Join Date: May 2002
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You seem to know what is important to you; that's very good, and it seems, somewhat rare. There are a couple of boats that come to mind immediately: the Catalina 22 or 25, and the Oday 23 and 25. I think you will find that all four were well made, very popular boats, and all should be available in your area. The Catalina 22 remains the most popular production sailboat ever. You should be able to get one in good condition for $6000. The Catalina 25 will probably cost more than $6000, unless you find one that needs some TLC. A couple of things to keep in mind: the Catalina's were both made in swing keel and fin keel models. The Catalina swing keel isn't really a centerboard; the swinging part contains the ballast for the boat, and raising or lowering the keel requires cranking a handle in the cabin. A plus for the Catalina: the pop top cabin really opens things up, both on the 22 and the 25. It really makes the boat cruisable. The Oday's use a keel/centerboard system. the ballast for the boat is encapsulated within a stub keel. The centerboard swings down from a slot in the keel. The centerboard is controlled by a single pendent line run from the cockpit. No cranks or block and tackle necessary.
I did the same evaluation you are doing now, and wound up buying an Oday 23. I much prefer the keel/centerboard arrangement, and the Admiral really liked the fact that the head is behind a real door, not a curtain in the middle of the cabin. I must admit that I was tempted by a Catalina 25, however it was the fin keel model. I really didn't want all of the boat's ballast swinging around.
I've never regretted my choice; be honest with yourself as to how you will be sailing, and your choice should be easier. Daysailing, with only an occasional overnighter? Go with the 22/23; the cockpit is the same size as the 25, and you won't be paying for accomodations you never use. Really want to cruise? Pay a little more and buy the 25. You will be happy with either and Oday or a Catalina.