Better Hunters & Catalinas? Hunter 30, Catalina 38? - SailNet Community

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Old 11-17-2010
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kulokoo is on a distinguished road
Better Hunters & Catalinas? Hunter 30, Catalina 38?

It doesn't take long to learn the reputation of brands like Hunter & Catalina, but am I wrong to think that every sailboat builder has better and worse models? A couple models that design-wise on paper look good to me are the Hunter 30 and Catalina 38 - are the designs good, and what about the construction quality?

Hunter 30 - the early 30 has more draft and less beam than later boats, relatively more ballast and the plan shape appeals to me, it looks like it would be capable of pointing well. This is circa 70s-early 80s. Do these sail well? What would they compare to sailing wise? Any specifics on the build quality of this model?

Modern Hunters don't really appeal to my tastes, but this one might and there are a number of them around at nice prices.

Catalina 38 - I know these are based on an S&S design with ocean racing intentions, so I assume they sail pretty well. True? And what about the build quality, are these any more robust than a Catalina 30?

I'd be curious about the experience of fellow sailors who have owned these, how have they stood up, what do they sail like, what have they been capable of?

Are some models from the same builder built better than others?

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Old 11-19-2010
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COOL is on a distinguished road
Catalina 38s actually sail fine in moderate conditions,
and they can be a lot of boat for the money.
I do not think there are any major build quality
issues from any Catalina.
But for me they represent about as far wrong
as you can get in the design of a sailboat.
The origional design comes from a very bad era for
IOR influenced boats. It was origionally a S&S One Ton
one off named Lightning, whose hull shape was used
for a production run of Yankee 38s. The hull mold
was tweeaked and a new deck mold built for
the Catalina 38, what Catalina considered to be their
large racing boat of the day.
This type of boat is great upwind, but not
so good reaching and running in breeze.
The exagerated tumblehome reduces deck
beam, and encourages waves to roll aboard.
The pinched stern acts as a speed break,
and makes the boat unstable downwind.
Then there is the rig with massive genoas
and tiny mainsail, and a not very ergonomic
cockpit for sail handling.
The early Hunters are fine,
a little heavy but a Hunter 30 should
sail fairly well.
Islander 30 II 'COOL'
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Old 11-19-2010
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olson34 is on a distinguished road

Given that Catalina very likely followed the scantlings from S&S, the 38 should be one of their stronger boats.
Nothing wrong with old "IOR boats", except that for cruising it's better not to put up too much sail off the wind in big air -- they will not plane.

But then neither will any displacement hull, like the slow Catalina 30.
Most boats will take a lot of helm supervision with a chute up in big air; it's just worse in boats with lots of pinching of the stern sections. (You would not expect to gain much except drama if you put a chute in 25 kts on a double ender, either...)

If you refer to the old Hunter 30's from the 70's, they were OK boats, but built to a minimum standard. I would put them below Catalina on the quality scale, but after all these decades condition and upgrading is more important than label.

Unless you are restricted to buying something really cheap or just love the Hunters and Catalinas, why not expand your search parameters a bit to better built and better sailing boats like the Cals and Ericsons? Don't rule out the S-2, either. Remember that the J-30 was designed to be a cruiser that owners could race one design.
Lotsa good choices out there.

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