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Old 05-02-2014, 05:50   #1
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Catalina 30

I have heard there were problems with the keel attachment on these boats, what should I look for? How are they for a cruising couple?

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Old 05-02-2014, 06:12   #2
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Re: Catalina 30

That is not a problem I've heard of them having. My brother had one. They're roomy and comfortable. Not overly quick or sturdy, but they seem to get around in suitable conditions and not cost too much.

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Old 05-02-2014, 06:24   #3
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Re: Catalina 30

Until about late 1987 or 1988 (can't recall) the Catalina's had plywoond laminated into the keel stub. The plywood can get wet, begin to compress and reveal the Catalina smile.

Once the wood gets wet crevice corrosion can set in on the SS bolts and errode them away. Catalina offers instructions for excavating this wood and replacing it with solid glass. NE Fiberglass in Portland has done a few recently and Rocknak's up in Rockport has also done them. If your keel bolts are toast, as mine were, then you will need to replace them.

Broomfield in RI and Mars Keel in Canada offer keel bolt replacement where they melt out the old J bolts and physcially replace them with new J bolts. Not inexpensive but ultimately the best solution.

After my experience I would not again buy a pre solid glass keel stub Catalina.. Many do, but I would not...

It should be noted that I don't know of a single keel that has been lost but I suspect many are getting to that point. We had one bolt the diameter of a #10 fastener and some others wasted down to about 1/4". IIRC two of them snapped when removing the nuts...... Truly a scary sight when the keel was finally broken away and dropped.
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Old 05-02-2014, 09:44   #4
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Re: Catalina 30

I believe you're referring to the Catalina Smile. It's primarily an aesthetic issue, though if you're not regularly maintaining your keel bolts, you will eventually see corrosion. It's a fairly simple fix. If not fixed, you will see a slight loss of performance due to increased drag.

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Old 05-02-2014, 10:31   #5
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Re: Catalina 30

I quite like my MKI catalina 30. It's big for a 30' boat. It sails well and is easy to handle. It's quite stiff. I wouldn't cross oceans with it. Unlike MainSail, I _did_ (semi) knowledgeably buy a MKI.

They built 7000+ of them - they didn't suck too bad.

The smile is a well known issue with catalinas.
The "smile" can be just a lack of fairing due to flexing/age/poor fairing to being with and that's cosmetic. (MKII and MKIII's can have the smile too) - But if the plywood in the stub is wet, that's bad as the fix involves new/sistered bolts and glasswork in the stub. It's not real tough, but it's a haul, etc.. The J bolt into the keel would be the best solution. There are other keel bolt solutions that are significantly less expensive (and not as good). A good close look at the bolts and any cracks in the keel stub tells alot about the boat.

The other major problem can be the block in the keel at the bottom of the compression post. If that gets saturated and rots, the load from the mast starts to deform the deck and push the compression post downward. It's fixable, but it's a a pretty good chunk of surgery.

They're good boats, but they were built to a price. You'll find lots of self-tappers into glass, mediocre wiring, etc.. My boat was fine from the keelbolt/compression problems, but was a wiring nightmare. But I'm an engineer and fixing it has been part of the fun.

Early models may have the A4, which some think is horrific, I think it's fine. It's smooth and has tons of power. The early diesels were bone-shaking rough and underpowered for the size of boat. Later models solved this.

I initially thought I'd run the halyards back to the cockpit (from the factory MKI was external halyard at the mast) - but I've found I don't mind a bit and it keeps a few more lines out of the cockpit.

The cockpit drains are too small.

The stock traveler was a joke.

The MKIII had the walk-through transom. I'd love to have that feature as boarding from the water is quite the ladder climb.
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Old 05-02-2014, 10:39   #6
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Re: Catalina 30

Just google the "Catalina Smile" for info on that. You'll know what to look for in evaluating one for purchase. The hulls are not that thick (common for prouction boats) if the keel strikes ground, the hull flexes down in front of the keel and up in back of the keel, possible creating a little cracking in the glass. Usually in the shape of a "smile".
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Old 05-02-2014, 11:09   #7
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Re: Catalina 30

It depends what year you have. If it is a Mark I you can email Catalina's engineering department and they will email you over the specs and procedure on how to remove the plywood and replace it with fiber glass. Every time I've emailed them they have gotten back to me with in 1 business day and have always provided all the info I need. I can say they have a phenomenal customer service mentality.

Also if you do have a Mark 1 you can try torqueing the keel bolts (only if the boat is on the hard) if they torque out to I believe 105 ft/lbs then you don't have any water intrusion into the plywood and you are good. if the plywood has gotten wet they wont torque and then you know you have problems.
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Old 09-03-2014, 07:02   #8
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Re: Catalina 30

I have a faint smile starting for and aft of the keel its an easy maint fix before it goes back in. I torque the bolts every spring before she goes back in

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