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Blue Water Boats: CatalinaMorgan 440

2005-10-20
In 1970 Frank Butler founded Catalina Yachts with the goal of building “good boats that are good valueto our customers.” Thirty-five years later CatalinaYachts is one of the most successful production boat-builders in the U.S., with numerous accolades bestowedupon many different models in its line. Comparing the original Catalina 22 to the more modern 470, the similarities are obvious, and there is no doubt to the 470’s lineage. This continuity is provided by Catalina’s resistance to reinventing the wheel with each model. Instead Catalina incorporates proven features with new ideas from owner and dealer feedback. Therefore, buying a Catalina is a known quantity, which owners know and appreciate. And thus, Catalina enjoys one of the highest percentages of repeat customers in the industry.

In 1984 Catalina acquired Morgan Yachts of Largo, Fla., which became the Morgan Division of Catalina, specializing in cruising and charter boats. And last yearCatalina launched the CatalinaMorgan 440, the first cruis- ing boat to bear the CatalinaMorgan name. So it was with great interest that we headed down to Eastern Yacht Sales RI in Portsmouth, R.I., to take hull number13 for a test sail.

Stepping on board, the 440’s sheer size struck us first; she was huge for just 44 feet, seven inches on deck with a large cockpit able to accommodate eight adults comfortably. Much of this space is provided by her generous 14-foot beam. Though the plans show that the hull tapers in toward the stern, the aft section is kept quite full, allotting the large cockpit and cabin below.

The raised saloon is bright and spacious, with large windows forward and midships. The U-shaped settee is raised a step from the main level of the saloon and can easily sit six adults, and more if you don’t mind rubbing elbows. The square dinette can be configured as a small cocktail table or, by folding the corners out, a full dining table and can be lowered electronically to create a double berth. On the port side, a plush settee can seat three, but is throne-like for two. With the push of a lever, the outer two seats recline La-Z-Boy-style and the back of the middle seat pulls forward to reveal a drink and snack holder.

Aft of the settee on the port side is a low, fiddle-less nav desk, facing outboard, which is not the most comfortable configuration at sea. The master switches and switch panel are also located at the nav desk, and there is ample room on the bulkhead aft to mount additional instruments. However, the primary instruments are mounted at the helming station. Aft of the nav station is the aft head, which will serve the aft cabin and is the more accessible of the two when under way. Comfortable living
Across from the nav desk and head is a large galley that will make any cook happy. U-shaped, there are plenty of places to brace against when cooking under way. The galley is open to the main saloon and three steps down from the cockpit, ensuring ample ventilation and allowing dishes to be passed in either direction. The boat we sailed had a top-loading freezer, top-loading fridge and front-loading mini-fridge with built in freezer. All three can run on AC or DC power and automatically switch between the two. A three-burner, gimbaled stove sits outboard, and the drawer bank faces forward, which will prevent drawers, utensils and knives from flying when rolling in a large swell. The galley Is open to the spacious, bright raised saloon, which can accommodate a small party between the port recliners and starboard dinette

The master stateroom is forward with a large, centerline double berth with innerspring mattress, drawers under the berth, hanging lockers, vanity, wet locker and large, private head with separate shower area. There is ample floor space for two adults to change at the same time. With a forward master stateroom, a couple can sleep undisturbed by night owls in the cockpit or action on the dock, if backed into a marina berth. Additionally, one can stand on the berth and look out the forward hatch to check the wind direction and swinging radius when anchored out. This cabin will undoubtedly provide a comfortable living space for those planning to spend significant time aboard.

With its open layout and high overhead, there will be no feelings of claustrophobia on the 440. The only tight area is the aft cabin, which has a low ceiling over the bunk due to the aft cockpit. However, outboard, there is more headroom, and a hatch overhead offers light and ventilation. The aft cabin can come with a centerline, island berth, or the space on the starboard side can be converted to a workroom with optional washer/dryer; access is through the aft cabin or cockpit.

The raised saloon allows for a large engine space below the floor-boards, and a Yanmar 75-horse-power diesel resides under the base of the companionway. Access to the sides and forward end is not ideal; however, Catalina simplified things by organizing all of the strainers and filters in a very accessible row in the main bilge compartment. This compartment is large enough that one can climb down in to change a belt on the aft side of the engine, clean the bilge pump, check the filters or service the optional genset. The main bilge space affords easy access to the filters, genset, bilge pump and aft end of the engine Impressive under sail
After getting acquainted with the liveaboard amenities of the CatalinaMorgan 440, we were ready to see how she performed on the water, especially given her generous lines. In a steady 18 knots, we pulled away from our slip and were immediately impressed by her maneuverability under power as we finagled out of a tight spot without the help of any thrusters.

Once out of the channel, we headed up and rolled out the main. The 440 comes standard with a full-batten main and Dutchman flaking system. However, hull 13 had a mast-furling main on a Charleston Spars rig. Rolling the main out and then later reefing was a cinch with help from the standard electric winch on the cabintop. The rigid boomvang is set to ensure the right boom-mast angle when furling, preventing commonmis-feed problems.

The deck is well organized with all of the halyards, main furling lines and traveler lines led to a bank of line clutches on the cabintop. They all share a centrally located electric winch. At first it seemed awkward to run the main furling line across the cockpit to the primary jib winch when using the outhaul on the electric winch to unroll the main. However, the set-up worked well and served to minimize gear on deck that would need servicing or trip up the crew.

With a reefed main and full 35-percent genoa, we sailed smartly toward Prudence Island. She quickly heeled over and accelerated into a comfortable groove. Even with the full genoa, the helm felt balanced with little tendency to round up, and when the genoa was reefed and sails trimmed accordingly, the 440 sailed herself close hauled. Despite initial reservations, there was no doubt the 440 could sail. Taking her through the different points of sail, we saw speeds between 5.5 and 7.5 knots in 18 knots true and calm seas, and when we really tried under full sail on a broad reach, we broke 8.0. She tacked and jibed smoothly and would be easy to handle through all maneuvers for a couple.

One drawback of the minimalist deck layout was the dearth of hand-holds and foot braces, which was exacerbated by the large cockpit and seemingly slick nonskid. With the leaves folded down on the six-person cockpit table, the structure provided something to brace against forward. At the helm, we found it especially difficult on port tack, when there was a larger gap to leeward because of the walk-through stern on the starboard side. The 440 would also benefit from an additional clutch or cleat on the genoa fur


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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