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Beneteau vs Hunter
You stated that in ths "latest edition of Practical sailor the author describes the vessels built by Beneteau, Hunter and Catalina as entry level boats, not more, not less".......Please if you are going to quote a magazine do it right. They were discussing 30-32 foot boats !!! The implication was NOT about the manufacturers!!! Its was about the size of the boats!!
With that said I think SEC has it pretty correct when he said " like the layout and storage space of the Hunter, but the standing
riging and fit/finish win on the Beneteau."....If you want to sit and party at the dock the Hunter is better, but I must give the nod to Beneteau for sailing and fit n'' finish.
A few more points even though, I am not a fan of the Beneteau iron keels...too bad they don''t use lead which is superior. Also I am a traditionalist, but I do see an advantage to the Hunter Roll bars. It probably places the Mainsheet and traveller in one of the most convenient locations possible . Right next to the helm.....ok..... I still probably wouldn''t want a Hunter.
One other point Jeff, What Catalina is using a cored hull today !?! I was at the AC Sail Expo and talked to Gerry Douglas and I do not think there are any (unless they are the smaller sailboats) that use a cored hull. What Catalina''s did he say were slated for Cored hulls....the new C350 ?
And last but not least your comment about not ever finding anyone with a good Catalina warrantee experience sounds like you don''t look very well. Just go onto any of the Sailnet lists (go now and search in the archives !) You will find hundreds of stories and comments from very satisfied Catalina owners ! I''m sure that there is always going to be a few people that aren''t happy, but the loyalty of Catalina owners I think exceeds the others. In fact just as someone brought up Practical Sailor before, just go back and look at their last reveiw of a Catalina (It was a Catalina 36) It notes how savvy Catalina owners are (they know their boats are Hinckleys, but still great boats for the money). And they must be doing something right.....