastal boat. It was not designed to be a world cruiser.

--

Larry Brandt
S/V High Flight #2109
Pacific Northwest, PDX-based
2002 C-36 mkII SR/FK M35B
 

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ludo
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Larry, which boat would you use for this trip? Still in your plans?

--
Ludovic François
​Hotel Catalina - Catalina 36 Hull #883
Marina Del Rey, CA
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deising
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I have a few working brain cells telling me that Gerry Douglas, the designer, already weighed in on this topic a number of years ago.

Without that reference info handy, I will just say that it would be very interesting to note what Gerry would do with the design brief:

"Keep as many aspects of the C36 as you can, but design a boat you would feel good seeing your offspring use to voyage around the world."

I don't suspect there would be huge changes, but I am sure there would be some.

--

Duane Ising - Past Commodore (2011-2012)
s/v Diva Di
1999 Catalina 36 Hull #1777
Std rig; wing keel, M35B, Delta (45#)
Punta Gorda, FL
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/diva-di/

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Steve Frost
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Duane,

Good idea, it would be nice to see Gerry come to our forum once in a while.
I must assume he or one of his appointees peeks in now and again to keep their finger on the pulse of the customer base.

The C42 was marketed as a blue water boat it is well respected among cruisers and shares much with the C36. A Catalina dealer I spoke to a couple weeks ago owns a C42 and stated from the helm you would not know the diffence between the two boats underway until you tried coming into your berth and found it a bit tight. It is also interesting that the C36, C42 and the new C445 all share the same basic layout in the main cabin/salon. With this in mind, I must assume Gerry still has a soft spot in his heart for the boat that generated more success than any he produced since. I susspect he may also be willing to share his insight, unless he is tempted to down play the C36's attributes in as much as his current gig is selling the newer models that replaced our beloved boats.
From what I have heard Gerry is a pretty earthy guy and my bet is he would be quite honest in his assesment.

--

Cepheus dream
C36 MK I # 825
MK I Tech Editor No Mas

smithdav
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 10/14/09
Posts: 12

Lightheart;2963 wrote:

I've read that the Catalina 36 is rated as a CE "A" rating, meaning it is built to withstand the rigors of blue water sailing. Is this your understanding, or would one be a fool to "sail around the world" in such a boat?

I have sailed my Catalina 36 MKII in all of the great lakes and down the east coast over the last 10 years. I have never been uncomfortable on her in spite of being in some interesting conditions with winds above 50 MPH; however, those were storms of short duration. Catalina lists the boat as a coastal cruiser. It could obviously be stretched beyond that, but limiting factors such as fuel and water capacity would dictate limitations you would have to adjust for. Even with coastal cruising I watch the weather like a hawk and simply do not sail into harms way. I added the electronics to take advantage of satelight weather information which provides several days of reliable predictions as well as chart plotting and radar. You may want to look at Catalina's ocean series cruisers and compare those to the Island Packets and the Calibers and others. Blue water indicates to me open ocean sailing without land contact for weeks at a time. Coastal takes you into blue water, but with landfall only a couple of days away. The 36 is pretty hard to beat for being easy to handle and comfortable to sail with a good turn of speed for the money spent. Of course I only plan on coastal sailing.

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stu jackson c34
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Posts: 1270

It is a delicate balance, and there have been some very good contributions here from folks who have been there done that. Here's another one from a coastal cruiser from Vancouver, B.C. who sailed his C34 down first to visit us here, and now on thier way to Mexico. In addition to Rob's reports from New Zealand, this should help in terms of boat systems and how and what works. If you can miss all the bad weather, a coastal cruiser can do anything. That's also a VERY big if...

Steve's Dolling's "editorial" in this link is very informative. The "what worked" approach is very helpful. If you check out his blog you can see, through his Photo Gallery, the upgrades he made.

http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5270.0.html

--

Stu Jackson, C34IA Secretary, C34 #224, 1986, SR/FK, M25 engine, Rocna 10 (22#)

Steve Frost's picture
Steve Frost
Last seen: 4 years 5 months ago
Joined: 12/14/07
Posts: 788

Some times even very good boats can fall prey to circumstances beyond there limits.

Today a special issue of Lectronic Latitude covered a story of a J120 that was accosted by a pod of whales while participating in this years BA HA HA. She sank within 5 minutes.

Hope this link works.

http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2009-10-29&dayid=344

--

Cepheus dream
C36 MK I # 825
MK I Tech Editor No Mas

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stu jackson c34
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Best news is everyone is safe. Scary story. Headline: Another J boat looses keel, this one has a reason!

--

Stu Jackson, C34IA Secretary, C34 #224, 1986, SR/FK, M25 engine, Rocna 10 (22#)

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