Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 13
C&C or Catalina
TJR and the group:
Catalina''s 350 - and every other U.S built boat sold in the U.S. - is not CE rated. CE ratings relate to a Recreational Craft Directive developed by a body commissioned in turn by the European Union, are awarded to a builder (usually for 2 year period) by a Notified Body that the builder hires, and the rating is awarded without a single boat being ''surveyed''. (An interesting tidbit from the recent London Boat Show is that Bavaria formed a firm of its own, had it accredited as a Notified Body, and that''s who awards Bavaria''s CE ratings. Given the competitive nature of boat building here - high volume, large employers, highly automated and with an emphasis on building to a price - this was probably inevitable). U.S.-built boats that are CE Rated in Europe may in fact be similar or identical here in the States, but the critical issue is not the rating but rather the process by which the rating is applied. No regulatory entity here has endorsed the process nor suggested it produces boats with the capaibilities claimed.
As best I can make out, the CE Rating Scheme is driven by the intention for EU products to be similarly capable (for a given rating), to insure a similar competitive environment within the EU for manufacturers from all member countries, and to place a compliance hurdle for all non-EU built boats, so that they too must compete comparably. As with much else about the EU''s current political form - and somewhat in line with the cultural nature of Europe generally, IMO - the emphasis is more on bureaucracy, paperflow and protectionism, and less about building boats that truly are, as the RCD states for ''A'' rated boats, capable of Force 8 PLUS winds and 4 Meter PLUS seas (my caps).
This suggests almost unlimited stability and structural capability (one of my main gripes about how the ''A'' rating is represented), when in reality a look at some (most) of the boats would suggest a more reserved view of their abilities.
To get a feel for the RCD, spend a little time reading the content at http://europa.eu.int/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&n umdoc=31994L0025&model=guichett. You''ll find much comment on the paperwork process, and you''ll find comfortable generalisms about boats being suitable for their intended purpose, being built in ways to help people from falling overboard, having thru-hulls that close, etc. but you will find little in this RCD overview (this is only a summary of sorts) that suggests a true understanding of sailing offshore.
To go back to the original post, it''s interesting to me that the Catalina 350 has received so much attention here - the archives probably offer a wealth of editorial comment on it. During the periods I''ve been able to read posts here, I''ve yet to read about one 350 being sailed out of one coastal port, at least over night, Before arriving at another port. (Or obviously, an account of the boat being taken offshore). The positive comments about the boat''s performance underway all seem related to the boat being used in protected waters, which leaves me wondering how certain owners can be of its ultimate sailing and sail handling ability, about how well it suits a crew who must sleep, cook and navigate at sea, or about its structural capabilities. I don''t see this as a criticism of the boat...but it does give me a perspective on its positive reception by the recreational sailor and helps to account for its successful sales record. I suspect those accounts do exist and it would be refreshing to hear a few cruise accounts from owners who have sailed their 350 outside the breakwater for a few hundred non-stop miles.
I don''t think I''ve seen anyone claim Frank Butler and Catalina didn''t know how to build a boat to a market.