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Old 17-04-2022, 10:23   #1
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Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

While I know this post is going to (in all likelihood) generate an argument I feel it needs to be rehashed for the millionth time and here's why. Hunter and Catalina get a bad rap for no good reason. Benneteau and Jeanneau seem to be well loved for no good reason; allow me to explain myself.

While it is true that Hunter made some less than desirable boats during certain model years there were also periods where their boats were not only good but excellent. Catalina has been a never changing rock more or less since it's inception. Some less than desirable designs and some less than desirable sailing characteristics in certain models sure but their build quality has always remained the same.

Then we have Group Benneteau boats. Iron keels attached to the hull with lags that rust instead of J bolts in lead. This is a built in failure but they were designed to fail. No tabbed bulkheads. Cheap (and subjectively ugly) veneers. Ridiculously shallow bilges. I could go on and on. Benneteau builds boats for one purpose: the charter market. Yes they sell boats to Jonny boat owner but their main market is the charter fleets. As such they have a designed end of life so the charter companies continue to buy new ones.

During the best years of Hunter's production (2003 to 2007) the larger cruising boats had tabbed bulkheads. Deep bilges. Kevlar in the load areas. Lead keels attached with oversized J bolts and backers. Further, the interiors were stick built instead of having exposed fiberglass everywhere in the furniture. You can take apart every piece of furniture in a Hunter and modify or rebuild it to your hearts content. They're fast, handle extremely well and have a ton of space. Folks gripe about the B&R rigs but those folks are completely ignorant as to the engineering of said rig. It's simple geometry and if you maintain it, it'll take you anywhere.

Catalina being the manufacturing rock they are has never really changed their construction methods. Hand laid hull, lead keel, hull pan, deck mold with a shoebox joint. You really can't go wrong buying the mkii version of any of them. Yeah, some of the mki versions didn't do so hot off the wind and some of them had really poorly designed rudders but their larger boats make excellent cruisers for pretty much anywhere. No radical designs (Benneteau Jeanneau) just a solid cruising boat for the ages.

And to me. I've restored, refit and delivered boats for the last 20 years and currently work in management for a sailboat manufacturer who will remain nameless (not Catalina or Hunter). I've been aboard and sailed long miles on all of the boats mentioned and I'm well versed on how they're all put together and what their shortcomings are. I've owned 2 Catalina's an O'Day an Irwin, a custom Rhodes design, a Hunter (to name a few) and a bunch of sailing dinghies. I would love it if ANY of you can objectively tell me why a Hunter built between 2003 and 2007 or a Catalina of any vintage is a bad boat and I'd really love it if ANY of you can tell me why ANY Group Benneteau boat from ANY vintage is a good boat. I wish you luck, let the "discussion" begin
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Old 17-04-2022, 10:42   #2
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Why just a five year span?

A number of beneteau we looked at had terribly delaminated furniture. Whatever they use laminate they use sucks up water like a straw. The trim “wood” on some (eg 423) is cheaper than IKEA.

Catalina are too plasticy. It’s very functional but not aesthetic. That said, the #1 reason to buy one is catalinadirect.com - bingo, replacement parts.
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Old 17-04-2022, 12:59   #3
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

[QUOTE=Tetepare;3608721
Catalina are too plasticy. It’s very functional but not aesthetic. That said, the #1 reason to buy one is catalinadirect.com - bingo, replacement parts.[/QUOTE]

If by too plasticy you mean no shiny wood topside I can't disagree; that is one of the reasons we chose Catalina. Wood looks pretty but the maintenance of it was more than I wanted to deal with. I'd rather spend my time sailing then varnishing! That said, there is plenty of wood down below- yes much of it a veneer, but I think it looks pretty classic. In comparing Catalina to the others mentioned, we noticed that for an equivalent size boat, the Catalina has sturdier standing rigging which appealed to us. And I do have to agree re. Catalinadirect... great resource which makes many repairs and adjustment easy!
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Old 17-04-2022, 13:15   #4
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Glad to hear you love your boat. I love mine, too. You restricted comments about Hunters to the 2003-2007 span, and badmouthed every Beneteau ever built. Hmmm. You know, there must be upwards of 50 models through the years, and some of them (like mine) are pretty good boats. The iron keel is not my favorite feature, but it is still attached after 36 years. I kind of like the keelbolt arrangement, because if there is ever a problem with corrosion (not evident yet) I can replace them without major surgery.
"Beneteau and Jenneau seem to be well loved..." Maybe there's a reason for that. Or, maybe you know better than many thousands of owners. Or is this just a troll? If not, it's a good imitation of one.
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Old 17-04-2022, 14:02   #5
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

For the price and build quality, Catalina does very well. I dont care for the rigs that don't have backstays, some Jeanneaus are doing the same thing now. Hunter probably peaked with the Cherubini models as far as the rig was concerned. My brother had the 49. It had issues. The in mast furler failed. The gears broke and the sail had to be taken down. I felt the cabin sole boards were too thin as well. Some minor fit and finish things. There is a Jeanneau and beneteau dealer north of Chicago, I stop in for a nosy look periodically at what has come in. For the money, I'd get the Catalina over the Bene.
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Old 17-04-2022, 14:33   #6
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

We have a 2007 H38. Its our first boat. We just completed our first year aboard and are starting to look at larger boats.

We have recently been on several larger Group B vessels in roughly double to triple the price range of our boat.

I am absolutely aghast at the terrible quality of the interior. In my Hunter there's wood everywhere. The only places where is not wood are a small area under the companionway, the cabin sole, and ofc the head. Solid wooden grab rails, nice wood veneer paneling, solid wood cabinet doors and so on.

The Group B boats had lower-than-Ikea quality plastic veneer that was obviously easy to damage as it was damaged on every boat. Looks terrible, even on pretty new boats. Ugly.
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Old 17-04-2022, 16:16   #7
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

All the boat builders mentioned are built to a price to compete with each other, are generally of equivalent quality and sport the same brands of hardware, engines and rigging. In other words, a difference with little if any distinction.


These Ford v. Chevy debates are all pointless and based solely on subjective opinion, often by folks who never owned more than one or two brands.


In our transit of the Pacific, we saw boats of every brand and design in remote islands, often in places most of the internet jockeys here have never heard of. Including the so-called "gold plate" yachts. All had problems, maintenance issues, breakdowns, etc... regardless of the brand name on the transom.



Our current boat is a world different in terms of price compared with our previous boats, a Benny and a Hunter. Yet they all had/have their problems. Anyone who thinks any one is better than the rest demonstrates only their uninformed judgment.
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Old 17-04-2022, 16:22   #8
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
All the boat builders mentioned are built to a price to compete with each other, are generally of equivalent quality and sport the same brands of hardware, engines and rigging. In other words, a difference with little if any distinction.
I've always felt that Beneteau and Hunter made different compromises to hit a similar price point. Hunter put more into the hull and structure and less into a flashy exterior. Beneteau was more likely to add teak cockpit seats, toe rails and other things to make the boat look higher end and optimized the hull and build to sail decently fast at a low build cost with less concern for durability.
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Old 17-04-2022, 20:10   #9
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Quote:
All the boat builders mentioned are built to a price to compete with each other, are generally of equivalent quality and sport the same brands of hardware, engines and rigging. In other words, a difference with little if any distinction.
Not completely true IMO. For instance, CAtalina has lead keels vs cast iron for the French boats. Catalina has Garhauer deck hardware in general, and usually of a decent size for the jobs. The French boats have bottom end Lewmar, etc, and my observation is that these are of marginal size. The construction methods used by Catalina are indeed different to those of the French boats.

There are differences, and to some folks those differences are indeed significant.

I have no dog in the fight, not owning any of the subject marques at this time, but I spend a lot of time around boat yards stickybeaking, and have formed opinions that you may not share.

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Old 17-04-2022, 20:24   #10
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Get any boat you want that makes you happy and fits your budget and needs, outfit and upgrade it to fit the uses you will use for it, and get good at sailing it. I’m a multi millionaire and can get any boat I see and still got a Beneteau, outfitted it to 2022 standards and that’s all you need. Anyone who tells you otherwise is an armchair sailor and loser who doesn’t have a boat. Ignore them.
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Old 17-04-2022, 21:39   #11
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Sounds to me like a Hunturd owner who is trying to drum up demand for his boat by slagging the competition. I think the Catalinas have a lot of living space, but don't sail well. The Bendytoys have several levels of boats, the First series being the highest quality and the Cyclades being the lowest. Our First 456 had Lewmar 65s as primary winches and a lead keel.

Most boats built after 2007 have gone downhill. Big windows, no sea berths, uncovered chip board for bulkheads, they are built to last less than 10 years and for sheltered waters only.
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Old 17-04-2022, 22:35   #12
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

At an esoteric level, boats exhibit a certain dichotomy.
We want them to have an "Alpha Male" persona of strength/ability, and at the same time we call them "She" and want them to exude a feeling of grace/beauty, to be "easy on the eyes" so to speak.
No, I don't have thousands of miles of offshore sailing experience, rather I come from the perspective of a working lifetime of fixing/repairing, and general working on a dizzying array of makes/models of all types/sizes.
Whilst all boats have certain discrepancies that are more or less "built in", I've found that the Bennies and Jeannies are quite capable of driving you to drink in trying to work on them.
Access for wiring/plumbing/engines/systems, is generally atrocious, it's like they hung all that stuff in mid-air and then built the boat around them.
Additions/upgrades, and general servicing can be quite frustrating and labor intensive.
I think it's kind of a design philosophy that values form over function.
I'll leave out commenting on interior/exterior overall structural integrity, suffice to say that a common term for them among my peers is "Flexi-Flyer".
Now this is subjective, why do they have to have such a stark and severe look, like an overly made-up actress?
In comparison, a lot of the Catalinas are more like the freckle-faced girl next door, a smile and no makeup.
Perhaps the B and J boats are designed by Beta males.
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Old 18-04-2022, 04:32   #13
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Interstice to read some of the responses here particularly concerning the French boats. Say what you’d like but an iron keel lag bolted to the bottom of a boat is an inherent and systemic design flaw. Not having a keel stub reduces the cost of tooling a mold and reduces build time. Iron is cheaper than lead. Lag bolts are cheaper and easier to install than J bolts. Crappy veneers are cheaper than teak veneers. Tell the folks that died on a B First in the Atlantic from a keel failure that it’s a grade A boat; betting they’ll disagree with you. I’m not pushing my boat or any boat, my point here was to shed light on how bad Benneteaus and Jeanneaus are built vs how well Catalinas and Hunters are built. Do a quick search of keel problems for Jeanneau 43ds, 5/8” of laminate in the highest load area of the boat and they wonder why it cracks!! While I will say you can buy a Group B boat new and Putz around Tampa Bay with it safely you’ll also lose half the money you put it into it in five years or less. That’s not because they’re well built I can assure you.
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Old 18-04-2022, 04:52   #14
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

Another point to this comparison. I'd consider Beneteau and Hunter to be direct competitors, but Catalina is a little higher end (and priced a little higher accordingly). So seeing better hardware on the Catalinas is expected in my mind. I would tend to put them more on the Hunter side of the fence as far as their priorities in hitting a price target.
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Old 18-04-2022, 05:06   #15
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Re: Hunter, Catalina, Benneteau Debate

I have surveyed ...
85 Catalinas
192 Hunters
112 Beneteaus
28 Jeanneaus

On systems installation, build and material quality alone, I believe Hunter and Catalina are superior to Beneteau and Jeanneau.
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