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I am considering buying a Catalina 42 for a trip down the east coast to the Caribbean. Ergonomically, it meets our expectations but I am concerned about its ability to cruise well in open water. She has a 4'6" wing keel and a displacement of 18500. I would love to hear from anyone who has a Catalina 42 and especially if you have experience sailing this vessel in open water.
 

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Big Chicken Baby
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We came really, really close to purchasing a Catalina 42. They are really nice boats. After asking the opinions of several owners and several really knowledgeable sailors, the consensus we came up with is that the Cat 42 would be fine for limited off shore work- such as US to Carribbean. For an Atlantic or Pacific crossing, you'd probably be better off and more comfortable in a more traditional "blue water" boat.

The biggest worry for me was the flatter hull and lighter construction.
 

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Catalina Worldwide

Catalina has more boats that have sailed around the world than any "bluewater" boat.
 

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Big Chicken Baby
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Just an FYI, to the OP- you might want to take a look at all of the posts fron Blanding Farm. It is pretty apparent that he has a very, very strong bias for Catalina and even admits to at one point "being involved in the manufacturing". Not a reason to dismiss his opinion, but it does show a definite bias.

I do not think there is only one boat that will handle open water and as Isaid, I almost bought a 42. That being said, a light displacement boat simply can not be expected to handle extreme weather conditions that onem ight encounter in the open ocean. For a short period of time, you will most likely be fine. Island hopping, one week passages- no problem. Cruising round the world, you might make it in one piece but how uncomfortable do you want to be and how well will your crew hold up to days of pounding?
 

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FYI I just purchased a C42mk1 in Australia. The boat sailed out from the US east coast 56 days straight by the previous owner.
 

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Big Chicken Baby
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People cross oceans in row boats. That being said, I don't want to even try it. A skilled sailor can sail just about anything, anywhere.

Most people do not need a true blue water boat. We are planning a hop across the Gulf, spending a year in the Carribbean and the East Coast. A 42 would have met our needs just fine. In fact,had it not been for a seller who was difficult to get a hold of during negotiations I would own a Catalina 42. I really like them, they are gorgeous boats and I was ready to "put my money where my mouth is" so to speak.

The only reasons for us buying a heavier boat is that A: I like the security of a sturdier boat and B: we will be moving back to Europe eventually and wanted the option of sailing across the Atlantic and C: it was the right deal at the right time. My husband is an experienced sailor and would have crossed in a Catalina, but not with me and the 9 year old. He felt that the flatter hull andlighter displacement would be a bit much for us to be comfortable with.

I love Catalina's, I just think if you are seriously considering doing a lot of open ocean passages, there are boats that are better suited to the task. Most people don't really need a boat designed to handle really rough conditions. Most passages are fine- sailing is safer than driving after all. Its just that if I am that unlucky person who has the freaky weird passage where everything goes wrong, I'd rather have a vessel designed to handle it.

I drive a small SUV. I drive it to handle the awful pot holes and the minor street flooding we deal with all the time. I know I could handle a bit of mud with my higher suspension. If I wanted to do true off road driving in 18 inches of mud with steep inclines, I would choose another vehicle that is more suited for the job at hand.
 

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No offense, but Blanding’s experience was atypical. If you want a more honest appraisal of the Catalina 36’s capabilities, please do some research on their owner’s website (C36IA.com). My personal opinion is that PANDA’s issues were more in a preparation nature than a design one. (Full Disclosure: I was the chief measurer for the C34IA for over five years and have inspected countless boats during that time.) My dock neighbor used to sail his C36 out of King Salmon Ak. (on the Bearing Sea). He later sailed it down to San Francisco with one stop in Victoria BC.

I personally have about 500nm in the C42 (Pullman berth model) and have sailed her in winds in excess of 40kts and a sea state running 12 to 15. I had no problems helming her. I think your 18,500# displacement is off. The sling weight for a fin keel model is in excess of 20,000# and I know that the wing keels are heavier. There lies the rub, they are heavy, and they don’t surf very fast. You will expect speeds in the low teens (13, 14kts max). My personal best in that boat is 11.8kts. They will run all day in the 10-11 range. As to open ocean, I personally know people who have raced their C42 to Hawaii, cruised to New Zealand and others who have cruised to Mexico and Central America. My personal preference would be towards a fin keel and not a wing, but other than that, the C42 is more boat than you need to make a trip down the Coast and into the Carib. Again, if you want an honest assessment, I suggest you go to the Catalina42.org owners website.
 

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People cross oceans in row boats. That being said, I don't want to even try it. A skilled sailor can sail just about anything, anywhere.
There's a young Australian man, Nick Jaffe, doing that right now in a 26 foot Contessa :eek: . I was out in 25 knot winds last weekend in the San Francisco Bay (typical summer afternoon), in my 28 foot Glastron Spirit 28 and while am quite comfortable and confident in her ability to handle that and much more, I still thought... no way would I sail a boat this size into the open water. Yes people do it and a skilled person with good weather, smart planning and the grace of god and a tail wind can indeed cross oceans.

It comes down to your skill and that of your crew, the conditions you expect to encounter and a fudge factor for the conditions you don't expect.

Erik
 

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I really think there are people who think it makes them sound more authoritative or knowledgeable by criticizing a particular boat manufacturer. Years ago, while sitting in a Pacific island moto with a bunch of other cruisers who also sailed there from distance origins, we were all complaining about maintenance, breakages, dinghy motors, etc... and not one person ever complained about either their or somebody else's boat brand. This was typical of the conversation when cruisers got together.

It seems to me this criticism garbage of brand names is limited to the internet...
 

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If I were considering a Catalina 42 for a trip down the east coast to the Carribean (or for any other offshore voyage), I would talk only to those who own or have owned that particular boat and have used it in similar voyages. They know first hand what it will do and what it won't. I've been following this and a few other forums, and there is a terrible bias by many so call bluewater experts against any Catalina, Hunter, or Beneteu boats. A good many of these people don't know what they are talking about on these specific brands, and for some reason, it just seems in vogue to beat up on these production boats.

There certainly are better boats than these at a much higher cost....think Mercedes vs. Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyoda. Just because you don't drive a Mercedes (new if possible, and ancient restored wreck if limited on finances --bluewater boats fall in both categories) doesn't mean you can't drive cross country or anywhere else in the Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyoda. So why can't you use a production boat? It's the same thing.

As you can tell for the name, I have a Catalina 320 which I like very much. Since owning it, I have been quite impressed with the boat, and the quality and design is much better than I expected. Some time ago, there was an article in Blue Water Sailing about a 1300 mile offshore passage where the C320 recieved a marginal report at best...but do some study of the report and you find that the captain was biased against the boat, made sure it wasn't going to come out well, and much of his criticism was related to failure of equipment he personally had installed on this boat (which he did not own). On the Catalina320org list, there is one guy who raced his C320 in two Fasnet races with mimum modification. He has since purchased a second one to get an updated model. So, it all depends on to whom you are talking as to what kind of report you will get.
 

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... My personal preference would be towards a fin keel and not a wing, but other than that, the C42 is more boat than you need to make a trip down the Coast and into the Carib. Again, if you want an honest assessment, I suggest you go to the Catalina42.org owners website.
Earlier this evening I had typed up a reply to the OP and was about to hit send when a summer storm came through and knocked out the power. Oh well. It largely mirrored what a lot of other folks have said here.

I was happy to read George's first hand account of sailing the C42. This boat will be on our short list when and if fortune favors us and we are able to move up in size.

I just wanted to add to George's comment about the keel: I tend toward the fin keel too, although the draft (6'8") is beyond what I would normally want for the Chesapeake. But it seems that the wing keel takes it to the other extreme (4'10"). Too bad they don't offer an intermediate draft, like a beavertail in the upper 5' range (<6').

Also, the wing-keel version has a different rudder (shorter and wider). Although I agree it's necessary when coupled with the wing keel, I prefer the idea of the deeper, finer version that's mated with with the fin.
 

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If I were considering a Catalina 42 for a trip down the east coast to the Carribean (or to any other offshore voyage), I would talk only to those who own or have owned that particular boat and have used it in similar voyages. They know first hand what it will do and what it won't. I've been following this and a few other forums, and there is a terrible bias by many so call bluewater experts against any Catalina, Hunter, or Beneteu boat. A good many of these people don't know what they are talking about on these specific brands, and for some reason it just seems in vogue to beat up on these production boats.
Just to clarify, my earlier (lost) comments were to the effect that I thought this boat would be a good choice for the OP's planned itinerary.
 

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Cat 42 experience

I spent a week on one last fall along the East Coast of Florida, and out to the Bimini area. We made two Gulf Stream crossings, in less than ideal conditions and sailed in fairly high wind conditions on the more sheltered waters around the islands. We had a wide variety of conditions and boat handled them all nicely. These are nice capable boats that can handle worse conditions than most of the crew that sail them.

I agree with the others that have said this would be a good boat for your intended purposes. I wouldn't want to ride out a hurricane in one, and I'd likely choose differently if I intended to cross oceans as there are more purpose built boats for that, but with prudent weather window selection and reasonable off shore legs I think this boat would suit your stated needs well.

Coastal cruising, island hopping, Bahamas, Caribbean type sailing are in the sweet spot for that boat. That is why it was made. Good luck.
 

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Catalina has more boats that have sailed around the world than any "bluewater" boat.
I have no idea whether blandingfarm's claim is correct or not. MAybe. I'd be surprised if that is the case, though. Among the high-volume builders, I would have guessed Beneteau.

But I wanted to mention a few additional points.

LEt me first repeat that I like this boat very much and consider it well suited for the OP's planned itinerary. But as far as the Catalina 42 goes, there is at least one very obvious design deficiency that would rule it out in my book for dedicated bluewater cruising.

There is simply no getting around the FACT that this boat has a calculated limit of positive stability (LPS) of only 114 degrees. That is below the minimal expectation for a bluewater boat (120-130 degrees, depending who you ask) and well short of the "benchmark" figure of 140 degrees that most serious off-shore designs aim for. To give an example, our Crealock 31 has a calculated LPS of 139 degrees, which is the lowest figure for any of the Crealock series boats built by Pacific Seacraft (the next-larger 34 comes in at 144 degrees).

The C42s LPS is fine for coastal cruising and extended island hopping in the Bahamas, Carribean, etc. I would even go to Bermuda in it with the right weather window. But that's the key, "the right weather window" is difficult to accurately predict for a 2-4 week ocean passage. On ocean crossings, the design needs to anticipate the potential for sustained, extreme conditions that you are unlikely to experience when coastal hopping between weather systems.

For an ocean crossing, I would want a boat that can rebound from more than a 114 degree event without completing the roll.
 

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There certainly are better boats than these at a much higher cost....think Mercedes vs. Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyoda. Just because you don't drive a Mercedes (new if possible, and ancient restored wreck if limited on finances --bluewater boats fall in both categories) doesn't mean you can't drive cross country or anywhere else in the Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyoda. So why can't you use a production boat? It's the same thing.
I think this phrase hits the heart of the discussion. Its not a matter of what a boat CAN do...as its well proven that boats found floating out there after their owners have abandoned ship. Its a matter of what they are DESIGNED FOR.

A Ford Explorer or Toyota Four Runner can go rock hopping in Moab. But there is a reason that there are more Jeeps, Land Rovers, etc actually going out there and doing it. I'm sure there are (heavily modified) Ford Explorers doing it, but its just easier, and in the long term, more economical to buy the Jeep to do off-roading/trailing. The analogy being a bluewater boat if you truly want to go crossing oceans or invading the roaring 40's.

You CAN do it in a Catalina 42...but you'll spend a lot of money making the boat more sturd and effecting repairs throughout the trip because the design intent of the boat just isn't there for the consistent BEATING boats take out there on the open ocean.

Buy the boat designed for the cruising you intend to do...and realize that there will be compromises was the advice I heeded when I started reading this forum.

Full disclosure - I own a Beneteau, and I'm more than happy with it. My cruising is Florida, Bahamas, and the (eventual) sabatical cruise down through the islands. Would I use it to cross the Northern Atlantic in winter....nope. Not without winning the lottery which would allow me to make the modifications to make it what it needs to be to make that trip in safety/security. And at that point, I'd might have spent the money buying a traditional bluewater boat!
 

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The Catalina 42 is great for that purpose and built for it. THere are a LOT of them down there. Even Alex (Giulietta) went on one when he was down in the islands. There are probably enough C42's down there to start another fleet.

You will be fine. GO get it. Enjoy it.

- CD

PS The issues with Catalinas for crossing oceans has many factors, including lack of fuel, open spaces, large cockpit, etc. I have done a LOT of writeups on these issues, especially on this board. Bottom line: many of the things that make it an excellent boat for living aboard and island hopping make it a poor boat to circumnavigate on. You are making a good decision for your use.
 

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One more opnion that the C42 would be plenty capable of your sailing ambitions. People are cruising the east coast right now in everything from C30's up (and likely some smaller Catalinas as well). These boats are built for coastal crusing and that is how many of them get used. By its very nature coastal crusing means you will head for the coast if truly threating weather develops. Even if you bought a blue water boat with more robust construction, small cockpit, tight pilot berths for sleeping underway you'd still probably head for shore if the weather turned nasty. Labatt experienced this with his Passport 40 which is undoubtedly a more robust boat than a Catalina on his leg from NC to Charleston. The weather offshore didn't turn out as forecast so he changed plans and went inside. Cruising is supposed to be fun and getting you teeth kicked in for hours on end, when you don't have to is not fun and not something most of us would want to expose our loved ones to. So I see no good argument for a true bluewater boat if coastal crusing is your agenda. I hope to make the trip you are contemplating someday in my Catalina 36. Fair seas!
 
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