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Old 04-02-2008, 11:45   #1
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Catalina 27 (1974)

Hello everyone,

It has been a few months since my last post, but as the boating season looms in the not-terribly-distant future, we are resuming the search for our first boat.

Last weekend we looked at a (1974) Catalina 27. When the boat's original owner died, the son inherited it and apparently let it sit on the hard on stilts in the marina for ten years. Two years ago, the current owners bought it and fixed it up - the interior teak has been refinished, it has new cushions/curtains, etc. They now have a newer boat, so they're selling this one. The standing rigging on looks good, the running rigging and main sail were replaced two years ago and have had little use.

They had the boat listed in 2006 for around $4600. During the past year or so, the boat took on some rain water through the hatch above the V-berth, and this did a bit minor damage to the interior - the galley surface is a little warped, etc. The same water problem rusted the inboard engine, and for this reason, the new owners converted to an outboard (Mercury 9.9) Because of these problems, the owner dropped the asking price to just under $2K. In spite of the interior water leak problem, the boat does not smell of mold or mildew, and I am extremely sensitive to these due to allergies. It is clean.

Aside from the above-mentioned interior water damage and a bit of cracking in the gelcoat in the corners of the cabin roof on the inside, we don't see any major problems. There is no crazing or cracks where the rigging attaches to the boat, either on the topside or in the cabin. There is no softness on top, and it doesn't even have the proverbial "Catalina smile" at the keel. There are no indications of any hard grounding on the hull.

Do any of you folks have any advice? My husband and I have pretty much settled on buying this boat. We do not want to pay for an expensive survey, and we know that we will have to put some money into this boat. She looks like a lightly used boat. This will be our first boat, one that we'll learn on and take on day sails on the Chesapeake.

What do ya'll think? (Thank you in advance for any comments.)
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:43   #2
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Aloha Inishowen,
The price is right. Because of the freshwater in the interior I would probe the bottom of any structural wood athwartship bulkheads and the compression post under the mast. If there are soft dry rotted spots then you must make those repairs before sailing.
The inboard engine was probably an Atomic four and you can pick up a replacement or go to diesel. Replacement Atomic fours are very inexpensive in that most folks much prefer diesel. Does the current outboard come with the boat?
I have a lot of confidence in Catalina. A Catalina 22 fin keel was my first boat and it was well constructed.
Good luck.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:46   #3
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To prove use a small diameter phillips screwdriver. If the wood is just wet the screwdrive might compress the fibers but if it is rotted you will make deep holes in the wood with very little effort. There is a distinctive smell to dry rotted wood.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:46   #4
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Thanks, Skipper John! (The outboard does come with the boat.) My husband wants to take the old engine out. He even wants to take the old prop off because he thinks it will contribute to "drag" on the boat. I'm not sure about these changes....
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Old 04-02-2008, 17:34   #5
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We bought a 1977 Catalina 27 a few years ago. It needed a little work but we have been very happy. The Catalina 27 is not a bad starter boat. It sails well and is well supported by owner's groups and manufacturer.

Many people will hesitate to reply to your question about a surveyor because they have not seen the boat or assesed your ability to survey and fix problems. They don't know about your ability to absorb the cost of fixing something you miss or selling the boat at a loss. Only you can decide that for yourself. I did not get a survey buying our C-27, others wouldn't consider skipping the survey.

While you are thinking about it, check out pictures we have taken sailing on our C-27 on the website link below.

Good Luck!

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Old 04-02-2008, 18:48   #6
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I think you have two threads going here but I'll just post on this one. For a $2K 27 foot boat I would not bother about the survey either. Your husband can take out the engine and have it looked at for possible repair or rebuild. I'd keep the prop shaft in place just in case you want to reinstall another engine but I'd take off the prop.
If you have any issues for repair there are a whole bunch of knowledgeable folks here that can help.
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Old 04-02-2008, 19:52   #7
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Skipr John, thanks again for your input. (Sorry about the two threads... when I first attempted to post, I got a message to wait a few seconds and re-post - which I did but apparently the first one actually did go through. I tried to delete one of the threads...)

We would never put a lot of money into a boat without a survey, nor would I buy any boat that I had serious doubts about. To dish out $500 bucks to a surveyor for a starter boat we're paying $1500-$1800 for just doesn't seem right. We can use that extra money for paint, repairs and instruments. I'm glad to know that you agree about the survey.

Here's a link with information (and pics) about the boat:

Catalina 27 "The Main Event" for sale Sept. 2006.

We're meeting the current owner/seller Saturday morning to take a second look at the boat and come up with a mutually agreeable price. We're getting very excited about it now. We've dreamed and looked at boats for two years now, and finally we are about to actually become boat owners! It's a dream come true....
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Old 05-02-2008, 01:29   #8
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Good luck in your negotiations. I always recommend a survey as well but must admit that it doesn't make sense for a boat of this size and for the price.
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:03   #9
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Skip the survey it is a waste of money. You are only talking about a less than two thousand dollar investment. Go out and sail and fish, have a blast and spend the survey money on beer.
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:38   #10
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<We do not want to pay for an expensive survey…>

Seems to me if you go into a boat of this vintage with the knowledge that it is a bit of a endeavor, and assuming family skills to enjoy the project, then it could be very attractive… if, on the other hand, most maintenance and repair work will have to be contracted out (either because the yard doesn’t allow owner-repairs, or because of lack of skills/interest…), then I’d keep looking… as others have said, there are literally hundreds of boats in that general size available in the under $10K market (or much less), so there are no shortage of options…

However, I’m not of the school that views a boat as an investment – when she speaks to ya, well she just speaks to ya… Nonetheless, the old adage to “shop with yer heart, but buy with yer head…” is still good. Maybe I need to reread your post, but I don’t think I notice the condition of the sails – unless you can get a few seasons out of the ones on the boat, this can quickly double your costs, and leave a decidedly sour taste in your mouth… On the other hand, like most things in small boats (at least before the advent of the techno-gizmo brigade), even old sails can usually be made serviceable for a year or two day sailing with a few hours of needle and palm… allowing time to attend to other matters…

A survey is always sound advice – although not always because they’ll tell you anything you can’t figure out for yourself on this size boat; but insurance companies tend to trust those with some sort of parchment hanging on the wall more than wild-eyed would-be owners… did I have our little boat surveyed, nope – we were anticipating a project but after a pretty thorough going over, so far we’ve been pleasantly surprised…

Project or turn-key…?
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Old 05-02-2008, 07:40   #11
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Morgan Paul and Larry, thanks for responding. Fortunately, the yard where we'll be prepping her is very do-it-yourself friendly, so we'll do the bottom work and whatever else needing done before putting her in the water. The current owner is going to do a few fixes (new bilge hose, etc.) for us before the sale.
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Old 05-02-2008, 09:08   #12
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Inishowen - at that price you can't go too far wrong. That being said, if there is that much water leaking from on deck into the interior, I find it hard to believe that there is no deck delamination. That can be a very difficult/expensive repair. In addition, I agree that you should check for rot in the floors, cross members and even the bottom of the bulkheads.

The outboard will be fine except for the following proviso: in a chop or significant waves, there will be a tendancy for the prop to lift up in (or in extreme cases, even out of) the water. This can cause more than cavitation - if you are not careful, it can lead to over-revving the engine with resulting damage. Regardless, the outboard will prove to be much less effective in powering into a chop than an inboard. So yes, I'd leave the prop-shaft in place just in case you decide down the road to reinstall a used Atomic 40 or diesel.

Still, a great price for a boat with a solid reputation. And there are tons of boats of a similar size that get by just fine with outboard auxilliaries. Good luck and congrats!

Brad
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Old 05-02-2008, 09:28   #13
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Southern Star, thanks for your input on the outboard. That's important to know. My husband wants to back to an inboard engine, so we'll make do with the outboard this season and keep our eyes open for a used atomic 4. He wants to put a feathering prop on it, eventually.

As to deck delamination, there doesn't appear to be any, but we'll double check. The rain damage was supposedly due to a gap in the hatch above the V-berth (which has subsequently been corrected - or will be before long).
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:24   #14
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Inishowen, my concern was that you referred to damage to the galley counter, which would not have been directly under the hatch in the v-berth. That being said, if you have checked the deck with a rubber mallet (and better yet, a meter) then you are good to go.

I wouldn't worry about re-installing inboards (nor especially feathering props) - you may find that you can live just fine with the outboard. Make those repairs that have to be done to get her out on the water and enjoy her.

If you are like most of us, once you've caught the bug you have well and truly caught it. I have little doubt that after a couple of years you will be thinking of something larger - we used to call it '2 footitis', although with the trend towards ever larger boats, it is now likely 5 or 10 footitis. In any case, you will find that money spent on items like a feathering prop will not be returned on resale.

As to the outboard - every cloud has a silver lining: 1. it is easier to repair. 2. even if it shifts weight aft, you can at least lift the prop out of the water and reduce drag. 3. it isn't costing you anything as the boat is already so equipped. 4. it may actually force you into becoming a more proficient sailor.

The Catalina 27 will sail just fine to windward in a chop - remember, Childress circumnavigated in one (admittedly with modifications, but not to the keel, hull form or basic rig). There is a tendancy of many novice sailors (and some old salts) to turn on the 'iron genny' when required to make an upwind passage into chop and high winds. It is imperative that you learn how to handle these conditions under sail alone; in fact, in a reasonably well-balanced boat like the Catalina 27, it can be one of the real joys of sailing.

So for whatever it is worth, I would suggest that you do as little as necessary in upgrades to the boat. Projects that involve large amounts of elbow grease, but little in the way of capital expenditure are perfect in the first year of ownership (when you are still excited enough about the purchase to actually enjoy the elbow grease). Thereafter, I would ALWAYS remember resale value before I made a significant purchase for the boat. Right now it may seem that really, you will never want for anything more. And perhaps you won't. But that is something you will be better able to decide in a couple of years.

I speak here from experience - I just finished selling the (at one time) boat of my dreams. Since I had intended to circumnavigate in her I had spared virtually no expense in upgrades and mods to the boat - $20,000.00 on a paint job alone after stripping her down to a bare hull and deck. Then, guess what happened? A change in my plans has put on hold my planned circumnavigation and, indeed, the need for an offshore pilothouse cruiser with a small cockpit. To avoid making a long story tiresome, I took a substantial beating on resale and the new owners have reaped the benefit of my fiscal irresponsiblity. You have bought a great boat for your present needs - just understand that those needs (or at least desires) will be a moving target.

Brad
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:58   #15
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Heck and high water....

Brad, thanks again for your advice and suggestions. Actually, this we consider this our "learning" boat, which we will sail for a few years, after which time we want to upgrade to a small schooner. We love schooners, and consider one of these to be our ideal boat. (We're hoping to find one of Ted Brewer's pocket schooners.) When that time comes, we will sell the Cat 27 for whatever we can get for her, or perhaps donate her to the Sea Scouts.

The galley damage on the Catalina 27 was due to some leakage at the window, which has since been caulked. Sorry, I wasn't real clear concerning the rainwater damage. I can understand why you were concerned about that. but the water didn't get that high from the other leak.

As far as the outboard engine goes, personally, I like the idea of keeping it. Seems a lot more convenient to take it off and throw it in the van to haul away for any needed repairs. I'd rather have the challenge of learning to sail the boat properly in a chop, as you suggested. I figure it doesn't pay to be a motor-weenie, in any case, since you never know when you might be suddenly "motorless" with a mechanical break-down, whether with an inboard or outboard.

Hopefully between our lifelong sailing friend who is going along with us for a look at the boat this weekend, and discussions with the previous owner, we'll have a better idea of what it will take to fortify our little sloop for the Spring. Personally, I'm ready to burn my socks NOW!!!
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