Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34 - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 03-15-2013 Thread Starter
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Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

I'm excited to being checking out a Pearson 36-2, Catalina 36 (87') and a Catalina 34 (88') tomorrow. While none of them are my dream boat, we're considering them as a next boat to meet our cabin space needs (3 young kids), budget and Great Lakes cruising lifestyle, with a possible ICW/Bahamas/Caribbean foray mixed in somewhere.

I'm fairly well read up on all three models, but any thoughts or perspectives are welcome. I'll check back sometime later this weekend and give my quick first impression of each boat.

Catalina 34

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post #2 of 14 Old 03-15-2013
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Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

I have looked at the 34 and 36 Catalina's quite a bit. The 34 really lacks storage, very small galley, has a smaller salon but the berths are awesome and would say best in class.. The cockpits are identical between the two and just about a foot of difference in length. If day sailing or weekending is your goal, the 34 would be perfect.

The galley, salon and storage of the Catalina 36 is awesome. If it had a large cockpit lazarête it would be just about perfect. The rear berth can be tight for some. And lastly the head forward rather than by the companion way is an issue to some. For extended cruising, the 36 is hard to beat.

The versions with the walk through transom are much nicer with the MKII's adding a really nice cockpit and some more space below - it's significant


. I am not a fan of 36 mki due to the aft berth. Others would disagree.

The Pearson is a much more "dated" design. What that means depends on your taste.

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post #3 of 14 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

With boats of that age condition is everything. Engine hours age of rigging condition is gel oat art widely. The Pearson probably sails better but may not be as roomy.
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post #4 of 14 Old 03-15-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

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Originally Posted by HeartsContent View Post
The Pearson is a much more "dated" design. What that means depends on your taste.
You might be referring to an earlier Pearson 36, but the 36-2 (1987) is actually a newer design than either the C34 or 36 and seems to be a good middle ground between the two, with better sailing performance than either.

Catalina 34

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post #5 of 14 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

SA/D of 14.6 on the Catalina vs 17.4 on the Pearson. I know which one I'd rather sail. Even the tall mast Catalina 36 (SA/D of 15.9) looks under canvassed.

The Pearson was probably made to higher standards, but that is going to matter less than how each of these boats have been maintained and their current condition.

I've sailed a C-36, but not a Pearson 36-2. The C36 was the first "big" boat that I sailed, so it is hard for me to make comparisons based on that.

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post #6 of 14 Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

I've got a C34 and a friend has a C36. The difference in size is very little, same beam and only 1 foot in length. Totally different layout with the 36 having the head forward and the 34 having the head aft. Some people prefer one style over the other so keep that in mind.

C34's owners have a very active web site that helped me quite a bit while searching for a boat and can be an invaluable source of information for current owners. ANYTHING you need to know about a C34, you can find there.
I understand C36 owners also have a good website as well but not quite as active as the 34'

Never been on the Pearson, but they made good boats. Sorry they went out of business.

Catalina 34

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post #7 of 14 Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

Both Catalina's are great cruising boats - there's not much in it when comparing the two. Tall rigs preferred, esp in light wind regions. The 36s galley wins that battle, otherwise it's down to personal preference as to layout. Virtually no difference on deck -they are so similar the only way to tell the difference is to know the 34 has 3 opening ports vs the 36s two. Agree the MkIIs aesthetically a step up, ESP walk thru.

That said we have a P36-2 in our club and it's a "bigger feeling" boat, looks more powered up and has a totally liveable interior too. Anecdotally I have heard of more issues like leaky ports on the Pearson.

As ever for me it would come down to individual condition, all else being equal. While I really like the Cats in general without any other compelling reasons I'd probably go for the Pearson.
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post #8 of 14 Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

I looked and studied (for a long time) the 1985-1991 Pearson 36-2, the 37-2, and the 38. All three boats share the same basic hull. The interior layouts are different, and the keel and deck options evolved over time. I had also sailed the 36-2 for a week long charter, and, overall, love the boat.

The 36-2 was introduced as a 1985 model and was available as a fin keel or centerboard version. The fin keel drew 6.5', and the centerboard drew 4.2' up, and 8.5' down. In 1989 Pearson introduced a winged keel, which drew 5'. To the best of my knowledge, these all had solid glass hulls, with a balsa cored deck. The total sail area was 660 sq ft. Here is the profile of the boat;


The head is to port of the companionway steps, and there is a full cabin to starboard. Here is a picture of the layout of the 36-2:


Despite my affection, there are some areas that I don't like (these are my opinions, take them for what they are worth);
  • The saloon table, which was mounted on a pedestal, would lower to convert the U shaped setee into a double berth. The problem is that the mount for the table would become loose and wobble. Many of these boats had to have owner installed buttressing of the table mount.
  • Most of the Pearson 36-2s that I saw had lots of water intrusion in the deck, especially on the port side, over the electrical panel (bad place for a leak). Preform a check with a moisture meter, and check the wiring behind the panel before you buy.
  • Access to the engine (which is under the double sink) is limited.

As the design evolved over the years, Pearson introduced a walk through/sugarscoop transom, which was, IMHO, well executed. I would place a (~$3K) premium on a later boat with this feature.

I hope this helps!

PM me with any specific questions.
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Last edited by eherlihy; 03-16-2013 at 02:53 PM. Reason: Doh! - port=left; starboard = right
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post #9 of 14 Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

... The Pearson that I really wanted, was the Pearson 38. It was essentially the same boat as the 36-2, but it had a fixed, drop-leaf table, and (correction to my post above), it was only the Pearson 38 that had the walk through transom.

I believe that there were only 20, or so, produced, so they are as rare as hens teeth. Beautiful boat...


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post #10 of 14 Old 03-17-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Comparing a P36-2/C36/C34

Weather didn't allow us to get into the P36-2, but we did check out the C36 and C34. Here's my quick take on both after taking a walkthrough while each is on the hard:

C34
General thoughts on the cabin
- Not as much room inside as the C36 (particularly noticeable in the salon and galley)
- The keel-stepped mast intrudes a bit more into the cabin since it is back a bit from the forward bulkhead (unlike in the C36).
- Aft cabin berth was large, but I prefer the "sofa" available in the C36 aft cabin
- Aft cabin door and aft head really make the cabin feel much smaller than the C36

Specific thoughts on condition
- Her bilge was full to the top with water (currently frozen)
- Mystery drill holes in the port side headliner were weeping dark liquid, likely from a wet deck above
- Head sole had about 1/2" of standing water pooled at the drain (not sure why)
- Running rigging was trashed from U/V damage

Verdict: This is not our next boat. Both condition and layout simply aren't to our liking.

C36
General thoughts on the cabin
- Very open, roomy feeling salon
- Starboard mini-table/game table seems like a good feature for our family with 3 kids
- While not overly attractive from an aesthetics stand point, the cabin layout/room seem very family friendly

Specific thoughts on condition/"features"
- The full cockpit enclosure, winter cover and new FrigoBoat refer with keel cooler are pluses for us
- Reverse cycle air/heat is a concern for me. My wife likes having it as an option, but I've heard too many stories about repair/reliability with A/C and so I am considering it a possible detractor
- ProFurl in-boom furling main: Not sure how I feel about this "feature". I'm a a bit leery of keeping the boom/mast angle perfect for furling and have heard some people say furling isn't always easy from the cockpit. I'm not too concerned about sailing performance trade-offs, but the ProFurl unit is only a positive for me if it furls/reefs easily from the cockpit. If not, I'd prefer a simple StackPack or similar.
- She's got ablative bottom paint and looks ready for a complete sanding (or better yet soda blasting) and repaint. This is potentially expensive and labor intensive at best.
- All deck hardware (stanchions, etc.) was re-bedded last season, which could be a plus/minus depending on if it was done correctly and the reason for doing it.
- Not sure how I feel about the wing keel. We don't need it for our cruising grounds. Not sure I want to sacrifice pointing ability for an un-needed shallow draft.
- Owner applied new gray non-skid paint to the deck. I'd rather not have paint to maintain on deck.

Verdict: This boat may get a second closer look when the weather shapes up and I've had time to think things through.

I'm also very interested in in comparing the Catalinas with the P36-2. Without having been aboard the Pearson yet, my perception is that this will be a better sailing hybrid between the C34/C36, since it has bigger size than the C34 but a very similar cabin layout.

Catalina 34

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