Join Date: May 2002
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Kid: the Catalina 25 sounds like a great boat for you. I think it is simply the best value 25 foot coastal cruiser/weekender out there. There are usually a bunch available at any one time (tends to keep prices down!), so don't get fixated on a particular boat as another will always come along.
There were so many of these boats built that there are various incarnations to choose from. The primary "options" are pop-top vs. fixed coach roof; tall rig vs. std; dinette vs. fold down table; fin keel vs. swing keel. My 2 cents (adjusted for inflation) on the most important choices in order of importance: pop-top, fixed keel, dinette model with tall rig. Why? If you intend to spend any time at all in the cabin, you want the pop top. It gives you standing headroom in the cabin. A nice extra is if your boat comes with the canvass side panels that "enclose" the open pop top. The fixed keel boat sails better than the swing keel, is lower maintenance and for my money, is safer (I don't want all of the boat's ballast held on by one pin). Of course, if you intend to trailer the boat, you need the swing keel; in fact, it becomes the driving factor in picking the boat. I like the dinette better than the drop table; its a personal thing. The drop table gives you more room below when it is swung up to the bulkhead, but if you intend to eat below, I like the dinette. And if you have little kids, the dinette is a perfect place for them to play. The need for the tall rig is really dependent on where you sail. Light winds? You want the tall rig. Lots of bridges? Maybe the standard is more convenient.
If you are comparing two different choices, don't forget to take overall condition into account. The condition of the boat (and the outboard) is just as important as any of the factors listed above. In any case, the C25 is a terrific boat, and you will be very happy. Good luck and let us know what you bought.