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veprjack 07-27-2011 05:55 AM

C30 Quick Opinions on Two "Choices"

Hope this is the right forum to ask a newbie purchasing question. Maybe I should also post in the C30 forum?

I KNOW it's next to impossible to judge or recommend just based on a few pics and/or stats, but I'm going to look at two similar C30s this weekend and just wanted some initial opinions based on a) a few pics and b) the specific stats. For instance, one is 11hp and the other 22hp, etc. Maybe comment on those types of differences?

Being a noob, if you can think of any questions specific to these two boats OR in general, that would be helpful too. Again, I'm not necessarily looking for someone to be able to recommend one over the other, just maybe pointing out things based on your own knowledge/experience!

1980 Catalina Standard Rig sailboat for sale in Massachusetts

Thanks in advance,

Ajax_MD 07-27-2011 07:23 AM

I don't know where you're living, so I don't know what kind of sailing you're going to do, but I've been researching an upgrade to a 30 footer for a little bit now.

My top contenders were the Tartan 30, Catalina 30 and the Pearson 30.

There were/are several variations of the C-30 over the years.
Of the Catalina 30's, the 11hp diesel is woefully inadequate to push the boat into any kind of weather. The standard rig is short, and makes the boat a real dog in light air. The wing keel can be a real PITA if you run aground, burying itself into mud and resisting kedging attempts to get free.

The pro's are, the cabin is friggin' immense, and they ride like Cadillacs in heavier weather.

I'm out for a racer/cruiser that will do well in the light summer breezes of the Chesapeake, so the only C-30 that I would accept is the C-30 Tall Mast with fin keel. (and cross my fingers for one of the other stronger engines that they may have been equipped with)

Unfortunately for me, the C-30 is too fat to fit into my local slips at nearly 11' wide, plus they are on the "cruisey" side of racer/cruiser so I'm going with the Pearson 30.

Like I said, I'm not sure what your goal is, but maybe this information will help you.

veprjack 07-27-2011 07:26 AM

Thanks Bubble,

I'll be just north of Boston with decent winds, but strong currents for an 11hp. It will be my ENTRY LEVEL boat, not an upgrade; so I can afford to start out with a boat that isn't fast and then work my way up in 2 or 3 years. My primary concern is living aboard, and this boat, as you pointed out - has an IMMENSE cabin.

Thanks - your comments were helpful.


Maine Sail 07-27-2011 07:30 AM

Be aware that pre 1987/1988 C-30's had plywood laminated into the keel stub that can get wet and rot.

Digging this out, replacing any eroded keel bolts and doing this repair can be 1/3 to 1/2 the price of the boats you're looking at. If it were me buying a Catalina again, I would not look at any that had the wood stub, but only based on experience and because I have been on the receiving end of this repair....

If you do look at pre 87/88 boats be SURE to do a thorough keel stub survey and perhaps a core sample. The bilge should have been BONE DRY for a number of days in order to get proper moisture readings. This wood core is almost 1.5" thick on many of them so the meter will not read the lead and will read the moisture IF the bilge has been adequately dried.

All that being said the one for 20k with the re-power, new sails, furler etc. looks like a much better deal though it is the shoal draft version. Keep in mind that the 5411 Universal is raw water cooled and 11 HP is light for that boat......

BarryL 07-27-2011 10:29 AM


As mentioned, the more expensive boat has new sails, a 'rebuilt' (whatever that means) engine with more HP, plus a lot of other nice gear including an inflatable dink w/motor.

The other main difference between the two boats is the fin keel vs shoal keel. If you have any plans of racing, get the deep keel. If you don't, and plan on gunkholing and / or like to anchor close to the beach, the shoal draft will be fine. It just won't point nearly as high as the fin keel.

Of course, ads can be deceiving and one boat could be nice while the other boat is junk. One is being sold by a broker while the other is private sale.

For live aboard comfort, are you going to be in a slip or on a mooring / anchor? Either way, look for hot water (not all boats have that). The boat with raw water cooling (11HP) probably won't make hot water from the engine. What about the electrical systems? Shore power on both? Any sort of refrigeration? How about the galley? One boat has alcohol, which can be difficult to use. What about the other boat? Propane is much easier to use.

Good luck,

JimMcGee 07-27-2011 01:24 PM

The 20K boat looks like the better buy because of all the new gear.

Any good surveyor will know to check the keel bolts & bilge on a boat of this vintage and an email to the seller can confirm if the repair has been done.

Also ask about the rebuild. What did it entail, who did the work, what is their reputation? Does your surveyor know their work?

These boats are very comfortable and Barry raises good points about the refirgeration and stove. Look closely at modifications to the electrical system.

The differences between wing and fin keel are overstated. My C30 moves along in light air and so far no problems getting off minor groundings in sand in Barnegat Bay. The difference in how high she'll point will only be an issue if you race.

Check out this link to get an idea of the differences between Catalina 30 models and a lot of good general information about the boats.
International Catalina 30 Association & C30 Yacht

Best of luck with whichever one you pick,

veprjack 07-27-2011 07:24 PM

Excellent info and advice! I will not be racing as far as I know and I hope to be at a slip in a decent marina. I think they are both alcohol stoves - which isn't a huge issue, but...

JimMcGee 07-27-2011 08:38 PM

If you're going to be spending any amount of time living on board you'll likely want to install a dockside water hookup and possibly a dockside cable hookup if your marina has cable.

These are common on newer boats and may or may not have been installed by previous owners.

If you do buy one of these boats send me a PM and I'll send along links to a bunch of C30 owner sites that have how-to articles on upgrades they've done. You'll find there are a lot of loyal C30 owners out there and a lot of documentation on these boats. Catalina also does a surprisingly good job of supporting their owners -- no matter how old the boat.


montenido 08-13-2011 11:16 PM

as a former owner of a C30 (1981), I say get the bigger engine. Mine had the 11 hp, and it was fine for motoring around the marina. I got into some trouble motoring into a wind of about 25 knots. I ended up going zero mph into a pretty rough sea at full throttle. Very scary situation. My latest boat has the bigger motor. I would make that a priority. One other thing, when I sold my boat, several brokers wouldn't even consider listing it because of the small motor. Wierd, I know.

Good luck, Bill

veprjack 08-14-2011 08:10 AM


Thanks for the info/good advice. I actually went with a Pearson 303, but its engine is also small at 13hp. It claims 5-6knots, but we'll see. This will be my liveaboard "starter" boat, and in addition to learning to live aboard, I also need to get my sea/sailing skills up. So, I will pick and choose the weather and stay close to shore for the most part. After 1 or 2 years, I will probably want to move up to a 35-40 foot blue water boat, and then the size of the motor will be more important. The owner, and other Pearson 303 owners have told me of situations in 20 knot gusts and strong currents where the 13hp was adequate to get them home. As I said, where I will be living aboard with a flexible work schedule, I won't get into bad situations "on purpose", and will probably never be more than 30 minutes from "shelter" so...

Thanks again,

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