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Catalina 355

2011 October 3

Coastal cruiser

Here is the latest model from the Catalina group. Catalina uses its own in-house design team headed by Gerry Douglas. The promotional material says that the concept is based on the features and styling of the successful Catalina 445.

The first impression I get when I look at this hull is that either the bow is too low or the stern is too high. The sheer is almost flat. Bow and stern appear to be equal in height from the DWL. So I checked with a tick strip and no, the stern is not as high as the bow. I estimate the freeboard at the transom corner is about 4 inches less than the freeboard at the bow. I'd like to see a lower stern but keeping the freeboard high aft has some advantages when you are scrapping for volume. You want a nice deep cockpit with good seat backs. But you also want headroom over the aft double berth.  The high stern helps. This is a beamy boat with an L/B of 2.95. Anytime you have an L/B under 3.00 you can consider the boat beamy. Of course, in the quest for volume and a big cockpit the beam has been carried aft to a very wide stern. The D/L is 224 and by today's standards that is on the heavy side of moderate. You can choose from two drafts with a wing keel drawing 4 feet 6 inches, and a deep fin drawing 6 feet 8 inches. The wing keel has 1,000 pounds more ballast than does the fin keel model.

The accommodation plan is laid out for two couples. There is a large double berth forward and an athwartships double berth tucked in under the cockpit. The forward double has an "articulating innerspring mattress" with an option for an electric lifter "for comfortable reading or viewing TV." Hanging lockers in both staterooms are lined with "aromatic cedar." In the main cabin the port settee can be set up with a table in the middle or used as a straight settee so it can be used as an additional berth. There is a small chart table aft of the port settee with space in the table for a laptop computer. The large head aft includes a shower area. The forward bulkhead is watertight for safety.

The sailplan shows a deck-stepped, double spreader fractional rig with fore and aft lower shrouds. You don't see that much anymore. Most builders have gone to swept spreaders. The mainsail is an in-mast furling type with vertical battens. The SA/D is 15.9. That's a bit on the low side by today's standards so I would not expect the 355 to be a light air flyer. An optional sprit is available that is removable and can stow in the anchor locker.

The cockpit is huge. There is a large cockpit table with drop leaves that, according to the promo material, can seat four to six people. The port cockpit locker hatch is a "gullwing" type that extends up the seat back so the opening is really large. There is a folding helm seat aft that you can remove to access the swim step area. The side decks are a bit narrow for my taste, but with all the lines leading aft and that big cockpit you won't be going forward much anyway. There is an anchor well in the bow that houses a windlass.

I like the overall styling of this boat. It's not outlandish and the cabintrunk is low and well proportioned. It would be easy to call this boat very "vanilla" but Catalina designs for a big market and they have been at it for a long time with significant successes along the way. Catalina knows its market. I've always been a bit partial toward the Catalina because one of the first boats I owned with my wife was a Catalina 27. This new 355 is a lot of boat in 35 feet.