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Home » Sailnet Boat Reviews » C - Boats starting with 'C' » Catalina
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Catalina 34
Reviews Views Date of last review
10 7488 Wed August 29, 2012
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Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 8.8












Description: Catalina 34
Keywords: Catalina 34
 


Author
j-bird
Junior Member

Registered: June 2005
Review Date: Sun October 6, 1996 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:

The Catalina 34 is a well-established design - a coastal cruiser capable of sleeping six (or seven in a pinch) but admirably suited to a couple with two or three kids or teenagers. The boat is available with a fin or wing keel. The fin keel model is said to point to the wind better, but we bought the wing keel because it draws only 3'10" - a real plus in the shallow Chesapeake. My boat (and I think most 34s of 1988 vintage) was equipped with a terrible Hood LD furler with a poor continuous-line design, a 150% genoa, a fully-battened mainsail with a not-very-effective lazyjack system, Edson steering, and a Universal MXP25 diesel.

I've owned my 1988 Catalina 34 for a year. I knew it needed a lot of work when I bought it -- even so, it's been more expensive and frustrating than I would have thought. We've had to replace many of the boat's systems, including head, furler, control panel wiring, depth sounder, and more. But this would be true, I think, of any eight-year-old boat that had not been well maintained for the concluding years of ownership.

Now we have a fantastic boat and we're glad this initial period is over. She sails well - and she's a big boat, too, so she's stable in rough seas and high winds (a real plus). A real down side: There's precious little dry food storage below (or storage for anything else, for that matter). The aft cabin is very snug - for two, you'd better be very, very friendly and willing to wake up to allow your friend to visit the head! The cockpit table (which lowers to provide an additional double birth) is too close to the settee for comfort; many C34 owners have had new tables made. The Universal 25 diesel is very tough and is sufficiently powerful to get the boat to hull speed (provided you have a clean hull). In docking, the boat handles very nimbly, and can turn on her length (with a little judicious use of reverse and port prop walk). Other minor repairs required: leaky mast boot, leaky Nibo hatch, broken running light hanging out of mast, leaky keel bolt (required resetting).

Overall, this boat is an excellent choice for anyone who thinks a 30-footer might be too snug, but doesn't want to handle a 36 or 40 foot boat. I'm told they're pretty easy to sell, though I haven't tried -- and don't want to.

Would I do it again? Having lived with the 34 for a year, I envy Catalina 320 owners - although the 320 is much smaller, the interior design is far superior (much better galley, much more storage, more elbow room in aft cabin). Haven't seen the new 34s, which is just as well, since I'd probably buy one on the spot.
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administrator

Administrator

Registered: January 2000
Location: maryland
Posts: 1888
Review Date: Sun March 30, 1997 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:


I have owned this boat since it was built in 1989. Please contact me by email for my review of its capabilities and performance. In general I have been very satisfied.
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sailorjohn
Junior Member

Registered: May 2000
Location: Top of Chesapeake Bay & Ponce Inlet FL
Review Date: Mon February 9, 1998 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:


A roomy, responsive cruiser, actually 34'6" in LOA, usually priced to represent excellent value, with sufficient performance to make outings fun. This vintage retains the original traditional transom (beginning in 1989 or 1990, the design was changed to a walk-through). The regular transom is a little inconvenient when on a mooring, but no problem in a slip and nice and secure when sailing in non-tropical conditions with a following sea!

The interior has two double cabins, aft and bow, with a single head/shower off the salon. Both berths are roomy enough for average-sized people, but the aft cabin lacks good ventilation (the newer Mark II has added a hatch to alleviate this issue) and requires some gymnastics of its occupants. The V-berth is the preferred cabin, and many owners consider the aft cabin as their "attic" for adding storage, which is sorely lacking in the rest of the design. The balance of the interior has good air and the salon table drops down to sleep 2 more people on a cushioned insert (which is always a problem to store on board).

The wing keel draws 3'10", but when sailing or anchoring in any kind of wind, you have to consider it as 4'6", because the wing is so big that when you heel at all, the lower edge will dip down quite a bit. Even that draft, however, opens
up a lot of shallow anchorages and is a big plus in places like the Upper Chesapeake Bay.

In areas of lighter air, you really need a 150/155 genoa,
which on almost all boats will be a roller-furled sail.
The one originally supplied by Catalina in a boat of this vintage should be replaced with a new sail, either from
the factory (their new ones are better) or from another
good source. Look for lower weight which maintains
reasonable strength.

The Catalina main is traditional, no roach and short battens. If original, it will have developed a "bag" of
extra fabric in the first couple of feet above the boom.
If this exists, have the sail recut unless it is in poor
shape, as this reportedly improves performance quite a bit.
If you decide to purchase a new main, Catalina will, upon request, usually throw in a Dutchman flaking system that works very well.

Under sail, the boat has a tendency to round up in gusts,
which can be corrected in every case by easing the traveller just a bit. If the winds are above 15 knots, you will need to reef to balance the helm better. Most 86-89 boats only
have one set of reef points in the main, and this is a handicap. The wing hurts performance a bit compared to the
alternate fin configuration (PHRF gives you 6 seconds for that difference per mile). However, if you like to do a lot of beam and/or broad reaching, the wing is outstanding on this heading.

Most 1988 Cat34 owners have added a lot of extra equipment to make their cruising more enjoyable. For example, my PANACHE has refrigeration, invertor/smart charger, upgraded battery/alternator system, TV & antenna, GPS and LORAN, stereo/tape with cockpit remote and speakers, CNG stove, a hot/cold pressure water system, and an Autohelm 4000 autopilot. I've also added a big whisker pole mounted vertically on a track on the front of the mast where I can rig it by myself, and since using this with my 150% genoa, I seldom crack out my other major sailing addition and downwind option, a cruising spinnaker/sock. This is because the boat sails beautifully goose-winged with a pole holding the genny out. Although none of this equipment is essential, I wouldn't give up any of it for enjoyable cruising, and the boat handles the extra weight with no difficulty.

Although great for cruising in all inland or coastal waters, I would not want to take her offshore, since, although strong, she is not designed for that kind of sailing. Most Catalina 34 owners, including myself, are very satisfied, and this builds strong owner loyalty. Many (also like myself) started out with smaller Catalinas and traded
up to their 34's.
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Review Date: Sun February 22, 1998 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Easy sailing - Large cockpit - Easy to maintain - Not built for lots of blue water sailing - Very satisfied
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administrator

Administrator

Registered: January 2000
Location: maryland
Posts: 1888
Review Date: Sat August 12, 2000 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Great coastal sailboat. I have made many changes to make it a perfect coastal boat. See all these changes at my boat's web site.
http://kindred-spirit.net/upgrades.html
There is a great upgrade page with many pictures.
Feel free to e-mail me any questions on the Catalina 34. "Fast and comfortable"
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jgilman
Junior Member

Registered: August 2000
Review Date: Sun August 27, 2000 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Great boat very comfortable. Sails very well. Loves 15 to 20 knot breeze.
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winddancer88
Member

Registered: October 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 56
Review Date: Tue January 30, 2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent layout, sails well
Cons: Could use more headroom

My headroom comment aside (I'm 6'7" this is a great boat. Like many boat of it's vintage, the electrical system needed upgrading for extended cruising and I've been repairing and upgrading worn items as I expected when purchasing an 18 year old boat. She sails great and is well designed. I highly recommend this boat as a capable coastal cruiser.
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butlers
Junior Member

Registered: May 2006
Posts: 1
Review Date: Mon March 19, 2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Handling, construction, easy maintenance
Cons:

After three years and 3,800 miles aboard, we would still buy her without hesitation. A very good boat for a couple or a couple with a few kids.
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dantaden

Sailor & Member

Registered: March 2009
Location: Toronto
Posts: 27
Review Date: Thu December 31, 2009 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sailing Characteristics, easy maintenance, ROI.
Cons:

Have owned the boat for 8 years. With the Tall Rig and Fin Keel, the boat performs very well, and well balanced on all points of sail. On the club race course you'll be competetive with larger boats in white sail and spinnaker divisions.

We loved the roominess and comfort in the cockpit - can accomodate up to 10 in a pinch. Easy access to swim platform with walk through transom - a great swim platform with shower. In great weather you'll do most of your living in the cockpit. Under sail the stern rail seats are the best seats on the boat.

The cabin area provides additional comfort - with the salon table down, it will providse addition room and alternative for sleeping. All amenties are available.

I would recommend this boat to anyone for Large Lake and coastal cruising, but highly recommend the tall rig and fin keel for a better sailing experience. Would also recommend upgrading the aft cabin cushions for more comfort sleeping.

------------------------------
Dan, Celestial 48'
Toronto, sailing Lake Ontario & Thousand Islands
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Jerry Pleiades
Junior Member

Registered: May 2012
Location: Nutley, NJ
Posts: 3
Review Date: Wed August 29, 2012 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very comfortable family cruiser, can be singlehanded
Cons:

Thus is our second full season with Pleiades and we love her. She can make way on a 5 - 8 kt breeze on a hot summer day and nicely handles 3 - 5 foot seas on a 15 - 20+ knot day. We have the wing keel/tall rig. You definitely want the walk thru transom if you have kids.
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