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04-12-2015 06:01 PM
Re: Catalina 38 pros and cons

I know this is a ridiculously old thread but, I' seriously considering a Catalina 38 for our next boat. We're coming out of a 1973 Viking 33 which is a similar design.

Jeff H, after reading all your observations I'm reconsidering. You mention other more appropriate designs for a shorthanded crew. We mostly just day sail or weekend maybe a week here and there with just the wife and I in and around the Buzzards bay and the islands around mass and rhode island.

Could you recommend some more appropriate boats I should be considering?

I've looked at Tartan 40s & 37s, Sabre 38s and a 425. The wife would love a newer Jeanneau but I'm not real impressed with the build quality or the hard chine. They kind of remind me a of a planing boat design with a knife sticking out of the bottom and I'm not convinced thats the best for comfortable sailing in 6 footers in 25 knots of wind. The viking ws a blast in that stuff!

Anyway, I look forward to any suggestions, comments and observations.

06-23-2012 02:44 PM
Re: Catalina 38 pros and cons

There was... If I recall, Farr design #51(?) is a good example of a MkII one tonner. A fractional rig and a wider transom.
06-23-2012 02:16 PM
Re: Catalina 38 pros and cons

Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
p.s. To address the IOR 1 comment, I have spent a lot of time on IOR 1 boats like the Cat 38, Swan 38, Hughes 38 and owned a Hughes Northstar of that era. While it is true that these were somewhat better boats than the IOR III era, they were not a well rounded as the IOR II boats and frankly were very hard boats to sail with a small crew. .
I understood there was no IOR II - it was drawn up but superceded by III before it was ever implemented.

Can you give some examples of boats you regard as IOR II designs?
06-23-2012 10:50 AM
Re: Catalina 38 pros and cons

I of course understand that each generation of the IOR rule produced very different boats, and within each generation, there were better and worse designs. I generally do not like IOR era boats because of the compromises in design that each version of the rule imparted into each version of the type form.

From my perspective, I have spent a lot of time on boats from all three eras and owned boats from two of the IOR iterations. While my issues with each generation differ just as the IOR rule and the type forms differ, in a broad general sense, I see IOR era boats as being seriously compromised from a pure design standpoint as compared to boats which were designed without consideration of a rule. It is my belief that while the nature of the compromises differed over the lifespan of the IOR rule, these compromises seriously diminish the seaworthiness, motion comfort, ease of handling, and overall sailing ability across a broad range of conditions. For what it is worth, I believe this is not only true of the IOR rule, but it is also true of most measurement style racing rules such as the earlier Universal, International, RORC and CCA rules or current IRC and Volvo 70 rules

To explain why I believe this, I compared boats designed to a rule of a particular era to boats designed without attention to a race rule. Boats like the Galaxy 32 to the Vanguard or Luders 33, boats like the Cal 2-29 or Tartan 27 (loosely MORC) to boats like the Triton or Alberg 30, or boats like the Express 37, or J-35/36, and compare them to similar era boats like Heritage one ton, or Genbare, or Tartan 41. In each case the boats designed free of the rule were all around better boats when seen through the metrics of seaworthiness, motion comfort, ease of handling, and overall performance across a broad range of conditions.

So while you may see this as a jaundiced eye, I see this as having a clear preference for boats from any era which excell in terms of seaworthiness, motion comfort, ease of handling, and overall performance across a broad range of conditions.


p.s. To address the IOR 1 comment, I have spent a lot of time on IOR 1 boats like the Cat 38, Swan 38, Hughes 38 and owned a Hughes Northstar of that era. While it is true that these were somewhat better boats than the IOR III era, they were not a well rounded as the IOR II boats and frankly were very hard boats to sail with a small crew. Somehow people forget how miserable the motion was on these boats, and with their tumblehome, how they would very suddenly get to a point of heel where they would wipe out and round up or death roll. The lack of tactilely obviously defined increase in stability, meant that you would progressively heel and suddenly go from being able to steer easily, to not being able to steer at all. I personally have death rolled quite a few of these old girl and without a large crew who were doing skilled crew work we could have easily lost those boats. That does not speak well for an ideal distance cruiser in my mind.
06-22-2012 08:05 PM
Re: Catalina 38 pros and cons

Just found this old thread and I have a question for JeffH.

I've noticed in your criticisms of IOR boats that you make no distinction between the first generation IOR I boats, like the Yankee/Cat 38 and the later boats from IOR 111 and 111A. They both have the big foretriangle and small stern but the later boats (post Ganbare) have quite different hull shapes - flat bottoms, no or little rocker, no or little deadrise, low initial stability, high CG etc.

These later boats were the ones that suffered all the maladies you complain of re: handling and seaworthiness while the earlier ones like the Cat 38, Swan 38, Hughes 38 etc. seem to do much better in that regard, albeit a little more slowly.

Do you in fact see the two generations of IOR design differently or do you see them all with the same jaundiced eye?
06-22-2012 09:34 AM
Re: Catalina 38 pros and cons

Thank you HRT for the kind words on this is an old thread. In terms of carrying water in separate containers for long distance passages, I think it is a good idea to break up the water supply into multiple tanks with backflow preventers between them to avoid cross contamination should one tank go bad. In terms of temproary tanks, they need to be tied down incase of roll over, and they occupy critical storage space.

Originally Posted by zedboy View Post
Jeff here is a big advocate of "modern" hullforms, by which I assume he means flat-bottomed, hard-chined, deep high-aspect ratio keel - like this TP 52 (or Open 60, Volvo 70, etc)....
Actually, I am not a fan of any of the above. I was a fan of the cruising designs which evolved from the early IMS and Volvo 60 hull forms. These boats were modeled to be fast for they day, and which produced boats which were easy to handle and had comfortable motions.

The racing world has moved onto designs which are wildly faster than the boats which I am a fan of, but that speed came at a price I do not think should be paid in a cruising design in terms of needing to operate in a narror range of heel angles for the wind condition, a lack of forgivingness, motion comfort and tracking ability.

While the basis of my comments are often misunderstood, my personal taste is towards boats that are easily handled and sail well across a broad range of conditions. I generally do not like the excesses in hull form and rig which occur when the racing rules distort a design away from what is the best yacht design principles of the era when seen in the absense of a rule, or of the demands of the race course. This dislike also applies to the more extreme designs at either the light or heavy end of the length/displacement.

It is for that collection of reasons, that I don't like boats that come from the more exterme eras of CCA, IOR, Volvo 70, and Open class rules any more than I like boats that are caricatures of 19th century work boats. The result of this personal like or dislike, is that given the choice of boats that I personally would buy, or recommend to others, I generally try to recommend moderate designs intended for the proposed purpose.
06-22-2012 05:58 AM
Catalina 38 pros and cons

Hello JH,

I know the thread is old but I have just read it, and was at least as angry as you that KrakauII felt that this site should accommodate his panhandling and bludging (old Australian word for a taker/mendicant) under the camouflage of advice seeking.

That said, I was impressed beyond measure at what you wrote about the Catalina 38's design, and its less than desirable sailing qualities when applied to a cruising situation. FWIW, I sailed a 38' Beneteau Idylle solo from Alameda to Australia a while back and am considering doing it again - but in a different yacht.

Downwind, the Idylle would start rolling which gradually increased in amplitude until there was a bang, whereupon the yacht would remain steady for a while and then start rolling again. I never sorted it out, but readily admit that may have been my fault. Likewise, the bulkheads creaked and this damn near drove me crazy until I poured vegetable oil into the joints.

The 38 was a contender for the next trip but based on your comments, I have now ruled it out along with other IOR influenced yachts.

In any case, I note there has been some hand wringing over the 38's water capacity but surely, this problem is readily overcome by carrying bottles of water and storing same under the settees etc. Indeed, is this not a sensible thing to do anyway bearing in mind that the contents of a 100 gallon tank are not available if the pump quits?

Thank you for your sensible writings.
09-28-2011 02:32 AM
Catalina 38 Pros and Cons

As a Catalina 38 owner let me add my two cents worth. This last season with a crew of six we won our class in the Oregon Offshore, downwind for 200 miles in 20-25 knots, then we won the Coastal Cup from San Francisco to Catalina seeing 35 down wind the first night and 25 the second night, we entered Transpac and were in the lead for the first five days before having to drop out due to water maker issues, on the return trip we saw 25 knots the whole way with big ocean seas. It was one of the most enjoyable three days of sailing I have ever had. As on any race boat when you do a sail change it is prudent to have all hands on deck regardless of the design. Just this last weekend I brought the boat home in 40 knots with one other person, a double reefed main and a #3 and we had a blast for the eight hours we were sailing. Yes downwind she rolls but who is driving down wind? crack off your angle, follow her polars and she becomes a stable platform. Get some Asyms if your uncomfortable with symetric chutes and its that much easier. Even easier is to go with a poled out jibe, we did that too and in 25 knots maintained hull speed throughout the night in big confused seas with very little effort. We do have a new high aspect rudder that adds an additional six inches of depth and that makes a nice difference. Going into the wind if you have done your job correctly and distributed your weight like you should then the bow stays out of the water and she powers through the waves. load up the bow and the vee berth and your taking on blue water. As far as the light wind comments again as with any boat the proper sail plan makes the difference, we have a Light #1 for up to 12 knots and a heavy number one for above, the heavy one is a dog in light air, maybe thats why they call it a heavy #1. She is nimble and tender and does require you to pay attention, but thats the fun of the boat, who wants to sleep at the helm and let the boat drive itself?

Just this month in Cruising World Lin Pardey picked the Catalina 38 as the first boat he would look at when looking for an entry level offshore cruiser, citing its price, seaworthiness and pedigree. I had a delivery skipper with over 200,000 miles under his keel deliver the boat up the coast from LA to Washington, he loved the boat and was actually very impressed with its performance at the usual unhappy points such as Pt. Conception, Pt. Blanco and the Columbia Bar (there is a reason they call it the graveyard of the pacific, and the Cape of the west)

Yes there are lots of other boats that are easier to sail, perform better in different situations but I challenge you to find one for 20-30K in the 38 foot range that is as capable of an offshore cruiser/racer as the Catalina 38.
06-03-2011 04:45 PM
Momentous Considering I just happened upon this thread via a Google search...This is quite spooky to me that these two subjects came up in this thread... let me explain:

1. The Pros and cons of the S&S Catalina 38
2. The Article about The Aussi that went missing off of Virginia which is posted above by paulk...

JUST TWO MONTHS before I purchased a 1983 S&S Catalina 38... I was entertaining the idea of purchasing "Wapeter" (the very boat that the Aussi mentioned above went missing on!!!!!!!!) I am so glad I didn't buy that boat!!!! Scary stuff. Makes me sick to think I was on that boat not two months before he fell off of it in icy waters (IF in fact that is what happened!) ...And I gotta tell ya, after being on that boat twice and looking it over thoroughly, that guy was taking a risk making a trip like that on that boat... shewwwwww!
03-01-2011 07:57 PM
KarakaII Very good, that is very helpful.

I'll be happy to track you down to offer you a beer when I get to Australia.

Thanks a lot and happy sailing.
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