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sail-catalina_375-largeGerry Douglas, the chief designer for Catalina, has hit a home run with the new Catalina 375. It is a fact: they have regrouped and rethought out the concept of a solid family cruising yacht that provides great features, value and performance. Filling the niche previously held by the Catalina 36, this new boat is a product of obvious experience and input from owners and the Catalina design team.

Swans Marina recently sold our test sailboat; when we arrived to do the review, Bernie Luttmer – the affable and passionate owner – raved about this new boat. Yacht broker John Bedford too was excited; their enthusiasm was warranted.

What's striking from the get go is how good looking the low profile deck and robust hull are and the solid sailing capabilities it demonstrated during our test sail. Seeing the boat on the hard first allowed us to really see what was under the waterline.

Instincts told us that the lead shoal draft keel and big three-bladed prop would impact the boat's performance and there would be some disturbances around the rudder. Our instincts were wrong.

We sailed hull number 4 on a day that provided good test conditions: relatively flat water and winds reaching 10 knots from the southwest that allowed us to put the boat through its paces. The hull shape proved its value and the boat did track well up wind. The in-mast furling system from Selden did not take away from the power and shape of the mainsail. The 130 genoa performed well too. The vertical battens did their job and the leach of the main was not falling off (typical of earlier days of this rig application). Testing boats like we do allows us a perspective on what really would help performance; in this regard we would definitely opt for the adjustable jib leads. Moving the leads back allowed much better performance and trim up wind allowing the genoa to drop inside the lifelines and set up perfectly. Performance measurements showed us easily hitting 5 knots in 40 degrees apparent in 8 knots of breeze. Nice!

Above decks, the boats visibility for steering was excellent. We sailed with full tops and covers. Despite the reality that most would remove the middle section, I would consider retrofitting this to include a window to increase visibility of the main in all conditions. The boat was easy to steer from the side and there was tons of space aft of the wheel. We really liked the centralization of all the electronics, engine and stereo controls on the steering pedestal; everything was close at hand – no need to glance aft or off to one side for adjustments or confirmation. The cockpit table is huge when folded out and the cockpit itself is deep, safe and large. Storage is far from lacking here; there's lots of it in the lockers accessible from the cockpit. Dropping in generators, air conditioners and extra equipment would be a snap.

We were also impressed with the Selden furling spar. The rig is well done with solid rigging and chain plates. A twin backstay adjusts the rig easily and allows for a perfect unobstructed entry to the swim platform. Closer inspection below showed us the robustness of construction. The mast is deck mounted and backed up by a mast support that is perfectly tucked inside the head.

Control lines were led aft to jammers and cleats and also easy to access. Single handling this boat would be a snap; the addition of a standard electric winch to starboard was a nice bonus. Sheet bags were standard allowing easy stowage underway. The traveller was forward of the dodger and easily trimmed with the standard mainsheet configuration.

Moving forward we were surprised with the room between the lifelines and shrouds making the side deck a dream to navigate. The front anchor locker was large with twin anchor capability. Again one feature we would add is a wash down forward. It's a nice feature to have.

Below decks, there is a real surprise. The main salon is just huge. The folding table concept typical of the older Morgan Out Island series tucks nicely with its stainless leg system against the forward bulkhead. A folding standard seat easily stowed aboard makes the huge living space happen. To starboard, a neat double seat with a table can be converted effortlessly to a couch. The entertainment system on the starboard bulkhead is easily viewed. The openness of the space is a welcoming feeling and gives the impression you are in a boat that's three feet longer.

The nav station and its related electrical/electronic panel is tucked neatly to port, aft of a three seat settee. A hidden chair flips out easily for seating. The electrical system and wiring panels are well done and labelled. The table is adequate for our paper charts. The galley just starboard of the companionway stairs is functional and well done. Nice cupboards grace eye level and there is enough counter space. The U-shape is perfect for a cruising-focused boat like this one. There is plenty of room for an optional refrigerator but clearly what's there is sufficient for most.

We would also deem the head as 'extra large'. A big shower and solid amenities are standard. There's great access to the plumbing fittings through the vanity. Under power, the 40 HP Yanmar pushes this boat effortlessly, backed up by the robust three-bladed prop that bites well in forward and reverse. All in all, the Catalina 375 is another winner in this year's crop of new boats. It is great value and no doubt will live up to the tradition of longevity and value offering Catalina is known for.

By John Kerr

To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com to check listings!