Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 138 Times in 111 Posts
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I would avoid both the Catalinas and the Bavarias for the same basic reason. There has been a shift in building approach used on 'value oriented' boats in which bulkheads and the other structural elements are simply glued in place rather than being properly tabbed in. The boat builders love to point out that new glues are stong enough that the plywood or fiberglass tears before the glue joint lets go. This is true but the reason that the structural element fails rather than the glue itself is that the structural elements need a wider adhesion contact area to spread out the loads than can be achieved simply with a glue joint. What makes this technology so disturbing to me is that it is being used on main structural bulkheads and for hull to deck joints. I think the widespread used of glued in structure will prove problematic over time, especially in the event that the boat is bounced hard off a dock or other hard object. Another issue with glued in wooden components (such as main bulkheads and structural knees) is that gluing leaves the end grain exposed to moisture so that bulkhead rot is more of a highly likely potential problem.
Of the boats on your list, I would suggest the Hanse strongly. I have crawled around the innards of their larger 37 footer and been very impressed. I would also suggest that you look at Beneteau's First series 36.7. These boats are a little better built than the others on your list, Hanse excepted, and come with better deck hardware, an easier to handle rig, and are more suitable to racing, which you say you are interested in doing.