To get some sailing time on a Catalina 40, why not go to the Catalina email list here on Sailnet and ask the question? To sign up for that list, click on the button on the Sailnet home page that says something like "Join Email lists". It''s the button right below the one for these message boards on the home page. Chances are there is someone near you who owns a 40 who would love to show off their boat if the dealer can''t arrange a test sail.
That list also is the best place to get first hand info on the good and bad points of the boat. Despite what you might think, my experience with owners on the internet is that they are very frank in discussing their boats.
The primary problem with Catalina warranty support is that Frank Butler still insists on handling all warranty claims himself. That''s good in that he knows exactly what is wrong with his boats and can make changes instantly on the production floor if he wants. The bad side is that given Catalina''s sales volume these days, it''s hardly a one man job to keep up with all that especially when you are trying to run the company. This also puts the dealers in the middle (where they do belong after all) and some of them handle warranty issues better than others as well. So if you do buy new, check with as many current customers as you can about dealer support.
I spent several hours interviewing Frank Butler a couple of years ago for an article I wrote on the history of Catalina, and he is passionate about his boats. He is rightfully very proud of his company and the number of people down through the years he has helped get into sailing. And he is very attuned to his customers, the vast majority of whom are very devoted to their boats. Catalina also is very supportive of all the boats it''s made through the years, providing tremendous technical support for even the oldest models. It''s very hard to say that someone can go wrong buying a Catalina.