FAQ: C34 Offshore Capable?Catalina describes the C34 as a "coastal cruiser." Is it safe to take C34s offshore? What exactly is needed for an offshore-capable" sailboat?
There are quite a number of books written on this subject, as well as a lot of people with experience in the matter, nevertheless, I can touch on some examples that may reflect on the character of an offshore boat...The ports should be small and very sturdy. The forward hatch on most Catalinas is a lightweight Bomar that a 200 lb. person could probably go right through if he jumped on it hard. If the top third of a 20' wave breaks onto the foredeck, it would likely also go through the hatch. Bomar representatives will confirm that the model Catalina uses is not in their ocean series. All exterior lockers and all interior lockers should have latches. The boat should be able to suffer a knockdown to 100 degrees without having the contents thrown all about the boat. Heavy canned goods should be able to be trapped in low lying lockers. here needs to be great attention paid to the routing of all wires, hoses, and cables. Just stringing the lines between a molded floor pan and the hull invites pinching wires between the two under heavy pounding conditions. After a few hours or days of that an electrical short or fire s possible. If you look over the engine compartment in a good ocean voyager you will find almost fanatical attention to double clamps, hose routings, and zero occurrences of hoses rubbing or flexing with stress concentrations. Cockpit should be small and drainage needs to be excellent. A cockpit should hold very little water when dumped upon and should be able to drain out in seconds. Many offshore boats have provisions for a trysail. A tiny but very rugged sail that is hung on a separate track. One of the more important qualities is the angle of stability. All boats are very content to stay upright or to sit at 180 degrees (upside down). The angle of stability is the angle where the torque is neutral, the dividing point between wanting to come up to 0 degrees or continue down to 180 degrees. Some beamy cruisers have an angle of stability at 110 or 120 degrees. A knockdown that takes them beyond that angle will normally result in a 360. Deep keels and narrow beam on an ocean cruiser can take the angle of stability to 130 or even 150 degrees. A boat like that will take a very nasty knockdown, yet be unlikely to finish the job with a 360. I think most boats doing a 360 in rough water are unlikely to come up with rigging intact. These are just a few examples of offshore qualities. As was said before, many people do long distance cruising in Catalina and similar boats. Given short hops in good weather windows, or extended cruising in safe areas, this can be perfectly safe. Never the less, there are differences between coastal cruisers and open ocean vessels and Frank has not yet put the big C on a true blue water cruiser (Greg Jackson).
Here in Hawaii we sail in rough conditions ( force 5 - 8/12 seas
typically ) . My 1990 C34 was used as a coastal cruiser for six years and
had structural problems with the offshore conditions here, The forward
quarter panels needed reinforcing ( oil-canning ) , the floors
had shear cracks at the turn of the bilge , and the bulkheads were either
screwed in ( worked ) or had inadequate tabbing ( popped ). The keel
connection failed in a moderate grounding ( insufficient matt to spread
load into the bilges , no backer plates on the keel bolts ).The hull to
deck joint is very strong and holds up very well.The rig (tall) and
her unusual chain plates ( Alum angles ) are probably over designed.There
are a lot of Catalinas here that have sailed long distances but most of
the owners I've talked to acknowledge the Catalinas limitations. I
put a lot of sea miles on mine and enjoyed her immensely. The boat for the
price has value . But modification for extended offshore work is probably
not worth it and would spook me (Hal
Hallonquist, Hence, # 1106).
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.