If you are still following this discussion, it seems to contain a lot of the same denegration of a particular boat or brand common to Hunters, Catalinas and Beneteaus that some like to perpetuate.
For what it's worth, I suspect I am among the very few who have owned all three at different times and now own an Alden so I may be both more objective and less biased.
In that context, my opinion is simply that there is little difference in quality among these three very competitive companies all competing in the SAME market; hence the differences are subtle.
Among the things I found to be different among them are:
Beneteaus - fit and finish seemed to me to be below that of the other two, particularly the sole plates, bulkhead tabbing and deck hardware mounting which always proved to be the sources of various leaks. Coupled with it's relatively flat bottom which promotes pounding, it was the most disconcerting boat I've ever had in bad weather.
Catalina - better fit and finish but still prone to leaks at all ports and hatches, difficult logistics and accessibility for routine maintenance and sailed the slowest of the three, pointed the worst and went downwind like a barn door.
Hunter - never quite got used to the huge salon windows but my wife preferred them so what that proves is debatable. Had to sail off the wind dead down wind because of the spreaders but found that was often a better VMG angle. Preferred the B&R rig which is actually stronger that a traditional one and since we had a backstay as well, this was a non-issue (some H models do not apparently).
I should mention each was a new boat so wear/tear was not an issue in comparison.
Bottom line - as I've said previously, internet experts are usually worthless. Years ago when I had the opportunity and time to travel, we sailed from the east coast to the S Pacific and never, ever throughout that trip during which we spent time with many cruisers on all type boats did I hear anyone denegrate any boat mfg like we routinely see here. Everybody had problems maintenance issues and breakdowns regardless of who made their boat. Coral doesn't care what the nameplate says nor does a 30 ft wave.
Ignore the so-called internet experts and pick the best maintained boat within your budget, take care of her and try to anticipate your future use to choose the best candidate accordingly.
Everything else is pure BS
Last edited by k1vsk; 08-13-2009 at 08:02 PM.