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27 Cal Mark III vs Catalina 27
I own a 1984 Cal 27 MKIII (shoal draft). It is a real nice family boat. Easy to sail, if you pay attention to the wind and reef the main early to control weather helm. My friend claims that the boat is "stiffer" than his Islander 28. The Yanmar 1GM is a good, reliable engine, but the boat is certainly not overpowered.
Although the 27 is reasonably well-built, there are number of improvements you can make, as well as some issues that you would probably have to address with a 1983 model. The Cal weighs about 1000# less than the Catalina if my memory is correct, and I think it is a bit quicker (check their PHRF ratings). While I don''t think that you could go wrong with either boat, I''ve always liked the Cal''s. If you really want to look at a nice Cal, check out the last 28-footer that they built.