I would NEVER own one but I have sailed on the boat several times. If you carefully scope out this boat you probably would not buy it either. On a quality scale of 1-10 it is no more than a 6.
What I don''t like about the boat:
Jib sheet track is not long enough to obtain the correct sheeting angle for 100%
Telephone sized spar: what ever you decide, do not let them talk you into a in-mast furling unit. With the in mast unit you cannot have full batons, you will experience a lot of chafe furling and unfurling the sail, the sails actually have a hollow leach, bad for performance and last but not least when you want to reduce sail area you do not want all of that weight aloft.
Solid fiberglass hull not as stiff and light as a cored hull which translates into slow going for a boat of this size.
Turn buckles are cheaply made out of bronze bar stock, not forged as they should be for a boat this size. Also the Catalina''s have the cheesiest turnbuckle boots I''ve ever seen on a new boat. This is a cheap fix.
The stern is designed so wide, you cannot reach the wheel if you want to sit outboard and steer the boat, dumb design. This might be able to be corrected with a larger wheel, I''m not sure.
If one does manage to sit out board on the coaming, any big waves that wash onto the deck drain into your pants, the coaming is poorly designed.
Non-skid: Very poor and very slippery when wet, the non-skid pattern is almost non- existent.
All Catalina''s come with a lot of the cheap Garhauer hardware. This should be replace with better stuff. All of the stuff with the exception of the winches is inferior, from the rope clutches to the cleats.
Engine controls - throttle and gear are easy to mix up, as they look identical. This is a problem on many new boats.
The design and installation of stanchions, pushpit and pullpits are very poor, they begin to leak shortly after the first year.
No grab rails or anything of substance to hang onto in the cabin when in a seaway.
Several voids in the gelcoat, poor job cosmetically.
Catalina is big on mounting everything except the galley sink on the binnacle. Only the helms person can see them if mounted in this location. A better solution would be to mount them over the companion way or on the bulkhead.
In closing, this is a very comfortable boat at the dock to live in but it has way too many quirks for my liking especially if you like to sail more than sit at the dock. Sure these boats are "value priced" for their size but you really do get what you pay for in these boats. Take a look at the number of used late model 38''s on the market, people don''t own these for a very long peroid of time. Take an equivalent amount of money and buy a 5-10 year old pre-sailed high quality boat, you''ll be much happier.