Catalina 350By John Kerr

For a guy who grew up racing one­ designs and sailing a lot of boats, I always get nervous when I go out to test a new boat. I'm afraid I might miss something, that I might be too critical, that I might miss the essence of the boat and the niche market it's designed for. But I experienced no first time jitters on the Catalina 350.

The essence of Catalina boats is their level of commitment to ensuring customers are happy. This translates to a batting average second to none: the 350 is a regular grand slam. Catalina has built a great, comfortable cruising boat that competes well in the market.

It's a big boat for thirty-five feet and another example of how designer Jerry Douglas makes it work even when thinking outside the box.

Catalina owners almost unanimously love the line and many we spoke to told us stories about their first Catalina and how they just bought bigger from the people they trusted and knew.

Catalina 350 - step designGetting underway, the engine was as quiet on a boat as I had ever experienced and can easily push the boat at better than seven knots with its three-blade fixed prop.

As we rounded up to set the sails we were immediately impressed with the Sparcraft mast furling system and while the boat had Harken electric winch (positioned to allow access from any control line if needed) we were able to unfurl (and furl) it easily with a winch handle. The Schaefer Jib furling system worked flawlessly.

This boat handles well under sail. We moved along comfortably at six knots upwind in a twelve-knot summer breeze. Cracking the sheets the boat responded well and accelerated nicely. It racked beautifully and I was impressed with the overall responsiveness - admittedly a bit of a surprise because she doesn't sail like a boat with a thirteen-foot beam.

Catalina 350 -  standard equipmentThe Catalina 350 features a ton of room below decks with 2.11 metres of headroom. Fore and aft cabins provide comfortable accommodations for two couples and the saloon layout adds additional sleeping accommodation. If you spend significant amount of time cruising you will find the storage space and layout excellent. The galley is great to work in, with plenty of storage and counter space. Great livability for a thirty-five-foot boat.

The forward stateroom boasts two hanging lockers, drawers, shelf and lights over the berth and drawers underneath it. It comes standard with a neat pedestal berth. A new feature is an accessory that extends the size of the berth to an 80" wide and 80" long. On the downside, when you go topside to check the anchor in the middle of the night you might wake your first mate.
There is a separate access to the big toilet/shower compartment which can also be reached through a door from the main saloon's short passageway. The shower boasts a separate enclosed stall with a folding door and a seat.

We suspect their ability to respond to owners' wishes prompted the two-table concept we've seen on a bunch of Catalinas. The smaller table is located within the port settee and provides two single seats when raised and a full-length settee or berth when lowered.

The navigation station tucked into the corner features efficient layout and lots of space. Facing the table is the instrumentation breaker panel with room for electronics and entertainment systems as well.

On the boat we tested a neat flat panel screen on the aft bulkhead divided the main saloon from the aft cabin. The door to the aft cabin opens one up to another large comfortable area with a full length hanging locker and large double berth.

The U-shaped galley located on the starboard side includes deep double stainless-steel sink, plenty of cupboard storage and rack space, and gimbaled stainless steel two-burner gas stove with oven. It has generous counter-top space and a divided refrigerator/freezer.

We loved the brightness of the interior complemented by white headliners. Teak moldings, solid teak cabinetry and veneer bulkheads finished with several coats of varnish complete the decor. I particularly liked the design of the steps leading to the cockpit - ensuring safe passage in or out of the cabin even when you're heeling.

Catalina 350 - sliding cleatA roomy cockpit sports deep seats and solid support for comfortable sitting underway and a nice transition to the stern make this a beautiful entertaining spot. One thing we really liked for a cruising boat was the cockpit table (with solid fitting drop leaves) running forward from the steering pedestal. It has a net storage locker; perfect for all that loose stuff we bring aboard. The pedestal is solid and has all the electronics, gauges and controls at hand. The owner of the test boat had installed a near light facing forward to illuminate the table and locker at night.

Special features from the moveable track clears to the easy mast furling system to the day/night lights in the lazarette (big enough to hold stuff you'd take on an ocean crossing) really make this boat stand out. The only thing we might add would be a window in the dodger roof to make it easier to see the Windex. But that's an easy fix.

Check out the Catalina 350 and you'll find a user-friendly seaworthy boat that's universally loved by its owners.

I liked her so much I even forgot my first-time jitters.

Originally printed in Canadian Yachting's July 2005 issue

Specifications
Designer: Catalina Yachts
Specs: LOA 35'5" LWL 30'3" Beam 12'8"
Draft (fin/wing): 6'3" I 4'5"' Displacement (fin/wing) 13,300 I 13,635 lbs.
Ballast (fin/wing): 5,000 I 5,835 lbs.
Sail Area (100% foretriangle): 595 sq. ft.
Power: 4 cylinder 35 HP Universal Westerbeak

Photo Captions
Photo 1 - Underway with a 150 takes the 350 along well at 6 plus knots.
Photo 2 - The step design was a nice design touch.
Photo 3 - The standard equipment includes two bow rollers, a divided anchor locker for two sets of gear a powerful windlass and chain gypsy. A shore power connection is located there as well.
Photo 4 - We loved the little things and this sliding cleat was neat feature especially for a cruising boat.

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