What do you really need in order to sail happily? A reason for the success of mass boatbuilder Catalina Yachts, with some 66,000 sailboats to its name, has been its ability to stay apace with the developing tastes and desires of sailors. Now the California-based company has picked up on an expanding market segment of sailors: couples. Catalina's response is a new 31-foot, $75,000-weekend-and-vacation-cruiser. The Catalina 310 makes a convincing case that bigger isn't always better- and that smaller can be just as nice.
National Sales Manager Sharon Day said that in talking to some of the sailors of the Catalina 30 (of which there are some 6,600), they found many "really wanted more of a couple boat."
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"These were people who mainly sailed as a couple, who didn't have children or who didn't sail with family, who were possibly empty-nesters," said Gerry Douglas, Catalina vice president and chief engineer.
According to Douglas, these sailors didn't necessarily want a large boat, and many didn't want the expense and extra worry of a larger boat. Douglas said he drew up a "hit list" of the features that sailing twosomes were looking for. The list of "compelling features" included: a large double berth that was "like a real bed" with an inner-spring mattress and access from both sides; a head with a separate shower stall; a side-opening refrigerator; lots of drawer storage.
This sector of cruising couples was content with less complication, Catalina found. They wanted a boat that the two of them could handle with ease-and, as well, one that they could find a place for in their budget.
Conceived as a boat for casual cruising, the general parameters of the 310 were pretty simple: a good, all-around boat for comfortable cruising and satisfactory performance. The Catalina 310 is a commodious and nimble cruiser, meant for stress-free boathandling, without the big-boat worries.
The new 310 is flush with beam-a full look-yet the transom extends just far enough to impart nice balance to the lines. The cabintop is remarkably low in profile to counterbalance the height of the topsides.
While other amenities might have fit on the boat, Catalina targeted only those that were within a couple's probable needs and expectations. The cockpit is spacious because for these owners a lot of the enjoyment will derive from the cockpit activities, from good sailing afternoons to evenings at anchor or at the dock with friends or alone.
One of the cockpit's main strengths is actually hidden. It's the lockers. The port gull-wing-type locker is 4 feet wide, large enough to hold a packed inflatable. There are also two large lazarette lockers, one that is deep enough to stow an outboard vertically on a designed mount. The helm seat can be lifted out and stowed on the lifelines for stern boarding. The transom has a single step and drop-down ladder.
The deck layout is clean and simple, with halyards led aft, a telescoping fixed vang, and mid-boom sheeting of the fully-battened main. The mainsail has single-line reefing and comes with the Dutchman furling system. For shorthanded sailing, Catalina offers in-mast main furler for an additional $2,500 to $3,000. The anchor locker is equipped with an electric windlass (standard).
The interior manages to provide both comfort and privacy. Catalina designers figured the owner's cabin would work better forward-rather than at the conventional aft location. And this seems to have worked well in meeting needs. It features a queen-size berth with inner-spring mattress, access from both sides and banks of drawers. The only other sleeping area, astern behind the companionway, is a large athwartships double. The saloon settees do not convert to berths.
The galley is remarkably spacious for a boat this size, and includes a two-burner stove-oven, single sink and that requested side-opening refrigerator, which also opens from the top. Refrigeration is standard.
An interesting wrinkle is the navigator's area, which tags at the aft end of the galley counter area as a fold-down navigator's platform.
The main cabin seating area features a removable cocktail table, which can be lifted out, secured aft in a purpose-design storage area and replaced by a dining table.
The 310 comes with a rotating TV mount in the forward cabin for evening watching. The TV can rotate for watching from the main cabin through a sliding-opening in the forward bulkhead.
Though not the original intention, the 310 will make a great family boat, too. The berth layout is sensible. The aft double will be a secure place for children. The large galley and commodious cockpit will also be good family features.
The head compartment includes a separate shower stall, and the 310 comes with a 55-gallon water tank-large capacity for this size boat.
The auxiliary, the Universal 25hp, 3-cylinder diesel, is behind the 4-step companionway. With 20-gallon fuel tankage, the 310's motoring range will be approximately 300 miles.
The Catalina comes with these standard items: refrigerator, Maxwell windlass, Schaefer jib furler, battery charger, 2 deep-cycle batteries, 40-inch Edson pedestal steerer with Edson radial-drive wheel system, and sails, for the price of around $75,000. Delivery of the Catalina 310 will begin after June.
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