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SailingLazy 07-26-2010 09:54 AM

Compare/Contrast Catalina 30 & Islander Bahama 30
I'm a fairly novice sailor (3 years of crewing on a 32 Pearson in the local beer can races), in the market for a 30 foot sailboat. My partner is an even more novice sailor.

We intend to be very lazy cruisers in Lake Michigan. In terms of use, we see ourselves cruising for weekends and up to 2 weeks, staying in a combination of anchorages and marinas. We're looking for a boat that is cheap enough to learn on (i.e., make stupid mistakes), and will probably sell it and move up in size a bit in 5 years.

We've seen a bunch of 25+ year old boats, and have two that we are honing in on. The first is a 1982 Catalina, listing here:

The second is a 1982 Islander Bahama:]

Both boats have considerable advantages and disadvantages. The Islander is sitting on the hard and most of the lines are cooked - including the main halyards. However, it appears to be set up well for cruising and includes a dinghy. The Catalina is in the water, being used. A sale would include the slip for the rest of the season (2 more months in MI). The Catalina is roomier, but definitely a daysailor/dock queen. The Islander has better sails, a slightly bigger engine, and slightly more shallow draft, but the interior layout and storage isn't nearly as good.

Any thoughts on which boat is a better buy? Which will hold it's value better? Which is best suited to the cruising I've described?

Thanks for your thoughts.

SailingLazy 07-26-2010 09:55 AM

Sorry, as a new user, the system wouldn't let me include links. Guess I need to prove I'm not a spammer.

SailingLazy 07-26-2010 09:57 AM

Links for Real
Okay, have enough posts now.
1982 Catalina, listing here: 1982 Catalina 30

30' Islander Bahama Sailboat

primerate84 07-27-2010 02:38 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by the Cat 30 being a daysailor/dock queen. We have taken ours out on multi-day cruises and have not had any problems, and we sail Lake Erie. I'm not that familiar with the Islander, but if you want a boat that you get replacement parts easily, has more room than some 34' boats, has a strong owners' group, and is relatively easy to sail, you should go with the Cat 30. Just my opinion.

SailingLazy 07-27-2010 02:41 PM

Just to clarify, the Catalina as it is currently set up and equipped is more suited to daysailing and weekending at the dock. It has a shorepowered fridge and microwave, no stove, no grill, no shower, etc.

olson34 07-27-2010 03:11 PM

Within the parameters you have specified, both boats are about equal...
If there is any sort of possible "red flag" at all, it might be that the old Volvo is less desirable than the old Universal diesel. Parts for the Volvo, when or if needed, will be more expensive in general. Against that, the Volvo's are known to be quite reliable.

Both boats are average sailors in lighter conditions, but the Islander gets the nod for sailing potential with a moderate beam. The Cat is equally flagged for being almost a foot wider which equates to superior "gracious dockside living" but less forgiveness if forcing a hull through a three foot chop.

Given their age, you will want to find out if and when either has had standing rigging replaced. If either still has the old wire-to-rope halyards, that is another small but right-away expense. Check to see if the mainsheet tackle and traveler has been upgraded to at least a Garhauer on either boat.

Mind you, nothing wrong with ancient systems, but after three decades a lot of stuff, from sailing gear to plumbing to wiring... is in the twilight of its useful life.


SailingLazy 07-27-2010 10:05 PM

Thanks, olson34. Your list gives me some good ideas for questions.

Siamese 07-27-2010 10:29 PM

If both boats were in the same condition, and had the same equipment, I might be inclined toward the Islander.

Sounds like the Catalina's ready to go, though. Another consideration for a novice might be that the Catalina 30, and Catalinas in general have a very strong association on Lake Michigan. Lots of friendly, helpful people. Many of them with the 30 footer. They also have a wealth of printed information relevant to the 30. They're always looking for new members.

SailingLazy 07-28-2010 03:35 PM

Meeting the Islander's Owner
Thank you for your thoughts everyone. It truly is nerve wracking trying to pick between two good boats!

I'm meeting the owners of the Islander Friday, and you have helped me begin a very thorough list of questions for them. We'll see how it goes.

bvermeer 06-28-2012 03:48 PM

Re: Compare/Contrast Catalina 30 & Islander Bahama 30
Having owned two Islander Bahama 30s over the last 15 years I believe them to be excellent boats. I've sailed mine down the outside of Vancouver Island, British Columbia in a 40 knot following wind and not heard a creak or groan below. Parts for the Volvo are not that hard to find, just a bit expensive. I just replaced mine with a Beta 20, the extra hp is welcome.

Have a look at the main cabin windows, they are prone to leak at the corners. If they do, the plywood core will rot. Also have a look at the mast step on deck. Look along the deck to see if there is any compression. There will most likely be some compression in the step area. If so, have a look at where the support post inside meets the cabin sole. If that is compressed or dipped there may be a problem with the basic support structure under the sole, a difficult and expensive repair. I've had surface blisters on the bottom of both boats, but they've both been in salt water. The repairs were not difficult.

Would I buy another Islander? Yes! Have a look at the Islander 36 Association web site under events and under maintenance. I organize the Canadian Islander Rendezvous (coming up next week) and there is all sorts of information on Islanders on that site (including the repowering and blister repair on mine).

Bert Vermeer
Sidney BC

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