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flysurfer 07-25-2002 12:09 AM

Catlina 40
I''m looking at purchasing a new Catalina 40 and what some user input as to pros/cons of the boat. I can''t get a demo sail and don''t know anyone who owns one.

Jeff_H 07-25-2002 02:55 AM

Catlina 40
When you talk about boats from the big three boat builders, Catalina, Beneteau and Hunter, my experience with Catalina is that they are no better-built and no better sailors than the other two. They have their strengths and they have their weaknesses. The thing about Catalina (at least in the US) they are seen as being the most normal. They are not great boats, but they have no really big faults either. Catalina uses a lot of well-known hardware and details. They tend not to walk down the path less traveled which depending on your perspective is both a strength and a very real disadvantage. They definitely care about how they are perceived. I raised some issues with Catalinas on another BB and Frank Butler, the founder and president of Catalina, called me personally and explained to me why I was wrong in my opinion. (I have actually met both Frank Butler and Warren Luhrs from Hunter and both are people who are trying to do the right thing. They each have a vision of what that right thing is and (and even if their detractors question their definition of what is the right way to go with their boats) they seem to pursue their goals with a lot of personal integrity.) Catalinas are generally roomy and generally sail reasonably well. They don''t have the kind of quirky details that can drive you crazy with the other two companies.

The negatives on the Catalinas are somewhat subjective, but in terms of fit and finish, Catalinas seem to be the worst of the three. (The flip side is that they have finishes that the average guy can maintain.) Their boats have a dated and somewhat unfinshed look to my eye but to many people that can be seen as a traditional charm.

Then there is the cored hull issue. The other two manufacturers only use coring in their decks, counting instead on a system of frames and bulkheads for support. Cored hulls are considerably lighter and stiffer. This means less heeling and less flexing which can fatigue the glass over time. (Obviously this is not a universally held belief and I am sure that there are people out there who would not buy a cored hull on a dare.) Cored hulls are actually more expensive to produce if they are produced with care. If they are not produced with care they are really expensive for the owner to maintain over the long run. In any event, per conversations at the Annapolis Boat Show, Catalina is in the process of switching over to cored hulls on a number of their newest models with a couple models that have already switched over.

Catalina like Hunter uses glued hull to deck joints. As Mr. Butler pointed out to me, Catalina uses a space age adhesive caulk developed for the aerospace industry and it is very tenacious stuff. The bolts are only there for alignment during construction. I think that this is a reasonable hull to deck joint but it is not may favorite as I question its durability over time and the long term impact on the laminate of the high stresses induced by the adhesive''s limited surface area.

The biggest complaint that I hear over and over again from new Catalina owners is the lack of warrantee support. I have had quite a few Catalina owners complain about this issue and although when ever I say this I ask anyone with a good Catalina warrantee experience to please talk about it, I have only had a few people defend Catalina''s record with many more slamming it. Many of the Catalina warrantee nightmare stories that I have encountered are reprehensible and negatively color my view of these boats. In one conversation with a gentleman dumping a virtually new boat, I came to realize that in theory it is possible to get a comparatively new Catalina with some pretty expensive but curable problems that is being dumped after a warrantee battle.

One thing that I did a little while back was to look at a number of 3 to 10 year old Hunters, Beneteaus and Catalinas. The one thing that struck me about the Catalinas was that they consistantly looked more worn out more quickly than the other two manufacturers.

Lastly my advice to anyone buying a commodity boat like the Catalina 40 is to buy used. There are a large number of these boats out there for sale pretty reasonably priced. They have been used enough that any manufacturing flaws should be apparent to a trained surveyor. If the flaws are serious you can bargain the price down or simply walk away. But if you buy a new boat that is a lemon, you are stuck with it.


SailorMitch 07-25-2002 04:08 AM

Catlina 40
To get some sailing time on a Catalina 40, why not go to the Catalina email list here on Sailnet and ask the question? To sign up for that list, click on the button on the Sailnet home page that says something like "Join Email lists". It''s the button right below the one for these message boards on the home page. Chances are there is someone near you who owns a 40 who would love to show off their boat if the dealer can''t arrange a test sail.

That list also is the best place to get first hand info on the good and bad points of the boat. Despite what you might think, my experience with owners on the internet is that they are very frank in discussing their boats.

The primary problem with Catalina warranty support is that Frank Butler still insists on handling all warranty claims himself. That''s good in that he knows exactly what is wrong with his boats and can make changes instantly on the production floor if he wants. The bad side is that given Catalina''s sales volume these days, it''s hardly a one man job to keep up with all that especially when you are trying to run the company. This also puts the dealers in the middle (where they do belong after all) and some of them handle warranty issues better than others as well. So if you do buy new, check with as many current customers as you can about dealer support.

I spent several hours interviewing Frank Butler a couple of years ago for an article I wrote on the history of Catalina, and he is passionate about his boats. He is rightfully very proud of his company and the number of people down through the years he has helped get into sailing. And he is very attuned to his customers, the vast majority of whom are very devoted to their boats. Catalina also is very supportive of all the boats it''s made through the years, providing tremendous technical support for even the oldest models. It''s very hard to say that someone can go wrong buying a Catalina.

clayton 07-25-2002 06:27 AM

Catlina 40
Most of what I have read seems to revolve around the warranty problem(s)with Catalinas and Frank Butler. Hey Frank, how about answering directly ?

tsenator 07-25-2002 07:30 AM

Catlina 40
Take a look through these archives. There has been a lot said on the subject in general.

Another place to post this question with people that *actually own* a Catalina 400 would be on At least there you will get comments from people that Sail on, live on, live with, etc etc the Cat 400. The problem with this sailnet board is that too often the same people makes the same comments over and over and before long it becomes ''gospel''. Thats the problem with the internet in general. Personally the "admiral" loves this boat, at least the room on it, the aft cabin is positively envious etc, etc. I have heard it is a little faster than the C42 in lighter air, but the C42 can take the bigger air a little better. Not sure if I am in love with the dual helm, but in personal discussions with the few people that have it, they said they have come to really like it and its easy to helm from either tack and it does really open up the cockpit and there is a *little* redundancy built into the system.

If you look at a used boat they have a different and smaller engine than the newer ones. It is fine, but if you want to be able to make hull speed under motor (for whatever reason) then you might want the newer/bigger engine or possibly upgrade the prop to an Autoprop which will tend to get the most HP out of an engine as possible at all speeds.

As for Catalina''s I think they are a damn fine boat. Bene''s are nice too with better woodwork down below, but I like some of the design features for coastal cruising (useability, comfort under sail, etc) of the Catalina a bit better. Plus I feel the Catalina loyalty and Owners groups are some of the strongest you will find around. And it seems the resale value of the Catalina hold up very well.....(But the new Bene 473 is an awful lot of sweet boat for the money).

Also as someone said previously go into the Sailnet archives right here under the "Catalina" list and do a search for the C400.

ps. If you are anywhere near the Rhode Island area I know someone selling a C400 and I know personally that he takes exceptionally good care of his boat. Plus if you want to email him, he would give you the Good, Bad and the Ugly......he doesn''t sugar coat things and will be honest.

tsenator 07-25-2002 08:07 AM

Catlina 40
I''d also like to challenge the supposed claim that Catalinas look more worn than the Beneteaus or Hunters. In fact, in all my looking around, I have found just the opposite !!! (and I tend to spend alot of my free time wondering around boat yards looking at boats....I enjoy it) From what I have seen (at least in all the Marinas I visit on Long Island Sound) the Catalinas seem to look the best. I pay special attention to the C36''s the most(since I own one) and I am amazed at how good alot of them look, even the ones that were made in the 80''s. I think the Hunters are the ones that look the worse for wear (other than the Cherubini designs, which still look very good indeed). The Beneteaus fall somewhere in between where some look very good and some are looking pretty ragged (maybe something to do with the different models that Bene came out with). And it really depends on how the boat was used and maintained, maybe the ones you checked out were "worked hard and put away wet". At least it shows that they where being well used and not just a floating condo.

Plus for more info on the boat, the owners and some other stuff. The C400 has a users group and a website htp:// You could try contacting someone there.

flysurfer 07-25-2002 05:54 PM

Catlina 40
I''d appreciate if you''d forward my email address to your friend in RI. I''d be very interest in what he has for sale and his comments on the C400MKII

tsenator 07-25-2002 08:36 PM

Catlina 40
Sure, but I don''t have your email address. I tried looking you up in the sailnet member search and I couldn''t find anything.

But you can go to and see the boat

His contact info is there and his name is Norm. Tell him tsenator sent ya......good luck.

Cat400 05-01-2006 08:35 PM


Originally Posted by flysurfer
I''m looking at purchasing a new Catalina 40 and what some user input as to pros/cons of the boat. I can''t get a demo sail and don''t know anyone who owns one.

I just traded my Cat 387 for a new Cat 400. I take delivery mid-May. I think the 400 is a great boat. Plenty of room in the cockpit, galley and aft cabin. Sails great also.

Mkfcdl 05-01-2006 10:10 PM

Love my C400 MKII
I bought a C400 MKII in 2001 that was less than a year old and had already been commissioned. In the 5 years since, I've had this boat in a variety of conditions. I have the roller furling mainsail which probably hurts me a little in light air but the 155 makes up for it. On the other hand, most of my sailing is in relatively heavy air with 20kts on an average day and the boat handles very well I think. I think the biggest problem I have in handling the boat is a bit more weather helm than I would like. Having said that, I use the mainsail roller furling to balance the boat and it works pretty well. I've had the boat in 45kts and breaking seas (single-handed) and never felt like the boat was out of control; in the same blow, I hove to in order to get some rest and with the sails properly balanced the boat sat very well and comfortable. I singlehand this boat a lot and I think it's pretty easy to sail by myself. I find the dual helm useful--when sailing I can stay on the windward side and have great visibility; it also makes docking alone a little easier (now if I could just put another throttle lever on the other side...).

Most people comment on the roominess and "dockside" comfort of this type of boat and that is certainly true with the C400. However, I think it needs more dedicated storage and lockers or at least better organized lockers (the cockpit lockers are large and deep but feel like a huge hole that everything wants to fall into). The worst thing about the interior is that the cockpit sole is pretty low over the aft bunk and it takes a little while to get used to it (ouch). The companionway is a little on the steep side but enables a nice bridgedeck--keeping water outside.

Overall, I truly enjoy this boat and find it a really good compromise between comfort/liveability and sailing capability, especially it's easy of singlehanding considering it's size.

Good luck,

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