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post #26 of Old 11-15-2007
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For some unknown reason, there are a lot of people around here who like to denigrate Catalina’s. I’m not sure why. A C36 is more than capable for cruising the region between San Francisco and Banderas Bay. I personally know a retired couple who have been cruising western Mexico for the past six years in a C36. Oh, and another thing, at 16,000 pounds, I wouldn’t consider this boat a “lightweight” anything.

Up here in San Francisco, your price range is going to limit you to boats built in the mid 1980s. A lot of what you will have to do is in the nature of bringing the boat up to a more modern cruising standard rather than making it “blue water capable”. For example, you will be looking at: upgrading the electrical and battery systems; installing some sort of auxiliary battery charging system; putting in some long range communication capability; Upgrading the navigation suite; installing a water maker: And an autopilot/self steering system if you plan on sailing short handed.

I am currently helping on bringing a Nordic 44 up to the ORC (Ocean) Category 1 standard so we can race the Pacific Cup. I can tell you there isn’t a boat around that at that standard when shipped from the builder. The biggest thing you have to do is install an emergency steering (rudder) system. The second thing is developing a locking mechanism for the main hatch slider. The Lewmar Ocean series hatches are sufficient although you might want to swap out the plastic Bomar opening portlights for something more substantial. After-all, with a boat that old, you will be removing and rebedding everything anyways. A C36 out of Southern Californial had a bad experience breaking a rudder some time ago. You will want the yard to remove and inspect the rudder shaft and bearing for wear. Also, you should replace the rigging on a boat of that age. If you are thinking of a third reef or storm trysail, you may want to consider putting in a “baby stay” although you’ll probably get a lot more use out of a good spinnaker down in Mexico.

Catalina is one of the few builders left who build the hull and deck first then “fish” interior components through the companionway before installing them. On one hand, it’s nice to know that anything inside the boat can be replaced and it is easy to unscrew interior pieces in order to route wiring and plumbing. The downside is some wood panels are prone to creaking. If that bothers you, feel free to glue everything together with 5200 like the other builders do.

You will hear a lot about the lack of tankage on a C36. They are indeed designed to have a “cruising range” of one week (this is from Gerry Douglas, the designer). So this boat is a little “short legged” for the coast of Baja. However, technology has evolved enough to get a smaller water maker that is modular and the installation can be broken down into several spaces on the boat. I know of one person who did this and swapped out the second water tank for a fuel tank. In regards to fuel tankage, a large number of cruisers employ jerry jugs so don’t worry if you think this is a fashion faux pas.

The C36 owner’s website is an excellent technical resource as is the Single Handed Sailor’s Society of San Francisco. The Pacific Cup website is another great resource for “blue water” preparation.

Given the right weather window, this boat will do the extended cruising you are thinking about. But why would you want to go to someplace like Hawaiil? It’s 2,200 nm out in the middle of nowhere and there is no parking once you get there. For example, once we finish the Pacific Cup in the Nordic, we only have two weeks to prep the boat for the return trip before they kick us out of Kaneohe.

Last edited by GeorgeB; 11-15-2007 at 11:49 AM.
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