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  #1  
Old 05-12-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

While Ive been primarliy older boats of the Sabre and Tartan group, Ive had some input that I should recognise the quality improvements Catalina has done in the past 5 years. I looked at a Catalina 38 at a dealer some time back and was impressed but dont see nearly as many as 36s for sale. I would in interested in opinions on these boats for a couple wanting to do occasional coastal crusing. My main concerns are ease of sailing by a couple, quality and future resale value. I would be looking at boats in the 1998-2001 vintage.
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Old 05-12-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

I somewhat disagree with your assumption that Catalina''s have improved in quality in recent years. It is my sense that they were improving for a while into the late 1980''s but I have been less impressed with what I have observed on used versions the more recent boats or after talking to owners of more recent models.

That said these are still good coastal cruisers. It is my sense that both Beneteau and Hunter do a little better job with quality control and warranty support. Catalina has a lousy reputation for not supporting warranty issues.

Jeff
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Old 05-12-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

Gary: Over the last year we have bought a used Beneteau 381, a Used Cat 380 and a Hunter 356 and they all have failed survey. We utimately bought a Cat 36 MkII on the used market. My observations are that None is better or worse than the other. They are what they are production boats.

My reasons for buying the Cat 36 mkII was Good resale Value (2300+ made, and hold value better than the others), We liked the layout of the 36 better for two people (we will use the table for 2 mostly so the salon was great for lounging around in), a huge 36 (Really 37+) and lastly easy to handle for 2 people.
With all this said the Hunter had better systems and the Beneteau fit and finish might have been better than the others. Couldn''t get my arms around the B&R Rig or the FRENCH look and storge limitations of the Beneteau. Good luck on your search.
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Old 05-12-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

I hate to agree with Jeff however I know of several Catalina owners that have uncovered, much to their "shock and awe", numerous quality problems with their boats. Just this morning I spoke with one of my friends who was forced to sell his C 400 because it was eating him up financially, repair after repair (mostly stemming from the original design and build quality) with little or no support from Butler and his henchmen. It is true "you do get what you pay for".
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Old 05-13-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

Gary:
Rather than listen to a couple of blowhards, why don''t you go to the owners email lists and ask curent owners? I can''t think of anyone more qualified than owners of Catalinas to discuss their virtues and shortfalls. BTW, while I have nver owned a C-36, I am now on my second Catalina, and plan to stay with the family when I move up. Yes, they are "production" boats - the most successful line in the world. That should tell you something.
JMHO
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Old 05-13-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

I have a 2000 Catalina 34 and my dock neighbor has a 1996 Catalina 36. We must be lucky in that neither of us have had quality issues. I had two small warranty claims in my first season (a faulty fuel tank gauge and a leak that discolored the sole - both were handled immediately by my dealer). I have corresponded and spoken in person with Frank and he is a very approachable man - but he is very busy. He and Gerry Douglas (the designer) have occasionally contributed to the Catalina list on Sailnet. I can only say that it is important to buy from a reputable dealer. My dealer (Navy Point Marine) checked over every system and function before I acepted delivery - and allowed me to keep it there for 6 weeks while we did shakedowns and got accustomed to her. Check out c34.org which is the Catalina 34 owners website. You can see that most problems are minor. The C36 has a similar site. I have found my 34 to be a robust and fast coastal cruiser. It wouldn''t be my first choice for a blue water cruiser, but where I sail the blue water cruisers are what we call "dogs" or "cows."

Charlie Pearsall

PS I owned a Pearson 27 before the 34 and consider the boats comparable in manufacture and performance. I loved that Pearson, and I now love my Catalina.
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Old 05-13-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

Gary, I purchased a new Catalina in 2001 and am very pleased. The boat sails competitively and is a perfect coastal cruiser. Though I have had no major commissioning issues with the boat, the dealer took care of everything I questioned, including replacement of one battery that did not seem to hold a charge very well- this in my 2nd season. In fact one of the primary reasons I purchased a Catalina is that owners consistently held the manufacturer in high regard to warranty issues - including items that were often out of warranty. I previously owned a ''high quality'' Najad 32'' that had a gorgeous wood interior and teak decks. Najad is making a bit of a comeback in this country, but I can tell you that while the boat was finished better in the details, long term maintenance became a nightmare. Parts are hard to find (everything is metric), teak decks screwed into the deck will leak - $25k to replace (after ~15 years), and they use a saildrive (aluminum) as many foreign boat manufacturers do - this will also need expensive replacement. Najad, HR and Malmo are all in the same class and many people admire these boats as I do - however, if you plan on long term ownership consider the expense of maintenance and support of the factory. As boats age people tend to prefer solid hulls (vice cored) and the comfort of a strong owner''s association. Also, it is interesting to take a look at resale values; the price difference between a Catalina, Tartan, HR and almost any other more expensive brand narrow considerably over time. Just something additional to think about. I love to look at Hinckleys and Morris yachts - but if you factor in maintenance, features and price it is very hard to beat a Catalina.
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Old 05-13-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

I also must be one of the few, lucky Catalina owners. I just moved up from a Cat 30 to a 350, and I don''t recall any hardware/technical issues with either of my boats... My local dealer has also been excellent!! Guess some of us aren''t bright enough to know just how ignorant we really are??
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Old 05-13-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

Gary,
Catalina does an excellent job in quality with regard to price. It''s not a Hinckley and your not paying those prices.

I have a 2001 C36 have I found the build quality to be excellent. This is a production boat that in my opinion offers the best value for the money by far.

I''ve looked at Hunter,Jeanneau,Beneteau and some others, There are good and "less good" points to all these boats but in general terms they rate pretty high on the value scale.

As for Jeff and co.. Don''t listen to people who have either no first hand experience or maybe no experience what so ever.

If you want info on Catalina’s ask Catalina owners, if you want some info on other boats ask the owners of those boats.

Most actual boat owners will tell you the honest truth about the boats.

As far as Frank Butler and Gerry Douglas are concerned… I have spoken to those men several times both at shows and on the phone, and you will never find a better group of people to work with. Try calling the president of Beneteau and see how far you get…

Regards,
Chris
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Old 05-13-2003
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Option: Catalina 36 and 38

Just for the record, my opinion is based on comments made by well over a dozen new Catalina owners who have bought Catalina''s in thr last 10 or so years. Some of these owners have been positively despondent about the kinds of quality control problems that they encountered right from the factory and the near total lack of support from the factory.

One of these owners graphically told me that he had sold a comparatively new Catalina and purchased a Beneteau in disgust with Catalina build quality and warranty support. He described the warranty covereage with Beneteau as being amazingly comprehensive and easy. He decribed an absolutely nightmare like warranty process where the dealer would tell that some remedial action was covered under the warranty only to have the factory turn the dealer down on reimbursement and the dealer have to cover the repair or more often than not insist that the buyer agree to pay for the repair and then have the buyer try to get reimbursed by Catalina. This owner personally called Frank Butler about the issue and described his conversation with Butler to me in terms that suggest that Mr. Butler was frankly abusive and antagonistic toward him. (I realize I only heard one side of this arguement.) I would dismiss this as a single case if I had not heard almost the same type of story consistently over and over again with other Catalina owners.

When this issue first surfaced I began asking owners of Hunters, Catalinas and Beneteaus about their warrantee experiences. The Catalina people consistently described long and comparatively serious lists of problems and lack of warrantee support especially as compared to the other two companies.

I do have a little direct experience with Beneteau warranty claims in which Beneteau split the cost of replacing a forward hatch on a boat that was out warranty because they said that they had seen the same problem with that hatch on other boats. I have also had some direct experience with Hunter and have watched reasonably good support.

I am just not seeing or hearing that kind of support out of Catalina. And when you have someone selling a boat with becasue he cannot overcome a long list of build quality issues, that lemon is out there on the marketplace and it is the next owner that has to deal with the problems.

Several years ago I had a friend who was in the market for a 38 to 40 footer. He and I went through a whole series of 10 year old Beneteaus, Hunters and Catalinas (He ultimately bought a Beneteau First 38s5). After a while it became stunningly obvious that of the three, the Catalinas were just not holding up as well as the other two builders. Perhaps 6 years ago I was a strong supporter of Catalinas. Of the big three they seemed to offer the most boat for the dollar, but as I have spent more time with Catalina owners, and onboard Catalinas, I now see them as the poorest choice of the three. That said there are models of both Hunter and Beneteau that strike me as being not as good as other models withing their respective lines.

Look if there are Catalina owners that have better warranty experiences or who have been through the same kind of negative experience, let them post here. I realize that Catalina sells a lot of boats and a dozen or so owners is a very small sampling but the story was so consistent that I have to believe that there is some truth in it.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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