Skip to main content

Catalina 320 MK II

Catalina boats typically have long production runs, and Catalina is more likely to tweak and update a boat than to totally redesign it. After building 1,039 Catalina 320s since 1993, with few changes other than offering a shallower wing keel about halfway through the production run, the company decided it was time to bring this popular vessel solidly into the new century.The
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:


Catalina boats typically have long production runs, and Catalina is more likely to tweak and update a boat than to totally redesign it. After building 1,039 Catalina 320s since 1993, with few changes other than offering a shallower wing keel about halfway through the production run, the company decided it was time to bring this popular vessel solidly into the new century.
The Catalina 320-2 has the same hull, keel, rig, and sailplan as the original boat, so it can race in one-design fleets with its older sisters. The new glasswork gives it a family resemblance to the Catalina 309, which replaced another long-loved vessel, the Catalina 30.

Construction

Catalina builds hull, substructural grid, pan, and liner; there’s a gap between the hull and the liner while the hull is in the mold. The full liner extends from the rail down, and the furniture is nonstructural. The company consistently installs neat wiring and plumbing in its boats, and the 320-2 is no exception. The three-cylinder Yanmar diesel engine lives in a nicely insulated space and turns a standard drive shaft installed with a dripless packing box.

Instead of building its own spars, Catalina has switched to Seldn spars for the Mark 2. There are no chainplates. Instead, the shrouds lead to ball-and-socket joints connected to tie rods in the hull.

Deck and cockpit

This new 320 has an even wider cockpit and a nicely designed fiberglass table that will give you a place to brace your feet in rough conditions. In fact, removing the table may make the cockpit dangerous for short sailors. There’s space for an inflatable dinghy and a small outboard motor in the sail locker. The lazaret is quite large, and its opening provides access to the steering quadrant and the optional air-conditioning unit.
As an evolved design, the 320 has a number of thoughtful details, including line-tail bags and traveler and the control lines into the deck. While sitting on the helm seat to steer is comfortable, standing in the narrow space between the seat and the wheel soon becomes uncomfortable.

Accommodations

The cabin sole is made of a synthetic laminate that looks like wood but carries an exceptionally good antiskid surface. A one piece headliner runs the entire length of the boat. The solid-teak doors and trim glow in a beautiful varnish finish.

Catalina increased the V-berth length to 75 inches by slightly reducing the size of the anchor locker. As part of the redesign, a hanging locker was added in the forward cabin. The aft cabin has a large transverse berth. The new deck allows for more overhead clearance in the head compartment.

The builder now runs the A/C ducts under the headliner and also prewires the boat for a stereo system during construction, making it easy to add these features later without conspicuous changes. The company also rearranged the nav station and changed the small electrical panel to utilize automotive fuses on the circuits—a mixed value, I think.

The galley sports a big double sink, a handy dry-food locker, and a clever system for holding dishes with pins that Catalina calls “Clouds.” The countertop is Corian.
The interior grabrail layout could use improvement. The handholds in the saloon are too far outboard for some sailors, and only one side of the companionway has a rail.
Over all, living spaces on the 320-2 are inviting, comfortable, and bright. The thoughtful choices of materials should make it easy to keep the boat that way.

Under sail
We had 3-to-5-knot zephyrs for the test sail, and the 320-2 moved and tacked easily in the flat conditions. There’s an active national organization (www.catalina320.org) and widespread one-design racing for the Catalina 320, so owners exchange information about their boats freely.

Under Power

The 320-2 will turn in its own length when the skipper needs to dodge crab pots or pick up a mooring. It stops and backs positively, with the normal slight kick to port in reverse. There are no surprises or quirks, so close-quarters handling should be gracious. The 80-dBA sound level at cruising speed is a bit high, and the noise may tire the crew on a long day of motoring through calms. The engine drives the boat to its 7-knot hull speed easily, but racers will want to swap the standard prop for a folding or feathering model to improve sailing performance.

Conclusion

The Catalina 320-2 is a refined evolution of a boat that is already popular for its good sailing qualities, attractive lines, and good company support. These changes should lengthen its production life by many years.

Specifications

Price: $117,200 (base, FOB Largo, FL)

Builder: Catalina Yachts, Woodland Hills, CA; www.catalinayachts.com

Designer: Gerry Douglas

LOA: 32'6"
LWL: 28'

Beam: 11'9"
Draft: (std/shoal) 6'3"/4'4"

Displacement: 11,700 lbs
Ballast: 4,400 lbs

Sail Area: 521 sq ft

Power: Yanmar 29-hp diesel

Tankage Fuel/water/waste: 19/51/22 gal

Electrical: (1)4D 225Ah (house),
(1) 4D 225Ah (engine)

Displacement-Length ratio: 238

Sail Area-Displacement ratio: 16.2

BALLAST-DISPLACEMENT RATIO: 38%

Certification: CE Cat A (Ocean), NMMA

Related

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more

00LEAD-IMG_2183

Heavy Hitters on Heavy Weather

“What’s the joke about heavy weather? You know it when you see it.” Figure 8 singlehander Randall Reeves drew laughs from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) sailors attending the forum “Heavy Weather Sailing: Bluewater Perspectives” as part of the CCA’s centennial celebration in ...read more

Nominne-Promo-2048x1149

Best Boat Nominees 2023

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Some of it is timing. Some of it is just the way of the world. Either way, it can be fascinating to see the evolution of the boatbuilding industry over the years, as has been evident in SAIL magazine’s annual Best Boats ...read more