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Capabilities of a Catalina 27
Boats are designed and built for use in a certain range of conditions. You shouldn’t use a boat in conditions beyond its design limitations, and you shouldn’t sail it in conditions beyond your skill level, because you might get away with it, or you might not. The question of what any given boat can take depends on not only the design and construction of the boat, but, to a certain extent, on the skill and judgment of the sailor. A skilled sailor might be able to nurse a boat through conditions beyond its design limitations, or he might not. No matter how skilled the sailor, he can’t ultimately escape the boat’s design limitations. A really good sea boat can survive most storms without any help whatsoever from the skipper.
That having been said, IMHO, the Catalina 27 is really a coastal cruiser, albeit a fairly robust one. Coastal cruisers are designed and built to make short hops along the coast in fair weather. That means you can use it to cruise inland lakes, rivers, bays, and to cruise oceans generally within sight of shore, so long as you watch the weather carefully and get to shelter before the inlets become impassable. Once the inlets become impassable, then seeking shelter is no longer an option, and the boat should be able to withstand whatever furies the wind and seas can throw at it. Although most coastal cruisers can survive some storms, you shouldn’t make a habit of getting caught out in a boat that isn’t specifically designed and built to survive the conditions.
If you watch the weather, and don’t go out when high winds or big seas are predicted, you can safely and comfortably cruise most coastal areas with a Catalina 27, covering 20-40 miles per day. If you try to cover longer distances, you increase the possibility that you will get caught in bad conditions. Truth be told, that’s the way most people use their boats most of the time. Most working folks can’t get away from work long enough to make long passages. If you want to make long, exposed, offshore passages, you should look for a boat more suitable to that purpose. Until you’re ready to do that, a Catalina 27 or other coastal cruiser in good condition would probably serve you reasonably well.
You might think that you can have the best of all worlds by buying a bluewater boat, because it can go anywhere you wish, but, if what you are really going to do is cruise the coast and sail the bay until you retire in X years, then a bluewater boat might be over-built for your needs, it might not perform as well in many respects, and have a too-small cockpit and other accommodations not ideally suited to your present needs.