Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Charter Day 5 - Last Sail and more on the Catalina 309

It was the last day of our charter of the Catalina 309 and the weather continues pretty much as it has the last couple days.  Moderately strong winds from the North.  But the Catalina is a bit expensive just as a hotel room so we go out for another sail.

We don't go far since we don't have a lot of time, but we again set sails, do maneuvers, and  continue to get more comfortable with the boat and more sailing practice.  Since we have to return the boat with full fuel, we stop by the fuel dock and "fill up".  With all the motoring between the docking lessons, the motor running the majority of the time during the infamous day two, and the steaming thru the channnel at the anchorage and back the prior day, we still used less than two gallons of fuel.  Those diesels are efficient.

This was the last sail we took on our boat-tel.  After this we cleaned up, packed up and were on our way to a hotel...spending our first night on solid land in 10 days.

Now that we had spent several days on a boat by ourselves, here are some thoughts about the whole experience.  As I mentioned in a previous post, spending time on both a catamaran and a mono-hull we've decided that a catamaran is the way we'll likely go.  I'm not completely sure it is a fair comparison, a 30ft mono and a 40ft cat, but the cat definitely seemed more stable and comfortable.  I can only assume a smaller (35ft?) cat will only be slightly less stable of a platform and that a 40 ft mono would only be a little more stable than the 30ft.  Anyone out there have any thoughts on this assumption?

The Catalina 309 was quite a comfortable boat for our stay.  In the aft of the boat tucked under the cockpit was a "mostly" queen size berth.  I say mostly as it tapers slightly at the foot.  We found all but the headroom to be comfortable (you can't sit up on the side of the bed under the floor of the cockpit).  The bed was actually the same size as the one we had on the catamaran and the cabin was definitely more private.

Moving forward from the main berth you enter the main saloon with a small U shaped galley on the left.  The galley has a bar-sized refrigerator, a two burner propane stove and a single basin sink.  The refrigerator is DC, but I don't know how long that would last on batteries.  Ditto on the hot water, though it has an engine heat exchanger as well (I think).

In front of the galley is the main seating area.  This boat also has a LCD TV mounted on the forward bulkhead, a reasonable place for it.  The whole saloon area is actually quite spacious, bright and airy, for sitting "down in the hull" of a 30ft boat.  The light interior and woods do help.

In front of the saloon, right behind the bulkhead where the TV hangs, is the head (bathroom).  I labeled it "tiny" in the picture I previously posted (also below), and it is.  There is enough room for the typical marine head (toilet) and a small sink basin.  The room is a little larger than the typical airline bathroom.  All in all it is workable, until you realize it is a shower as well.  There is a shower curtain track in the ceiling that blocks water from getting out the door or all over the cabinet.  The sink spigot becomes a handheld shower sprayer.  I tried the shower once.  When you get wet, you are essentially wearing the shower curtain.  The separate shower on the cat was a much better option...although bathing off the back of the boat is a nice option too, and there's plenty of room there.

Finally, at the front of the boat is a V berth.  We didn't spend any time in the V-berth, it was mostly used as storage for the cockpit cushions, some racheting recliner cushions, and some of our larger provisions (soda, etc.).  I wouldn't think the berth would have enough leg room for two, but should be sufficient for one.

Overall the boat would be a good choice for a couple or a small family.  I think it may be a be a bit small for a long-term live-aboard (not the largest tanks, and not enough storage space for long term provisioning), but would certainly be good for shorter coastal cruising trips (as well as bare-boat charters).  Of course, take this analysis for what it is...someone with very little sailing experience telling you about 5 days we spent on one.


  1. Just found your blog and have enjoyed reliving the learning experience. We recently purchased a Baba Panda 40 and we own a Catalina 30. The difference is night and day. The Catalina weighs 11000 lbs and the baba is 30000. the Panda sets in the water and the Catalina bobs on top. We are moving the Panda to Stingray Point in Virginia in March. Hope to move aboard in a couple years. if you are in the area look us up

    Mike Reed
    S/V Zoe

    1. Hi Mike,

      Welcome to my blog. Glad you are finding it entertaining. Assuming the 30 is pretty similar to the 309, I think I know what you are talking about. It was a fun boat, but definitely moved more on the rougher seas. I'm not familiar with the Panda...will need to look that one up.

      Good luck on the move to Virginia and moving aboard. If we are in the area I'll drop you a line.