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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Catalina vs Hunter
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-10-2004 02:12 PM
mabwjm
Catalina vs Hunter

One of the problems with "which is better" type questions is one tends to hear from owners of one or the other who, understandably tend to defend their purchase choice. Are they wrong? No, of course not--in fact, they''re probably speaking from the advantage of seeing one boat or the other from a longer-term perspective.

You might consider looking at independent reviews of the boats you''re considering. I''m a big fan of Practical Sailor--you can probably find a review they''ve done on the boat(s) you''re looking for on the web or in a copy somewhere. If you''re shopping in the broader sense, you can purchase the 2-volume set of all their reviews. They don''t accept adverstising, and while I''m sure they''re not flawless, they appear to be very candid in terms of positives/negatives for a particular boat.

The only comments I see on the board here that I would tend to disregard outright are the ones that cast a blanket critique on an entire manufacturing line...Catalinas, Hunters, Beneteaus, as many others are quality boats--in a very competitive market, no one is going to have survived this long by offering a worthless product. Beyond that, as some have posted here previously, dealer support, owners associations, etc. can make a real difference in a happy boat relationship.

Hope this helps...

Fair winds, (and happy shopping!!)

Bill
02-10-2004 01:56 PM
rjones
Catalina vs Hunter

I''ve chartered both brands in several sizes ranging from 22 to 36 feet on several occasions. My two cents:

Catalinas look better, Hunters look a little dumpy, especially the stern. The Hunter mast and arch look, well, different.

Hunters have more space and better designed interiors. They''re more comfortable. If there''s a female involved in the final check-off, Hunter is going to win most of the time.

Catalina''s sail better for me, but this is subjective. I like a boat that has just a little weather helm and can handle 15 knots without a reef in the main. Catalinas seem to eat this up and hang in there. The 36 is an especially lovely sailer.

Hunters are easier to sail, especially singlehanded. How can this be? The arch may look weird, but it''s very effective because you''ve got lot of leverage on the boom and there''s that long traveler mounted up there to give you many adjustment options. I hated the way Hunters sailed until I learned that the boat is designed so you have to reef the main once the wind starts getting up there. After all, the Hunter has a larger main. About 15 knots the Hunter''s weather helm gets severe. Here on SF Bay, 20-30 knots is typical of a summer afternoon. But put in a reef, and the Hunter straightens up and sails very well. Because the Hunter typically uses a larger main, you can run a smaller jib, hence, the jib pops over easily and cleanly during the tack.

Customer support and owner association support for both boats is phenomenal. These two builders have outlasted hundreds of sailboat companies. The others may have been faster, cheaper, cooler, and fancier (or more expensive), but none of them gave the customer support or have had a more enthusiastic owner base than these two great American companies. I bought a used 70s 14 foot Catalina boat a few years ago. I sent an email to Catalina hoping to learn something about the boat, but expecting nothing. A few days later I got an owners manual in the mail with Catalina''s compliments.

Frankly, I like both boats for the reasons above. And if I''m lucky enough to own either one of them one of these days, I''ll probably be happy. I''ll probably end up with a Hunter because my wife finds the galley and the head to her liking.

One note on the Hunter 356. It appears Hunter simply changed the name to 36 in 2004. Some interior changes were made, but the specs are exacly the same. Maybe Hunter was concerned back in 2000 that if it called the 356 a 36, it would be confused with the earlier Hunter 36. Anyway, the 356 or new 36 continues to be a popular boat. I have a friend with one of them and it is an absolutely pleasant boat to sail and live in. Here''s a little example of Hunter design ingenuity. All through-hulls on the 356 are led to a plate aft of the keel and can be accessed by a hatch at the foot of the cabin ladder. No searching around all over the nooks and cranies of the boat to find the ball cocks to shut everything down. My only objection, which Cruising World pointed out in its review, is that the aft lockers next to the swim platform are liabilities if the hatches were to come off. This can be fixed with heavier hinges and latches.

rjones
01-04-2004 09:33 PM
WHOOSH
Catalina vs Hunter

Thanks, Jeff - that does indeed look like one source.

As I mentioned yesterday, I''m going to see if one of the EU builders who trumpet their CE Rating can provide a copy of the RCD with which they comply. The London Boat Show seems like an ideal opportunity to attempt this.

Jack
01-04-2004 08:40 PM
doubleplay
Catalina vs Hunter

Catalina vs Beneteau or Hunter(add Bavaria if u want) has been discussed on this board many times and I don''t think I have anything to add except to say that they are all trying to attract the same buyer from the same segment of the market.You can discuss all you want about one being better than the other but in fact they are like Toyota,Honda or Mitsubishi pick whichever one you like....they are never a BMW or Mercedes...
One word for CW boat of the year awards look who is giving the most advertising in the magazine and compare it to the winners,every year they are creating new catagories to keep their advertisers happy...
Fair Winds
01-04-2004 06:30 PM
Jeff_H
Catalina vs Hunter

Jack I believe this will get you where you want to go:

http://www.ce-marking.org/directive-9425ec-Recreational-Craft.html
01-04-2004 08:50 AM
WHOOSH
Catalina vs Hunter

One thing it might say is that the boat''s market - and perhaps where it''s built, tho'' not necessarily - lies outside the EU, which is the only governmental entity assigning CE ratings.

But I don''t think I''ve suggested the standards have been ''watered down''. First, I''m still trying to locate the standards - somewhere, on some website, or with the help of a builder and/or publication - as I''ve yet to find them. (You would think builders would be trumpeting them to the sailing public, wouldn''t you?) Second, I''m not sure the CE ratings have been in place long enough for there to be a basis for challenging them yet, altho'' that''s only my impression at a distance.

Jack
01-04-2004 05:09 AM
bidet
Catalina vs Hunter

O.K. Jack, say the rating of "A" offshore has been watered down a bit. whats that say about the boats still don''t meet that watered down rating
Bill
01-02-2004 05:11 PM
capttb
Catalina vs Hunter

I recently bought a ''94 Catalina C270 LE, I was shopping for the best boat for my budget and needs. I''m real happy with the performance under sail. Had a friend out and I couldn''t get the wheel from him. It was in a groove and he kept muttering "over five knots and you don''t need to touch the wheel." I don''t think the maker is as important as the condition of the particular boat you are looking at. Catalina,Hunter, Beneteau, Jeaneau, or if you can afford them, C&C''s, Tartans, Pacific Seacraft etc. all make adequate to excellent boats. I think a lot a times we shop for the boat we''d like to need instead of the maybe smaller simpler boat we will use more. When you shop for a used boat what the previous owner did or didn''t do can be more immediate that what happened at the factory.
01-02-2004 08:32 AM
jbarros
Catalina vs Hunter

final sound off from me.

I''ve found the hunters to be much more roomy down below, very comfrotable, and just bigger.

I''ve also found them to be horible sailers on the wind, off the wind, or reaching.

This only applies to the hunters I''ve sailed on. which were the 38 and the 40. For all I know, the rest may be great sailers, but if similar lines lead to similar sailing, then...

likewise, the only catalina''s I''ve sailed have been reletivley fun and fast, good sailers, but abismal below. I''ve only sailed on the 22, 27, 30 and 36 though, and one none of the much more spacious, modern ones (270, 380, etc) which are fatter, and may not sail as well. (although from what I know of the company, I doubt they''d sacrafice too much sailability)

but find a chance to inspect them both, and get some crew time in on both of them, and decide for yourself what you want and or need.

-- James
12-31-2003 11:16 PM
WHOOSH
Catalina vs Hunter

Tim, I found the bulk of your discussion on comparing Catalina with Hunter to be interesting (if opposite in some respects the post preceding yours) but was genuinely bothered by what seems to be your blanket acceptance of the CE rating for offshore use as legitimate. I recently listened to an experienced sailor, also a technical editor for CW for some years, describe how the dynamics of the discussion and decision-making of that certifying body changed as the large volumne boat manufacturers began participating in their meetings. It was apparently a classic case of the committee designing a horse that turned out to be a camel.

The description I heard, interestingly, was not unlike the comments you made about Hunter representing itself well on the Web. They played a huge role in the standards for CE certification being watered down, using arguments that perhaps sound defensible in theoretical terms...much as I hear their brokers describe the boat''s design and construction. However, the reality is a bit different. I''m in the UK at the moment, where Hunters are sold under the Legend brand name (Hunter having already been claimed by another builder) and they make quite a big deal of being offshore rated. My impression is that this doesn''t cause any great concern here because a) most sailors see a Legend for what it is, and b) most Legends here are used as floating condos and daysailors, must as they seem to be in the States. Similarly, British boatbuilders here find the EU''s efforts to standardize boat building standards to be provincial and less than convincing, and the resulting classification system to be similarly flawed, and influenced by the high volume (and dare I say...French) manufacturers and the rivalries of the member countries.

While my knowledge of Catalinas and Hunters is fairly casual, I share some of the same impressions you do about how one brand is equipped vs. the other. OTOH I''m far less persuaded to draw conclusions about suitable use offshore based on the hardware chosen. E.g. when a stout spar tied down to the hull with conventional rigging - all of which looks right - is being whipsawed in a heavy offshore sea, I don''t think we can assume that the rest of the monocoque structure is similarly up to the task. And we do read of cases where the opposite proved to be true for mid-30''s latter day Catalinas I also see a host of details that simply don''t reflect the realities of cruising boats to distant shores. E.g. how any builder can choose to place plastic ports midships on a hull and not protect them with a rubrail, given the nature of some foreign docks, pilings, and the reality of maneuvering a boat in wind and tidal current, is beyond me. But then, as I read recently at the Catalina 34 Owner''s website, Frank Butler has apparently steered his company clear of making claims about his brand being intended for offshore cruising (as in ''cross ocean'' passages) no matter how it''s certified by an independent commision''s standards, which I think is a reasonable - and I''d guess, well reasoned - position for Catalina to take.

All of that having been said, I hope you have a great time with your new boat, and find her capable of all the sailing you intend.

Jack
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