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MikeinLA 09-28-2006 03:51 AM

Caribbean Cruiser
I understand the limitations of the Catalina 36 as an offshore boat as they have been beaten to death here and even as an owner of one, I tend to agree. However, I'm curious about the rigors of Bahamas/BVI/Caribbean island hopping and whether this kind of sailing would work with a Cat 36 or if a stout "offshore" boat is still advised. Thanks for your thoughts, flame suit on.


capn_dave 09-28-2006 06:37 AM

Go For It
Ahoy Mike,

The Catalina will do just fine Island hopping, as we call it over on the right coast, . You can jump from one island to the other all the way to South America.
What is meant by a blue water boat is the day in day out, for weeks on end, movement and pounding a boat encounters on a long passage. This constant movement wears on things, then just about when an item is weakened by all the movement, at three A.M. Mother Nature decides to have a little fun with you and throws a squall into your path. You think shoot I have been in worse conditions than this, BANG something breaks, it's dark,raining, the wind is blowing 40 knotts. My friend that is a pucker factor of 8.5

Fair Winds

Cap'n Dave

eryka 09-28-2006 07:45 AM

As long as you time your hops based on the weather forecast and not the calendar ;-) Being out of sight of land isn't necessarily tough; its being beyond the weather predictions (you can receive them but your range of options is more limited - island hopping, your options include "staying in harbor until the storm passes")

How are you planning to get your boat from LA to the Caribbean?

Faster 09-28-2006 10:07 AM

We have friends that winter in the Caribbean, have for the last 4 years, on a Beneteau 36.7. They spend their time between Antigua and Grenada for the most part, island hopping as you discuss.

Some will argue that the Bene is a better boat than the Cat 36, certainly it's higher performance, but I think it falls into the same category as a coastal cruiser/racer.

They have had no problems. The boat is hauled each summer and carefully supported during the hurricane threats.

In some ways, sailing down there is probably easier on the boat than other areas. The UV exposure is, of course, heightened, but passages are usually beam to close reaching, little or no tacking, long swells so little pounding. All in all I think its easier on the gear. Even the 20 - 25 knot trades are "softer" due to the air temperature, and passages are quick and straightforward.

That said, there are periods of strong squalls and large seas and you'd have to be prepared for that. Regardless of the boat there are certain requirements to keep it and its gear in good condition. It's not "Day-in-and-day-out", but you are on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean much of the time.

MikeinLA 09-28-2006 07:10 PM

Thanks for all the input folks, your words are very inspiring. I have owned one or another Cat 36 since 1986 and I know the boat like the back of my hand. I have repaired or replaced every system over 20 years and can singlehand it as easily as my Miata. It is the absolute perfect boat for me ( as long as it's a pre 1992 before they destroyed the great nav station in place of an "aft cabin"....yuch!) I figured that knowing the boat so well would inspire more confidence when attempting new sailing grounds. My retirement idea is to find and buy a second 36 (this one would be shoal draft) in the northeast in the Spring, spend the summer upgrading her rigging and installing needed equipment and then head south down the ICW with the snowbirds. Looking at a few years of sailing the islands and then who knows. Would probably keep my current 36 in LA. Might have to rename them Tweedledie and Tweedledum. My first question was "will the boat handle it?" and you've answered that for me, thanks. I thought it might work as my prior owner took my boat to Acapulco & back. Yeah, I know I could find a better boat for the trip, but true love is a funny thing.

Thanks, Mike

camaraderie 09-28-2006 08:26 PM

Mike..nothing wrong with a Cat36 in good shape for what you are proposing. I assume you would plan on taking her down the thorny path rather than the ocean route. The main advantage of this route is the lack of anything more than 24 hours at sea before you can duck in to a harbor. The disadvantage is that you face about 700 miles of motoring into trade winds and seas between the Turks & Caicos and the Virgins. We can talk about that another time...but I'd encourage you to think about expanding your fuel capacity and rigging a fuel system that can be easily attended to at sea (dual racors). The other thing that is best done in the states is rigging an SSB which is really a necessity as you head south of the Bahamas. I will assume you'll prepare the boat for heavy duty anchoring tasks and appropriate safety precautions (jacklines, liferaft,Epirb) but there are lots of boats of "coastal" construction that have made that trip safely. The only other thing I would add is that you CANNOT be on any kind of timetable for the passage or the boat will get killed! We had to wait for 30 days straight in the DR for anything LESS than 20 knots on the nose and 6-8' seas....and several times for a week or more in other spots.
Go for it Mike!

MikeinLA 09-29-2006 04:28 AM

Trust me, she'll be the most ruggedly rigged and thoroughly equipped 36 you've ever seen. That's the bonus of a used Catalina, plenty of cash left over for equipment. I already have some ideas on extra fuel & water capacity and I know where to mount the watermaker. Yet another bonus with taking the same boat, I can "what if" on my boat and figure everything out ahead of time. As for being "stuck" in some Caribbean anchorage for a month, sounds like heaven to me.


camaraderie 09-29-2006 10:37 AM


As for being "stuck" in some Caribbean anchorage for a month, sounds like heaven to me.

You won't say that after Luperon!

As to the you plan to have a generator? Without one, I wouldn't add a watermaker and even with one, you can live without a watermaker down island. We simply bought jug water for drinking needs and filled the tanks for showers and cooking wherever we went. Given the expense of a watermaker and the fact that you can't use them in most might want to consider that.

MikeinLA 09-29-2006 07:54 PM

I see what you mean about power. I mentioned the watermaker because the PO had one installed for the Mexico trip and though he took it with him, all the plumbing is there. Nice to know you don't think it's necessary. I'm a big fan of simplicity and I can't remember the last time I had a jerry jug break down when I needed it. ;-)


ebs001 09-30-2006 09:06 AM

Mike, before you venture down island buy and read, Bruce Vansants."The Thornless Path - A Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" . The name says it all.

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