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post #25 of Old 07-20-2002
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CATALINA 350 need input

Well, we just traveled 16 hours to see hull #14 of a 350. Some thoughts:
We were hoping this would be the answer to our boat buying confusion, it wasn''t for us. As a 6''2" male I did love the headroom, everybit of the 6''9" they advertise. With that said there were a lot downsides for a person my size on this boat.
A. the forward bed was only 79" long and with my height I need to put the pillows at the end of the mattress to fit. The width dimension there was only 29" and flaired out to 41" 15" down (pillow depth). With this said NO WAY TWO HEADS FIT THERE! Not very useable for us. If you are shorter might work, but I would think you would have to be way less than 6'' to be comfortable.

B. Head was TINY and Shower compartment was even smaller. Over 6 feet and standing up to wash would be a challenge. You could sit and make it work.

C. Main Salon For a large boat 35''5" and 13'' beam the salon was meager. The head protrudes into a good part of the salon and the angled settee does not offer great seating capacity. Although we love the litte table for two concept, the forward seat is parallel two the head door and sort of feels out of the salon. Combine this with the smaller table on the starboard side as compared to the 36 Cat and it just seemed real small.

D. Nav Area: Adequate, a little disappointed that the radio, VHF backs were exposed to the inside of the tv area. It makes for easy access but also makes it susceptible to problems.

E. Galley: OK, the front loading frig is a real get on your knees to look for something. Not sold on this feature, it obviously has some advantages over top load but we think the downside might offset them. Good storage for food and supplies. Separate freezer a real plus, don''t understand why this isn''t incorporated into the entire line. Catalina should take a page from the hunter 356 and just separate the frig /freezer compartment and add a fan to blow cool into the frig. What a nice touch!!!

F. Aft Cabin 54" x 80" OK maybe the best place to sleep on this boat for us. But with this said, the exciting thing about this boat was the centerline berth forward. To sleep aft sort of defeats the purpose of buying this boat. There are TONS of boats with Athwartship perths. The Hunter 356 is a real queen size bed 60x80. Not mention the rest of the Catalina line.

G. Other: I didn''t like the door to the aft cabin, it is cut out at the bottom centerline area so it can clear the settee near the nav station. Very narrow to walk through.

H. Hull & Deck: The non skid was different from other catalina''s we saw, almost painted on. Not the molded in pattern that we are accustomed to seeing on a catalina.

Lot''s of FREEBOARD makes the boat look big, they obviously get that headroom from somewhere.

Storage in the cockpit was excellant. Deep lockers and lots of them. I really liked the shelves built into the starboard lazzorette. Catalina should incorporate this into the rest of the line especially the 380 aft locker.

Auto Pilot: Boat is listed at 13K for displacement (some Manufactureres ? this) but even if it is low by a ton well within the limits of a 4000 Autohelm (17.5k)or Wheelpilot 30 (19k). These should work well for most applications, coastal or inland. If going offshore a 6000 would be my call. With this all said the Diamond Series Pedastal WILL NOT ACCOMODATE either of these wheel pilots. This adds a lot to the cost of an autopilot if you so desire to have one installed. I spent hours trying to figure out a way to make it work, talked to edson B4 I saw the boat, on the phone with Simrad while standing on the boat and not confident either will or could work without a major modification. This was a REAL DOWNSIDE TO US since it added $3500 to the option.

Access to Hdwe: The liner did not allow as good access to fittings as say the 36. Most are buryied or difficult to reach with tools.

Conclusion: As you probably gathered the 350 wouldn''t work well for us, I am sure it will be great for others, but the downsides for such a LARGE 35'' boat were too great. There was a silver lining possibly out of our trip and that is that we also go to spend a lot of time in a 2003 36 and although it wasn''t perfect it may do what we are looking for at a much lower price tag than the 350. I looks like we may pursue that option this week.

Keep in mind this was one couples opinion, what we have learned from this entire buying expierence is that NO BOAT IS PERFECT. If we could only take the best features of a Catalina, Hunter, Beneteau and Jeanneau we might have a real GREAT PRODUCTION BOAT. Maybe one day someone will make that boat, but we need a boat NOW!!!!!
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