Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Riverside, CT, USA
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Soliciting opinions regarding my next boat
I am new to this forum, currently the owner of a 1975 Catalina 27. In the next 1-2 years we would like to upgrade to a bigger boat, 32-36 foot range, to go on some weekend and possibly weeklong cruises in Long Island Sound and possibly further (Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Block Island, etc). We are a family of 5 with 3 boys ages 2-8. I would like to strike a balance between sailing and comfort, i.e., I don't race but I like to sail fast, and I don't need to sleep in a 5 star hotel, maybe a 2-3 star. I do want at least 6 feet of headroom in the main cabin.
I would prefer to buy a new boat because after owning an old boat with many problems, and getting my hands very dirty fixing it, I don't want to "buy someone else's problems" as a yacht broker once said. Also, I would plan on keeping this boat for 10-20 years as I don't see any life changes in the near future that would make buying a bigger boat practical.
The Catalina 34 mkII has caught my eye, because of its relatively shallow draft, big owners association, comfortable accomodations,and excellent made in USA customer service. The 350 also looks nice but seems to be getting a little bigger than what we need, and I would like to keep the boat at a manageable size while making it liveable. The 320 also seems like a reasonable choice, although it might be a bit on the small side, and has a deeper draft (6'3") than the 34 (5'7"). It is puzzling to me why the smaller boat has the deeper draft. I would like to avoid the wing keel for performance and to avoid grounding problems, but I would like to stay on the shallower side for LI sound waters.
Of course, Beneteau is on my list, and the 343 or 34 seem to fit the bill. I am not fond of the iron keels (grounding damage and rust), nor of the reputation for being cheaply made. However, it sounds like Catalina is starting to cheap out on its more recent boats, adding more fiberboard and plastic, according to a lot of forum posts I've read.
I am not likely to consider Hunter. Bavaria, well, the keel issue is enough to scare me away. Hanse is an unknown quantity to me at this point. Sabre and Tartan, and anything in that price range are just too expensive. J boats are too expensive and have no headroom.
So, I appreciate you reading this far, and welcome any suggestions. The more I look and read online, the more daunting a process this becomes!