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post #5 of Old 11-03-2010
Jeff_H's Avatar
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I assume that the boat in question is a Northstar 500 and not a Northstar 26 which was not introduced until around 1979. I actually owned a Northstar 500 back in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

While the accomodations are a bit Spartan, these were very nice boats in terms of sailing ability and were very well constructed in all ways. I routinely sailed mine in the Atlantic off Savannah, including in some very big seas and winds. I liked the boat very much. Although essentially the same design, there were two versions of the boat, the 500 and 500 QT. The 500 was optimiized as a MORC boat and the 500 QT was optimized as an IOR Quarter tonner.

My issues with the Northstar would be that the rig proportion was such that these boats depended on very large sail inventories. Mine had six or seven jibs and two spinackers and you really needed to pick the right sail for the wind speed or it seriously hurt performance. I would think that you would at least want a 150%, 135% , 105% and storm jib for cruising. The deck layout and hardware was top-notch for the 1970's but consisted mostly of Merriman winches and blocks. This was well made hadware, but the parts are almost imposible to find (I had a machine shop make parts for me back in the 1980's) and by modern standards it was high friction, and not as powerful as we would spec. today. Also the Northstar has a vee drive which is bit of a PITA if there is alignment, shaftlog, or coupling issues. I had some special tools made which helped some. The Northstar 500 is also pretty deep draft if I recall correctly.

The Catalina 25 is an okay coastal cruiser. They sail reasonably well, and are not all that much slower in moderate conditions than the Northstar. The Catalina is not as robust as the Northstar and does not do as well in heavy going, but it sure has a roomier interior and a layout that is more suitable for living aboard. The outboard is less suitable for crossing the Gulfstream. since you can't keep in the water in a short chop, you can't even use it to charge the batteries. The Catalina might get by with fewer sails in its inventory but it shares a similar rig proportion to the Northstar and so you will need a large genoa for light air, a working jib, and something to use in heavy going. A furler will not solve this problem.

Frankly, neither boat is especially ideal for what you propose to do. If I were in your shoes I would try to find a nicely maintained Tartan 27 which is between the two speeds of these boats but which is a better suited design than the Northstar in terms of accomodations and is a much better built boat than the Catalina.


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