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Old 11-06-2006
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If it were me, I would buy a 320 versus the 28. I think you will be happier. You can get a not too used 320 under 100k. It is an awesome sailing boat and is very comfortable for weekends, etc. If you ever did change your plans in the years to come and wanted to drop it in the coast, you would be very pleased with how it handles too. It is a very sure-footed boat, tracks well, has great refrigeration, and lots of room down below. It even turns within its length (or almost) which is very unusual for a sailboat. You can also add air conditioning and heat without taking out too much of the valuable cabinet space.

Yes, I have owned one and loved it. Since then, I have owned a 380 and 400 (all Catalina). Catalina makes a very, very good boat (for the price) and has an awesome owners group - including a magazine called Mainsheet which is written and run by Catalina owners - not the company. They go through lots of technical issues, etc., specific to each make.

Regarding Hunter, I personally like Catalina better and I personally feel they have a much better following. They feel stiffer to me, their rigging is more traditional, they seem to weather better, and I like the lines better. There were some technical problems with the older Hunters, but to be fair, all manufacturers have had their quirks (from Catalina to Valiant), and I understand that the new Hunters are better built boats than the old ones. For lake use & coastal, there is really nothing wrong with a Hunter - in my opinion.

You might also look at a Beneteau. They make a similarly priced boat for the size, and make a good boat too. Still, for my dollar, I have always bought Catalinas over Bene, Jeauneau, Hunter, and even IP's (though they are much more expensive). Others may feel different.

- CD

PS I think the bad rap Hunters have gotten in the past has really been a bit over-done.
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