I find myself in a different place with this. The real cost of ownership is maintenance, and in the 70's and 80's the build quality of both of the companies (especially Catalina) tended to be just a little below the quality of similar sized boats of that era. Over time, and in this economy, the difference in price has gotten quite small or even non-existent between higher quality boats from a design and build standpoint, and the value oriented boats (like the Hunters, Pearson, Seidelman, Irwins, Seafarers and Catalinas). My thought is that if you can find a well maintained, better quality boat than the bargain basement offerings, then you might come out ahead in terms of lower maintenance costs, greater reliability, and overall better sailing capabilities.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay and part-time purveyor of marine supplies