Catalina Yacht has long been one of the most successful sailing yacht manufacturers in the world, but what is perhaps most impressive about a company that doesn’t even advertise its product is the number of hugely successful models they have had since introducing the Catalina 22 in 1970. In a business where a three or four year production run of a few hundred boats is considered a success, I can think of no manufacturer who comes close to Catalina’s success in the number of models that remained in production for ten years or more. Now in its thirteenth year of production with over 700 boats sold, the Catalina 42 is one of the most successful 40 plus footers ever built.
Catalina’ s in-house design team, led by chief designer Gerry Douglas for the last 25 years, designed the Catalina 42. Introduced with the 1989 model year, the 42 was the first American built sailboat of this size to offer a three-stateroom layout. The Mk I version was built until February 1995 (hull # 477) when it was replaced with the Mk II version. There were very few changes between the Mk I and Mk II models; although, as a concession to popular European styling, the transom was rounded off at the deck. In addition, storage was added to the cockpit seating, and a two-stateroom layout option was offered.
The overall length of the Catalina 42 is 41’ -10", beam is 13’-10" , draft is 4’ -10" with a wing keel and 6’ with fin keel according to the Catalina’s specifications. Displacement of the Mk I was specified by Catalina as 18,000 pounds, while the Mk II’ s displacement is specified as 20,500. Actually, Catalina admits they were optimistic with the original weight estimates, and, in fact, displacement of both versions is closer to 22,500 pounds. No adjustment was made to the original draft specification to account for the additional displacement, although the additional weight is likely to add 1 ˝" or so to the specified draft.
The construction of the Catalina 42 is not without its faults but is as sound as any similarly priced and sized boats and better than some. The hull is constructed of a solid laminate of fiberglass and resin with no core materials. The hull is fitted with a structural fiberglass liner that incorporates the cabin sole as well as berth and furniture foundations.
The deck is a cored composite with fiberglass and ľ" end grain balsa wood. Where deck hardware is installed, ˝" plywood is used instead of balsa wood. The deck and hull are joined in a shoebox fashion with flexible adhesives and stainless steel nuts, bolts and washers on eight-inch centers. There is an aluminum rub rail with vinyl insert fastened at the deck to hull joint with stainless steel screws. Even though Catalina has been using a vinylester resin barrier coat since 1995, there have been some reported cases of osmotic blistering of post as well as pre 1995 models. In most cases repairs have been taken care of under warranty.
On deck, the Catalina 42 is clean and unobstructed except for deck hatches and handrails. The anchor windlass is located in a foredeck locker to keep it out of the way when not needed. Rigging shrouds are set well inboard to allow effective sheeting angles and easy passage on either side. The mainsheet traveler is located on the cabin top forward of the companionway and out of the way of the dodger and cockpit bimini.
The cockpit is large with seats that are 6’8" long and big enough to stretch out on. The helm seat at the transom opens to allow access to a swim platform molded into the transom. The Mk II version has a permanently installed drop-leaf table forward of the binnacle. The table is not removable and is inconvenient to get around while underway.
Although my personal preference leans toward the two stateroom optional layout offered on the Mk II version, both layouts are efficient and offer unique appeal. Both feature a head and shower forward where a V-berth cabin would normally be located. Between the main saloon and the forward head is a Pullman-styled stateroom with port berth and starboard hanging locker, chest of drawers, and settee. The berth is wide and extends from centerline to the hull side but is only 72" long and not well suited to anyone taller than 6’ . The main saloon features a port side dinette, and, on the three-cabin model, there is a starboard galley in the main saloon. With the two-cabin arrangement the galley is located to the port side aft of the dinette, and there are a settee and navigation station to the starboard side of the saloon. The three-cabin arrangement has mirror image quarter berth cabins aft. Both models have a second head forward of the starboard quarterberth cabin. The most noticeable drawback of the cabin arrangements is the lack of convenient handholds.
Depending on the year of production, auxiliary power is provided by a 44 or 50 hp Yanmar diesel. Both provide plenty of power, and the engine is accessible from all four sides, which is a real plus when service and maintenance is necessary.
The sailing performance of the Catalina 42 is very respectable, and she has taken her share of silver in club racing. The sail area/displacement ratio of the 42 is a conservative 17, the displacement/length ratio is 196, and the PHRF rating of a stock Catalina 42 is usually around 105.
As would be expected the deep keel version is slightly more weatherly than the wing keel version. However, in ten knots of true wind, she should make an honest six knots pointing to within 32 to 34 degrees of the apparent wind.
The Mk II model rudder was changed to a deeper, higher aspect form which owners report improves handling and performance.
As noted, there have been more than 700 Catalina 42s built, and finding used offerings is usually not difficult. The Catalina 42 is a handsome boat that offers solid performance, excellent accommodations, and good value for buyers looking for a cruiser or club racer in this size range.
Reviewed in the August 2000 issue of SpinSheet by Jack Hornor