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Old 22-06-2012, 23:24   #1
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Catalina 36 vs 355

I am looking at purchasing a fairly recent Catalina 36 but I am wondering what people think about the 36 vs the 355 or 350. If you had a choice between the two models, which one would you prefer and why? Are there any major differences between the two that I should know about before making a purchasing decision one way or another ?
There currently are no 355/350's offered locally but I could expand my shopping area if the 355/350 is deemed superior to the older design of the Catalina 36.

Thoughts ?

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Old 25-06-2012, 10:10   #2
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Re: Catalina 36 vs 355

In the absence of other comments, I will try to take a stab at this.

First, all Catalina hulls and interiors are designed in house. Catalina does not utilize any outside naval architects. The evolution of the mid size Catalina cruiser hull, in my opinion, has been to chase the design ethic of Beneteau which emphasizes interior volume (and/or charter business applications). This results in lots of "Wow" factor at boat shows. The downside is that storage, bilge area and safe passage below while underway have all taken a hit. Wide open space does not help in a seaway, which is the result when you push the settees further outboard.

Second, the wide spread trend toward fat-ass boats (carrying the midships beam well aft) has resulted in cockpits that are great for dockside entertainment or while anchored, but have complicated sail handling, frequently require twin wheels, have overly large cockpits, and most of all have resulted in some strange handling characteristics while under certain points of sail. I am also curious if that extended beam affects the likelihood of similar type boats to remain inverted for extended periods in the event of a knockdown.

Third, most newer boats are better equipped that the earlier versions. The boats systems are generally of a higher quality, though I suspect it is the competition that is forcing this modest quality upgrade on Catalina. They also may have improved blister resistance in the newer hulls, though that remains to be seen. I also think that there is a trend toward larger engines, regardless if they are needed. Lighting, refrigeration, electrical systems, etc. all seem better thought out than earlier boats

Catalina still clearly remains a production builder, focusing on the "value" end of the market, and with all that that entails. They are a US based manufacturer, as opposed to the semi-US built Beneteaus if that matters to you.

I personally think the older boats have a prettier profile, as the newer boats have less graceful deckhouse designs, partly as a result of raising the below-deck ceiling heights, and forcing in the ubiquitous aft cabin.

All that being said, I am very fond of Catalina and have owned both a racing dingy and a 36 manufactured by them. They are quite adequate coastal cruisers, they have pretty good factory support (many other manufacturers are quite dismal), and they have a excellent owners organization that enthusiastically supports the boats.

If I had to choose between the two designs, all else being equal, I would compare the stowage, the sailing characteristics, the deck arrangement and the sail handling. And, at the end of the day, when you are paddling away from the boat in your dingy, which boat still has your admiration and pride.

I hope my opinions are helpful.


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Old 25-06-2012, 10:31   #3
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Re: Catalina 36 vs 355

Three new 355's in our club this season. Had a good look at them. Very impressive. I would go with the 355 over the older models.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 11-08-2012, 14:40   #4
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Re: Catalina 36 vs 355

Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Three new 355's in our club this season. Had a good look at them. Very impressive. I would go with the 355 over the older models.
Does anyone know where the most active owners site for the 355 is?
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Old 21-08-2012, 11:47   #5
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Re: Catalina 36 vs 355

I own a Catalina 36 Mk II.

Before buying I looked at quite a few 355s, including one that was in foreclosure and deeply discounted due to the bankruptcy of its owner. Even at the deep discount, I found later-model (e.g., 2000 and newer) 36s (or 375s) to be a significantly better value than the 355.

I think it depends on what you are using for, as well. If you're talking only occasional small-family cruising, than the 355 is probably fine. The 36, IMHO, has a much better overall design.
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catalina, catalina 36

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