1994 Catalina 320 vs 1992 Catalina 36 - SailNet Community

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Old 01-04-2012
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1994 Catalina 320 vs 1992 Catalina 36

Hi Folks,

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great Holiday.

I'm looking at two Catalina's - both around the same price, both in similar condition. Anyone have any advice / additional info to share.

I reckon you get more boat for your buck with the 1992 Catalina 36, but the 1994 Catalina 32 is a more modern design and might hold its resale value better...but again, this is just an in-going assumption - I dont have any facts to back this up.

Any insights into how these two might match up sailing wise? I was interested to see that they have similar PERF ratings (despite the size difference).

Any pros and cons would be greatly appreciated.

All the Best!!

Chuck
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Old 01-04-2012
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Newbie here who's de-lurking I'm an Australian (Sydneysider) who was living in SF for the last couple of years and I did the Bareboat Charter course at OCSC sailing on SF bay earlier last year.

Interestingly enough they had a fleet of Catalina 320s and Catalina 36 on which they taught that course so I got to spend full 3.5 weekends sailing them. If I was given the choice, for the same money I'd take the 36 any day based on my 2 points below...

The biggest difference in the 2 boats is the interior space - the 36 was altogether a much more comfortable boat and felt a full size up from the 320. We overnighted with 4 guys on board and I don't think I would've wanted to try that on the 320 because the 320 saloon feels so cramped. There's not much in the measurements in overall beam but the 36 carries that beam much further forward and puts it to good use. The 320 feels like an oversized day-sailer, hope I'm not offending anyone here.

Sailing wise I really get why people love bigger boats, with one reef in main and the jib furled in just a bit (it's an SF spring afternoon), the 36 just cuts through the SF bay chop more smoothly than the 320 does. It's comfortable as but admittedly I don't have much else to compare it to.

Controls and the way the lines lead are pretty much the same for both boats.

Can't think of much else, but that's my 2c
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Old 01-04-2012
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Having owned both a C-36 and C-310 (same basic hull as the C-320) I found the C-36 to be a significantly more substantial boat with a more sea kindly manner about her.

The 36 is a nice sailing boat, for her type, that takes a sea well. Both are good coastal cruisers but I did not like the sailing performance of the 310/320 nearly as much as the 36. The 36 is a lot more comfortable in any kind of sea.

The C-320 v-berth is also very tight and that is why we went with the 310 at the time.. The C-36 also has one of the best owners associations out there. Don't overlook the C-34 either. They are more similar in sailing characteristics to the C-36 and has THE best owners association. Don't discount the VALUE of a good owners association.

I am not saying the C-320 owners association is not good, it's better than most boats, but it just is not yet at the level of the C-36 and C-34 owners associations. Both the C-36 & C-34 associations use real forums, not an antiquated "list serve" and have a plethora of information that is often referenced by owners of other brands, its that good.
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Old 01-04-2012
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I had a '99 C320 for 6 years and loved it. I have also always loved the C36 and have spent some time aboard and sailing next to one. I'm not surprised that the two have similar PRHFs because I had no problem at all keeping up with the C36. I certainly wouldn't call the C320 salon cramped but I like the way the C36 is set up better. The C320 head is cramped and as small as a telephone booth though. The aft berth on the C320 is the same size as the C36 but the forward on the C36 is larger and the room more roomy.
I don't remember when they changed the bilge on the C320 but I think it was before '94 - Check it though - if the '94 C320 has the Very Shallow (almost non-existant) Bilge that the first year or two of them did - I would walk away.
I also don't remember when the C36 added the Walk-Thru stern. That was a big plus for me at least on the C320 and my C28 before that - nothing like simply walking down to your dingy, and I consider the following seas pooping thing a non-issue.
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Old 01-04-2012
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We've made that same comparison in a few aborted attempts at changing boats.. we both like the 34/36 though between the two I think you'd need to give the nod to the 36 on the basis of the galley alone.. I also like the two dinettes that the 36 offers. I like the MKII updates to the cockpit and decks but understand that many prefer the MkI layout of the 36 better (aft cabin and nav table).

With the 320 you get a deck stepped mast you won't get with the MKI 34s/36s, the equivalent of the MKII cockpit and the walk-thru, and a narrower based double spreader rig and a slightly lower moorage bill. The V berth and esp it's access is very tight - unlike the others.
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Old 01-04-2012
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WOW - great insights to all. Both are wing keel (and I'm not a fan) but I reckon on the used boat market we cant be too picky. In a perfect world I'd pick up a tall rig with the deep keel - perfect for the great lakes.
The 36 I looked at was in great shape, had the walk through transom, some new sails etc..the only down side I could think of was the lack of a real aft cabin, but as we sail just the two of us, its not a big deal I reckon.

Thanks again guys!!

CB
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Old 01-09-2012
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Originally Posted by ChuckBuck View Post
WOW - great insights to all. Both are wing keel (and I'm not a fan) but I reckon on the used boat market we cant be too picky. In a perfect world I'd pick up a tall rig with the deep keel - perfect for the great lakes.
The 36 I looked at was in great shape, had the walk through transom, some new sails etc..the only down side I could think of was the lack of a real aft cabin, but as we sail just the two of us, its not a big deal I reckon.

Thanks again guys!!

CB
Our search for a boat included both of the boats you are considering. My sig will. Reveal our choice and I'll detail our rationle when I get to my computer.
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The 94 320 will have the shallow bilge and original power was a Perkins diesel. The recommendation of the 34 is worth considering. You might be even be able to find one with a tall rig and a deep keel. I talked with a 34 owner yesterday. His take was that the 34 had a better v-berth and the 320 had a better galley and head. The 36 has the good features of both. If you can manage the higher cost of ownership you will not be disapointed with the 36. Just realise that you will never get a break. All those 320 and 34 owners will do their very best to spit you out the back. Good luck with your search.
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Old 01-10-2012
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Ok Chuck, I couldn't get on the site last night but here are my comments regarding the boats you are looking at. One thing to consider, in advance is that our previous boat was an Oday 322, which certainly influenced our thinking about buying another 32 foot boat, even one we liked as much as a C320.

The things I remember liking about the 320 were the huge lazerettes, nice galley and spacious aft cabin. On deck the cockpit was also large and well designed for a coastal cruising boat. The C320 has the cockpit space and aft cabin of a 36-40' boat packed into 32'. The cost for that is limited interior storage and a smallish v-berth. For a couple, or a family with one or two youngsters, it would be a fine choice. Since its usually just me and my wife, the boat fit our “90% use” pretty well, BUT we already had a 32' boat and were concerned buying another one might not cure our two-foot-itis.

Our 1991 C36 has many features I thought I liked while shopping, that have proven out. The U-shaped settee is spacious for dining and makes a great double berth that seconds as a tv pit while docked. The forward facing nav station is quite functional and the galley is well laid out with ample storage. As with many production boats the ice box (refegerated in our case) could be easier for short people to access and could stand more insulation. The storage drawers and cabinets in the saloon supply "a place for everything, so everything is in place". The systems on the boat are fairly easy to access and a great improvement over many boats I've looked at, making owner maintenance less of a headache. While our boat has the "cave" aft cabin, I have slept in every berth and am comfortable in any of them at 6' and over 200 lbs. I've had 5 (including 3 women) aboard for 3 night trips and everyone was comfortable, had their own space and adequate privacy. On deck the boat is well laid out for short handed sailing and the cockpit offers room to stretch out at anchor. The things about my C36 I’m not enamored with are the forward head (I think aft makes much more sense) and if I could have the fin keel, I’d prefer it even here on the Chesapeake with its many shallows.

In terms of sailing I can’t comment on how the 320 feels but in relation to our 322 (that I thought handled what passes for rough conditions on the Chesapeake rather nicely) our C36 feels much more substantial. Our boat is a tall mast, wing keel with fixed prop, above deck roller furling and a 135 genny. Our PHRF (Chesapeake) is 165. Depending on the year (MKI vs MKII) and genny size (135-150) PHRF ratings are in the 162-165 range for C36’s and about the same for C34’s. The fin keel ratings are about 15 sec/mile faster. So what does this tell us? That according to PHRF a C34 will hang right with a C36 and a fin keel will walk away from a wing keel version of the same boat. In the real world I’ve yet to encounter the C34 that I would not catch and pass in short order, so I apparently have a gift rating from PHRF.

Some how, some where, the rumor was started that the C320 would perform as well as a C34 or C36. I believe that is baloney. Even the clearly suspect PHRF ratings support my contention as the C320’s are rated around 171 on the Chesapeake. In the 4 seasons we’ve sailed our C36, I’ve yet to be passed by any 32’ production cruising boat of any brand. (I did get spanked by a guy on a small (28?) C&C cruiser, but he was equipped with laminate sails and is one hell of a great sailor). There were two experinced sailors in my last yacht club with C34 wing keels equipped similar to my boat and I could consistently catch and out pace them despite their similar PHRF ratings and I believe a C320 would suffer a similar fate against a C34. Nothing in the opinions above is to say the the C320 is not a nice sailing boat, I just don’t believe a 32’ boat is going to keep up with a 34 or 36 foot boat, if they are intended for similar audiences. I’m well aware boats like the First 30 will smoke my C36, but they are built to a completely different philosophy.

Lastly, I agree with Mainesail that the C34 and C36 Associations are very strong and offer a lot of value to the owners of these boats. Because the C34 and C36 are so similar, there is also a lot of sharing between the two groups.

Good luck with your search –
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Last edited by PalmettoSailor; 01-10-2012 at 09:44 AM.
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