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Old 11-01-2009, 17:13   #1
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30ft Islander vs 27ft Catalina

We are first time sailboat owners. We have boating experience but none on a sailboat. Our goal is to sail up and down the west coast and into Mexico. We will be living on the boat in the SF area until we have enough sailing time to venture out.

We have seen a 30ft Islander that we like and a 27ft Catalina which we also like but are concerned that it may be a little too small for living.

Being that we are going to learn we have been told that the 27ft would be a better choice but seems less "liveable". We would like to have this boat for a few years before upgrading.

Which would be a better choice?

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Old 11-01-2009, 17:24   #2
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How about a Catalina 30 -- plenty of living space for a 30-foot boat. There is a Catalina 27 at our dock, and in addition to being 3' shorter, it's also narrower and appears to have less headroom in the cabin. The C30 is quite a bit bigger and more livable all around.

Course, I am a bit biased...


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Old 11-01-2009, 17:40   #3
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For your stated purpose I agree with elf. I have not seen another 30 footer that uses the volume of space so well. You might have to make some modifications for storage as a LA.

I do not own one but have a bad case of threefoot itiz. I currently LA on a 27 Tartan. Just me so not too bad. True is I love the look of her.
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Old 11-01-2009, 17:44   #4
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Look around for a Pearson 10M. Awesome cruising/sailing boat. The extra three feet means a lot. Very forgiving. Very inexpensive--just avoid the ones with the Atomic.
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Old 11-01-2009, 17:55   #5
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Originally Posted by JaneneDiver70 View Post
Which would be a better choice?
In my opinion, Catalinas are decent boats, but for what you described as your goals, between the two...I would recommend the Islander 30.
Jay White
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Old 11-01-2009, 18:53   #6
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Catalina 27 for liveaboard?


We own a Catalina 27, and an Irwin 38, so I can give you some relative thoughts on the C27 as a liveaboard. As unlikely as it sounds, the C27 has nearly as much useable sleeping space as the I38! There are two rear quarterberths, the Vberth, and the settee which makes down into a very useable double bed. In contrast, the Irwin has a double aft cabin, the Vberth, a double bed settee, and a single unuseable quarterberth.

Where you will have trouble with the C27 as a liveaboard is fixing food, and getting ready in the morning. If you plan to eat most of your meals out, and shower in the marina bathhouse, it could work for you. My wife and I have many times prepared very nice meals for 4-6 aboard the C27. We use a rail mounted BBQ in the cockpit, and a propane powered oven placed up on deck. Neither of these would be much fun in the rain! IMHO, the two burner alcohol stove in the C27 is not for serious cooking. OTOH, a small combo convection/microwave, and an electric two-burner hot plate could work while you have shore power available.

Does the C27 you are looking at have an inboard motor, or an outboard? If it is an outboard, keep in mind that the motor may become unuseable off shore due to the boat alternately pitching the prop out of the water, and burying the powerhead of the outboard if you are in heavy seas.

Having been in both, I second the thoughts of the people who suggested finding a Catalina 30 instead of a C27 for living aboard. The older boats go for about the same price, and the C30 has a lot more space inside.

Good luck with it,

Don W.
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Old 11-01-2009, 21:19   #7
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If both boats are in equal condition as far as rigging, engine and hardware are concerned and they both look equally well maintained, go for the larger especially if it has a diesel engine. You'll not have any more trouble learning to sail a 30 footer than would have learning to sail a 27 footer.
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Old 11-01-2009, 22:54   #8
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I think we need a little specificity as from what I undersand we are talking about two pretty different yachts.

Diesel inboard - Atomic four (gas)
fin keel - full keel
newer - older

I did not find a lot of action around islander 30 forums on the web. I found one defunct group in SFO that seemed never to get traction.

I always recommend the newer more well supported boat if possible.

I would go back to the original mission - Liveaboard, coastal cruising with the ability to live out for up to (what?) a week?

There are lot's of boats in that range and I agree with the majority, I'd go 30 feet if I could.
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Old 12-01-2009, 07:21   #9
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I owned an Islander 30 and have sailed (raced) a fair amount on Catalina 27's (and locally cruised with friends that have 27's). I think you can't go wrong with either. If I had it to do over I'd still buy the Islander 30 however (but I am obviously biased). It is just enough larger to feel more secure when the wind is up and I know they can be cruised. I was the third owner of the boat the first had cruised it through Mexico and Central and South America (In the 70's). The second owner had done the inside passage to Alaska (early 80's). IMHO the Catalia is a great boat to learn on and it sails to its PHRF rating easily. Although I think the Islander was a little harder to sail to its rating it was my first boat and believe me it was pretty forgiving for a beginer also. Both are great boats buy the one that speaks to you and don't look back.
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:10   #10
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Here is a link to the islander 36 orginization. The Islander 30 org is available too but it is dead. I know two people with I30 and they really like them. Both are good boats but the I30 would be more comfortable IMHO

Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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