Is The Catalina 22 A Good SailBoat? (Full Review)

The first boat you buy is a very important decision. You are looking for something that will be a fun experience and not cause you to regret your decision. I have the perfect selection for you.

The Catalina 22 is a great first boat for new or experienced sailors. The Catalina 22 is one of the most popular sailboats ever with 15,000 boats sold in 2009 alone. Its size and maneuverability make it a great option for someone just learning to sail.

This boat is a fantastic vessel. Thousands of people have started their sailboat journey with this boat. Tons of people would come up to me when I had my boat at the docks and they would tell me all about the time they owned a Catalina 22. They loved it and a lot of them wished they still had one. I can almost guarantee you won’t regret buying this one, but let me tell you more about this boat and my personal experience with it before you make a decision to purchase. Enjoy!

My Personal Experience With Aisling (Catalina 22)

Purchasing The Boat

Aisling is an Irish name meaning “Dream” or “Vision”, which was the perfect name for my boat. When I bought my first boat I felt like I was living the dream. I was so excited to have finally found a boat that was perfect for starting my sailing journey. This boat was, of course, a Catalina 22.

I purchased this boat in Idaho for $3000 dollars. See below!

The big question about the price is, did I overpay? Yes, I do believe I overpaid for this boat. The reason I overpaid for this boat is that I didn’t do enough research and didn’t plan out my purchase. I was a young kid only 22 years old and all I could think about was getting on the water.

Always do your research before purchasing and always come in at a low price and negotiate from there. My first offer was accepted which means I could have gone lower. There have been boats like mine in worse condition that went for the same amount but in my situation, looking back, the boat had been there for a while and I am pretty sure the old man just wanted it gone.

If I could go back in time I would offer 1800 to 2000 for the boat. That seems like a fair price looking back now.

Working On The Boat

After I purchased the boat, I parked in a storage lot on an Air Force base and began my work on it. The boat did not necessarily need work, but as you will come to find out, working on your boat and improving it is one of the best parts of owning one. There will be projects that make you mad, but in the end, I loved working on mine.

I installed new lighting which was very easy. The existing wiring had to be updated and I learned a lot about wiring, fuses, and circuits. Owning a boat will improve your knowledge in a lot of areas. I also refinished a lot of the teak work inside of the cabin as well.

One of the more larger projects was a mast step install, which is a bracket that sits under the mast itself, between the deck and the bottom of the mast. I had to do this because one of the eye holes on the mast mount had been broken, meaning only one side of the bolt was securing the mast when it was up (not safe!). I also installed a mast shim block, because the previous deck holes would not support the new mast step. This was surprisingly easy and worked out perfectly. I ordered all parts from Catalina Direct.

The last project I did before taking my boat to the water was a bilge pump. My boat did not previously have a bilge pump, but with a lack of good research, I thought I should install one anyways. To find out more about bilge pumps, read this article here. This was a huge problem later, but I’ll talk about it in the next section.

Those were my main projects after I purchased the boat. Mostly cosmetic and a few extras I wanted to make my boat a little more convenient.

Getting On The Water

After I completed all my projects, it was time to get my boat on the water. I decided to slip it on Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho.

This was the best spot for my boat. It was only an hour away and it’s one of the biggest lakes out there. I had to rent a U-Haul to tow my boat because I didn’t have a vehicle that could tow something that big. Keep that in mind when you purchase a boat. I decided I would just rent a truck at the beginning and end of each season to tow my boat, which worked out great.

It’s a great feeling when you get your boat on the water. The Catalina 22 was perfect for sailing on the lake. The swing keel allowed me to go a lot of places other boats wouldn’t fit. The size of the boat was great for handling and never became too much for me. Sailing is very simple and great for first-timers. I highly recommend this boat. I learned so much from having it on the water. It was so much fun, but some issues did come up.

I had a major issue that almost sank my boat.

When I backed my boat into the water, the force of the water coming through the drain over the keel, pushed my bilge pump off the drain line, even though it was clamped very tight. This caused my boat’s hull to fill up with water extremely fast.

When you put your boat in the water, immediatley do an indepth check for leaks!

I did not check for leaks. I don’t know why, but for some reason, I just didn’t use my brain. I parked the trailer and motored over to my boat slip. After about an hour or a little less, I discovered the leak and my hull was almost full below the cabin. In a crazy panic, I raced it back over to the ramp and was able to get the trailer and pull it out in time. The most stressful day on my boat was the day I put it in the water. It was a long day for sure. After that first day, nothing stressed me out again for the whole season. Just thinking about that moment when you realize your boat is sinking, makes all other issues seem minimal.

Selling My Catalina 22

After a couple of years of ownership, it was time to sell my boat. I was moving across the country and hauling the boat would have been too much of a hassle. Selling a sailboat can be difficult if there is not a big market for sailboats in your area. Keep that in mind. Thankfully I was able to sell mine in a reasonable time frame. I did only sell it for $2000 dollars, but I was still happy to pass it on to someone else. I wish I would have kept in contact with the person that purchased the boat. I would like to know what happened to it and if it is still out there sailing.

Just remember you will not get the money back that you put into your boat. Owning a boat and spending money on it is not an investment, it is a hobby you enjoy doing.

I learned so much about boats and sailing from owning one. There are so many things I never would have thought of or experienced if I had not decided to purchase the Catalina 22. This boat is perfect. I would even consider purchasing this boat again, but I think I want one just a little bigger now.

Now that I have told you a small version of my personal experience with a Catalina 22, let’s look at some more specific information about the Catalina 22 and answer some of your questions.

How Much Does A Catalina 22 Sailboat Cost? (New vs Old)

A new Catalina 22 Capri can cost you $40,000+ dollars. An old model from the ’80s and ’90s can cost anywhere from $1000 to $10000 dollars. The cost will be dependent on the condition of the boat, the year it was built, and the location you are buying it from.

My sailboat, as I mentioned earlier cost me $3000 dollars. This was for a 1985 Catalina 22 in good condition. I have seen some for sale in the $6000 dollar range, but it was a much nicer-looking boat. I highly recommend shopping around and if you can, look at boats a few hours away if necessary. It doesn’t have to be for sale on the lake you want it to be slipped on. Catalina 22s are very easy to tow around as well. Just do your research and don’t rush into anything is my best advice.

Can You Sleep On A Catalina 22? (How Many People Will Fit)

A Catalina 22 has multiple areas for sleeping below deck. The v-berth, dinette and couch area are all capable of letting people sleep there.

I recommend 4 people max for sleeping on a Catalina 22. More than 4 people will start to become very crowded, very quick. The v-berth will hold two people, and the dinette and couch will each hold one person. You could maybe put two in the dinette area, but it’s a small area so I would not recommend it. The image below shows the layout of a Catalina 22 cabin. I added black rectangles to show the sleeping areas I recommend.

Cushions will be necessary to sleep comfortably below deck. Without them, you would be sleeping on the fiberglass boat which is not comfortable at all. If you do not have any cushions at this time, check out this article on boat cushions.

Can You Sail A Catalina 22 In The Ocean? (Safety First)

The Catalina 22 sailboat was designed for calm waters in a protected area. It is a lighter, smaller-designed boat that should not be taken out on rough seas. If you have the skills and the weather is good, the Catalina 22 could be sailed in the ocean.

If you do not feel comfortable sailing in the ocean, DO NOT DO IT! There is no reason to ever risk life and limb for sailing. The Catalina 22 is a small boat and not designed for circumnavigating. It is great for lake and bay sailing with good weather. You never want to be stuck out at sea in bad weather with a small boat.

Safety First! Always!

Technically any boat can sail in the ocean, but you need to always remember safety first. If you don’t do a lot of open ocean sailing, find someone that does and have them come with you or go out on their boat with them until you build your confidence. There is nothing wrong with saying you’re not ready for the open ocean. When you are ready, I personally recommend a larger boat as well. A 27-foot sailboat or greater would be a good starting point for open waters.

My Final Thoughts

The Catalina 22 sailboat is a perfect sailboat for beginners. I personally had it as my first boat and loved it. It teaches you a lot about sailing and boat maintenance. Due to its size and easy maneuverability, it’s easy to gain confidence quickly. It is perfect for daysailing and even some overnight weekends on the lake or bay. I really can’t find too many bad things to say about this boat. Thousands of people have purchased this boat and loved it. I never met anyone who didn’t like their Catalina 22.

All I know is, that it was the perfect first boat for me and my situation. I hope this article helped narrow down your decision to purchase a sailboat, maybe even a Catalina 22!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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