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maddata 04-03-2007 06:35 PM

Catalina 309 Purchase
Looking for a Lake Michigan coastal cruiser with the ability to make occasional lake passages. We're a newly married couple without kids, but want something a small family could also use as a weekender. I zero'd in on a Catalina 309 as a good first cruiser purchase and wanted to solicit input from others. Thoughts?

PBzeer 04-03-2007 07:41 PM

I went on one (at the dock) with some friends, and was suprised at how roomy it was for a boat that size. Especially liked the design of the head.

sailingdog 04-03-2007 08:14 PM

Sounds like a good choice as a first cruiser. I'm not too familiar with it... You should ask our in-house Catalina guru, CruisingDad... :D

Freesail99 04-03-2007 08:21 PM

I made the mistake of going on an Island Packett first and then the Catalina at a boat show .........

PalmettoSailor 04-03-2007 08:34 PM

Catalina's, Beneteau's and Hunters are pretty much the (no particular order)Ford, Chevy, Dodge of the sailboat world. Pretty good for their intended use (ie the type of sailing you are contemplating) but built with compromises to make them affordable to us mortals. Personally, I've come to like the Catalina's the best of the three with Bene's a close second and Hunter a very distant third.

I'm not sure if you are buying new, but since the 309 is a newer model, I'll offer that you might be better served to buy a used boat as a starter and let someone else take the depreciation hit. I think a newbie getting their first boat exactly right for them is something of a long shot since there is so much you don't know. Getting over the "paralysis of analysis" and getting started learning is the most important step.

Full disclosure: I'm a newbie sailor, so I'm not drawing on a lifetime of sailing experience for my opinion, however I recently went through the process you are going through myself, so I hope my 2 cents helped.

This website has model info and owner reviews for the older Catalina models:

Catalina for owners sailing production sailboats

Maine Sail 04-03-2007 09:50 PM

Look very closely a the 310
For a couple it's the ultimate small coastal cruiser. The 310 and the 309 are the same hull yet the 310 has an innerspring mattress, a centerline berth and a huge aft head. While the 309 is slightly less money it has less standard options as well to keep the cost down. Yes the aft cabin on the 309 is private but also very, very cramped as is the v-berth when compared to the 310. We find we spend a lot more time above decks than in the salon and opted for sleeping comfort. It goes along way with keeping the wife happy especially that innerspring mattress. The 310 was designed with the input from couples! If you want to see photos of a 310 see the link below.. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me throught the link on my web site. I've owned three Catalinas and have a fair amount of knowledge about the boats and the company..

Maine Sailing's Photo Galleries at

Cruisingdad 04-04-2007 09:48 AM

The 310 and 309 are good boats. I was a little dissapointed in some of the cost cutting measures on the 309, honestly. I would also suggest, if you are seriously considering a boat, to look at a used 320. I have owned one and they sail very, very well. You can get one used to save some money (and probably still come out cheaper than a 309). They have made more 320's than I can count. They are easy to handle and fun to sail. The 320 is one of the best models Catalina has ever put out.

Just my opinion.

- CD

maddata 04-04-2007 12:55 PM

Cost Cutting
What cost cutting measures specifically did you refer to? Is it base vs. options or something else?

Cruisingdad 04-04-2007 04:35 PM


There are many cost cutting measures.

The nav station/distribution panel, the cabinetry (they could have put in more cabinetry down the port/stbd saloon), the pedestal, and the steps leading from the companionway come to mind. Catalina went to their OEM/Distributors and asked them to get creative on finding ways to cut the cost down on the 309. There is a nice writeup on it in Cruising World, including a revirew and ride with Gerry Douglas, as I recall.

I am not "dogging" the boat, at all. It is a nice boat and I like to see the costs stay low. Honestly, for the life of me, I cannot understand why they are so high as it is (though that is a whole other thread).

All I am saying is to check out the 320 too. As many members on this forum will tell you, it is an awesome sailing machine - especially at that price. Here is one in the 309 price range that is in your neck of the woods. I bet you can get in cheaper than what it is listed. THere are others in WI. Boats and Yachts for Sale

- CD

dgarr75456 04-04-2007 05:22 PM

We looked at the 309 and 28, the Beneteaus and the Hunters. We sailed a Hunter 33, and we very pleased with how it performed. It is really a question of what strikes your fancy and what appeals to you. All the boats are compromises, and it is a matter of deciding which compromises fit your needs.

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