Are Catalina Sailboats Any Good? Personal Experience

As a certified sailor, I always get excited when checking out different sailboats. I remember the first one I purchased, a Catalina 22. Known for its monohull structure, it has a long history of success, although some sailors disagree. If you’re looking for the perfect sailboat, I highly recommend checking out Catalinas!

Catalina Sailboats are a great option if you are in the market for a sailboat. Manufacturing boats for 50+ years, Catalina sailboats are reliable, durable, and work well for mid-sized cruisers. You can find countless reviews online about Catalina sailboats.

Based on my personal experience, I’ve drafted this article drawing specific information about Catalina yachts (in terms of history, specifications, and extraordinary models). Let’s get started!

Brief History of Catalina Sailboats

Catalina Sailboats are one of the best sailboat brands in the world if not the best. When you’ve decided to buy one or rent this model for an upcoming vacation, it’s good to know the background of the boat itself. 

Founded by Frank Butler in 1970, he prioritized customer value and planned the design to fulfill every request from the customer. In 50 years, Catalina Yachts turned into the largest manufacturer of sailboats in the United States. 

The Catalina 22 was the first model to hit the market and other models like the Catalina 27, Catalina 30, Catalina 36, Catalina 40, Catalina 28, and Catalina 270 followed it. Nevertheless, the sailboat is undergoing regular upgrades and it’s catching the attention of every sailor out there.

Can you believe that Catalina has produced over 80,000 boats? Well, that’s the result of excellent design, consistent performance, and customer satisfaction. Above all else, a well-maintained Catalina sailboat has been found to last for over 50 years. Doesn’t that sound like an excellent value for the money? I really wish I kept track of my first Catalina 22, I wonder where she is now.

What’s even more amazing about this brand is its ability to produce designs that can fit wide audiences. The Catalina 22 Sport was a racing-specific model, while Catalina 375 and Catalina 445 were recognized as an all-purpose cruiser and a full-size cruiser, respectively. 

If this bit of history got you more excited, let’s head on to the prominent models. 

Catalina 22

The Catalina 22 is a model introduced in 1960 to cater to families of small sizes sailing on coastal waters or lakes. Built using fiberglass, this model requires minimum maintenance and is highly durable. This is the key reason for the widespread presence of this model.  

I’ve sailed on this model several times as an owner and passenger and I easily remember a number of advantages. For instance, it’s great for quick 2-day vacations. There’s a possibility to use it as a trailerable sailboat. In the used sailboat market, if you find a Catalina 22 model, you should certainly grab it. Especially since they average 3-5K on price. For 5k, I would expect it to be in pristine condition as well. 

The only consideration is to assess the keel properly. Some Catalina 22 users have stated that the retractable keel problems affect comfort and durability in the long run. I never had any problems with my keel leaking or anything. 

Just make sure to inspect the boat thoroughly, and you can find a golden nugget! 

Check out my article all about my first sailboat, the Catalina 22!

Catalina 545

In recent times, Catalina 545 has caught the eyes of many for its mighty structure and its vast size (beyond 55 feet) with a monohull. What impressed me further was its emphasis on safety levels. Emergencies can happen anytime during your trip and the sailboat plays a huge role in terms of amenities, safety precautions, and other structures. 

Bidding goodbye to the conventional hull, this model of Catalina uses a box-beam collar in addition to other elements like scuppers, toe rail, and much more. This arrangement adds smoothness during the sail. There is also a huge battery bank in it, that is accessible and also easily usable. While the amenities of this vessel resemble a 3 bedroom 2 bath house, just make sure you know how to handle a boat this large.

Side note- The boat speed is satisfactory as well.

Having said the positives about this amazing model, let’s also look at the cons. The primary con is that this isn’t for everyone. Gerry Douglas, in an interview with the Cruising World, responded how the market had a huge demand for a larger boat. This is great for cruisers with large families or commercial purposes. 

Another potential con is the need to engage specialized resources to steer this colossal cruiser. Safety lies in the hands of the captain and crew.

Why Do Catalina Sailboats Receive Negative Reviews?

Catalina Yachts is one of the huge production companies in the United States and the organization is constantly acquiring factories that can ease the production process. Despite receiving numerous accolades and recognitions for its product range, Catalina Sailboats continue to receive negative responses from sailors for various reasons. 

In a discussion among sailors/users of Catalina sailboats, some of the common problems pronounced are fiberglass delamination, deck core failure, attachment issues with chain plate, mast boot compression fatigue, and vulnerability to water seepage.

If these issues deterred you or made you step back, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The production technique has improved significantly and the error rate has been almost non-existent in recent times. 
  • Issues like keel cracks aren’t specific to Catalina sailboats as they’re pretty common for any sailboat. 
  • If you’ve purchased an older model of sailboat, there’s a possibility for water seepage or fiberglass delamination, or deck failure.

Even with these negative comments, I still recommend Catalina Yachts to everyone I know. Catalina Yachts is a great company as well and will definitely help you out when they can. 

If you can ensure proper maintenance, stop worrying about standards or the structure of Catalina sailboats. They can impress you undoubtedly. Every sailboat will need repairs over time I promise.

Final Thoughts

Catalina Yachts prioritize engineering standards and research quality. They are a top pick for sailors everywhere. Being a 50-year-old company, Catalina Sailboats are excellent for design, development, durability, and usability. In my experience of sailing different models of sailboats, Catalina Yachts easily tops the list. 

Catalina sailboats are for sale all over the world. I recommend looking in the used pile unless you can afford a new one. If you can, I’m super jealous of you. Cheers!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

Recent Posts