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  #1  
Old 11-06-2009
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Catalina 27 - how hard to maintain?

I've posted other topics about my shopping for my first "real" sailboat. Although we have all winter to find a boat, at the moment we have two favorites that we like enough to consider moving quickly on. One of the key differences is the apparent maintenance requirements for the two.

First, to recap our situation:
  • Where to sail: Delaware River between Philadelphia and Wilmington for at least the first year. If we don't like that location, we could consider relocating it to Rock Hall (if we get the larger boat) or Lake Wallenpaupack (if we get the smaller boat)
  • Type of sailing: 90% daysailing, maybe an occasional overnight. We might grow into inland cruising if the boat accommodated it, but not at all sure our personal situation would allow it
  • How many in the boat: Usually just me and my wife. Don't anticipate any singlehanding unless someone gets sick. 13 y.o. son may be with us sometimes. 20 y.o. son wants to take his friends out on it (yeah, sure!) We might take other couples on it occasionally, so typically less than 6 for daysails, and 3 on the occasional overnight.
  • Sailing experience: 10 years with a Phantom, 20 years with a Trophy outboard motorboat, grew up on powerboats in the Chesapeake/Potomac. Almost no sloop experience (rented a sloop-rigged Hobie about 20 years ago)
The two boats that we have our eyes on right now are:
  • 1997 Catalina 250 - broker asking $14k but says he has room to negotiate because it's a trade. Haven't tested him yet to see how low - prefer to decide which boat we really want, then worry about price. Very simple boat, no through-hull fittings under the waterline, Porta Potti, Honda outboard (pull start, no remote controls), no shore power, rudimentary electronics. Nice open cabin, very roomy aft berth and adequate V-berth would make this OK for overnights unless the cabin is unbearably hot. Walk-through transom and aft corner seats look like they could be a lot of fun. This boat appears to be very low maintenance - no exterior teak, dry bilge, and I'm familiar with outboards so I am comfortable working with them. However, lack of remote controls and need to climb on cabin bulkhead (with no handrails) to reach the bow could make docking maneuvers tricky in the Delaware River currents.
  • Catalina 27 - private sale, mid-80s vintage, well under $10k. We visited this boat today and got a motored test drive. Condition looks outstanding - the owner has used it regularly and really worked over every detail (new sails, rebuilt pedestal, throttle/shift controls, and masthead, new toilet, etc. etc.). Diesel engine ran great. Bilge was dry. Newly replaced keel bolts and faired the hull at the seam (could this be a red flag for something?) He showed me a survey from 2008 that looked excellent for a boat of this age - but it was not sail tested nor hauled out for bottom check. (If I decided to make an offer I would hire my own surveyor.) At this point, this boat looks to be a great bargain as far as initial investment, selling for 1/2 what brokers are asking for similar vintage/condition
So my question is this: As I was talking to this guy about all the things he had done to improve/maintain the boat, I grew concerned that I would not be able to spend as much time tinkering as he had. I want to sail. I do accept that I must do maintenance and/or hire some of it out, but I don't want to end up hating the boat because of the drudgery of keeping it up.

The biggest unknown for me is maintenance of the more complex systems in the C27, especially of the diesel engine. I have no experience with diesels, and no experience with inboards of any type and the transmissions, packing boxes, shaft alignment, winterization, etc. that go along with them. For those of you who have similar boats, what am I in for? (I am an engineer, so I do have some mechanical skills - just not infinite time to practice my skills on the boat.) On the surface, the C250 looks to be much lower maintenance, but also much less boat as well. The "cost per pound" is much higher on the C250 - but it is also a much newer boat, so with proper maintenance its expected lifetime could be longer.

Also, I am not sure of this but I think that by 1997 most boat builders had switched to vinyl ester resins which are less prone to osmotic blistering, so hull durability may be better for the C250 than for the C27. Can anyone confirm this?

Any comments you can offer to refute (or confirm) my fears over this would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-06-2009
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I wouldn't sweat the diesel vs. the outboard too much. Having owned both, I think the diesel actually might be easier to maintain, especially these days. All the ethanol in the gasoline is hell on outboards. You don't have that problem with a diesel.
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Old 11-06-2009
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I own a CS27 with a Yanmar YSE8 diesel - my 4th boat with a diesel. Easy to maintain - I'm not a fan of outboards. The 27 sounds like the better boat possibly. If it hasn't blistered yet it probably won't in my opinion. It is probably better equipped. As to maintenance differences, almost same length so winter storage, moorage, and bottom paint costs should be similar. Through hulls aren't a problem - the 27 has a few more - if the 250 has a galley sink there should be one for the outlet I think. The 27 will be the better sailer I think as well.
Brian
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Old 11-06-2009
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Should have added that the stuffing box will have to be repacked every few years but it's not hard to do. Transmission is no problem usually. Excellent owner's site for Catalina 27 as well. I'd trade outboard maintenance for diesel any day. See the two maintenance links I posted below.
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Old 11-06-2009
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I have the opportunity to sail both, the C250 and a late 80's C27. At first appearance the 250 seems like an impressive boat and has more modern lines... and yes, less teak. The C27 lines are definitely older and teak is apparent. More importantly if you look at the rigging of both boats, the C250 spars are, in my opinion considerably lighter, whereas the 27 has a very sturdy look about her mast and boom. There is also a large amount of freeboard on the 250 making it more prone to wind influence on the hull. At the marina where we rent these two boats, the C250 is affectionately named "Tubby". After sailing her and sailing the C27.... "Ariel" the C250.. "Tubby" is very appropriately named. The C27 is a fine sailing boat and also very sought after especially with a well kept diesel. Check out the link provided to the Catalina 27/270 website. I'm certain the folks there can also give you some great insight on the two boats. Happy Hunting!!
IC27/270A Website
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Old 11-07-2009
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C27 is a great boat! Outboards, although many smaller sailboats have them will cavitate when in choppy water or if you go forward say, drop the jib or pick up a mooring. I think you would feel "safer" with 27 on upper Delaware bay when you get down around Wilmington. I agree with the others on Diesels, I never had one and love my old universal 5416.
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Old 11-07-2009
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Diesal vs Gas....diesal is much safer in terms of explosiveness. Prop in the water will power the boat better than one which will be affected by wakes and waves.

No comparison from the C25 to the C27. 27 can handle more weather. Better amenities and more comfortable to sail as well as stay over on.
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Old 11-07-2009
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Also, I wouldn't worry about the time spent tinkering on the boat.
I spend an extremely large amount of time working on the boat (bike/car/garage/whatever) not because it needs it, but because I like to.

Had a project mustang. In 15 years it had been 6 different colors, had three different engines, 4 transmissions, three completely different interiors, and several different axles. It was perfectly functional a week after I picked it up, I just enjoyed working on it. I did manage to get 28mpg highway with a 375 horse 351w V8 by playing with gearing and tire size, only 12 city though. Was awesome, could beat most street cars I ran against, do block long burn outs, then cruise all day on $10.

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Old 11-07-2009
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go bigger and cheaper and go sailing, Catalina 27 does not need that much more maint. than a chubby 25. You will have a 32-33 footer next I think.
Greg
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Old 11-07-2009
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27 rocks. It'll take no more work than any other older sailboat - and it's way groovier than "Stumpy".
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