Boats

Catalina Morgan 440

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I made it a point to spend time below during my sail aboard the Catalina Morgan 440. With many brand-loyal Catalina owners getting beyond career age, the company’s first deck-saloon offering was conceived as a vacation home for some and a retirement home for others. The “house” really matters.

The main cabin, with a galley convenient to the cockpit, is astonishingly big and bright for a 44-foot monohull. Vice president and chief designer Gerry Douglas provided a window on the world whether you are standing in the galley or sitting at the raised dinette.

The 440’s high floor allows the diesel and other machinery to be placed low in the boat, contributing to stability at the expense of windage (and there’s plenty of that). Tankage is also below the floor, surrounded by a fiberglass and aluminum structural grid that carries the transverse loads of the rig. I liked the dedicated service hatch with access to fuel filters, strainers, and most of the boat’s through-hulls in a convenient grouping.

Your guests will like the table that folds in from the corners to go cocktail-size, or folds out to accommodate dining for six, or lowers electronically to form a double berth. And they won’t fail to notice the port-side fore-and-aft seats. They’re recliners with foot pads that kick out and lift to become ottomans. Go ahead, lower the optional flat-screen TV from its hiding place in the cabintop, kick back, and indulge. The puppy will bring your slippers, right?

A generous owner’s stateroom is forward, one step down. The bow may be the least comfortable part of the boat in a seaway, but as Catalina’s literature points out, it’s handy for an anchor watch.

If the 440 was aimed at the charter trade, it would have a third stateroom. Instead, this design blesses its occupants with a port-side aft cabin plus an adaptable starboard-side space for a workroom with bench, optional washer-dryer, and occasional sleeping space for the grandkids. That’s realistic. If you spend serious time aboard, you’ll need a workbench. The space is tight, but in good weather you can open the cockpit locker door overhead for light and air.

And that brings me back to the cockpit, where six people relaxed together on the day of my sail, with elbow room for all and evidence of devoted detailing. A space between the pedestal and the table makes it easy to cross the boat to reach either jib winch. There are attachment eyes for harnesses (for going to sea), the stern gates retract into the stern rails (for clean coming and going dockside), and the backstay is offset from centerline for the sake of a stern locker above the swim step (ideal for stowing the life raft).

Our test boat kept us cozy behind the optional bimini/dodger that includes built-in LED lighting with remote operation. That’s handy when boarding from a dinghy at night or, on moonless nights, for locating your boat in the anchorage.

I found the helm of the 440 light and responsive, but not raceboat-edgy. In a San Francisco Bay breeze in the teens, with a boom-furling factory main more or less single-reefed and a partially furled jib, the boat settled in at about 7 knots on the speedometer, upwind and down. Ultimate performance and sleek lines have been sacrificed for the sake of liveaboard volume, but this seems like a boat that will be sailed more than motored. And if getting there is half the fun, then surely being there is the other half.

A deep forefoot leads aft to a low-wetted-surface profile with fin keel and a skeg-hung rudder. According to the factory, the rudder is supported by a “massive” lower bearing. A collision bulkhead separates the anchor locker from the interior.

Anchor duty is about the only function that requires leaving the cockpit, and that’s a good thing. It was difficult to pass fore and aft on the narrow side decks when the boat was heeled. The lifelines are extra-high and secure, but wedged between lifelines and the tall house, I found myself awkwardly bending at the waist to compensate for heeling, rather than bracing, full-body, at an angle.

Though Catalina Yachts has a West Coast identity, it went bicoastal in 1984 with the purchase of the Morgan Yachts factory in Largo, Florida. Catalina has built more than 75,000 boats, but the Catalina Morgan 440 is its first to include that East Coast name, and topping its windows-on-the-world layout is one feature that is pure East Coast: the mast height of 62 feet is sized to fit under most of the bridges of the ICW. $347,333 (base, FOB Woodland Hills, CA); LOA 45’3”; LWL 44’7”; beam 14”; draft 5’4”; displ 25,528 lbs; ballast 8,600 lbs; sail area 931 sq ft; fuel/water/waste 117/176/55 gal; power 75-hp Yanmar diesel; Catalina Yachts, 818-884-7700

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