Join Date: May 2002
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I've owned both, and I like the Oday 23 better. Two big reasons why: l like the centerboard on the Oday 23 better. The Oday 23 centerboard (on the 1977 and later model) is an unweighted board that is controlled by a single line lead to the cockpit. Very easy to control, very easy to service and maintain. No crank, no ratchets. Simple. The ballast for the Oday 23 is encapsulated in the stub keel. No bolts, no maintenance.
By contrast, the ballast in a Catalina 22 is in the centerboard. It really is a "swing keel", not a centerboard. The board is controlled via a mechanical crank. Catalina has made a zillion of these things of things over the years (the Catalina 22 is the most successful production sailboat ever) and they have made the mechanism as efficient and reliable as possible; but its still a machine and needs maintenance and care in a way that is not necessary for the Oday 23.
The other big reason I like the Oday 23 better is the interior door: the head is behind an actual door in the Oday, not out in the middle of the cabin like the Catalina. Believe me, if you will have women aboard, this importance of this feature cannot be underestimated.
The Catalina does have one advantage over the Oday: Catalina is still in business and supports the 22; Oday is long gone. This is not to say that you will be on your own with an Oday. There is an active owners' net, and D&R Marine in Massachusetts still has the molds for many parts. And let's face it, you will want something better than OEM parts anyway.
One other advantage of the Catalina: the pop-top. If you expect to cruise your boat a lot, the ability to have standing headroom is a definite plus. However, I would argue that if you expect to cruise your boat a lot, then the Catalina 22 is too small anyway.
Either way, you can't go wrong. They are both really good, forgiving boats that can be single-handed. Both have big cockpits that are good for daysailing, and both are terrific for the occasional overnighter. If you are choosing between them, I would go for the one that is in better shape: better sails, newer outboard, no voids in the deck, etc.
Best of luck.