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post #20 of Old 04-27-2007
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Ok, hoping I do not tick anyone off here again, I will try and answer you on several points. Again, no one take offense please:

1) I would buy a new Hunter over a new Beneteau or Jeauneau. I think Hunter is making improvements, and the last few benes and Jeauneaus I went on (new ones, 38-44 feet) were VERY DISSAPOINTING! One of the cabinet doors were loose. THe new Jeauneau hand rails look ready to break some fingers and installing a generator in them would be an absolute nightmare of glasswork. I do not mind big and wide open, but the multi levels and tricks steps were poorly thought out. The wooden steps are a hazard in a sea without taping, and maintenance on extra systems will take a circus acrobat. They look good in the boat show down below. They have a nicer, warmer, more comfortable feel than a catalina (in my opinion, others dissagree), but that was it. I DOOO like the older benes, but I still bought 4 Catalinas over them.

2) The suggestion of the Hunter was a good one. I saw a REAL effort to improve quality. The issue I would have is whether those changes really are long-term. Will they really last and hold up? I do not know. Only time will tell. But if I was about to drop 250-300k in a boat, I would let someone else find out first and let some time play out. Also, you will be dealing with the ever lasting Hunter bashing (which is unfair on these boats and some of the others). You are NOT buying your boat for someone else and as long as you own it could probably care less what anyone else says, but should you ever want to sell it... that will make it an issue.

3) The early model 387's made many changes Kris and I liked. They had the fold-up table and coffee table to the side. I do not care for these huge salon tables that take up half the cabin. If you have that large of a party coming over to eat, sit out in the cockpit. However, that seems to be the trend. Thus, the fold-up table was a real plus. Many of the newer 387s do not have the fold-up. They are sparse on cabinet space. The finish out is fine, just not enough of it. I would buy a 380 over a new 387.

4) The 387 is a totally different hull, basically a totally different everything.

5) If you can pony up a little more for the 400, it is better than the 380 in all respects. It performs better. It has considerably more room. It has 2 heads (I prefer one but my wife prefers 2 b/c of the boys). It has a double anchor roller. The cockpit is VASTLY more comfortable. It has 2 steering stations and easy pass-through. It has more room in the lazarette. It has storage all over the place, including under the floor in the galley. Systems are easier to get access to. The nav station is larger and more comfortable (in fact, short of the 470, it has the best nav station of any of the catalinas). It has a very nice, lighted wine/glass cabinet. It has a lot more storage in the galley cabinets. It has access switches leading down the companionway. It has hidden access lighting throughout. You easily have room to increase the battery bank to 1000 ah with little glass work. The salon table is much larger and more comfortable. you can easily modify and put in a large inverter/charger. Generator access and installation is easier. The head room over the aft berth (owners berth) is higher. Ther is more cabinetry in the aft berth and a lot more storage.

6) The only negative of the 400 compared to the 387 is the shower. It is seperate from the head (very important), but it is smaller than the 380. The shower on the 380 is more comfortable. The 400 also does not have a dedicated wet locker and will take some modifications in one of the heads. The 400 also does not have an opening port inside the shower. It has a solar vent (none of which work really well). We are going to modify this.

Basically, if you can deal with a bit more money, the 400 is a much more comfortable and better boat than the 380, which is a nicer boat than the 387.

7) I almost bought a 42 over the 400. The 42 costs a little less and has several differences that make it appealing. The salon is more open and inviting. The galley and accompanying garage (storage space centerline and aft of the galley). The 42 can come with a washer/dryer in the forward shower area. One head is accessbile from the salon. The cockpit is more comfortable than the 380/387, not as large and comfortable as the 400 (due to the walk-through with 2 steering stations).

8) However, there were several things about the 42 that killed it for us. THe second stateroom is not as comfortable and accessible as the V on the 400. We have 2 boys and they would be crawling over each other to get out. That is a real negative. The nav station on the 42 is way forward and small for a boat of that size (in my opinion). Adding a lot of electronics or goodies will require some hoakie woodwork or just leave them out in the open. I always prefer having the nav close to the cockpit so you are not walking so far in a sea to make 1/2 hour paper plots and you can also communicate with the helmsman easier. The pullman is not prefered to a centerline berth you can both crawl out of. Anytime someone has to get up in the middle of the night (to pee, check the anchor, whatever) which happens several times/night, you will be crawling over the other person and waking them up. The 42 does not have a good escape point for 2 people. An escape point is an area that you can sit down, spread out (away from the kids or company) and read a book, type, or just relax. The 380, 387, and 400 all have that in the owners cabin. The escape point is one of the most critical pieces of living aboard or spending lots of time on a boat. Lastly, the settees in the salon on the 42 are somewhat curved and will not easily accomodate lee cloths or sleeping in the salon for long passages. That will be an issue anytime you make long runs.

9) There is NOOOO comparrison between a Catalina and a HR. HR's are much better built boats. However, I would buy a Catalina over a IP. If you reallywant to go that direction, I like Calibers.

I personally think the 400 is one of the best boats Catalina makes. It is comfortable, performs well, is easy to sail and single hand, and makes a good live aboard/cruiser. It will take you ANYWHERE in this hemishpere in comfort and safety.

- CD

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1987 Tayana Vancouver 42, Credendo Vides, (Mom and Pops boat, F/T Mobile Live Aboards in Puget Sound)

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