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Old 26-12-2011, 11:09   #1
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Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

Here is a blurb from Wind Dancers blog on how he feels about sailing in heavy weather in a Catalina 36.

"So, overall, how would we rate a Catalina 36 in stormy conditions? Wind Dancer handled extremely well in the 35-45 knot winds and 8m breaking seas. We were always able to have her movement under control and though the opportunity presented itself often, she was never knocked down or broached. This is quite obviously good information to have -- it cuts down the apprehension level for future events. With this past episode and the two prior gales she's been through, Wind Dancer's ability to safely survive heavy weather is now in the books. Realizing that what we've experienced is certainly not the worst of what can develop, I believe the boat is sound and qualified for this adventure."

Warm Beer and a Permanent Reef | Wind Dancer

It is worthy to note that many additions have been added to the boat including oversized rigging and a very solid windvane. Catalina's are not considered blue water nor sold as blue water boats but it would seem they have been effectevely used to travel far distances. What do you think?
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Old 27-12-2011, 10:16   #2
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re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

I can't recall if it was in a Transpac in the last few years, but it was in some similar event that a Catalina 36 lost a rudder and its bulkheads started to detab.

This story is not in fact that story, but has some interesting notes: EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm) - Lessons Learned: Sailing to Hawaii...The First Attempt by Arnold Rowe

I have no interest in dissing Catalinas, but rather to indicate that the characteristics I personally consider essentially for heavy weather sailing are not always present or can be retrofitted in many production yachts. That said, a prudent skipper can sail anything anywhere given the skill and the conditions to do so.

Edit: My Google-fu is strong today. Here's a "bluewater Cat 36" thread on Sailnet:

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/boat-r...bluewater.html

...and the incident I originally had in mind I think involved a Cat. 36 called "Lady Liberty" trying to get back to California after a rough Transpac in 2007.
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Old 27-12-2011, 10:24   #3
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re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

A couple bought a Cat 36 for $25 K this year, added nav equipt and went on the Baha Ha Ha. Read it in Lectronic Lattitudes... They are having fun in Mexico as we speak. I think sailing around the world in a lighter built boat is a matter of good conservative decision making and luck. I can very well see the scenario above happening (bulkheads coming loose, spade rudder issues etc) in storm conditions to any light boat. East coast to the caribe? no problem. Fiji to NZ or round the horn of South Africa? hmmmm....
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Old 27-12-2011, 10:24   #4
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re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
...a prudent skipper can sail anything anywhere given the skill and the conditions to do so.
Exactly. As has been pointed out, the Atlantic has been crossed in an open boat of less than 15' length. Does that mean that any 15' open boat is "seaworthy"?

Well, yes and no. You can cross the Atlantic in such a boat, but it's not going to be awfully comfortable. And that's the real bottom line. Can a Catalina 36 withstand heavy weather? Of course! Are there other boats that will do the same but keep the crew much more comfortable in the process? Of course!

It's not a question of whether it CAN. It is a question of how hard the crew is going to have to work, and how comfortable they are going to be, in rough conditions.
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Old 27-12-2011, 11:20   #5
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

There were more than one cat 36 crossing the pacific the year Wind Dancer crossed. I know the Burns family really did beef up the rigging on Wind Dancer and had no problems the entire trip except with the roller furling after arriving in America Samoa, problem was fixed easily. By the way that passage from Bora Bora to American Samoa was a bad one that year as a huge squash zone made for some really nasty seas. There were a couple boats knocked down and one boat lost its mast. I believe Wind Dancer had put bigger stronger chain plates in before leaving Alaska if memory serves me right or bought it beefed up. One cat 36 I know of came into La Paz with the original bow plate pulled out. The boat was lucky not to have lost its mast but had to replace the furler and have extensive glass work done on the bow. The cat 36 is a good little boat if you take the time to make it a blue water boat.
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Old 18-01-2014, 20:01   #6
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I can't recall if it was in a Transpac in the last few years, but it was in some similar event that a Catalina 36 lost a rudder and its bulkheads started to detab.

...

...and the incident I originally had in mind I think involved a Cat. 36 called "Lady Liberty" trying to get back to California after a rough Transpac in 2007.
Hello, I was the owner and skipper of Lady Liberty in the 2007 Transpac. We had no problems, and we came in 3rd in our class.

I no longer own Lady Liberty -- I sold her in Hawaii.

Sincerely,
John Wallner
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Old 18-01-2014, 20:09   #7
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

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Hello, I was the owner and skipper of Lady Liberty in the 2007 Transpac. We had no problems, and we came in 3rd in our class.

I no longer own Lady Liberty -- I sold her in Hawaii.

Sincerely,
John Wallner
Aloha and welcome aboard!
So what you are saying is that it wasn't Lady Liberty that had a rudder or detab problem?
That's good to hear. I'm hoping that the report on the Cat 36 is inaccurate because I'd never heard it and believe Catalinas are well put together boats. That doesn't mean it didn't happen I'm just skeptical.
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Old 18-01-2014, 20:17   #8
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

A few years ago a Catalina (36 I think) sailed from Southern California and had multiple problems in the first few days. Some were structural. They were rescued by the Coast Guard and the boat abandoned.

Is this the incident you are thinking of?
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Old 19-01-2014, 15:56   #9
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

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Aloha and welcome aboard!
So what you are saying is that it wasn't Lady Liberty that had a rudder or detab problem?
That's good to hear. I'm hoping that the report on the Cat 36 is inaccurate because I'd never heard it and believe Catalinas are well put together boats. That doesn't mean it didn't happen I'm just skeptical.
Thanks, good to be here.

Yes, that's what I'm saying -- Lady Liberty had no problems sailing to Hawaii in the Transpac. We did not lose a rudder, or any other system. I should know -- I was the owner and skipper of Lady Liberty, a Cat 36 that I had owned for 18 years.

We came in 3rd in our Aloha class.

Sincerely,
John Wallner
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Old 19-01-2014, 23:15   #10
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

The Catalina 36 that was involved in the rescue was named Panda. They were attempting to sail from LA to Hawaii and were rescued after 200 miles.
Here's the link:
EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm) - Lessons Learned: Sailing to Hawaii...The First Attempt by Arnold Rowe
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Old 20-01-2014, 04:44   #11
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Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

My problem with these types of threads is that they often rely on anecdotes and conjecture. We are hearing a C36 lost its rudder and some are concluding the boat is not blue water worthy. And this time we are seeing the perfect example of one of the anecdotes not being true. The owner of a boat has chimed in.

Boats loose rudders all the time whether they are spades, skegs or barn doors. Almost always it's due to deferred maintenance. Other that some reports on a few Hunters (36s IiRC) there are no reports out there of spades being structurally less strong and not blue water worthy. And that was a design flaw that was shortly corrected. Hell I know of a couple of idiots that sank a Whitbey 42 due to their stupid actions. Doesn't mean I would think ill of the boat.

There is a young guy that is currently in NZ. He sailed his C30 there. (Www.sailpanache.com). No major mods.

You have to evaluate each situation on its own. I was at a meeting of a Catalina owners group this weekend. I know many of the people there to be very competent sailors. I was extremely surprised at the lack of maintenance knowledge there. Some people reported that they don't even carry antifreeze and tranny fluid on their boats.

My point is that many supposed issues with a typical boat could more easily be explained by a lack of good maintenance rather than design problems.

Fair winds,

Jesse
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Old 20-01-2014, 11:45   #12
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

I assume your lack of maintenance on a spade rudder is not replacing it every 10 or 15 years?? Sure you can drop it and check for crevice corrosion every few years but even that doesn't guaranty that it won't break off. Yes your point that all types of different rudders have been broken is true of course but the spade rudder is the most famous for failing. If builders would just spend some extra money building spades a lot tougher then it wouldn't be such a common thing to hear...another spade rudder failure.
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Old 20-01-2014, 13:54   #13
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

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I assume your lack of maintenance on a spade rudder is not replacing it every 10 or 15 years?? Sure you can drop it and check for crevice corrosion every few years but even that doesn't guaranty that it won't break off. Yes your point that all types of different rudders have been broken is true of course but the spade rudder is the most famous for failing. If builders would just spend some extra money building spades a lot tougher then it wouldn't be such a common thing to hear...another spade rudder failure.
The most common types of failures are delamination and bearing failure. Stock failure can happen but is not as common. They don't make rudders that are leak proof and they don't make bearings that are maintenance free. Learn how to visual inspect and sound your rudder for signs of leaking and delamination. Do some research on what your bearings require for maintenance.

Again, outside of a few years that Hunter had issue there are not significant design flaws in spade rudders. Ted Brewer and other well known designers have been defending the fin/spade rudder combination for ocean sailing since the 1960's when the Cal 40 came on the seen and started winning ocean races.
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Old 21-01-2014, 11:57   #14
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

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Thanks, good to be here.

Yes, that's what I'm saying -- Lady Liberty had no problems sailing to Hawaii in the Transpac. We did not lose a rudder, or any other system. I should know -- I was the owner and skipper of Lady Liberty, a Cat 36 that I had owned for 18 years.

We came in 3rd in our Aloha class.

Sincerely,
John Wallner
Congratulations on the 3rd place victory. Well done!
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Old 21-01-2014, 12:03   #15
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Re: Testament to the Seaworthiness of Catalina's

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Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
The Catalina 36 that was involved in the rescue was named Panda. They were attempting to sail from LA to Hawaii and were rescued after 200 miles.
Here's the link:
EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm) - Lessons Learned: Sailing to Hawaii...The First Attempt by Arnold Rowe
Ok. I read the story and the major flaw in Panda's trans Pac was the Edson steering gear failed, the Monitor windvane failed and a latch in the hatch over the head failed. Never a rudder or rudder post failure. They still had steering but they had a very ill crewmember and if it were me I would have had the crewmember rescued too. As I understand the USCG policy is if one person goes they all go.
The only fault Catalina might be given is that they chose Edson steering to install in the boat and the brand of hatch they installed over the head. The boat was recovered.
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