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I'm considering the purchase of either a new Catalina 355 or a Jeanneau 379. It's not been difficult to identify why so many think both boats are great. But I need to make a decision and can't really find any disadvantages of either to help. I will likely be sailing alone most of the time but have a wife and three college aged kids that may go out. Sailing in the Great Lakes, mostly weekends. I would appreciate any thoughts on each of these boats- but really looking for some reason to choose one over the other.
 

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Jeanneau is made in America too.

The jeanneau is a more modern design and faster boat. I cannot really tell about the comparative finish quality on either boat but you can judge that for yourself. I believe that both are well built.

If speed and performance is not very important to you, buy the one you like more.

If you can test sail both sailboats. Many tend to just buy the boats by the interior but they are sailboats, made to sail and the way they sail should be an important factor on that choice. Many times it is not just the performance but how the boat feels at the wheel and how the rigging work or not for you. I really recommend a test sail if you have doubts between the two boats. after all we are talking about lots of money and an important choice. It is you that have to decide what you prefer.
 

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I chartered a Jeanneau, I own a Catalina. What I prefer on the Catalina is how accessible things are. The engine is easy to work on on my Catalina. On the Jeanneau when we had to empty the holding tank, we had to climb down into a cockpit locker to get to the valve. The valve on the Catalina is located under a berth.

While how it sails is important (nod to Paulo), just as important in my opinion is how comfortable we are when we are at anchor or not sailing. So after that consideration I look at the interior space that I will use the most, which, as it turns out is most of it. We're tall and the Jeanneau berths on the same size boat were just too short. I much prefer the galley on the Catalina as I can brace myself and prepare food while underway. I did like the Jeanneau's aft head to put wet stuff in without trailing through the rest of the boat.

Catalina is not known for speed, however. But, that isn't a problem for us at this time.

I don't know how Jeanneau's compares, but when I was doing my research, what constantly popped up was how strong Catalina's owners association is as well as how responsive the Catalina factory is to questions. That was important to me as this was our first "big" boat. And there are many, many Catalina sailing clubs around the country. We joined one in our area and they are a wealth of information, help when needed, moral support. At least half the club started out with our size boat so there's no new problem that someone didn't already deal with. It's fantastic.
 

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What kind of sailboat do you have now? I'm not sure I would recommend buying either of these (or any brand new sailboat) for your first-ever boat. And I definitely would not single-hand them unless you have a lot of experience.

I own a little Catalina and I love it. I've also chartered a Catalina 36 for a week, and the fit, finish, and ergonomics lived up to my high expectations for Catalina. I've walked onto dozens of Catalina models at boat shows, and I just really like their fit and finish. They don't use the total high-end hardware of a custom builder, but what they do use is generally serviceable and well executed for coastal cruising. I know that there are people here who could pick apart certain design decisions of Catalina (and most other production builders) because they would want better access to motor, tanks, etc. and/or better sailing characteristics for offshore. IMO they would pick apart the same things for any Jenneau.

I also chartered a <1-year-old Jenneau Sun Odyssey 379 for a week in BVI. Its wide-ass design with two wheels gives it a really big-boat feel. The drop-down swim platform is a nice design for a mid-sized boat. The SO 379 is one of the most common charter boats out there, so if you really want to get to know it, just charter one for a week. Jenneau has MANY different interior configurations for different charter/owner needs, so any comments on that might be irrelevant to the version that you're looking at.

As for cockpit/deck ergonomics, I like Catalinas better then the SO 379. The 379 has a lot of sleek looking but slippery sloped/curved areas on the deck. I had to watch out that I wasn't stepping on one of these areas. For cabintop handholds, Catalina generally uses SS rails near the outermost edge of the cabin, while the SO 379 had a channel in the cabin top with a plastic overhang, and it was way inboard. The latter looked sleek, but was difficult to grab on to and required you to bend over very far. The Catalina 36's SS rail allowed you to wrap your fingers all the way around it, and was positioned higher and further outboard so you didn't have to bend over so far. That's important because it also allowed you to reach the other way to grab the lifeline more easily. On the Jenneau, you had to bend over so far that reaching the lifeline on the other side was impossible. Overall, I felt much more secure going forward on the Catalina.

Catalina uses hardwood veneers on their interiors, Jenneau uses fake woodgrain melamine. I believe the former will hold up better with temperature/humidity cycles. Just my preference.

I also didn't like the design of the fold-down table on the Jenneau. There was no piano hinge to take the stress off the folding brackets, so the brackets took an awful lot of stress, and the table was a little flimsier as a result. I could envision it falling apart after a few years of chartering.

My wife REALLY liked the design of the head on the SO 379. There was an acrylic folding door that kept the shower/toilet separate from the sink. It's not as good as a dedicated shower, but on that size boat it's about the best compromise you'll find. However, the head configuration might be different in other floorplans for that boat.
 

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I own a Catalina 28 and have been very pleased with her...to the point where our next boat will be a Catalina as well. As mentioned above, there are excellent owner's forums/associations for each of the models, and factory support is great. I've recieved direct correspondence from the factory itself when looking for parts, which they were able to provide. As I am not a racer...I have no complaints about performance.

I've chartered on a Jeanneau 409 and 36i in the BVI for a week...the 409 was nice...wasn't overly impressed with the 36i. I know...neither are the 379...but that said, I would still prefer a Catalina of similar size/age to the 409....but that's jsut me.

It seems you've heard mainly form Catalina owners, and I'm sure you'll here from Jeanneau owners as well. Both are great boats...for the price of these, I would definately suggest getting to a charter location to at least test the 379. As stated above, they are available in charter fleets...not sure how available the 355 is for charter.
 

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I have an older Catalina 34 and if I'm not mistaken, the 355 is the updated, slightly larger version of the 34. I belong to the C34 owners association and can't tell you how helpful that website has been, both before and after buying the boat. You just can't beat the support you will get when you buy a Catalina.

FYI, because the C34 and C355 are so similar, the C34 Owners Assoc. have invited C355 owners to join the group. I'm sure, once there numbers increase, there will be an official C355 owner's association.
Tons of info is available on that website.
 

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I'm considering the purchase of either a new Catalina 355 or a Jeanneau 379. It's not been difficult to identify why so many think both boats are great. But I need to make a decision and can't really find any disadvantages of either to help. I will likely be sailing alone most of the time but have a wife and three college aged kids that may go out. Sailing in the Great Lakes, mostly weekends. I would appreciate any thoughts on each of these boats- but really looking for some reason to choose one over the other.
Both great boats, but Catalina has a better history for resale value. This is compounded by the use of wood on the Jeanneau. Jeanneau stays more up to date on design fashions and the wood looks very pretty when the boat is new. In 10 years the wood will look old and the design will look dated. It's pretty hard to distinguish a new Catalina from an older Catalina because they go for more classic designs, less trendy designs.

Of course, then there's always that lead keel vs iron keel thing. You might measure the height of the stanchions. I'm not sure, but whenever I'm on a French design boat I get the feeling that their stanchions are just the right height for tripping someone overboard. Seems like Catalina has theirs just a bit higher so I feel safer. I have not measured them, so this might just be my perception.

GTJ
 

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I have an older Catalina 34 and if I'm not mistaken, the 355 is the updated, slightly larger version of the 34. I belong to the C34 owners website and can't tell you how helpful that site has been, both before and after buying the boat. You just can't beat the support you will get when you buy a Catalina.
The 34 and 36 were low freeboard, skinny, and pretty classic. Catalina tried the Winnebago/Hunter approach and created the 350. The 350 had tremendous room inside but looked a bit blimpish with all the freeboard.

The 350 and 36 were both canceled to create the 355. More voluminous than the 36, less than the 350. A bit more modern overall and probably a fair compromise for the current market.

GTJ
 

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The 34 and 36 were low freeboard, skinny, and pretty classic. Catalina tried the Winnebago/Hunter approach and created the 350. The 350 had tremendous room inside but looked a bit blimpish with all the freeboard.

The 350 and 36 were both canceled to create the 355. More voluminous than the 36, less than the 350. A bit more modern overall and probably a fair compromise for the current market.

GTJ
But the lines on the 355 are definitely "old fashioned" looking relative to the jeanneau.
 

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Marty will be with you shortly...
 

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But the lines on the 355 are definitely "old fashioned" looking relative to the jeanneau.
Absolutely true, from a matter of perspective. One person's "old fashioned" is another person's "classic". It's my belief that classic looks lead to a slower depreciation as classic does not go out of style.
 

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I saw the 379 at the Miami boat show in 2013, and a larger Catalina. The oven on the 379 is tiny. They skimped on winches, with one coach-top winch for clutches. The inside had that Ikea look. I was impressed by the quality of the Catalina.

Sail them both. Look at storage, engine access, quality of rigging and plumbing, price them with identical equipment, negotiate and enjoy whichever you choose.
 

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I can't decide if our next boat will be another Catalina or French either, but here's some of the things I ponder at night.
Keels - We only haul out every 3 or 4 years to paint with a lead keel, with an iron keel I'd want to haul more often to check it. If you haul every winter, not a factor.
Engines - The French boats have better sound insulation, very quiet at the helm, better raw water strainers, usually Yanmars, a personal favorite. The engine panel on the Jeanneau on port cockpit side is not optimal, the key gets kicked and the throttle is a little awkward for me. The engine covers in a Catalina have a tendency to "work" in a big sea, not a problem but annoying and disconcerting until you figure out what that noise is the first time you're caught in a storm.
Cockpits - Catalina's are more comfortable, I really like the stern perch seats, as others have noted the French boats have smaller cockpits.
Wood - Very pretty, but I'd prefer not to deal with teak toerails and other wood on the exterior.
 

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Why did you have to post that? I was content with my boat.
I wouldn't be too worried. I have a 2008 Beneteau 343, and this boat is aimed squarely at trying to get me to update to a newer model, as my boat is nearing 5 years of age. I just cant believe the level of "decontenting" they're doing in modern boats (beneteau/jeanneau are the same company). And how expensive they've gotten for the privelege!

Here's an example of what USED to be standard features and now are options, from what I can read of their offer sheet.

Winches - I have 4. Lewmar 44 for jib/genoa and Lewmar 40s for coachroof (mainsheet and spinnaker). The 349 has Harken 35.2s all around. Yes, the jib is 110 vs. my big 135% genoa, but why weaken the winches on the coachroof? Also, standard on my 343 were 3 winches. Now *ALL* coachroof winches are an option (so you only get 2 standard?)

Cleats - I have 6 cleats. Two aft, two midships, two forward. The 349 has cut this down to two forward, two aft. How do you intend to attach spring lines properly? Additional midships cleats are a PREMIERE option package.

The engine mount bracket (for outboard for your dinghy) was standard on my 343. It is now "optional" for the Jeanneau 349.

In-mast furler was standard equipment...is now optional for the Jeanneau 349. This is a debatable option and may be a valid cost cutting move in my opinion. But this boat is going to be tougher to sail in theory.

Fridge was standard in my 343. Now there is a "fridge compartment" as standard feature. You pay extra for fridge

They only give you 1 winch handle standard. I got 3 with my B343 (standard)

Ridgid boom vang is a "PREMIERE" option. It was standard on my 343.

They now have 2 composite construction steering wheels...on a 34 foot boat. I dont know, but my cockpit is crowded enough with ONE wheel. Let alone two. This is a dubious upgrade for a small cruiser.

Cockpit shower was standard on my 343. It is now a "PREFERENCE" option for the 349.

Electric windlass was factory installed option on my 343 but every boat had it. It is now stated as a dealer installed option for the jeanneau.

Anchor kit is an OPTION for the Jeanneau. It was standard dealer commissioning kit for my 343

Like anchors, fenders and docklines are OPTIONS for the 349. They were part of the standard dealer commissioning kit for my 343.

Stainless handrails are standard on the 349. Thats a nice touch. Not offered on my 343.

I do like how the 349 has moved to all LED lighting for interior as well as navigation. MAJOR power consumption reduction.

A battery charger (COME ON??? REALLY!!!) is an option for the 349. PREMIERE package.

I like how they include a accumulator tank. I dont have one...just the pump running every time the taps turn on.

The engine on this boat is *TINY*. 21 HP yanmar? My 343 had a 29hp yanmar, and at times, I do feel the need for extra ooomph under power. Especially with my feathering prop in a counter current. Yowza, this is a VERY small overworked engine!!

No opening hatch in shower. Hot and steamy!

THey dont include the shades and screens as standard equipment. Hope you bring lots of bug spray when you cruise.

Stereo is an OPTION!??!? Geez.

My general opinion on this new boat is that they're decontenting it to HELL just to come in at a low starting price. But *NO ONE* will ever want a boat that stripped down. Once the options start, the price is going to rise....VERY quickly. Not a good value here with questionable expensive features such as dual wheels. I wonder where Hanse/Dufour and others come in at. The french makers are going to get their butts handed to them if they keep up this game.
 

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We are a family of 4 (2 boys ages 8 and 5). I liked the 349's 3-cabin layout so both of our kids could have their own "room". I also like the idea of the separate shower in the head. The swim platform is also a really nice touch. From a practical perspective, those are three things that are missing from my boat. We have a single, partitioned aft cabin which will be fine while our guys are younger, but in another 4-5 years, I suspect it will get too tight for them. Personally I can do without the 2 wheels. It IS nice, in theory, on a beamy boat because you can always sit on the windward side and have the wheel in easy reach. But I agree, the cockpit tends to look (I have no first-hand experience) a bit crowded, especially as you envision climbing aboard via the swim platform.

Anyway, sorry, I didn't mean to make the thread drift. I think the big take-away from your post for the OP is to look carefully at how the Catalina is outfitted compared to the Jeanneau. When they are "comparably equipped" the pricing may wind up less proportionate.
 

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I had forgotten how short the cockpit was compared to typical Catalinas. The cockpit settees were actually shorter than our C250. However, they were significantly wider, as you would expect from such a wide boat.

The drop-down swim platform was a lot like the back of a pickup truck. It was heavy, and the mechanism for lifting it did not give the best leverage, so I often had to help it out by just pulling it up. It was at just the right height for an inflatable dink (height even with top of the tube). Great for protected waters, but in a swell I could imagine the thing coming down pretty hard on top of the dink.

I also remember that the boat has a "modified B&R rig" almost identical in design to my C250. It has no forward lowers, just aft lowers and swept back spreaders that give the mast its pre-bend through the tension of the uppers. Unlike a true B&R rig, the boat does have a backstay, which is split above the cockpit, going down to chainplates on the transom port and starboard. Not sure if this is exclusive to the charter version of the boat, or also featured in the owner's version. It does make for a cleaner foredeck with less for your genoa to get hung up on when you tack. But it's not as stiff as a traditional rig, and not really adjustable for racing.

Here is a video of our charter, showing the boat in action (make sure to click the "HD" in the lower right corner). Note that our boat had four winches - two under the dodger for halyards/mainsheet, and two by the helm for genoa sheets. And here is the model that we chartered. They call it "Sunsail 38," but the markings on the interior clearly said Sun Odyssey 379.
 
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