There are certain things you can count on in a Catalina. It will sail well. Not like a world beater, but like an honest boat. It will be built to a price point, but not the lowest price point. And a Catalina will incorporate scads of the value-add notions of in-house designer Gerry Douglas, who also gleans ideas from endless conversations with Catalina owners.
The new 445 is a shade more performance-oriented than most Catalinas. The buyer might be different from someone looking at the company’s popular 42–footer, or the 47, so this one does more than fill a gap in the lineup. The 445 buyer probably wants to do some PHRF racing, but it would be a pity if the boat never went cruising, because this one has the legs for it. Styling cues are a touch fashion-forward, but the knowing eye will instantly recognize a Catalina.
There are five main components: hull, structural grid, hull liner, deck, and molded deck liner, with a collision bulkhead forward. The grid catches the load of keel, mast, and tankage; like the liners (which also make a structural contribution) it has chases for clean runs and updates of electrical wiring. The fiberglass hull is cored from the waterline up with balsa. The deck is also balsa-cored except where winches and other gear are mounted. Furniture subassemblies are not structural, Douglas says, “so that everything ends up in the right place.” The company is sticking with lead, not iron, for its keels, which is one reason why Catalina’s price point is a bit north of some.
Catalina leads sail controls to the cabintop in the same configuration on all the boats in the line. If you know one Catalina you know them all. Traveler controls for both sides are led to one point, so you don’t switch spots to adjust. When you live with a boat, these things matter, and if you are fortunate enough to have berthing that allows you to board via the transom, life on a 445 could not be easier. Twin independent backstays provide extra security for the mast and open the stern passageway. A dedicated electronics hotspot just forward of the traveler (and clear of foot traffic) eliminates a forest of antennas on the transom.
Add twin wheels and transom lifelines that open with pelican hooks, then retract and disappear, and there’s a clear passage from the swim step to a cockpit that is highly fit for entertaining. The table holds an insulated cooler, handrails, engine panel, and a chart-plotter housing that rotates port/starboard.
The back of the house is properly squared off so that you can rest against it at sea. Trust me on this one: curved seating is great for cocktail time, but when you’re putting on the miles you spend time resting your back against the house—or stretched out sleeping—and this cockpit is long enough for that. Catalina offers an optional hard dodger; with it you won’t watch your canvas fade.
A Seldn rig with in-mast furling is standard; vertical battens aid mainsail shape. “The boat was built around the mast,” Douglas says. The spar is deck-stepped to the top plate of a compression post. This configuration lessens noise below while eliminating the leaks of keel-stepped masts. Genoa tracks are 13'9" long to accommodate adjustments to large overlapping headsails. Douglas is not interested in small, self-tacking jibs, he says, “because most people sail most of the time in 12 knots of breeze. You need the power of the overlapping headsail.”