Catalina 315

Catalina Yachts is in many ways an anomaly—a mass-production boatbuilder that eschews design fads in a manner more typically associated with companies that produce far fewer boats at much higher prices. The result is a product line that is robust, reliable and easy on sailors.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
catalina315_0

Catalina Yachts is in many ways an anomaly—a mass-production boatbuilder that eschews design fads in a manner more typically associated with companies that produce far fewer boats at much higher prices. The result is a product line that is robust, reliable and easy on sailors, whether they're racing around the cans or out cruising. Catalinas may not be overly flashy, but they continue to evolve, as is evident in the new Catalina 315, the latest in the “5” series that includes the 445, 355 and 385 as well.

CONSTRUCTION

The Catalina 315’s hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass with an external vinylester layer to resist blistering. Like the other boats comprising the 5 series, the 315 is built in a four-part mold that creates a seamless monocoque structure from stem to stern to enhance rigidity and ensure there are no leaks, especially in the transom area.

The deck is cored with end-grain balsa, with solid fiberglass in high-load areas to increase longevity. The keel is lead, and a grid system bonded to the hull beneath the cabin sole distributes the keel and rig loads.

Forward, there is a watertight “StrikeZone” in the bow that is filled with foam in case of collisions with containers and other debris. The boat’s proprietary “T-Beam MastStep” arrangement employs a compression post that passes through the deck to ensure that it is, indeed, the post that supports the rig, and not the surrounding fiberglass deck.

The rudder stock is 316 stainless steel, while the rudder itself has a molded-in leading edge, which eliminates a vulnerable seam on the foil's vertical centerline. All in all, this is a solid, well-constructed boat—exactly what you would expect from Catalina.

ON DECK

The hardware topsides is first-rate throughout, from the sturdy portlights to the beefy anchor roller forward to the blocks used to control the running rigging to the nice 27in-high stanchions and solid stanchion bases. There’s no mistaking the 315 for the latest trendy creation from the other side of the Atlantic—which I suspect is just fine with sailors who are attracted to this kind of boat.

Side decks are easy to negotiate, the foredeck provides a good open workspace for dealing with ground tackle and headsails, sturdy stainless steel handrails run the length of the cabintrunk, and the cockpit seats are long, well-proportioned and comfortable. Sightlines are excellent from the helm, and the pushpit seats provide a nice out-of the way spot to take in the view.

ACCOMMODATIONS

cat315interior

Belowdecks, Catalina has in many ways become its own worst enemy. The company does such a good job it’s easy to take what you’re looking at for granted.

Joinery is all superbly finished teak, mostly veneered but with solid inserts in high abrasion areas, so that owners can sand out dings and scratches without exposing underlying laminate. Forward, there’s a V-berth and head/shower arrangement, while a good-sized transverse double can be found aft. It really is incredible how much “boat” Catalina is able to create belowdecks, although the V-berth is a bit tight in the toes for a six-footer like me.

The U-shaped galley with centerline sink is more than adequate for a 31-footer, especially given the wealth of cold-storage space. Catalina's chief designer, Gerry Douglas, who was with us for our sail trial has wisely resisted the siren call of maxing out the accommodations and created a huge locker space aft and to port, instead of trying to squeeze in a second aftercabin.

Some nice touches include excellent engine access, with a special cutout so you can check fluids without having to lift up the entire companionway. It may be a little thing, but those kinds of details are typically a sure sign that the builder not only knows what he’s doing, but truly cares.

Overall finish quality, from the cedar-lined hanging lockers to the sliding privacy screens to the louvered doors is outstanding, especially for a mass-production boatbuilder.

UNDER SAIL

Boats in the 5 series carry slightly less beam, and this shows in the 315’s performance under sail. The day of our boat test we had 12-14 knots of breeze out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay, which proved perfect for putting the boat through its paces.

On a beat and close reach, the boat behaved just as it should, accelerating in the puffs and easily passing through irons each time we tacked. What really impressed me, though, was the way the boat lit up when we turned back downwind and unrolled the A-sail, which Douglas had tacked onto the boat’s short Seldén bowsprit. Next thing we knew we were tramping along at 8-plus knots and having the time of our lives.Shortly after we put up the sail, a puff knocked the boat on its ear, which proved too much for the rudder and caused the boat to round up until the chute collapsed. But that was as much the crew’s fault for not paying attention as it was the boat’s, and when the next puff hit, I simply eased out the main to spill some of the excess pressure, and the boat stayed on track, as if riding a rail. After that, the helmsman and I had a blast coordinating our efforts, for all intents and purposes sailing that 31-foot cruiser like a racing dinghy. If the look on Douglas’s face was any indication, I believe he approved.

UNDER POWER

In the flat water of Biscayne Bay, the boat’s 21hp Yanmar scooted us along quite nicely: 2,500 rpm gave us 6 knots, while opening up to 3,000 rpm yielded 7.4 knots. The boat’s stern pulled a bit to port when I first dropped her into reverse, but as soon as I got some way on the 315 behaved just as it should, even when maneuvering at slower speeds in a crosswind.

CONCLUSION 

Don’t be fooled by the fact that Catalina has chosen an evolutionary course over the years as opposed to constantly reinventing itself. Boats like the Catalina 315 are every bit as modern as their more sleek-looking counterparts, with a truly outstanding build quality. It’s hard to go wrong with a Catalina.

Pros
Excellent build quality

Spacious accommodations

Sprightly performance

Cons
V-berth tight at foot

STATISTICS

HEADROOM 6ft 2in

BERTHS 6ft 10in x 6ft 4in x 1ft 9in (fwd);
6ft 6in x 5ft 3in x 3ft 9in (aft)

LOA 31ft 11in // LWL 26ft 6in

BEAM 11ft 7n

DRAFT 6ft 3in (std); 4ft 4in (shoal)

DISPLACEMENT 10,200lb (std); 10,600lb (shoal)

BALLAST 4,000lb (std); 4,400lb (shoal)

SAIL AREA 506ft2 (100% FT)

FUEL/WATER/WASTE (GAL) 27/41/17

ENGINE 21hp Yanmar

DESIGNER Gerry Douglas

BUILDER Catalina Yachts, Largo, FL, 727-544-6681

PRICE $116,495 base

Photos by Billy Black

Related

Register-2048

Register of Circumnavigators Launched

Just in time for a fresh class of Vendée Globe sailors to attempt their circumnavigations, The International Association of Cape Horners (IACH) has taken on the responsibility of maintaining an official register of sailors who have completed solo circumnavigations by the Three ...read more

FPO skys0tlm8jlrpynehcpe_NEW

A Half-century of Cruising with SAIL

I cannot say I have been reading SAIL magazine since the very beginning, but I come pretty darned close. Sometime around 1974, when I was in high school, I began buying it every month at our local newsstand and saving every issue until I had great stacks of them, as carefully ...read more

B&G-Halo20+-side-facing

Gear: B&G HALO radar

B&G’s HALO series of radars now includes the HALO20+ and the HALO20, a pair of compact radomes expressly designed for use aboard smaller sailboats. The units measure 20in in diameter and weigh a mere 11lb. The HALO20+, in particular, delivers a full 360-degree sweep every ...read more

PICTON CASTLE under sail with stunsls WV7 compressed

Picton Castle Seeks Crew

The Picton Castle is set to begin its eighth circumnavigation this spring under the command of Captain Daniel Moreland. A professional crew of 12 will guide up to 40 trainees at a time as they learn about all aspects of sailing the bark, from steering to lookout, ...read more

DSC_0013

Ask Sail: Keel Attachments

Q: I have an early ‘70s Catalina 27. The keel bolts look pretty good. My question is, why not glass over the keel to bond to the hull rather than changing the bolts if, or when the bolts are too far gone? I haven’t seen anything on this, so could you discuss? Full-keels are ...read more

04-GOPR0511

Book Review: Sailing Into Oblivion

Sailing Into Oblivion by Jerome Rand $15.99, available through Amazon As refreshing and inspiring as Jerome Rand’s 2017-18 solo-circumnavigation may have been, his account of the voyage in the book Sailing Into Oblivion: The Solo Non-Stop Voyage of the Mighty Sparrow may be even ...read more

01-1970-Dec

50 Years of SAIL

Back in early 1970, Bernie Goldhirsh and the recently founded “Institute for the Advancement of Sailing,” publisher of an annual sailboat and gear guide, launched something called SAIL. A half-century later, a look back at the magazine’s first few years provides a glimpse into a ...read more

Photo-by-Adobe-Stockpics721-2048x

Webinar: Navigating Post-Dorian Abaco

On Thursday, October 22 at 6 pm ET, Navigare Yachting presents a webinar on what to expect from Abaco post-Dorian. The event will feature the authors of The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Steve Dodge and his sons Jon and Jeff.Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco in early September of 2019 and ...read more