Halekai, loved your answer.
Blunt and realistic is better when I ask for responses. It also confirmed that little vioce in the back of my head that I'm SUPPOSED to listen to. Just for clarification sake, I have no intentions of a circumnavigation or anything so lofty. Just jumping from island to island but with a couple unavoidable passages in the plan. I would just feel better in a sailboat that I know was capable of enduring such conditions.
I keep seeing contradictory advice. People overbuy big boats with capabilities for which they'll never need with a crowd saying the poor owner bought too much boat. And the other crowd seems to be saying "I wouldn't take a Catalina outside of my bathtub." So which is the most intelligent choice for someone like me, whose plan is departing Dana Point, CA, sailing down to Baja, and then crossing through the PC to island hop in the Atlantic?
I ran into this years ago after killing car #3. I decided it was time for a truck. I did my research, all the mags and "experts" said don't waste your money on 4wd, most people that get it never use it and all it does is waste fuel, add cost and maintenance and other really really bad things.
So I got a 2wd. And promptly got stuck multiple times. More often than not due to changing conditions, not so much going where a 2wd shouldn't have gone. Now I have a 4wd and haven't gotten stuck yet. The towing charges alone would have covered the cost of the 4wd.
This feels like the same kind of deal. I plan on avoiding the rough spots but weather happens. So for what I plan can I get by with a production Catalina with a few upgrades? Or do I need to go the bombproof route?
However I have very few nm's under my belt so I'll defer to those more experienced voices. Back to the search. Thank you for taking the time to help out!