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post #1 of 27 Old 06-07-2019 Thread Starter
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Buying a small cruiser!

My wife and I have decided to buy small cruiser for the upper Chesapeake. She likes the idea of a floating cottage get away and I am an avid sailor. Our requirements are it should fit in a 35' slip, be shoal draft, not require refit, be relatively easy to maintain, be easy to sail short handed or solo. Budget <$70,000. Our short list is the Catalina 320, Hunter 33 and Beneteau 323, probably built between 2000 and 2008. These 3 seem to come up for sale and are in our price range. Has anyone out there owned one of these and what would you recommend. Thanks!
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post #2 of 27 Old 06-07-2019
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

Oh, so you don't mean a naval cruiser with 12 inch guns?

Beneteau gets it 😋
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

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Originally Posted by peterennis View Post
My wife and I have decided to buy small cruiser for the upper Chesapeake. She likes the idea of a floating cottage get away and I am an avid sailor. Our requirements are it should fit in a 35' slip, be shoal draft, not require refit, be relatively easy to maintain, be easy to sail short handed or solo. Budget <$70,000. Our short list is the Catalina 320, Hunter 33 and Beneteau 323, probably built between 2000 and 2008. These 3 seem to come up for sale and are in our price range. Has anyone out there owned one of these and what would you recommend. Thanks!
....Budget....

That is the key. It is hard to make suggestions without knowing how much you are looking to spend. Of course you are aware that the purchase price is just the price of admission. Ongoing maintenance costs are a given, and the older the boat the higher those costs are likely to be.

You say are an avid sailor, are you a racer? If so I am guessing sailing performance is important? There are lots of floating "winnebagos" out there that would be easy to sail short handed, but perhaps not very satisfying for an avid sailor to sail.

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post #4 of 27 Old 06-07-2019
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

Was really tempted to upgrade from my 93 Hunter 33.5 to a 2005 Beneteau 343 which would have been well within the price range that you are looking at.
But then I came to my senses. Either that or I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of the old girl.... a trait that my wife seems to admire.
I would suggest that you check out the 343 as well as the 323. It's a nice boat. The 323 and 343 both have a base of 147 which means either would be slightly better performers than either the Catalina or the Hunter but as far as I'm concerned the difference is pretty insignificant. I once raced against a guy who rated 8 points slower than me and I never could beat him across the line much less on corrected time. I think you just have to go on how the boat feels to you. Sorta like when you're buying a house.
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post #5 of 27 Old 06-07-2019
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

I love it when Bounder owners denigrate Winnebago buyers. I guess that if you were truly an “avid” sailor, you’d be looking at nothing less than J105s – wife be damned (you might also want to start looking for a good divorce attorney). Shoal draft and performance aren’t usually found in the same sentence. The truth of the matter is most of the boats that are considered “weekenders” in your size range are going to look a lot like the three that you are considering.

Full disclosure – I own a Catalina 34 in the same vintage as your target zone. I do know a couple of people who own C320s, one of which is a member of the Single-Handed Sailor’s Society in San Francisco and has qualified his C320 for the Single Handed Transpac. Whereas naturally, I prefer the cabin and deck layout on my C34, the C320 is quite serviceable. Most people sleep in the aft cabin so check it out before you buy. Mrs. B likes the C320 galley better. With the notoriously light winds of the Chessie, I would concentrate my search on the tall rig version. I’ve owned Catalinas of various stripes for over thirty years and I can attest to their above average build quality and superior customer support. But the best way to gauge what the owners think about their boats is to visit the message board from the owner’s association website and read a honest assessment of what the owners feel about their boats.

Check out:

/https://c320.org/

Mark, light (small) cruisers have 6” guns, heavies 8”. Battleships start at 12”.

George B
2000 Catalina 34 MkII
Alameda, Ca.
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

I looked at a couple of Cat 320s when I was shopping 10 years ago. One main reason for passing was the poor storage. I do like the Cat 34 better. Not a fan of the cruising Benes, but do like the racier First boats. If you can find one, look at a J34c or J35c. Performance and shoal draft.
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post #7 of 27 Old 06-08-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

Thanks for the replies. To clarify, I love sailing and I love my wife. Not going to give up either. I can compromise performance for comfort, so we can enjoy being on the water together. I race in a club that has a fleet of J27s and get my speed and thrills fix there. So a floating Winnebago is about right for my purpose. That being said, of the 3 boats I'm looking at, I'ld rather have the faster of them since the Chesapeake is notorious for light air in the summer. I think the Beneteau has the highest SA/D and lowest D/L. The quoted SA/Ds seem to be for standard rigs while many of the boats advertised have in mast furling. I know that decreases performance because of sail shape. I guess it also decreases sail area. As for MarkB's comments, I'm not aware Catalina made a 320 tall rig and have seen none for sale, tons of older 30 tall rigs on the market, though. Will follow your advice and go to owners association message boards. Also thanks for educating me re: gunships.
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post #8 of 27 Old 06-08-2019
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterennis View Post
She likes the idea of a floating cottage get away and I am an avid sailor.
Rather than focusing on brand or model I'd consider three things:

Maintenance -- You're basically looking at 10 to 20 year old boats. I would be willing to pay a little more for a well maintained boat where the maintenance was done and done correctly. It will save you lots of small and maybe a few big headaches down the road.


If this is going to be a weekend home I'd give priority to comfort and storage. Our boat was our weekend home for 10+ years. Some important items for us were being able to turn out real meals in the galley, having a comfortable berth, a real TV/stereo, a cozy salon and a nook where you can get away from each other now and then to read or relax.

The head on our boat was always small for my taste (Catalina 30 MKIII), but the boat lived in a marina so we had access to showers and bathrooms in the marina.

The right boat will just feel "right". Hopefully that's the same boat for both of you. But you won't know until you're onboard.


Finding the right marina is important if this is going to be your getaway. The right marina is a community of friends that you look forward to seeing every weekend. The wrong marina crowd can kill your enjoyment of the boat.

Best of luck,
Jim
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Last edited by JimMcGee; 06-08-2019 at 02:46 PM.
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post #9 of 27 Old 06-08-2019
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

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Originally Posted by peterennis View Post
As for MarkB's comments, I'm not aware Catalina made a 320 tall rig and have seen none for sale, tons of older 30 tall rigs on the market, though.
Only one rig for the Cat 320 (a double spreader). The Cat 34 did come with a standard and tall rig. Both have keel options. And consider whether you want a roller furling main or not. I did not and never even looked at a boat that had one. My Cal 33-2 came with a Dutchman system which makes lowering the main a breeze. Far superior to lazy jacks.
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post #10 of 27 Old 06-08-2019
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Re: Buying a small cruiser!

Good observation Jim. I did not realize that Catalina’s “Florida” boats (a.k.a. the “0” boats) had only one rig size whereas the Woodland Hills boats came in a standard and tall rig option. (My Catalina 28 tall rig was a double spreader configuration). There was some literature alluding to a C320 “tall” rig, but I couldn’t find any hard facts. Interestingly, the C320’s rig is almost the size of my 34’s, so I’m wondering if Catalina went to a higher aspect rig to simplify and eliminate the two rig options. This begs the question of what is ratio that determines “high” and “low” aspect rigs? I couldn’t find any definitive answer in my copy of Sailing Yacht Design by Douglas Phillips-Birt.

Peterennis, I ran the C320 and Bene 323 numbers through my comparative database and have come up some interesting observations. Although both are about the same LOA, the C320 is a foot wider, making for a much bigger (and heavier) boat. You will want your other half to really look at the two interiors. If there is insufficient storage space in the C320, you will most likely have the same (or more) problem in the B323. I kind of like the numbers on the B323. If the displacement is anything close to the advertised 9,325#, it should be fun and move in the light air of summer. You have the added benefit of a fin keel for the same draft as the much heavier wing on the Catalina.

George B
2000 Catalina 34 MkII
Alameda, Ca.
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