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Old 11-03-2019, 17:29   #1
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Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

I currently live in Key West, and have been exploring the Keys with my swing keel Catalina 22. It's a great little boat, and I'm amazed at how capable it is. I'm curious what upgrades people would recommend to turn this pocket cruiser into the perfect Caribbean island hopper. I lived in a VW bus for 4 years, so I'm used to no space and no frills. I'm not looking for reasons that this is a bad idea, I know it's a long list. I'm only looking for suggestions on how to make the boat as capable as possible. I'm fully aware that my ability to sail will be the main determining factor in how far this boat will take me. So put your positive thinking pants on, and let's hear what you've got for me.
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Old 11-03-2019, 18:33   #2
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

Probably you won't manage to fit everything you need for the trip and for comfort cruising the boat is quite small .
Sailing with a small boat as you with external rudder the main concerns are :
Autopilot that can drive the boat in 25 to 30 knots of wind , I had to do a lot of modifications to make the commercial autopilot to work with my 26 feet boat .
Seccond concern is the stress on your rudder , let's say that your rudder can survive the pressure of normal sailing , during bad weather you will have wave slamming your rudder and that put tremendous strain on your rudder so buff up everything .
Every time you have to beat upwind , wind will be on 25 to 30 range so a storm sail will reduce wear and tear on your Jib and add comfort on your sailing .
Shadow Shadow shadow the sun is really hot.
3 reefs on the main is essential since your boat will get over powered easily .
Water maker (this is optional but it's nice.for.shower and will expand your time.in remote.places .)

P.S :
I have travel from Greece to west Africa and then to Carribbean in 26 feet beneteau first my best tip is : make sure your boat and yourself are up to the task , sailing in a small.boat ain't easy , but can be enjoyable.
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Old 11-03-2019, 19:12   #3
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

It has been many years since I owned, cruised and raced my Cat 22, mostly in the SF bay. That boat was hull # 61, purchased directly from Catalina in N Hollywood. Don't know the. age of yours, and some bits may well have been improved since that time.

But, even in that venue, I broke a lot of stuff on the boat. I've never sailed in the Caribe and thus don't understand the conditions, but in the SF Bay we regularly raced in 25-30 kts and the expected resultant chop with wave heights of ~ 5-6 feet. I had only one reef point in the main, and I had a small jib, roughly 60 sq ft IIRC that e used in winds > around 20. And we still broke stuff!

Several sets of ever beefier pintles and gudgeons.

A tiller.

A spreader, resulting in loss of mast.

Beefed up spreaders, resulting in breaking a spreader base casting and loss of another mast.

Mainsheet lower block disintegrated.

Seal on keel pivot pin failed and cause considerable leakage.

Stranded a cap shroud with no failure. Re rigged with next size up wire.

Electrical system was inadequately designed and installed, but I suspect that has been improved.

There were a number of other hardware failures but I don't remember well enough to specify. It was pretty apparent that we were operating the boat a bit outside of its comfort zone... but we were season champs twice and 10th in the nationals one year when it was sailed on the bay.

And remember that this was on a boat stripped down for racing. When you load her up with cruising gear, stresses build rapidly. I'm not saying that you should not go, but I am advising that you beef up nearly everything on board before venturing into open waters. I did go outside the gate into the ocean a few times, including a trip down to Monterrey, and that was kinda scary, even on a pretty benign day. On the other hand, we did the trip Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz island and back a few times in cruise mode... but those are pretty mild waters most of the time.

So, go if you must, but don't expect the boat to survive without a lot of help before departure, and a lot of care in selecting weather windows and at least a small dose of good luck.

I don't think I'd do it... but you didn't want to hear that!

Jim
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Old 11-03-2019, 19:29   #4
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

I know a local fellow that did the Bermuda 1-2 in a venture 24. His centerboard was secured in the down position (as in max draft and glassed the opening).
I think he also upped his rigging sizes. It's doable but I would test the boat out
a lot in heavier weather locally to see what breaks. I would beef up the boom gooseneck and the rudder/tiller.
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Old 11-03-2019, 19:41   #5
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wookiee_King View Post
I currently live in Key West, and have been exploring the Keys with my swing keel Catalina 22. It's a great little boat, and I'm amazed at how capable it is. I'm curious what upgrades people would recommend to turn this pocket cruiser into the perfect Caribbean island hopper. I lived in a VW bus for 4 years, so I'm used to no space and no frills. I'm not looking for reasons that this is a bad idea, I know it's a long list. I'm only looking for suggestions on how to make the boat as capable as possible. I'm fully aware that my ability to sail will be the main determining factor in how far this boat will take me. So put your positive thinking pants on, and let's hear what you've got for me.

As a fellow small-boat owner, I can readily imagine the fun you must be having bouncing around the Florida Keys with your little Catalina. I think that is about the ideal application for such small boats: they can handle those waters and they can sneak into spots and anchorages that the bigger boats can't. You can even pull up the keel and get into really thin water or even beach her.

Now, having also been to and sailed a bit in the Caribbean... I would imagine that the Cat 22 would be ok for inter-island sailing if you picked your weather carefully, but I would personally feel more secure overall in something 24 ft or bigger, especially if it had some blue-water cred. Something that would be a bit more solid and offer more protection in a blow, and that of course can carry more stuff. Like a girlfriend . So if you want to spend considerable time island-hopping in the Caribbean, you might consider trading up.

Otherwise, I will just echo the advice you already have: make sure everything is in good repair - especially the standing rigging and the moving stuff, and the keel and its mechanism, upgrade/reinforce things where it makes sense, good sails with two reefpoints in the main (I was amazed how well new sails could handle more wind without flogging or bagging).

If you read some books and articles on cruising, they will give you an idea of what stuff to bring, how much food and water, what sorts of meals you can make while underway, how to weather...weather, and so on.

Have fun!
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:22   #6
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

How do you intend to get that boat down to the Caribbean? That's a long and often rough trip for so small a boat.

There are so many 30 foot sailboats available for a song it may be time to upsize.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:31   #7
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

Former 22 owner here for starters.

I would normally poo-poo this idea for the obvious reasons, main one being you will loose the keel between the Turks and Caicos and D.R. If you make it that far it will fall off in the Mona Passage.

But hold on.

A friends son asked for advice on doing the same a few years ago and he had a ball. Now he also started in the keys but ventured only to the Bahamas for a season. The C-22 would be great for that! He had a swing keel as well.

He returned to the keys and upgraded to a Dufour 30 (which is much more appropriate for an island hopper and is now in Europe having sailed from said Keys via Bermuda.

I opened the most recent issue of Cruising World the other day and there Zacharia was, right after Fatty Goodlander (who Iíve also spent a bit of time with down in NZ).

So, my two cents? Beef her up a bit and focus on the thin waters of the best cruising grounds in the world right outside your doorstep and pass on the southern Caribbean until you have a keel stuck securely to your underside.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:17   #8
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

Hi.i have sailed a 22 ft oyster dredger from uk to the caribbean and back twice.a decent windvane a 3rd reef and bottles for extra water.40 watt solar panel led lights and new standing rigging if its old.i did 25.000 miles in 2 years.boat was fine.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:35   #9
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

It's do able, but good comments above. I can think of more stout small boats in the 23-25 range that would be better. For the Cat 22 I'd think about:
- stronger rigging, maybe stronger chainplates,
-bigger rudder pintles and gudgeons. (maybe find a spare rudder?)
-A big bilge pump with solar panels for charging a couple group 27 or 31 batteries.
-Make sure the companionway will not allow water below. Either better heavy boards that seal well, or build in a higher step-through.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:59   #10
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

Does the Catalina 22 have a pop top? I would be very wary about a pop top at sea.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:14   #11
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

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Does the Catalina 22 have a pop top? I would be very wary about a pop top at sea.
It allows the water to flow out when upside down!
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:27   #12
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

I used to own and sail a Tanzer 22, and would have no hesitation to take that tough little boat to the caribbean with no mods. I live in a windy place (Kingston Canada, on Lake Ontario), where 20knots is the norm, not the exception. Your Catalina is a similar boat, a bit more modern, perhaps not quite as tough as the legendary T22. I often dreamed of taking that little boat down the coast to the islands...but life got in the way.

I would suggest a reliable furler on the jib. 2 very deep reefs on the main. ST1000 autohelm (and a spare) and a TILLER TAMER. A sun tent is crucial in the islands. An origo single burner stove. Handheld GPS (garmin etrex 110). Tablet (android) as a chartplotter (Navionics?) Handheld VHF with lots of spare batteries (I like the uniden atlantis 250 with the 12volt plug and AA battery case). PAPER CHARTS. Sunglasses, sunblock, shorts and tee shirts. You don't need a dinghy...your boat IS the dinghy!!! A bunch of cheap 1AA LED flashlights and one good quality 1000 lumen LED flashlight that runs on AA batteries.

I used to take 4 people out for a weekend on my T22, or 2 people for a week of cruising. So with just one person, there should be plenty of space for all your gear/food/water. Bring a good supply of dry goods....pasta/rice/prefab meals...so you only need to add water and fresh produce. Don't bring any beer or ice.

Personally, I think you are going to have a great time. You will be more dependent on good weather windows than bigger boats.

My daughter cruises on a Siren 17, so a 22 seems HUGE in comparison.

The smaller the boat, the bigger the adventure!
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:36   #13
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

Is it a swing keel? If so, my BIGGEST concern would be a knockdown in heavy wind and seas, and the swing keel swinging back up into the hull, resulting in capsize. Might never happen, might happen. That's the biggest serious risk in my mind. The C22 is a good boat, but that's a concern with the swing keel in the open ocean, at least in my mind.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:43   #14
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

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The smaller the boat, the bigger the adventure!

I agree wholeheartedly. You are closer to the environment, and it's a bigger experience I think.
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Old 12-03-2019, 12:21   #15
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Re: Prepping a Catalina 22 for the Caribbean

Fellow T22 owner here. These are notoriously overly built boats, I doubt the Catalinas are as solid, but they're probably plenty strong.

That said, I'd trust mine to go to the Bahamas no problem. We once encountered ~6-8ft waves in ~20-30kts winds on the St-Lawrence, it was pretty scary! For us, not for the boat, though.

The biggest concern with this size of boat is that they tend to have an outboard motor, which is much more sensitive to large waves (prop going out of the water, then motor ingesting water). That can leave you with no way to escape a lee shore in a heavy blow.

I've done a 10-day cruise on mine with my pregnant wife and 3 kids, and another 5-day cruise last summer, again with my wife and now 4 kids. There would be plenty of space for just one person. The biggest "comfort" issues are a lack of standing headroom, and no shade from the sun.
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