Cobraman and Sailingfool: (Surely, first names aren''t that risky or time consuming to use on these posts...)
I think I''m the one who posted the URL on the Catalina that didn''t make it to Hawaii. I''m not terribly keen on that being a sole reference to the question of taking a high-volume ''factory boat'' like a Catalina to Hawaii as it was a very early C36 and even had a steering failure resulting from poor design which Catalina subsequently modified. A hatch that tore off was also underspec''d for that kind of passage, something I''m guessing (hoping, perhaps) Catalina''s CE rating process would now catch and not permit to happen (altho'' there is no guarantee of this when buying a Catalina on the American market).
I guess what I''m saying is that, if we''re going to look at a failed C36 attempt to reach Hawaii when commenting on Cobraman''s plans, then we should also acknowledge the same boat model (C36) has won its class on the same passage (in the West Marine Pacific Cup) and also been singlehanded & multi-crewed multiple times in the same race over the last decade. (Remember: each of these boats must also be returned to the West Coast, a different kind of passage, once the race is completed).
Having said all that, I think you (Cobraman) need to be especially careful as you move down in size and contemplate an ocean passage, as smaller boats (perhaps the Hunter 306 fits this caution perfectly) are even less intentionally designed and built to the strength needed for an ocean passage. E.g. there''s a Hunter 290 across from me right now and, as I inspected its marginal rig the other day (it''s sailed along the English Channel on occasion, which is what peeked my interest), I can say it must take a very brave or naive person to cross an ocean in this boat. Also, keep in mind there''s a lot of off-wind work going over and I keep hearing expressed regrets about using the B&R rig in downwind sailing because of mainsail chafe and not being able to boom out and vang down the sail appropriately for the course one needs to sail. (I will refrain from commenting on the absence of a backstay in such conditions - offshore, in a big sea, with convective weather common at times - except to remind potential Hunter shoppers that the B&R rig was chosen so that Hunter could REDUCE the mast cross section and strength (diameter) of the rigging wire, not to utilize its advantages to make it stronger).
Re: Feeling centerboard boats, I would encourage you to try and find some BB''s in Western Europe, and also track down the UK distributor (who speaks English). Feeling yachts are much more common over here (tho'' not anywhere near the big brands) and you''d likely find useful information by inquiring about them among W Europeans.
Good luck on the search!