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FAQ: Buying a Catalina 34?


 What do I look for when I find a Catalina 34 that I would like to purchase?

Original Message:
Subject: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
I am considering the purchase of a 1988 Catalina 34. I have not seen the boat yet but I am looking at it on Saturday. I will have a survey done but I would like to know if there are any problems specific to the C34 that I should look for. I already know I should upgrade the wiring harness and install a voltmeter if it has not already been done.
I am told that the engine is a diesel Universal/Medellist/Atomic. Is this the Universal M-25? If yes, is this the engine that needs the alternator bracket upgraded? The engine has 2300 hours on it. Is this a lot? I have never had a boat with an inboard engine - is there anything else about the engine, transmission, etc. I should be aware of?
Thank you all for your help.
Bill Jenks

Subject: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
2300 is a lot of hours. Make sure no water in the rudder. Look for little weeping rust spots. Can be expensive to repair.
orbit@cape.com (jo)

Subject: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
Hi Bill
My 1986 has 575 hrs, so compared to mine 2300 is a lot of hrs. Look for the keel joint separation at the front and if so look for the washers under the keel bolt nuts and see if they are "sinking" into the bed. The washers should be flat not coned. All the upgrades I have done are on my home page...check them out.
Capt Al, #55 C34, "Kindred Spirit", http://kindred-spirit.net

Subject: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
Hi Bill,
My 1990 C34 has 1695 hours - we have to motor about an hour each way to get to where we can sail. We have also used our boat a lot. 2300 hours is probably on the high side.
There is a service that is available where you can send off a quantity of the engine oil and they can in turn tell the condition of the engine. A kit available at some diesel dealers here locally for $13.30 to do this. You collect the oil and follow directions on the kit to send off. They tell you the condition of the diesel. You might consider checking into getting this kit.
Joe & Pat Turner, C34 # 1039 "Lovepat', joet@gate.net

Subject: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
From: gwiseman@ftn.net (Gary Wiseman)
Hi Bill,
My experience with diesels is that its not as important how many hours its been run as how it has been treated. Don't change the oil and run it at low power for 500 hours will be harder on it than love and attention for 5000 hours. 2300 hours with proper care and attention is peanuts on a diesel.
It’s hard to hurt them but..... A good mechanic can tell fairly accurately by looking and listening. Oil analysis is a good indicator too as long as its not fresh oil. Maintenance records are good.
Pull the injectors and they will tell a tale to the experienced eye. General cleanliness is a nice indicator too.
Bottom line? High hours alone is no reason to reject. Low hours are no reason to accept. Do the assessment or pay to have it done.
Gary Wiseman, Up Spirits #894

Subject: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
You came to the right source, I bought an 89 a couple years ago and the C34 association was of great help. I was looking for a really good price on a boat, so I purchased one that cosmetically was not great and needed a lot of minor repairs. I am happy with that decision. A lot of the boats I was looking at, although in good repair had mostly all original everything, sails, electronics etc. Needless to say, 10 year old sails need replacing soon, etc. etc. So I feel that many of the things I had to replace on my ugly boat, I would have replaced on a "clean boat" as well.
I spend $125 (I think) with my local Westerbeke dealer to survey the diesel (yes it is an M-25) The mechanic was on the boat for about 2 hours and checked everything out, I learned a lot while he was there. They also sent the oil out to a lab for an analysis, which confirmed what the mechanic had said. 2300 hours sounds a little high, I would inquire about it being chartered? My mechanic told me that you can easily get 4000 hours out of these diesels as long as you maintain them. The other smart thing I did (just lucky but smart in hind site) was get a GOOD survey. For other boats I have bought in the past, I just went with whatever survey seemed convenient at the time. This time, since I was doing it long distance, I did some research and am I glad!. I believe I got a list of qualified surveyors from Boat US as well as the various surveyor associations. I than called around to surveyors in the area to get a feel for their knowledge of Catalina’s in general and 34 in particular. This narrowed it down to two surveyors. I then asked for a copy of a recent survey to see what information they provided. What a difference. One surveyor provided what I would consider a standard survey. Basic Description and report of general condition of boat. That is all the banks and insurance companies require. The other surveyor did the same but then went on for four more pages detailing everything imaginable that:
A: Should be repaired/replaced.
B: May need to be repaired or replaced shortly.
C: Item's that an owner may want to improve or upgrade.
D: Items that should be watched and monitored for future problems.
E: Cosmetic items that an owner might want to pay attention to.
Once I had my survey it gave me a complete and detailed to do list of things that needed work neatly organized from Must do to when and if you want to type items. This was very helpful to me in my purchase and subsequent work on my boat.
Good luck and keep the list informed of your progress. Also if you want price advice just let the list know we are all experts! Ha Ha!
Best wishes
Mark, Sojourn #875, tahoemark@hotmail.com

Subject: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
My experience has been that a close observation of the seller and those things surrounding them can often give a clue as to the seller's approach to care & maintenance in general. Rare is the person who lets their car stay dirty, with leaking oil, grating brakes, etc., while meticulously caring for and maintaining their diesel engine & fiberglass boat.
Spousal care & maintenance might be an exception.
John LeMasters, Blue Moon #753, jal@flashcom.net

Subj: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
Dear Future Catalina 34 Owner:
We looked for a 34 foot boat for over two years. We have had contracts on one Beneteau and two Sabres. I will not get into a litany of the problems we found on these boats. We have been very happy with the 1993 Catalina 34 we bought. The Cat 34 had none of the major "design" problems we found on these other boats. During this time, we also looked at Cals, Island Packets, Calibers, Tartans, Nordics, etc. from New York City down to the Caribean. There are alot of older Catalina’s around, particularly 30s, that do not have any major problems. For where we sail on Cheasepeak Bay, the Catalina is problably one of the better boats including performance, room, etc. The only reason we did not look at the Catalina 34 first was because I did not want a wing keel. The keel has not been problem.
People are all over the place on engine hours. In car time, 2,300 hours times 35 mph average = 80,000 miles. With today's modern engines that is nothing as long as the oil is clean and water stays out of the pistons. My neighborhood has a 1962 Triton with the original Atomic 4 engine. He has never done major work on the motor - probably luck. The Universal is a marinized Kubuta stationary motor that is used for generators and tractors. Some trawlers (Lewman motors) have 20,000 hours on their motors. 2,300 hours translates to using the motor about 200 hours a year. Normal use is about 100 hours a year unless you go a traveling.
Boat surveyors will run the motor and will give a qualified opinion on the motor. To really get a motor opinion, you need a motor survey from a decent mechanic. If the boat surveyor is good, his opinion should be sufficient. Besides telling you of any problems, the surveyor should give you an estimate on how much any repairs should cost. Any extraordinary repairs can be negotiated with the seller. Not that you will every need to pull the motor, the Cat 34 is probably one of the easiest motors to work on or pull.
Catalina 34 owners are really a very nice group of people. We have a tremendous amount of fun on the Bay with raft ups and parties. Catalina provides very good service and has reasonably priced parts. The only down side of the Catalina 34 fleet is that there is very high percentage of engineers who are really picky about everything and expect everything to work perfectly. However, if the Catalina 34 can past the muster of engineers who do white glove inspections of their bilge, the Catalina 34 cannot be a very bad boat.
Let us know about the survey. Where is the boat?
Dan Brail, Boomer #1233, Dan_Brail@compuserve.com

Subj: Re: [C34] Buying a Catalina 34
<< The only down side of the Catalina 34 fleet is that there is very high percentage of engineers who are really picky about everything and expect everything to work perfectly. However, if the Catalina 34 can past the muster of engineers who do white glove inspections of their bilge, the Catalina 34 cannot be a very bad boat. >>

We're not picky engineers, it's just that we all know everything about everything that there's no way we can agree on anything!!!
Nice note, good luck to Bill.
Stu Jackson, Dosgoats@aol.com

Important: The opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributors to this page, and not those of the Catalina 34 National Association or Catalina Yachts, Inc. Additionally, this material has not been reviewed by Catalina Yachts, Inc. for technical accuracy. This page's maintainer cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information or the desirability of suggested modifications or upgrades. Please obtain assistance from a competent marine mechanic or boatyard prior to making any significant modifications to your vessel.   



Last modified by Phil Imhof, Wednesday, August 11, 2004 . Copyright © 2001 by Catalina 34 International Association.  All rights reserved.