Re: Just getting started
Many people have Catalinas, especially the 22, 25, and 27, as their first boats. Catalina built them to a price point that made it possible for people with "less-deep" pockets to be able to get into sailing, and the resale market for them benefits from it. Catalinas make great first boats (and second, third, etc.) in part because there is a MASSIVE dealer and aftermarket network. If you think about it, how often can you find parts for a 1960's to 1970's era car? It can be pretty difficult. But for Catalinas, there are companies that still make parts for 1970's era boats because they know those boats are still out there, in use. There are very few other manufacturers whose boats enjoy such a big support network. The C25 owner's association is also fantastic. They have an online forum that gets a LOT of traffic every day, and most of the questions are specific to the C25. There are people who have owned their C25's for 10-20 years on there, so you get some really amazing feedback. There's almost always someone there who has lived through whatever problem you're having. I don't know about the 27 or 30 owners' forums, but I suspect they are probably similar.
I'm a big fan of the C25. I think it is a comfortable size, but not huge. The cabin is great for 2-4 people, and the cockpit isn't bad for 2-4 adults. It's a little tight with 4, but not bad. I had the swing keel version and, if I had to do it over again, I'd probably keep looking for a wing keel. I sailed in very skinny water and had the swing keel retracted almost all of the time due to the limited depth. In retrospect, I would have probably gotten much better sailing ability if I had gone with the wing, and I would only have lost a few inches of clearance. Most C25's come with outboards (there were a few made with inboards), so if you want the simplicity of being able to take the engine off and work on it, the C25 is a great choice.
Again, I really liked my C25. That being said, in my opinion, the C27 is probably the ideal "first" boat. It sits in the "sweet spot" between small and big boats. You'll be less likely to get 2-foot-itis with the 27 than the 25. The cabin is much more comfortable, and the boat behaves pretty well, too. Many of the C27's came with inboards, too, which for many people is a plus. In a lake environment, it's probably less of an issue, but some people really like the inboard. Some have removed the inboards and switched to outboards. A decent-sized outboard (9-15 HP) should push the 27 just fine, especially in the conditions you'll encounter.
You didn't mention the C30, but since I've gone this far, I'll give you my impression of them, too. I've been aboard a few C30's, and they are SWEET boats. They are BIG, especially compared to the 25 and 27. The cockpit is fantastic if you are planning on having family/friends aboard, and the cabin is enormous. To me, the extra length and wider beam take you from feeling like you're in a cramped tent to feeling like you're in a small room. It sounds silly, but it makes a BIG difference in the comfort aboard. The down-side to the C30 as a first sailboat is that it is a LOT of boat. They are heavy, beamy, and have a fair bit of freeboard which can make it tough to handle them in windy conditions, especially as you're first starting out.
Finally, as you're coming from powerboating, make sure you understand the limitations of a displacement hull compared to a planing hull. You simply won't go FAST (in the absolute sense of the word). You'll go along quietly, and on good days you'll go faster than you could swim or walk, but you almost certainly won't go over 10MPH. As long as you're OK with that, then you'll be good.
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1980 Allmand 31
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