Re: thoughts on 1971 Yankee Dolphin 24?
Ryan: If I remember that boat correctly (I can't access your link right now), the Dolphin is a very pretty boat, Sparkman and Stephens design. It is however, not a boat that is as comfortable or as good in Chesapeake light airs as some of the more modern designs. If you are not all that concerned about a comfortable, roomy (relatively speaking that is) cabin, then the Dolphin is a nice boat. Also, while the Dolphin was a moderate design for her time, I think she is still pretty heavy. Don't expect to be racing along.
And don't be swayed by that "solid" hull claim; just about every boat then and now has a "solid" fiberglass hull. Its only the upper end and racing boats that have cored hulls. And virtually all boats (including the Dolphin) have cored decks. You have to be careful about checking the condition of the deck on older boats; virtually all have had water intrusion issues, and it is necessary to know what you are getting into. Its pretty common now (although by no means standard) for the decks on higher quality boats to have solid decks around deck hardware fittings. This prevents the inevitable water intrusion from affecting the core. However, it was a virtually unknown construction technique back in the day. Subsequent repairs may have created the same protections on an older boat, but only the owner will know for sure.
It sounds to me that you have the right list of potential candidates to review. A couple of suggestions: the Odays have a keel/centerboard set up: ballast in a stub keel, with a mostly unweighted centerboard available to increase draft when necessary. The Catalinas have a true swing keel (ballast is all in the swinging keel). I think the Oday design is superior in every way. Having said that, the Catalina cabin on the 25 is better suited to cruising than the Oday (with one notable exception): the Catalina has a pop top to give you standing headroom, and was available with a neat dinette floor plan. Catalina is also still in business, and Catalina Direct still sells direct replacement parts for all of their boats. Oday is long gone. While Oday support is readily available over the internet and from D&R Marine in Mass., its not quite the same.
However, Oday clearly as an advantage over Catalina in the placement of the head; its behind a real door in the Oday. The best set up for the C25 has the head behind a folding accordian screen. Never underestimate the value of the head behind a door when sailing with the ladies.
Have fun looking, and be sure to post pictures!