SMJ did not say that it would be crazy to compare the 'quality' of today's production boats with a Catalac
- he said it would be crazy to compare the Catalac's build techniques and performance with some of the modern cats. This is, IMO, undeniably true. Many (virtually all) of the modern cats perform better than the Catalacs did - and Catalacowner, you seem to agree with this (although you suggest that performance is low on your list of priorities). I assume that you would also agree that the modern build techniques - including vacuum-bagged, cored construction and scantlings arrived at through computer stress analysis, are some of the key factors that lead to this performance advantage.
My cat, although hardly 'modern', has a foam-cored deck
, coachouse and hulls down to the waterline. It would have undoubtedly been lighter and faster if it had been cored below the waterline, atlhough that would have led to some issues with respect to adding any new thru-hulls (e.g., for the watermaker
, with which she is now equipped). It would have also added to the complexity/cost to repair the underbody of the hulls/keels, should they ever be damaged.
Would I have preferred that my boat was built entirely of solid glass? No, as it would have been weaker, heavier, more likely to sink (to say nothing of having less, actually no insulation
properties). In exchange, of course, I do run the risk of some deck delamination
-and sadly, after 20 years I have found one soft spot where the davits
were installed by a previous owner without encapsulating the bolt holes.
My non-skid was due for a paint
job anyway, and I will effect the repairs
this season in conjunction with the paint
work. At the same time, I will remove all deck hardware/stanchions: any other holes that are found to be unencapsulated will be redrilled with oversized holes, epoxy
filled, re-drilled with the correct size holes and re-bedded prior to re-installation. Sound like a ton of work? Really, not much more than removing and rebedding deck hardware
to eliminate leaks
- something which is required on solid cored decks from time to time as well. Indeed, solid-cored decks typically need to be rebedded more often as the additional flex in the decks breaks down the bedding compound more quickly.
In any event, I will admit that a solid deck will never delaminate so that the one repair required on my boat after 20 years would be unnecessary if she had a solid deck. I'll take that in exchange for having 20 years (and hopefully 20 more) with the increased strength, lower weight, floatation and insulation
properties that come with a core
. You, apparently, would not.
Apart from coaring, I would hope that there is no question that the performance of the Catalacs and Prouts was adversely effected not only by their relative weights, but also by the design of their hulls/underbodies. The Catalacs have no boards or keels, relying instead upon a V-shaped underbody with significant rocker in order to resist leeway when sailing to windward. Surely no one can deny that hulls with keels or boards are better able to resist leeway. Furthermore, it is clear that V-shaped hulls have more wetted surface than the more modern U-shaped ones: this results is increased drag and a slower boat. In addition, surely no one can deny that significant rocker contributes to increased 'hobby-horsing' - an uncomfortable and performance-robbing motion at sea.
The Prouts had keels, but they too had far from ideal hull
shapes. Firstly, they lacked bridgedeck clearance in comparison to the Catalacs (some, when overloaded, had nacelles virtually touching the water
in a static state, guaranteeing increased contact and drag when underway). Secondly, the early ones had double-ended hulls, which do not perform as well as hulls with a higher prismatic coefficent: all else being equal, boats with transoms have a higher prismatic coefficient (as well as being able to carry more weight aft for davits
, inflatables, BBQ's., radar
generators, solar panels
etc., carried on the typical modern crusing boat).
Catalacowner, I'm with SMJ. I too quite like Catalacs. I think that they were well-built boats that have held up over time. Overall, I prefer them to the early Prouts due to the increased bridgedeck clearance, transoms, and the availability of twin diesels. I'm also a fan of tempered-glass fixed portlights
(although the opening ones tend to leak, at least the other ones will never need a costly and difficult replacement if they are kept properly caulked). I am, however, a fan of the 'Prout rig' for a cruising boat. It places the mast
at the strongest point of the superstructure, runs all halyards/reefing lines directly into the cockpit
(and yes, you can keep the tails neat with some bags or hooks for coiled lines). It also provides a dedicated staysail/storm jib
which, if fitted with roller reefing, enables one to reef and run proper storm sails
without ever having to leave the cockpit
IMO if they are not overloaded, both the Catalacs and Prouts are solid, safe crusing boats that provide great bang for the buck, so long as one is prepared to put up with their performance deficiencies.