Re: For a family of 4 - Islander 28 vs Catalina 30
I currently sail an I-28. I did not choose it, it just landed in my lap. I was in the market for a small coastal cruiser to introduce my wife to sailing and the coast of Maine. I have been sailing here on various boats since the 80's. Mine has a 5' draft.
This boat is the most well balanced boat I have had the pleasure to sail. My novice wife was comfortable at the helm on our first outing (10 knots +_ with spray on deck when beating with a 130 jib). She is the helms woman and I am the trimmer now. It is responsive and predictable. It is safe because of that. Jibing is a non event. I sail it solo with hank on head sails. I added a jib down haul for my comfort and convenience. Bob Perry got it right. It is well made of quality materials, too. It is not as roomy as some of the other boats in its class. The hull is designed to sail first, not sleep a crowd in spacious comfort but there is plenty of room for our coastal outings. Its flare continues to the rail. Looks and acts like a sailboat not a wind powered camper.
I don't have experience with the other boats you are considering but I do like the I-28.