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YACHTING MONTHLY reviews the Catalina 42mkII

2005-10-20
The Yanks are coming!
YACHTING MONTHLY March 2005
by James Jermain

America’s largest boatbuilder is planning a new assault on Britain. The C42 Mkll is its spearhead and the opposition is worried. James Jermain delves deeper :

Catalina Yachts has been a sleeping giant in Britain but in America the range has huge popular appeal with many of its models featuring in theworld’s all-time bestseller list. Among these is the C42, which was launched 16 yearsago. The recently introduced Mkll version is leading the company’s renewed assault onthe British market backed by a new agent and a new sales impetus. It should give its continental rivals a run for their money.

DESIGN
When thinking about Catalina, forget trendy fashion, forget cutting-edge technology and forget annual design tweaks. The C42 is as conventional as they come with hull form, interior layout and rig design all being the result of an evolution that began in 1988. Compared to the latest Oceanis and Sun Odyssey models, she is as trendy as cavalry twill. But what she lacks in eye-catching eye-catching looks, she makes up for in practical durability. It is a design matured across the oceans of the world and one with a rather more international feel than some of Americas domestic models.

A generous rake to the bow gives her a short waterline, but in other respects the hull shape is typical for a moderate displacement yacht. There is plenty of volume for accommodation with a deep body and generous beam but the waterline plane is well balanced and the run aft clean. She has a deep forefoot, which contributes to a gentle motion and improved directional stability. The rig is a typical, stout, four-square masthead design intended for offshore strength rather than round-the-cans tweaking.

We joined Tim Barker of Windward Yachting for a couple of days sailing out of Chichester Harbour to find out whether this essentially ‘last generation’ design could cut it against her contemporary competitors. We had a mix of mainly light to moderate conditions.

PERFORMANCE
The dying wind did little more than fill the sails, turned gold by the evening sun. The dark mud banks lining the creek were speckled white with wading birds. As we beat gently back to base after an afternoon of brisk, southerly breezes, we couldn’t deny the thought that this was what the Catalina was all about: the undemanding enjoyment of just being afloat. She had given us a few hours of entertaining sailing in 15 to 18 knots of wind and now she was making up against the last of the ebb, tacking cleanly but unhurriedly between the gently heeling buoys.

In the beginning we had slipped out of Northney Marina into a 9-knot breeze, unfurled the non-standard in-boom reefing, fully battened main and ran down harbour lazily and comfortably at around 5 knots, the big rudder giving plenty of feel through the rod linkage and not-too-large wheel. As we got clear of the shore, the wind filled in and we came on to a close reach with 18 to 20 knots over the deck. She powered on through the slight seas at a shade under 7 knots, straight running and well balanced. There was a fair bit of weight in the helm but it only needed small movements of the wheel to keep her on course.

The speeds we were recording were not exceptional - not more than 6 knots to windward, the high sixes on a close reach, the high fives downwind - but it was consistent and easily achieved. When the helm is put over for the tack, she responds positively but not quickly, giving the crew time to haul in the large, masthead genoa. She holds her way well through the wind and is soon back into her stride. You would not want to out-smart a Sun Fast in a short tacking duel close to the weather mark, but cruising with two up there is no need for hurry and the crew can take their time to get the sheets in.

For a boat intended for simple, uncomplicated cruising, it has a surprisingly complex sheeting arrangement. On the inside of the sidedecks is the genoa car track for windward work while on the toerail is the track for reaching and running. Since only two cars are supplied as standard, this means they must be swapped from track to track as required. We suspect many owners will not, in fact, bother with this even though, on a reach, the sheet lead from the inboard trackis not good.

Overall, the Catalina’s performance was undemanding and predictable. She tracks well, is easy on the helm, and speed is acceptable but not spectacular. The control lines and winches are well positioned for two-man handling. The helmsman has a reasonably comfortable seat and plenty of room behind the wheel. The seat is low, and visibility over the coachroof restricted. The cockpit is long and not too wide with a variety of stowage lockers, none of which is very large.

UNDER POWER
Entirely predictable in every respect, the Catalina motors at a cruising speed of 6.5 to 7 knots and makes 7,8 knots flat out. The engine is smooth and reasonably quiet. The turning circle ahead is tight and astern she quickly comes under control- although the three-bladed prop gives a firm kick to port, which needs to be borne in mind when coming alongside.

ON DECK
Pushpit seats (in the aft rail of the cockpit) make a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a drink and a commanding view. The helmsman’s seat Is fairiy comfortable, with room to manouevre behind the wheei and good access to the instrument panel and controls tabove rlght), but its low position means the coachroof gets in the way of visibility

BELOW DECKS
The wraparound seating in the saloon will accommodate nine or more for dinner. Stowage is sufficient for offshore cruising with big locken under the settees. The upholstery is reasonably comfortable but there are no real sea berths. Although there are plenty of opening ports and hatches, the teak joinery makes the interior a bit dark. The woodwork generally could do with another coat of varnish

GRP mouldings are used extensively as bases for furniture most obviously in the galley. But at least the whlte surface brightens things up a bit. In other respects the galley is excellent with plenty of stowage, a large icebox and front-opening fridge and three-burner cooker. Normally a microwave will be installed but it can be replaced, as here,with extra lockers

There is plenty of room at the chart table though the shape is awkward and it looks like an afterthought. The switch panel and electrical systems are superb. Many owners install a television/ video in the locker above

The forecabin is probably the most successful part of the boat. The large, offset double has an interior sprung mattress and there is a mass of stowage, including drawers the bunk. With good lighting and ventilation, it should prove comfortable in ail climates. The heads foreward is large and has a separate shower stall. Headroom here and elsewhere is a generous 6ft 7in

At the after end of the boat a number of options are avallable. Our boat had two cabins but a single cabin can be chosen with the galley moving aft.In its place. In both options the after cablns are on the small side but this should not trouble short-term guests.

There are four or five interior layout options to suit most needs, from family sailing to group charter or two-handed. Ours had a good coastal cruising arrangement with a huge suite forward and two identical cabins aft. The wide, rather too-open saloon has good grab rails but modest stowage and the chart table is a bit of an afterthought tacked on to the dinette.

The forward master cabin is superbly equipped and comfortable with a good heads en suite.

The two aftercabins are on the small side and have limited stowage.


Catalina Yachts • 21200 Victory Boulevard • Woodland Hills, California 91367 • Phone 818 884-7700
Catalina Yachts Florida • 7200 Bryan Dairy Rd • Largo, FL 33777 • Phone 727-544-6681


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