We are pleased to announce that our new Catalina 545 has been awarded SAIL Magazine’s “Best Large Monohull 51ft and Above” and “Best Systems“
In the eyes of our panel of judges, the reason the new Catalina 545 stood out as this year’s best large monohull is because of the way its collection of engineering and design features all worked together to result in a truly outstanding vessel. Beyond that, although the company is including the new flagship in its 5-Series, Catalina fans will immediately notice some eyebrow-raising differences between it and the rest of the line.
A fiberglass “collar,” for example, is molded in all around the top of the hull. Shaped like a construction beam, this feature not only makes the hull more rigid, but provides a solid base for the deck, a strong sheer rail and a sturdy base for stanchions and cleats. It also incorporates a set of scuppers that drain near the waterline, thereby eliminating the formation of streaks on the boat’s topsides. Finally, up in the bow it blends into a sprit with an integral anchor roller, in contrast to the tubular sprits found on the other boats in Catalina’s 5-Series.
Overhead, the tall rig includes a self-tacking jib in addition to whatever light-air sails you may choose to fly from said sprit. Displacement is rather light, so this should be a quick boat in light to moderate airs.
On deck, other thoughtful details abound. The coaming step-over from the side deck, for example, is at the same level as the cockpit seat. There’s also a solid rail aft instead of lifelines in the interest of additional security. All sail control lines are conveniently close at hand for a singlehander, and the starboard seat extends to form a berth for sleeping under the stars. Oh, and the boat is also darn good-looking.
Beyond that, the boat’s systems are simple, strong and accessible throughout, with the house batteries located under a big hatch in the saloon, admirably installed wiring and plumbing, and plenty of working space around the engine. Catalina designer Gerry Douglas is an old hand at creating safe, comfortable cruising boats, and it shows aboard the 545. Kudos to this storied American builder for showing it still has what it takes.
Put simply, the boat not only has all those same systems today’s sailors have come to expect, but they are all both admirably well laid out and provided with excellent access points for maintenance and easier servicing down the road—a design consideration that can be as important as the installations themselves.
Beyond that, the boat is chock full of good ideas in general. The fenders, for example, have their own “stateroom” in the bow where they are easy to access and won’t make a mess, while the watertight bulkhead aft is located ahead of the rudderpost, so any leaks or damage resulting from a collision will be sealed off from the hull. There’s even a dumbwaiter in the galley leading out to the cockpit, and the hull-deck joint includes a clever gutter to more effectively carry away water from the side decks—something our lead systems judge, Tom Hale, had never seen before, and no small detail from a boatbuilding perspective. Bottom line: the devil is in the details when it comes to systems and boatbuilding, and in both these areas the Catalina 545 is a winner.