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Catalina vs Hunter
Sorry, its just such a common question that can be emotionally charged and asked quite often on lots of different boards. If your looking for more, just go through the archives and you''ll finds tons of opinions and comments.
It looks like Jeff H is the lone wolf here, and I have to respectfully disagree. I do tend to agree with the Benetaus in some respects, but they make many different quality/types of boats, with the first series being their upgraded racing version ....but they are starting to cheap out in some ways....not that it affects the boats integrity, but in other ways.....they are going to fake plastic teak floors and most of the models do not come with the option for a lead keel (at least thats what the Beneteau dealer told me last weekend...and I looked at the options price list ) Not sure what years and sizes Jeff was looking at, but its not consistent with what I saw, but I wasn''t looking at boats older than 15-17 years though. I won''t comment on 70''s era Catalina......they made 2 classic boats back then the C27 and the C30, but like a lot of other mass producers of these vintages they might have not been up to the standards of some other manufacturers of the time (that, by the way, are no longer with us!)...but starting in the 80''s and continuing thru to today the quality has consistently improved. Outside of the Cheribini''s cutter model Hunter built, the design and quality of the Hunters were not great. I will concur that the quality of the newer Hunters have improved since I started looking at them about 10 years ago, but thats not too hard since I think the late 80''s to early 90''s Hunters were the worst in my opinion. But these days the quality is improving on all the boat manufacturers.
In fact I think if you survey most people out there that have looked at boats and been around them and then you take away the Hunters owners and the Catalina owners as being biased. I am pretty sure you''ll find an overwhelming number of people consider the Catalina to be a notch above the Hunters . I believe Jeff H is very knowledgeable but clearly in the minority when it comes to his opinion ranking these boats.
Take a look here http://users3.ev1.net/~sailord/H376.jpg thats a Hunter 376...this is not a one off thing. These things are not a result of a running hard aground or a boating accident either. These are major boat failures . I have heard of this occurring on more than one Hunter in this latest era of their non-backstayed rigged. Still Hunter''s decision to allow the hull to deck joint to support the rigging loads (with or without their magic glass layup that they say they have in this area) is a serious mistake in their construction. People say they have good customer service, but if you''re going to build boats like this you''ll need it.
I just got back from the NY/NJ Sail Expo and I was looking at both sets of boats. There were just too many small items, where for some unknown reason, Hunter cheaps out. In many ways these are very important items on the Hunter that my mind are woefully inadequate. Take for instance the bilge pump hose on the 36'' Hunter, its this tiny 1" hose !!. I almost can''t believe it and the bilge pump is undersized too. Someone has to explain to me why they do that for something that important , looking at their setup they would only pump 1/2 the volume of water that most other boats have. Remember 97% are never going to need or care about that, but what about the other 3%. So I have to respectfully disagree with Jeff H, when you really look at these seemingly small but very important items.
Lets put it this way.....If you told me that I had to sail to Europe and my only 2 options were a Catalina 36 or a Hunter 356 then I don''t think I''d blink an eyelash before I''d pick the Catalina. I think most people that have been on each boat would agree. If you told me I was 6''6" and had to live aboard, then the hunter gets a bit more appealing since it goes for the maximum space conceivable....just look at the freeboard of a lot of hunters. But even then I''m not so sure...