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Old 09-11-2009
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Beefing Up A Catalina 36 For Bluewater

I have read the many threads which advise against taking a Catalina across oceans. I am wondering, is there NOTHING that can be done to beef up these boats to handle bluewater? Is it simply the design? I'm thinking of things like backing plates behind all deck-mounted equipment, oversized rigging, etc. The problem is that I love my Catalina 36 and would like to think of it as my last boat no matter where I decide to go. Is there a way to make it strong enough? My flame suit is on. Let me have it.

Mike
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Old 09-11-2009
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I read about a guy who beefed up a Catalina 30 and did a circumnavigation. No reason it cannot be done in a Catalina 36. If I recall, it look lots of work and money. Adding some luck would be good too.
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Old 09-11-2009
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Have you read the story about the guy who tried to sale his Catalina from California to Hawaii with 3 crew. I think it was a 36. It will give you some idea of what can break or otherwise go wrong.

I do not have a link readily available but someone here will.

Gary
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Old 09-11-2009
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Originally Posted by Gary M View Post
Have you read the story about the guy who tried to sale his Catalina from California to Hawaii with 3 crew. I think it was a 36. It will give you some idea of what can break or otherwise go wrong.

I do not have a link readily available but someone here will.

Gary
That's right Gary, it was a C36. I like these boats a lot, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't go extended bluewater in one. Of course, I tend toward the conservative side.

Catalina 36 Rescue
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Old 09-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary M View Post
Have you read the story about the guy who tried to sale his Catalina from California to Hawaii with 3 crew. I think it was a 36. It will give you some idea of what can break or otherwise go wrong.

I do not have a link readily available but someone here will.

Gary
Did ya' hear about the guy that raced his C36 in the 2007 Transpac (Same one as the movie Morning Light)and finished second in his class? Search on You Tube for videos of the preparation and the race. The boat looks pretty stock to me.

Crew, Preparation and luck are what separates success and failure. I've read the account you mention, at its pretty apparent that guy had no clue what shape his boat was in and hadn't prepared for foreseeable contingencies. I think if you look into Lady Liberty you'll see the other side of the coin.

That said I personally would not attempt an ocean crossing on my C36. It is simply not engineered for the condtions one could concievably encounter far off shore.

With proper preparation though, I'd have few qualms taking the boat outside on long coastal passages where I could get myself to shore in a day (or two at most) if I didn't like how the weather was shaping up.
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Old 09-11-2009
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Having owned a C-36 these are some areas I would have concern over for serious off shore work..

Cabinetry:
It should be reinforced and held in place by more than just a few screws. Having been dropped of a wave in a very heavy 50 footer I have comfort in saying that the majority of the cabinetry would have been ripped out by the roots on a C-36 in that situation. It shattered brass hinges and positive locking clasps. The entire galley counter comes to mind in this situation. Imagine that thing landing on you in a roll.

Positive Locking Cabinets: Install positive locking hasps on all drawers and cabinets. Those cheesy ball bearing clasps have even opened on me in mild coastal stuff and spilled contents.

Water: The tanks need to be secured in a much more robust fashion than they are. Ask yourself where all that water in that tank would go in a roll over. What would stop that tank from breaking free?

Ports: If your boat has the polycarbonate dead lights they should be reinforced and held to the vessel with more than just silicone.

Fuel: See above on water. The 36 tanks, at least in the MK I's, are not held in by much at all and this is a very poor design for any serious off shore work...

Batteries:
This is a given and they should always be well secured.

Cockpit: Bigger drainage and perhaps the addition of a bridge deck to reduce volume unless you have a walk through transom model.

Water heater: Should also have additional straps or tie rods holding it down besides the base plate screws. Those shelves the heaters sit on tend to get damp and moist and the screws could rip out in rough weather.

Bilge pumps: Manual and multiple electrics with large capacity.

Drop Boards/sliding hatch:
This opening is far to wide for my comfort in an ocean storm. Straight sided drop boards can't float free nearly as easily as tapered ones can.. Loosing the drop boards on a C-36 in rough weather could be life vs. death...

Bulkheads:
The C-36 has screwed in bulkheads that flex, creak and move in rough weather. Most all boats built for off shore work have glassed in bulkheads that are far more robust. I delivered a Hunter, in somewhat rough conditions, that had some serious movement of interior furniture and bulkheads, doors would no longer close etc.. The owner was none to happy about it and tried to not pay me. This Hunter also used screwed in bulkheads. This was a coastal delivery in max four foot seas and max of 40 knot winds..

Rudder: This is a simple and efficient design for coastal sailing but the rudder stock is hollow and the design incorporates no rudder bearings which in turn increases the loads on all associated steering gear when in heavy weather loading. Older MK I's need to have the quadrant pully's beefed up.

Autopilot Self Steering: You'll want a below deck pilot and self steering. The transom might need some reinforcement to install a steering vane.

Rig: While the stays are generally sized well enough I don't like the chain plate attachments to a "floating" bulkhead and would not feel comfortable with that in severe weather off shore. Just read the forums and you'll see how much trouble owners of Catalina's have keeping chain plates from leaking. This is mostly due to the movement between hull, deck and bulkheads. My 79 CS-36 chain plates have never leaked most likely because there is minimal movement at the chain plate deck interface for a sealant to fail.. The chain plates on my 2005 310 were leaking by 2006 and this is simply unacceptable..

Hull/deck joint:
While the C-36 is through bolted mine was only through bolted about every 14-18", if my memory serves me correctly. Even my 2005 310 used alternating screws and bolts and was not totally through bolted. I would want to though bolt it at every penetration for my own personal comfort level.

Lee Cloths:
You will eventually need to get sleep.

Hand Holds: The cabin needs more and better placement.

Tankage: Needs more fuel & water.

Storage:
Needs more secure & closed storage. Where would all your stuff wind up in a knock down.

Drogue:
I would NOT trust the stern cleats on the C-36 to support a drogue and would want to seriously beef these attachments points and the cleats up. In a good blow you'll want to run off in a C-36 to not overly stress the boat. To do this you'll need a good drogue like the Jordan or to trail some serious warps.


The C-36 could do what you want with a good weather window but do keep in mind that her motion in a sea is not all that comfortable and she tends to get bounced around due to her light displacement and her relatively flat bottom sections combined with a wide beam. The C-36 has a much better motion in a sea than the C-30 or C-310 but still not what I'd want under me in 15+ seas and 45+ knots... I've owned all three, and sailed them in similar rough weather conditions, so I feel qualified to make these assessments. That being said I still would not choose a C-36 for extended blue water voyaging but it is an awesome boat for coastal cruising just as all the Catalina's are.

Even my 2005 Catalina had some very serious and disconcerting issues with bulkhead movement and the bulkheads were literally bending and distorting, due to movement, where they met the hull in a few areas. This was causing visible hard spots on the exterior hull. Catalina made good but it still does not give me the warm and fuzzies for an ocean crossing and the C-36 bulkheads are built the same way.

The number one most important aspect of extended ocean crossings is the Captain and he/she is the MOST important safety consideration. Before you set out do yourself a favor and head out into the bay on those days when it's blowing 30+, and turning up a good sea, and get yourself some practice so you'll understand how your boat handles. Having owned a C-36, C-30 and a C-310 these are some areas I would have concern over for any serious off shore work. I know I forgot a few but I need to get back to work...
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-11-2009 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 09-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Having owned a C-36 these are some areas I would have concern over for serious off shore work..

Cabinetry:
It should be reinforced and held in place by more than just a few screws. Having been dropped of a wave in a very heavy 50 footer I have comfort in saying that the majority of the cabinetry would have been ripped out by the roots on a C-36 in that situation. It shattered brass hinges and positive locking clasps. The entire galley counter comes to mind in this situation. Imagine that thing landing on you in a roll.

Positive Locking Cabinets: Install positive locking hasps on all drawers and cabinets. Those cheesy ball bearing clasps have even opened on me in mild coastal stuff and spilled contents.

Water: The tanks need to be secured in a much more robust fashion than they are. Ask yourself where all that water in that tank would go in a roll over. What would stop that tank from breaking free?

Ports: If your boat has the polycarbonate dead lights they should be reinforced and held to the vessel with more than just silicone.

Fuel: See above on water. The 36 tanks, at least in the MK I's, are not held in by much at all and this is a very poor design for any serious off shore work...

Batteries:
This is a given and they should always be well secured.

Cockpit: Bigger drainage and perhaps the addition of a bridge deck to reduce volume unless you have a walk through transom model.

Water heater: Should also have additional straps or tie rods holding it down besides the base plate screws. Those shelves the heaters sit on tend to get damp and moist and the screws could rip out in rough weather.

Bilge pumps: Manual and multiple electrics with large capacity.

Drop Boards/sliding hatch:
This opening is far to wide for my comfort in an ocean storm. Straight sided drop boards can't float free nearly as easily as tapered ones can.. Loosing the drop boards on a C-36 in rough weather could be life vs. death...

Bulkheads:
The C-36 has screwed in bulkheads that flex, creak and move in rough weather. Most all boats built for off shore work have glassed in bulkheads that are far more robust. I delivered a Hunter, in somewhat rough conditions, that had some serious movement of interior furniture and bulkheads, doors would no longer close etc.. The owner was none to happy about it and tried to not pay me. This Hunter also used screwed in bulkheads. This was a coastal delivery in max four foot seas and max of 40 knot winds..

Rudder: This is a simple and efficient design for coastal sailing but the rudder stock is hollow and the design incorporates no rudder bearings which in turn increases the loads on all associated steering gear when in heavy weather loading. Older MK I's need to have the quadrant pully's beefed up.

Autopilot Self Steering: You'll want a below deck pilot and self steering. The transom might need some reinforcement to install a steering vane.

Rig: While the stays are generally sized well enough I don't like the chain plate attachments to a "floating" bulkhead and would not feel comfortable with that in severe weather off shore. Just read the forums and you'll see how much trouble owners of Catalina's have keeping chain plates from leaking. This is mostly due to the movement between hull, deck and bulkheads. My 79 CS-36 chain plates have never leaked most likely because there is minimal movement at the chain plate deck interface for a sealant to fail.. The chain plates on my 2005 310 were leaking by 2006 and this is simply unacceptable..

Hull/deck joint:
While the C-36 is through bolted mine was only through bolted about every 14-18", if my memory serves me correctly. Even my 2005 310 used alternating screws and bolts and was not totally through bolted. I would want to though bolt it at every penetration for my own personal comfort level.

Lee Cloths:
You will eventually need to get sleep.

Hand Holds: The cabin needs more and better placement.

Tankage: Needs more fuel & water.

Storage:
Needs more secure & closed storage. Where would all your stuff wind up in a knock down.

Drogue:
I would NOT trust the stern cleats on the C-36 to support a drogue and would want to seriously beef these attachments points and the cleats up. In a good blow you'll want to run off in a C-36 to not overly stress the boat. To do this you'll need a good drogue like the Jordan or to trail some serious warps.


The C-36 could do what you want with a good weather window but do keep in mind that her motion in a sea is not all that comfortable and she tends to get bounced around due to her light displacement and her relatively flat bottom sections combined with a wide beam. The C-36 has a much better motion in a sea than the C-30 or C-310 but still not what I'd want under me in 15+ seas and 45+ knots... I've owned all three, and sailed them in similar rough weather conditions, so I feel qualified to make these assessments. That being said I still would not choose a C-36 for extended blue water voyaging but it is an awesome boat for coastal cruising just as all the Catalina's are.

Even my 2005 Catalina had some very serious and disconcerting issues with bulkhead movement and the bulkheads were literally bending and distorting, due to movement, where they met the hull in a few areas. This was causing visible hard spots on the exterior hull. Catalina made good but it still does not give me the warm and fuzzies for an ocean crossing and the C-36 bulkheads are built the same way.

The number one most important aspect of extended ocean crossings is the Captain and he/she is the MOST important safety consideration. Before you set out do yourself a favor and head out into the bay on those days when it's blowing 30+, and turning up a good sea, and get yourself some practice so you'll understand how your boat handles. Having owned a C-36, C-30 and a C-310 these are some areas I would have concern over for any serious off shore work. I know I forgot a few but I need to get back to work...
Good writeup Main, as usual.

I am quite familiar with that boat too. I am not sure some of the things that Maine listed would be critical for me, but the one key issue with that boat which has always concerned me was the bilge depth - which you cannot change. On a long tack you might have water coming up through the boards. You can fix this by running some suction lines port and starboard so that it can pull from where the water collects.

I love the 36 too. She is a fun boat to sail and comfortable down below. SHe is actually an older design and has been dropped from the Catalina line, which I feel is a shame. I will say that there are a lot of 36's in the carribean where people are living aboard them, and I recally another couple that has taken theirs across to Europe. It can be done, but it will take more preparation, alterations, and luck then might be necessary in say, a larger Catalina or other brand boat.

Now, if offshore to you is the carribean, no problem. I believe the boat was made for that and it would be fine.

Good luck with it all. I can understand why you love her!

- CD
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Old 09-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Having owned a C-36 these are some areas I would have concern over for serious off shore work..

Cabinetry:
It should be reinforced and held in place by more than just a few screws. Having been dropped of a wave in a very heavy 50 footer I have comfort in saying that the majority of the cabinetry would have been ripped out by the roots on a C-36 in that situation. It shattered brass hinges and positive locking clasps. The entire galley counter comes to mind in this situation. Imagine that thing landing on you in a roll.

Positive Locking Cabinets: Install positive locking hasps on all drawers and cabinets. Those cheesy ball bearing clasps have even opened on me in mild coastal stuff and spilled contents.

Water: The tanks need to be secured in a much more robust fashion than they are. Ask yourself where all that water in that tank would go in a roll over. What would stop that tank from breaking free?

Ports: If your boat has the polycarbonate dead lights they should be reinforced and held to the vessel with more than just silicone.

Fuel: See above on water. The 36 tanks, at least in the MK I's, are not held in by much at all and this is a very poor design for any serious off shore work...

Batteries:
This is a given and they should always be well secured.

Cockpit: Bigger drainage and perhaps the addition of a bridge deck to reduce volume unless you have a walk through transom model.

Water heater: Should also have additional straps or tie rods holding it down besides the base plate screws. Those shelves the heaters sit on tend to get damp and moist and the screws could rip out in rough weather.

Bilge pumps: Manual and multiple electrics with large capacity.

Drop Boards/sliding hatch:
This opening is far to wide for my comfort in an ocean storm. Straight sided drop boards can't float free nearly as easily as tapered ones can.. Loosing the drop boards on a C-36 in rough weather could be life vs. death...

Bulkheads:
The C-36 has screwed in bulkheads that flex, creak and move in rough weather. Most all boats built for off shore work have glassed in bulkheads that are far more robust. I delivered a Hunter, in somewhat rough conditions, that had some serious movement of interior furniture and bulkheads, doors would no longer close etc.. The owner was none to happy about it and tried to not pay me. This Hunter also used screwed in bulkheads. This was a coastal delivery in max four foot seas and max of 40 knot winds..

Rudder: This is a simple and efficient design for coastal sailing but the rudder stock is hollow and the design incorporates no rudder bearings which in turn increases the loads on all associated steering gear when in heavy weather loading. Older MK I's need to have the quadrant pully's beefed up.

Autopilot Self Steering: You'll want a below deck pilot and self steering. The transom might need some reinforcement to install a steering vane.

Rig: While the stays are generally sized well enough I don't like the chain plate attachments to a "floating" bulkhead and would not feel comfortable with that in severe weather off shore. Just read the forums and you'll see how much trouble owners of Catalina's have keeping chain plates from leaking. This is mostly due to the movement between hull, deck and bulkheads. My 79 CS-36 chain plates have never leaked most likely because there is minimal movement at the chain plate deck interface for a sealant to fail.. The chain plates on my 2005 310 were leaking by 2006 and this is simply unacceptable..

Hull/deck joint:
While the C-36 is through bolted mine was only through bolted about every 14-18", if my memory serves me correctly. Even my 2005 310 used alternating screws and bolts and was not totally through bolted. I would want to though bolt it at every penetration for my own personal comfort level.

Lee Cloths:
You will eventually need to get sleep.

Hand Holds: The cabin needs more and better placement.

Tankage: Needs more fuel & water.

Storage:
Needs more secure & closed storage. Where would all your stuff wind up in a knock down.

Drogue:
I would NOT trust the stern cleats on the C-36 to support a drogue and would want to seriously beef these attachments points and the cleats up. In a good blow you'll want to run off in a C-36 to not overly stress the boat. To do this you'll need a good drogue like the Jordan or to trail some serious warps.


The C-36 could do what you want with a good weather window but do keep in mind that her motion in a sea is not all that comfortable and she tends to get bounced around due to her light displacement and her relatively flat bottom sections combined with a wide beam. The C-36 has a much better motion in a sea than the C-30 or C-310 but still not what I'd want under me in 15+ seas and 45+ knots... I've owned all three, and sailed them in similar rough weather conditions, so I feel qualified to make these assessments. That being said I still would not choose a C-36 for extended blue water voyaging but it is an awesome boat for coastal cruising just as all the Catalina's are.

Even my 2005 Catalina had some very serious and disconcerting issues with bulkhead movement and the bulkheads were literally bending and distorting, due to movement, where they met the hull in a few areas. This was causing visible hard spots on the exterior hull. Catalina made good but it still does not give me the warm and fuzzies for an ocean crossing and the C-36 bulkheads are built the same way.

The number one most important aspect of extended ocean crossings is the Captain and he/she is the MOST important safety consideration. Before you set out do yourself a favor and head out into the bay on those days when it's blowing 30+, and turning up a good sea, and get yourself some practice so you'll understand how your boat handles. Having owned a C-36, C-30 and a C-310 these are some areas I would have concern over for any serious off shore work. I know I forgot a few but I need to get back to work...
An incredibly detailed and thoughtful (as well as thought PROVOKING) response. Thank you very much, that was just what I was looking for. You presented several items I hadn't really thought of having not "been out there". After imagining my boat upside down and dropping 30' off a wave, I'm beginning to wonder if I am not the weak link in this scenario.

Mike
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Originally Posted by MikeinLA View Post
An incredibly detailed and thoughtful (as well as thought PROVOKING) response. Thank you very much, that was just what I was looking for. You presented several items I hadn't really thought of having not "been out there". After imagining my boat upside down and dropping 30' off a wave, I'm beginning to wonder if I am not the weak link in this scenario.

Mike
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Lady Liberty, out of Long Beach, I believe, was the C36 that did the 2007 Transpac. Remember, they didn't just sail 2600 miles to Hawaii, they raced. Then they sailed more miles back. You might be able to research that specific boat for more details.
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