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Re: Is she bluewater? Interesting story to help with these questions.
Honestly, while I don't think of Hunters or Catalina's as being great offshore boats the reality is that with proper preparation they are fine.
Let's look at this story for a moment,
1) the primary concern was a case of life threatening sea sickness. This was independent of anything the boat could have controlled.
2) A missing o-ring from a newly installed water intake. A boat problem, but one that could have been repeated on any boat. Certainly not the builders fault
3) Failure to properly update a steering recall. Again, this was a preparation issue
4) leaking hatches. Thus is perhaps the only issue that could be considered the manufacturers fault. But it is a very common problem with all boats, regardless of manufacturer. By this time the boat was 12 years old. Not particularly old by boat standards, but for caulk, sealant, and hatches this would be at or past their expected lifetime.
5) poorly installed bilge pumps. Again an inconvenience, not a condition that threatened the boat. Had the hatches been checked and rebedded before departure this would have been a minor problem at worst
6) broken windwave. While a manufacturing defect, it wasn't Catalina's fault. It was the fault of the steering manufacturer.
7) faulty electronics. Again I place this at the hands of the electronics company, not Catalina.
In short most, if not all of the problems that lead to termination of the voyage (with the exception of the sea sickness) can be directly attributed to poor preparation. Sadly this is often the case. Many cruisers (myself included) spend an inordinate amount of time worried about minor issues, or issues so rare as to never happen, that we forget to check things like if the stearing is up to snuff, or to rebed hatches, ect.
Watching some of the professional solo sailors prep for long distance racing is an eye opener. No one spends any time on what type of drough, or sea anchor they have. They have one on board, and that's enough. But every fitting on the boat is checked, double checked, and tripple checked. Masts go up and down regualrly as fittings are tested, checked for corrosion or weak spots, replaced and put back into service.
After talking with a few of the Open 6.5 guys, the single thing that gets checked the most is steering. Both the auto pilot, and the entire rudder control system. Its like a religion, every few weeks they rip apart the whole steering system to double check everything is ok. Most cruisers however are lucky if they can even find their emergency tiller, let alone know how it all goes together. And the idea of re-running a steering cable at sea, while not very difficult in reality, is something few people know how to do.
I think the most important conclusion to draw from this is to take a real shake down cruise. 2-3 days in the worst conditions you can reasonably expect to see. If it breaks, that is when it will, not on a nice 12kn day. This is particularly important when the likely conditions are widely divergent from the normal life of the boat.
We all love our boats but I think it is border-line irresponsible to encourage people to go offshore in a lightly built coastal cruiser, particularly one that is 25 years old. Catalinas and Hunters are great boats for what they are: coastal cruisers built at a very reasonable price point. Have people crossed oceans in them? Of course. But that is not what they are built for and I wouldn't push my luck by testing them that way.
Edit: Apologies. Didn't notice this was an old thread and that I had made more or less the same comments a year or so ago.
Last edited by CBinRI; 10-09-2013 at 10:41 AM.