Catalina 355 Page 2
Conditions during our test sail were frustratingly light. Fortunately, the 355 (like its predecessor) has a nifty removable bowsprit for flying over-sized reaching and downwind sails. We hoisted a loose-luffed gennaker on a continuous furler and, when a breath of air did appear, quickly had the 355 moving along at a 5-knot clip. The steering was light and responsive; the boat easily fell into a groove.
In addition to the sprit, the 355 can carry a full-sized 155 percent genoa. Our boat had an in-mast mainsail with substantial vertical battens, which is the standard rig. Those who favor a conventional mainsail with more roach and slab reefing can specify one as an option.
Under power I found that the 355’s 29hp Yanmar diesel pushed the boat along in flat water at a little over 7 knots at full throttle. At a more reasonable 2,200 rpm, our cruising speed was about 5.5 knots. The turning radius is about 11/2 boatlengths, and the boat is very predictable and manageable when backing down.
Just as Douglas uses his boats, he also maintains them. Systems on Catalinas are thus arranged with an eye to access and servicing. All wiring on the 355 is laid out in conduits under the cabin sole. The engine’s fuel and oil filters are in a dedicated chest in the head. The main electrical panel, which is itself quite large, is augmented by an auxiliary panel so that extra electronics can be added easily. One detail I liked was the sight gauge on the generous-sized holding tank, which makes it possible to accurately assess when a pump-out is required.
Though not quite as attractive as the 445 or as roomy, the 355 packs an awful lot into a smaller package and is just as well designed. There’s enough room for a family or a pair of couples to live aboard for an extended period, and the boat is set up to sail well. Cockpit ergonomics are superb, and functionality generally is very good. Construction and finish are well above average for a mass-production boat.