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FAQ: Looking at a Catalina 34?


See what other owners have to say why they bought!


What do you say about your Catalina 34 to someone considering purchasing one?

Subj:  C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
The C34 is a very forgiving sailing boat. One can make some pretty stupid (dangerous) mistakes when sailing; the C34 almost never punishes.

The C34 is beamy. I have close-hauled her in 12 ft broaching seas and the C34 sails like this is normal. When I first bought her, I was new to sailing in heavy seas/weather conditions, yet was living in an area where 10+ ft seas & 15+ kt winds was called a light day. Being old & a slow learner, I probably would have sunk a lesser vessel.

She's durable. You can sail the #*&!$ out of a C34, & with the proper maintenance and care, 12 years or 3 owners later, (whichever comes first) you'll still be able to sail the #*&!$ out of a C34.

Great platform. Meaning change a few things & she's almost a pure racer. OR change a few things & she's the floating RV/tug/tow/hotel/support vehicle/house/home.

Parts are never a problem. Old or new. NEVER. Also, there's NOTHING on a C34 that can't be fixed. NOTHING. Does anyone know of a C34 that's been scuttled intentionally??

But of all these things, the greatest asset the C34 has - WITHOUT A DOUBT - is the incredible resource this community of C34 owners provides. Got a question about your boat??

Just ask the list, it'll get answered. How valuable is that? Or does everybody have a mechanic/tactician/sail master for a friend. Has anyone on this list ever "NOT" had his or her question answered??

This positive list offered here is in chronological order of importance.

When I first bought a boat, the quality at the top of the list was really the most important to me. Years later, it's the asset at the bottom that would make me really think long and hard (and then justifying) buying any other boat in the whole world, lottery winner or not.
John LeMasters, BLUE MOON, #753, JAL@flashcom.net
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Subj:  C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
1. All systems, including engine, wiring, piping and hoses, are accessible.
2. Great access to engine & stuffing box.
3. Helpful, friendly owner's group willing to share knowledge and information.
4. Best boating website on the planet.
5. Sails great.
6. Best value for size/cost ratio.
7. Still in production, company still in business, all parts available.
8. Retains resale value.
9. Easy to singlehand, yet spacious for large crew and entertaining.
10. Safe and sturdy.
Stu, Dosgoats@aol.com

Subj:  C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
I guess for many of us the Catalina 34 sold itself. I know the first time I saw the boat, the features the deck layout and the cockpit I could only mutter how much. We tend to dwell on the few minor problems because we are all believers. If you need to be SOLD on the 34 than you probably are not looking for the features of a cruising coastal sailboat that the 34 offers.
Bob J Kovich, bkovich@amfam.com

Subj:  C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
A used C34 can be had for a price in the $50,000-$70,000 range depending on age and condition. Condition seems to be a little more important than age.
The interior of the boat is very roomy. It doesn't feel as small as some other cruising boats.
The engine is quite excellently accessible.
You can go in/out the hatch in the v-berth if you remember to unlock it when getting under way. On some boats, there is no hatch there or it is too small to climb through. It's useful if you're working on the engine and have the stairs out. I figure it would be highly useful if you have an engine or galley fire and need to get out.
The head is right next to the companionway. The boat only has one head, saving valuable space that is wasted in a lot of newer designs. [ Or... there is only one head, so when it breaks you are SOL... :) ]
It works well powering in reverse, e.g. for backing into a slip.
It's not that hard to single-hand, at least in moderate or good conditions.
Relatively little exterior teak means not much teak maintenance to do.
Mark Sienkiewicz, mark@chokey.mo.md.us

Subj:  C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
I like your positive points concept. Here is what convinced me to go with a 2000 Catalina 34 Mk II as opposed to something else I couldn't afford.

Low cabin: Gives her clean lines and allows the boom to sit lower for a better sail plan. Good visibility forward from the cockpit. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but, damn, there are some ugly, ugly fiberglass boats out there. The C34 looks low, sleek and businesslike. Still has 6'3" headroom, more in spots (I'm 6'3").

Wide decks: Easy to go forward and with good handholds. Even with all the lines led aft there is still a need to go forward, usually carrying something, for anchoring, docking or spinnaker sets. Nice big anchor locker (with electric winch). No teak to weather, crack, need finishing or otherwise spoil a weekend.

Solid rigging: Very well suited to coastal cruising and inland seas. Quality components throughout. Double lowers make it easier for two people and a crane operator to step the mast. Better equipped running rigging (in my humble opinion) than Hunters or Beneteaux of similar length and with much better sail controllability.

Conventional Interior: No wasted areas for gimmicks or special-interest features. Simple but useful. Very good ventilation and natural lighting. Not the wood cave of some designers. Excellent interior handholds in the galley and going forward through the cabin. Surprisingly lacking in some other modern designs. Very important in beamy boats.

Realistic Capacities: 1400 Marine Cranking Amps with 400 minutes of reserve in the two size 8 stock house batteries. Room for a third starting battery. 25 gallons of diesel. 59 gallons of freshwater. 18 gallons holding tank. Perfect for a couple to disappear for two weeks at a time. Not too much to get old and stale for weekend only use.

Rear head: Great for rain/spray soaked clientele and a handy place to hang foulies without involving the entire cabin.

Metal stringer and ribs: Molded into the sub sole are stainless steel tie rods and a stainless steel truss to support the mast and keel. I feel much more comfortable with the thought of metal ribs and stringers, though mostly vestigial, in the event of a grounding or collision. They add a tremendous amount of strength and spread forces out over a larger area (and therefore are better absorbed).

Good performance: Not a racer, but for a full feature cruiser she moves right nice. Good ratios when compared to boats costing twice as much, or more.

4'3" Draft: Wing keels aren't for everyone, but that much draft keeps a lot of areas open to me.

Value: Mass produced fit and finish, but she fills the needs of those of us who didn't buy 5,000 shares of Microsoft in 1982.
Charlie Pearsall, C34 Delirious, cpearsall@smcplus.com

Subj:  C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
Charlie, You forgot one more... a huge cockpit !! I can actually walk around the cockpit without worrying about stepping on other people's toes.
Roc, rpalaia@cpcus.jnj.com

Subj:  C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
Ask any dealer if he would like to have more used C34's to sell. Look at the listings, considering how many have been made, few are on the market.
On any of the berths and in the cockpit, one can lean back against a bulkhead, sitting up, and can read or relax stretched out. I've chartered a lot of boats in the same size range and often the cockpit is really uncomfortable for sitting back against the bulkhead and reading while at anchor. Ditto for the v-berths.
Phil Davies, Cat's Paw, #1360, PhilDavies1@compuserve.com 

Subj: Buying a C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
We bought Air Goddess in 1994 and it was our first boat. We were comparing the C34 to a Tartan 34 and a Sabre 34 - all were the same vintage and in equally good condition. The C34 was $50K, the Tartan was $65K and the Sabre was $80K.
Even to my untutored eye the Tartan and the Sabre were superior boats from the point of view of fit and finish - the question became was superior fit and finish worth all that extra money. Our brokers advice was that the C34 would be a "lot of boat for the money" and would hold its resale value at least as well as the other two.
We took his advice and find that, 6 years later, we could probably sell Air Goddess for more than we paid for it and do so very quickly if needed. I don't know how the Tartan and the Sabre have fared in the used boat market but I could not be happier with what has transpired with the Catalina. Plus we have enjoyed the ownership experience - what more could we ask???
Mike & Connie Ingham, Air Goddess, #584, mikeingham@mediaone.net

Subj: Buying a C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
Charlie Persall gave you a good run down of positive points on the new Mark II.
I'd to add a few more comments.
Without a doubt Frank Butler (Catalina) gives you the biggest bang for your buck and has probably put more people in sailboats than any other single person. I think one of his and Gerry Douglas' triumphs has been the Catalina 34. They produced more than 1000 hulls in less than 4 years! That tells you right off that it was a hot seller and one of the first American produced sailboats with an aft head. I've had friends come aboard ours and seeing the interior exclaim, "This is cavernous." I personally have looked at many different boats and have found that to duplicate the room below in a C34 you have to look at something in the 38' and larger by other builders. Both the V-berth and aft cabin berth are larger than most. In fact, when we made fitted sheets, we had to start out with king size sheets. After 12 years of being in every nook and cranny, there is no wasted space on the C34.
The engine access is better than most other boats of its size and access to the packing gland is outstanding. Heavy rigging, a large anchor well, a cockpit that will sleep 2 six footers, the wide decking outside the shrouds allows ease of movement fore and aft, and it is easy for 1 person and a pleasure for 2 people to handle.
The ancillary equipment such as hoses, water pump, plumbing and light fixtures, etc. are all top of the line made by known manufacturers. That's truly important when you are looking for spare parts. The factory technical support, Parts Department and C34 International Owners' Organization are all outstanding. I don't believe any other sailboat owner can get that kind of support.
It's not a lightweight boat in that it has a plywood rather than a balsa core. That makes it a stiffer and more resilient hull. These boats maintain their value and as soon as a well maintained used C34 comes on the market it is sold. Although the model has changed over the years it is still in production attesting to its popularity.
My executor has instructions to keep me at the wheel in a grave that's 34' long, 12' wide and 52' deep. Ron Hill APACHE, #788, ronphylhill@erols.com

Subj: Buying a C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
Top Ten Reasons I Love My Catalina 34
10. On occasion my wife lets me steer.
9. She's thrifty on fuel [the boat, not Liz]
8. There's lot's of places for the things I buy but will probably not use in this lifetime.
7. She's easy to get onto and not fall off of.
6. Had I bought the Hunter [Well, we'll leave that to the imagination]
5. When I leave my store and say "I'm going down to 'work' on the boat" I don't really mean it.
4. I bought my last boat first.
3. She sails flawlessly, now if only I could.
2. As we age, she gets easier to work on and I get more difficult.
1. Did I mention I get to steer.
Happy sailing!, Counting the days till launch,
JR, s/v La Vie Dansante, C34 #1311, Cape May, NJ

Subj: Buying a C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
Here are some of the reason why we bought a Catalina 34 Mk II:
Cool looks - It looks like a sailboat with its smooth lines. No ugly bumps for a main cabin.
Perfect Size - Right size for the cost for a family of 5. Mom, Dad, & the kids have enough room.
Back Shower - Really cool to rinse off after diving a reef in Florida.
Transom - Best way for a family to swim off the boat.
Head Room - Can stand in the main cabin and not bend over. Very important after learning to sail on a 18' Cat boat that had no head room.
Galley - Wife liked it being fully equipped and ready to go.
Ventilation - Lots of good ventilation on the boat with the hatches open.
No Teak on Deck - No extra maintenance chores to do on deck.
Large Cockpit - Have yet to feel cramped in it.
Walkways - Plenty of room to move on deck
Ease to Sail - A husband and wife team can sail with no problems.
Ease to Maneuver - A husband and wife team can dock, back it in, with a 2 knot cross tidal current and not through the engine in reverse. Correct placement and understanding with a gentle pull moves us in now with out the strain on the throttle or shit handle. It is slow but not a strain. Ease to get to Things - Lots of room to do special things to the boat. Best Organization - C34 Org provides plenty of advise to both new and old owners. Even have an overabundance of engineers to debate the best way to do things or interpret the data :^).
T.R Hernacki,  Anointed,   #1298,  hernacki@flinet.com

Subj: Buying a C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
Our first year with 1459, delivered in April '99, was very upbeat. The boat sails very well on all points and makes hull speed at about 22 degrees heel ... reefed or not. We traveled to Mackinaw City from the Detroit area, cruised out of that port to Lake Michigan and Upper channel, and back to Detroit; roughly 1200 miles all in a span of 6 weeks. Great boat ... it performed to all expectations.
Bob Branch, Robc341459@aol.com

Subj: Buying a C 34? "See what other owners have to say!"
Being in the market for a new boat and being very open minded about what to get, we looked at practically every boat at the Newport boat show. Near the end of a long day and after having looked at about 40 boats, we found no one boat turned us on. Then we looked at the Catalina's. We were tired from all the comparing. But after a quick scan of a C34, my wife and I looked at each other and smiled silently. And the boat was sold. Here was a case of truly shopping from what was available and the C34 sold itself. For us it was the perfect combination of size, space, amenities, and the price didn't detract either. Under sail the boat has lived up to the many praises I heard or read of its sailing ability, handling and overall comfort. We are most pleased with our choice.
Mike Roy, Cat's Paw, #1373 (1997), roym@mediaone.net

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.