Can a Catalina 30 go out of the bay / gate? - SailNet Community

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Old 09-15-2010
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Can a Catalina 30 go out of the bay / gate?

I'm interested in buying a boat in the San Francisco bay area. My usage would be mostly sailing in the bay, and occasionally sailing out for a weekend or overnight in Drake's bay, or Half moon bay.

I'm looking in the range of a 1988 Catalina 30 MkII. I know the MkIII has a CE A rating, but it looks like the MkII hasn't been rated, at least I can't find any information about that.

Is a passage to Drake's bay or Half moon bay considered offshore? I know the water out there can get pretty rough, especially when navigating around the potatopatch. I wonder what would happen if she experienced a breaking wave while trying to get back into the bay. The Cat30 has a large companionway, but if the boards were in it would prevent flooding.

Also curious to know if a Beneteau First 310 would be better suited? It would probably be $15k more. The Beneteau's open transom would drain any water that got in the cockpit a lot faster than the Catalina. (Of course, for 15k more I could also get the Catalina MkIII which also has an open transom). The Beneteau cuts through waves better than the Catalina, but it has a lot lighter displacement...
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Old 09-15-2010
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I am sure you could make that journey in a C30. However you would have to pick and choose your weather and tides to make it comfortably. I have no personal experience outside the gate but from what i hear it can be rough.

I have been out in a C30 in small craft advisories and it handled it okay but I had to work hard. A boat like the C30 is not what I would want to be in if it got ugly outside the gate, with the tides, weird swells, and who knows what else. I think besides the breaking waves you might want to consider the boats sturdiness and comfort in these conditions. I read about a C36 starting to fall apart on the way to Hawaii on Sailnet.
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Old 09-16-2010
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The boat can. If you're asking the question, you're probably not ready yet. No offense, but most all boats are tougher than those sailing them. It's usually poor choices made by sailors that finds those same boats a quick end on the rocks or beach. Sometimes the boat survives just fine, but the people don't. It's all about having enough experience (both sailing and local weather/conditions) and self-knowledge to make the right decisions. I've been outside the Gate in very mellow conditions that you could sail a dingy down to Half Moon Bay. Conversely, the wrong conditions are humbling and scary. The answer isn't easy. The best thing is to do a few trips on other boats that have been there and done that, or on your own with experienced friends/crew that can show you the ropes.
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Old 09-16-2010
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I would consider a 30' boat close to the minimum size you would want for going out SF Gate and up or down the coast. Yes; there have been Cal 20's that have done the SF-Hawaii race and other coastal races, but personally I think those people are nuts.

It's not so much if a Cat 30 or Beneteau can sail in the ocean; it's what conditions you would go out there in. In general; the weather conditions had better be pretty light in order to go out across the SF Bar; and the same for coming back in. Otherwise you can get into big trouble (getting broached or rolled). The near-shore swell tends to stack up into steeper, shorter period waves; which make sailing upwind difficult if not sometimes impossible if the wind is light or windpoint is 45 deg from the swell direction (which puts you sailing directly into them). The only way to combat this is to sail further out (off of the continental shelf); but then you may be in for heavier seas if the offshore swell is larger than near-shore (also not good for a 30' boat).

What does this mean? I'd say that you would need to pick your weather windows very carefully; and be ready for sudden changes and always have a fall-back plan. Don't get yourself into the situation where you MUST make it back to SF Bay by a certain date/time. If weather comes up before your return trip be prepared to wait it out in Drakes or get a ride home from Half Moon Bay and leave the boat in a slip at HMB for the week or two (until there is another weather window to sail home).

Beneteaus like light wind and flat seas. I'd consider the Catalina a better choice for SF Bay and Offshore sailing. And yes; if you go outside the mouth of SF Gate you are "offshore" no matter how close you are to the coast.
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Old 09-16-2010
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Legarots,

Puddinlegs hit the 10 ring. I had many years experience out the gate
and back, the important part. Suggest you go out with someone
who has lots of experience for a first hand look at what you are
getting into, it may save your life.

Dabnis
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Old 09-16-2010
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A friend of mine has is Catalina 30 in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The boat didn't flew there, it was sailed there. Weather windows are a must, like in all boats. I like those boats despite the constant bashing of the Catalina brand.
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Old 09-16-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeelHaulin View Post
I would consider a 30' boat close to the minimum size you would want for going out SF Gate and up or down the coast. Yes; there have been Cal 20's that have done the SF-Hawaii race and other coastal races, but personally I think those people are nuts.

Beneteaus like light wind and flat seas. I'd consider the Catalina a better choice for SF Bay and Offshore sailing. And yes; if you go outside the mouth of SF Gate you are "offshore" no matter how close you are to the coast.
Just a couple quick things... the Moore 24 is one of the most seaworthy boats under 30' on the planet. With the right skill set, nothing crazy about being on the ocean with them at all. And be careful when lumping all Beneteau's together. Many of the 'first' series have great offshore track records... but we're digressing..
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Old 09-16-2010
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The original question was about the boat being capable. My experience
was over a period of 15 years in 3 different boats, one of them a
Coronado 25 sailing in the bay and many, many trips outside salmon fishing.
We were always very cautious about the weather and sea conditions
and survived. As mentioned earlier the focus should be on one's ability
and experience. In my humble opinion nothing beats size and strength.

Dabnis
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Old 09-16-2010
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When I was anchored at Isla Mujeres, México, a couple of years ago, I spoke with a guy who had circumnavigated solo in a Catalina 27. He'd since done a second Circumnavigation in another boat, and was then starting his third on yet another boat! (but this time not solo). He was young at the time, but had years of experience and prepared well for his passages - he said for the most part it was fine.

I think that I wouldn't choose to circumnavigate in a C27, but it goes to show that many boats are decently capable of blue water cruising if cared for well, handled by experienced captain/crew, and perhaps a bit of luck.
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Old 09-16-2010
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A lot of interesting opinions from people who either don’t regularly sail Northern California or the C30. I have done both. A lot. Let’s divide the discussion into the C30’s capabilities and then strategies for sailing the Gulf of the Farallones.

First, the C30: The C30 has been around for a very long time. It was first designed back in the IOR days and despite the numerous upgrades and tweaks it still displays that early influence. The boat predates the EC ratings and that is why you do not see the rating on older models. To obtain the rating, some relaively minor changes were made, while the basic hull, rig, and sailplan remained essentially the same. All versions of the C30 conform to their class one design rule. The boat has always adhered to the AYBA standards of the day. Granted, the standards have been improved upon over time and the more recent boats have obviously benefited from that. A misnomer is the large companionway opening. The Ericson, Newport and Ranger companionways have approximately the same cross section. Whereas the Catalina is wider at the top, the others have a lower bridge deck with Newport’s being almost at the cockpit level. The two cockpit drainlines are one inch so a completely swamped cockpit is slow to drain.

The knock on the boat in the racing circles here is that it is a heavy cruiser, requiring 15 knots of wind before it will start to sail to it’s rating of 180. Above that, (and in the hands of a compident skipper and crew) the boat is extremely competitive in our YRA’s SF180 class. Remember that a C309 (one of the current versions of the 30) did this year’s Single Handed Transpac and he sailed it back after only a week layover in Hawaii. And, his keel stayed on for the entire trip.

Strategies for the Gulf of the Farallones: It doesn’t matter if you own a Catalina or a Swan, at times the Gulf and the SF Bar can be downright dangerous. All mariners should take prudent precautions. Understanding our unique combination of winds, tidal action and coastal currents will go a long way in safely transiting the Bar. Simple rules of thumb: The winds build throughout the day and way into the night. Exit in the morning, try to enter before mid afternoon (especially if returning from HMB); Tide tables mean nothing. Current tables mean everything; Cross at slack or a dieing flood. Never at peak ebb and late afternoon. Current lines look more like washing machines; Check the KPIX marine forecast on the web before going – it is a NOAA feed. Depending upon your skill level, stay in the Bay if the forecast is for a swell height greater than ten feet and wave periods less than 10 seconds. Sometimes the winds from “gale alley” will extend down into the Gulf of the Farallones. This should show up on the forecast. 20-30 kts outside the gate is harder to sail in than inside the Bay.


Trip Planning for both HMB and Drake’s: Leave early in the morning (mainly to get a good anchoring spot). Depending upon the conditions, take the Bonita channel to Drake’s and go out to at least Red 8 before turning south (to avoid most of the south shoal, I will go as far as Red 4).

The anchorage at Drake’s is usually fog free. Anchor as close to the shore as you are comfortable (in the vicinity of the boat house and fish dock). The prevailing winds are usually from the north and will blow you away from shore albeit, a bit surgie. If you want to return via the Frallones, leave early, it will be a long day and you will find yourself crossing the Bar in the afternoon to evening hours.

HMB is easy, stay off the coast. Avoid the South Shoal and Ocean Beach area. For less confused seas, steer wide of Montero and Pillar Points. If at all concerned about crossing the reef at HMB, call the Harbormaster on Ch16. You can always go around the reef to the south (adds an hour +). HMB has a really good anchorage or you can get a temporary slip in the harbor. HMBYC puts on a great party over the Labor Day weekend, and you can buddy boat with the hundred or so others that come down for the weekend. When returning, leave early! Entering the Bay from the south is actually more dangerous than from the north. When in doubt, sail first to the lightbucket and then down the ship channel.

Fog: There is a lot of it. Expect most of your trips to be in low visability. Know how to navigate. Carry a GPS (or two).

Last edited by GeorgeB; 09-16-2010 at 03:27 PM.
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