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Old 12-09-2017, 10:55   #1
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Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

I'm considering buying a very low-priced Catalina 30 tall rig, described in the ad as a "project." The ad states that the boat is otherwise clean inside and out, but needs an engine rebuild or replacement, new sails, and haul-out for bottom cleaning and bottom paint. Photos seem to indicate it's in halfway decent shape. The engine is a gasoline Atomic 4.

Your opinions? Is this a potentially worthwhile project or should I run (not walk) away from it?

Some other questions about Catalina 30s in general:

Have any of you tried living aboard a Catalina 30, at least part time? How would you rate this boat model as a potential live-aboard?

I read mentioned elsewhere in this forum that a Catalina 30 is currently being prepared for a Circumnavigation, no specifics given. I hope I'm not starting a flame war by asking this, but since this model is really only designed for protected waters and coastal cruising, what would it take in terms of upgrades to transform a Catalina 30 into a vessel of seaworthiness sufficient for ocean passages? I've heard of several Catalina 27s that have circumnavigated, but not so much about Catalina 30s doing so.
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:06   #2
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

The Catalina 30 is a great boat..performs well, is very large inside and well laid out. It's a very popular boat for good reason.

I know a couple of people who live aboard and cruise pretty far on these boats. They're pretty happy with them. More than enough space for one person, for sure.

As for fitness for circumnavigating, that's pretty much exclusively a matter of your risk tolerance. It was not designed as a blue water boat, but plenty of non-bluewater boats have circled the globe. Personally I would not do it, but I know several people who I respect who would. YMMV.

As for your project boat, that's a really tough call without seeing the boat and knowing more about it's condition. First of all, pictures always make a boat look to be in better condition than it is. Always. Always. Second, you won't know what the bottom needs until it's out of the water. It's a black box, and trusting the advertisement's statement is foolish. Any boat this is described by a seller as being a project has been neglected, pure and simple, and you're bound to find a long list of things that need attention. If it needs new sails it probably needs new running rigging and more. It probably needs to be rewired. It probably needs new batteries, new plumbing. And more.

The only reasons to buy a boat in this condition are 1) You honestly can't afford to pay more, but you'll be able to afford over time to fix it up 2) You can do most or all of the work yourself 3) You enjoy fixing up boats.

The issue is that you never get out of a boat what you put into it. You'd be better served from a financial perspective buying a well cared for boat, ideally one that has just been refit. The seller will have more into the boat than it's value and the buyer benefits from that.
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:37   #3
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
The Catalina 30 is a great boat..performs well, is very large inside and well laid out. It's a very popular boat for good reason.

I know a couple of people who live aboard and cruise pretty far on these boats. They're pretty happy with them. More than enough space for one person, for sure.

As for fitness for circumnavigating, that's pretty much exclusively a matter of your risk tolerance. It was not designed as a blue water boat, but plenty of non-bluewater boats have circled the globe. Personally I would not do it, but I know several people who I respect who would. YMMV.

As for your project boat, that's a really tough call without seeing the boat and knowing more about it's condition. First of all, pictures always make a boat look to be in better condition than it is. Always. Always. Second, you won't know what the bottom needs until it's out of the water. It's a black box, and trusting the advertisement's statement is foolish. Any boat this is described by a seller as being a project has been neglected, pure and simple, and you're bound to find a long list of things that need attention. If it needs new sails it probably needs new running rigging and more. It probably needs to be rewired. It probably needs new batteries, new plumbing. And more.

The only reasons to buy a boat in this condition are 1) You honestly can't afford to pay more, but you'll be able to afford over time to fix it up 2) You can do most or all of the work yourself 3) You enjoy fixing up boats.

The issue is that you never get out of a boat what you put into it. You'd be better served from a financial perspective buying a well cared for boat, ideally one that has just been refit. The seller will have more into the boat than it's value and the buyer benefits from that.
I was going to write exacly the same post word for word. Thanks, you saved me the trouble.
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:40   #4
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

What Suijin said.

I've had a C30 for 24 years and am having a hard time finding a more spacious, better sailing, more solid, updated boat at a reasonable price. I've lived a season aboard- heck, I've got hot & cold running water, auto pilot, stereo, gas grill, etc.

It's a Honda Accord- good at everything, great at nothing.

Systems are simple. The complete fresh water system, basic wiring, autopilot, toilet system, etc can be replaced in a weekend (each.) Used sails are under a grand each.

I would not get an Atomic4, I would only get a diesel on a sailboat, but that's my opinion.

A complete boat that's a "project" means to me that there are one of two big-ticket items: motor or wet. Motor can be big money. Wet decks, ruined chain plates, dissolved compression post- those are ugly jobs requiring money and LOTs of time...or LOTS and LOTS of money. I'd stay away from either. If you're handy with motors/transmissions then maybe. But if it's wet, I don't care if you're the world restoration expert, a water-damaged boat is a huge load of work.

Refitting a C30 will cost (time & money) the same to refit a similar sized boat; given that I'd rather stick a few grand and 300 hours into a Cape Dory or Sabre.

You wouldn't restore a Honda Accord, nor should one restore a C30. You buy a used model with high mileage that's been well maintained. That's the best value.
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Old 12-09-2017, 12:10   #5
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

It's a good little boat with nice amount of room for a 30 footer. The older ones can go pretty cheap, even with a worn out diesel. Not sure of your plans, but be aware of the sail condition, those could cost as much as the boat. If you want a good inboard engine you are probably talking +/- $10k for a diesel.
Personally I wouldn't take one far offshore, but that doesn't mean you cant. If you want to live aboard locally and do local cruising fine. If you really have offshore long distance dreams, get a fixer Cape Dory, Alberg or etc as mentioned. You will put tens of thousands into either for offshore prep.
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Old 12-09-2017, 13:38   #6
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

To mod a C30 (or C27 or similar) for offshore:
1. More water
2. More fuel
3. Uh, where to store everything then?
4. new, stronger standing rigging
5. Larger drainage in cockpit
6. Enclosed companionway
7. Reinforced windows & ports & hatches
8. Reinforce front 1/3 of hull
9. Cutter on shaft
10. Secure oven, icebox cover, chart table cover
11. More handholds (heck, I've put 3 more in)
12. Lee berth fitted
13. Replace waterlogged rudder
14. Upgrade batteries, add solar, wind
15. Self steering (not autopilot)
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Old 13-09-2017, 09:14   #7
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

I lived aboard in S Florida at anchor back in the 80's. For a single guy was heaven :-)
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Old 13-09-2017, 09:48   #8
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

Quote:
but needs an engine rebuild or replacement, new sails, and haul-out for bottom cleaning and bottom paint
That's just the obvious stuff that you can't miss, it's other things that could push it over the edge.
Rotten mast step and cabin top sag ?
Catalina "Smile" ?
Tall rig, how's the bowsprit ?
Chain plates and bulkheads ?
Electrical ?
Let's see, engine don't run, sails are shot, bottom is dirty, I'm not seeing any reason to think anything else is in good condition.
Would you waste money on maintenance for an old car that doesn't run ?
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Old 13-09-2017, 10:05   #9
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

Thanks for your replies.

I called the seller yesterday and it turns out the boat had been beached on its side and the motor, with only 800 hours, doesn't run because it's been full of water for a year. He cleaned the cabin out with a pressure washer, if that tells you anything. So it's looking like a less likely prospect already. He supposedly has an appointment today with a serious buyer so it may not even be available after today.

As for what I'd do with this boat if I bought it: I wouldn't do ocean passages in it either, but I live in the PNW and it's perfect for Puget Sound and the Canadian Gulf Islands. I'm also interested in a refuge to get away from my wife's barking, howling beagle so I can get a good night's sleep once in a while.

Still, this boat will definitely need some work and money even for that. I'll at least need to get it running so that probably means an engine swap. I don't think attempting to rebuild a motor that's had water in it for a year is a good bet.
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Old 13-09-2017, 10:11   #10
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

I had a Catalina 30t, nice boat, very roomy all systems easy to work on with good access, if you re power I agree on going with a diesel however can be a big expense, there are a lot of Catalina 30s out there. not sure on your budget.
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Old 13-09-2017, 10:16   #11
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

I had a C30 for years and friends of mine have just purchased a 84 Tall rig. I'm assuming that with the atomic four it is around a 1979 vintage. The atomic four produces around 27 HP. The 1st gen diesel Butler put in was about 11HP. That will push this boat about 4.5 knots in flat water (not enough). A rebuilt 20 HP diesel could set yo back about 4K if you shop well and do the install yourself. Sails-- I think every sail loft has the measurements for your sails and you can probably get a new set for about 3K. (be sure to add 3rd reef if you are cruising. Bottom paint will be about 1.5 gallons so around $300 if you do the labor. Haul out costs depends where you are. Standing rigging is probably original so if you want to go cruising I'd replace it. Tankage should be increased for both fuel and water.

All this being said in 1966 Robin lee Graham sailed 3/4 of the way around the world in something much smaller with not any of the safety or nav equipment available relatively cheaply today and I think ultimately took out the inboard and just used a 5hp outboard
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Old 13-09-2017, 10:42   #12
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

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Originally Posted by Locutus View Post
As for what I'd do with this boat if I bought it: I wouldn't do ocean passages in it either, but I live in the PNW and it's perfect for Puget Sound and the Canadian Gulf Islands. I'm also interested in a refuge to get away from my wife's barking, howling beagle so I can get a good night's sleep once in a while.
If the companionway hatch is functional just put the beagle in the boat and sleep at home.
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Old 13-09-2017, 11:25   #13
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

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the boat had been beached on its side and the motor, with only 800 hours, doesn't run because it's been full of water for a year. .

Run away! Don't even take it for free.

In my area there are a number of boats up to 30' for under $3000.
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Old 13-09-2017, 11:34   #14
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

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Originally Posted by Locutus View Post
Thanks for your replies.

I called the seller yesterday and it turns out the boat had been beached on its side and the motor, with only 800 hours, doesn't run because it's been full of water for a year. He cleaned the cabin out with a pressure washer, if that tells you anything. So it's looking like a less likely prospect already. He supposedly has an appointment today with a serious buyer so it may not even be available after today.

As for what I'd do with this boat if I bought it: I wouldn't do ocean passages in it either, but I live in the PNW and it's perfect for Puget Sound and the Canadian Gulf Islands. I'm also interested in a refuge to get away from my wife's barking, howling beagle so I can get a good night's sleep once in a while.

Still, this boat will definitely need some work and money even for that. I'll at least need to get it running so that probably means an engine swap. I don't think attempting to rebuild a motor that's had water in it for a year is a good bet.
IF the boat was beached, and the cabin filled with salt water, there could be many more things wrong with the boat than just some salt water in the engine (which is probably ruined). IF he "pressure washed" the interior, it sounds like the boat was filled with salt water. IF that is the case, everything made of plywood could be swollen or delaminating. All wiring could be suspect and need replacing. All electrical connections could be suspect. Etc. etc.

Last year I looked at dozens of Catalina 30s as I was doing research for one of the threads I started and maintain that show representive very good condition boats. I saw many low priced Catalina 30s in apparently Good to Very Good condition, that I see no reason, no sense, in buying a C30 that has bad engine, bad sails, bad rigging, needs bottom job, and was beached (possible damage unseen), and was possibly filled with salt water.

My advice based on what I have seen: Keep looking.
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Old 13-09-2017, 13:28   #15
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Re: Considering a Catalina 30 "Project."

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If the companionway hatch is functional just put the beagle in the boat and sleep at home.

Ha! I hadn't thought of that but good idea. I don't expect I'd be able get that one past the wife though.
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