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Looking for a 25' daysailer boat! advice????

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Ok, so I have windsurfed since the seventies and have sailed Maui waves and the Columbia Gorge winds but have only sailed a monohull a few times.   I recently purchased a C13 dinghy and have had a blast sailing it with my boys.  They have figured it out very quickly and sail without me no problem.  So now I am hooked and looking to purchase a used daysailer around the 25' size and leaning toward the Catalina brand.


What should I be looking at, cautious of, or wanting for features?  Any advice from experienced sailers that would help me avoid any pitfalls or expensive mistakes would be appreciated!  


Selling our 2009 Mastercraft X15 with only 65 hours on it if anyone is interested?  




post #2 of 21
Where will you be sailing? Lake Tahoe? What sort of moorage will you have, or will you trailer the boat? If you're trailering it a swing keel might be a good option for convenience. Again, if on a trailer, ease of stepping the mast is important. If you have moorage, then you don't need to worry about that stuff. A fixed keel would be best in that case.

For sails, it depends on whether or not you're planning on racing. If so, you'll want a full quiver of foresails and a spinnaker. If instead you're planning on just sailing recreationally, a roller furling genoa is a wonderful thing. If you can get a self furling main as well, you'll be in heaven (after your last payment).

You should research your purchase very carefully. One way to do this is to hang out around a local yacht club and see if you can get on as crew on a boat that races regularly. Skippers are often looking for crew. Most clubs sponsor races weekly. Some races are like beer league softball and some compete intensely. You can learn a lot about sailing and about boats and their features by crewing on various different craft.

I have heard that there are quality issues with at least some of the Catalinas. As it was explained to me, Catalina is a middle of the road brand with a moderate price, but you get what you pay for. I have no first hand experience with them, however. I owned a San Juan 24 for a number of years. It was a very popular boat in Puget Sound during the 70s and 80s but they quit making them quite a while ago. They are still popular on the used market and you see them all over the place in these parts. It's a great boat for either racing or recreational day sailing. If they're available in your area you should take a look.

Remember that the happiest day in a sailor's life is the day he buys a boat, and the next happiest day is the day he sells it. You can stave off the second day by doing your research so that you get the boat that's best for you. Good luck!
post #3 of 21



J22 or J24 is great too. Find out what fleets are in your area so that when you want to race there is somebody to race. It also is nice to have other people with the same boats that have dealt with the problems you will have.

post #4 of 21

Bud, had a little U.S. Yacht for years.  Sailed it mostly on the Lake Cd'A and vicinity; was a great little boat.  Mine was the 17 but they built boats up to 25.  Not a lazer in the water but very easy to: sail solo, trailer, step the masts, maintain.  Taught my 3 kids to sail it with their friends, and they never broke it badly (that is tough).  They can be bought reasonably and pretty easily sold. They make a good little starter boat, and like skis there is virtue to having a foregiving boat to start with.  Here is one 25 I found after looking about 30 seconds  http://maine.craigslist.org/boa/2492868659.html   There should be a fair number of them out there if it looks interesting to you. 


Happy sailing.  Love those puff boats.

post #5 of 21

What does "daysailer"mean to you? Does it have to have a cabin? What kind of experience are you seeking? The range of possible craft is great. The difference between say a J24 and a Soling for example is quite large. Are you interested in racing? You might want to find out what racing fleets are in your area or whether PHRF racing is the norm. Whether you intend to trailer or moor the boat will influence your choice to a large degree.

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses guys!  I do not have any plans to race just pleasure and the kids want to be able to camp on the boat.  Looking for a swing keel or water ballast so it is easily trailerable though it will be moored for six months per year at Lake Almanor, CA.


Are there typically places on the hull I should inspect for cracks or defects?  Is it worth having a professional survey performed?


Looked at a San Juan 26 but it looked kinda beat.


There seem to be a bunch of Catalina 22's and 25's for sale in my area and most are around 2-6 K.    Should I be careful of boats over a certain age?  I am trying to stay clear of boats that have been sailed and moored in salt water.  These boats are all 20 plus years old.



post #7 of 21

Like women, the rigging can cost a lot more than the hull  cool.gif.


Look closely at lines, cables, fittings, and sails.  If it is centerboard, they can swell and be difficult to lower and raise.  If it has been on a trailer for long periods it is possible for the hull to spread and set (it will look kind of like a wrinkle slightly forward of mid ship and show most easily on the gunwales), think bent ski tip. 


There is lots more but those are the ones I am most familiar with unfortunately.

post #8 of 21
The San Juan 26 is a tub. 21, 23, 24, 27 are all great boats.

Definitely have a professional survey done of the boat you are thinking of buying. There are all kinds of things that can be wrong with a 20 year old boat that are not apparent to the untrained eye. Things like the mast step, hardware, through hull fixtures, hull and deck integrity, electronics, etc. need to be checked over. Be patient. Boats generally don't sell really fast, so you can take your time and find just the one that works for you. Have fun!
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Just looked at an add for a MacGregor 26' 2004 for $19000 in Lake Tahoe!  Went to MacGregor's sight to read about it and this looks promising!

post #10 of 21

DO NOT BUY A MAC26!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I cannot emphasise this enough.


Go here for good advice:





Basically as mentioned lots of options,  you need to do your research.


Lifting keels are great, as they make transporting the boat easy.  Deck stepped rigs also make life easy.  Dry sail it if you can, reduces maintenance costs/effort and improves resale value big time.  Ideall you will have a hardstand where you can leave the rig up, just need to launch and retrieve.


Remember thou the hull is not really worth that much, the money is in the rig, the sails and fittings. 


As for racing or not....from what I know of you on here, you will want to race...so get somethign you can race.  As mentioned find out what type of boat is raced on your lake and get one of those.  If they are sport boats, like a Melges 24, or Viper640 etc, dont fret, the learning curve is steep, but you can always de-power a racer to make a comforatble day sailer, hard to go the other way. 


Stay away from small Caltalinas


Small fun daysailers to consider, that you should be able to get a good used one of:




Martin 242



Some more money but also grunt, so worth it:

Melges 24

Viper 640






Lots of other options out there...as mentioned go to your local sailing club, and see what is most popular....usually a reason for it.



PS: wet sailed boats are wet sailed boats, sea or fresh water dont matter much.  Often sea is actually better as it means people will ahve a "bottom" on the boat (read water impervious layer of paint along with anti-foul), laker sailers just have gel-coat.  Gelcoat is permeable to water, and causes blistering, and the boat getting water logged!

post #11 of 21
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

Just looked at an add for a MacGregor 26' 2004 for $19000 in Lake Tahoe!  Went to MacGregor's sight to read about it and this looks promising!

If you want to be a power boater who sails a little the MacGregor is what you want. If you want to get into sailing, then it's a dog. It depends on what you're after. If you want to focus on wind powered boating, it's a little like buying a pair of Rossi S7s for use in NASTAR. It'll work, but you won't be happy.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys!  Everyone is telling me to avoid the Macgregor and I see your points.


Skidude, thanks for the info, I will look into and for the models you listed.


post #13 of 21

Our extended family has owned two Catalina's, I wouldn't be afraid of them quality-wise. Anything you get will need regular maintenance. You won't go wrong with the J-boats either, a lot of schools use them.

post #14 of 21

AS others have noted, race boats make fine day sailers.  Typically they have more advanced sail controls, which can make them easier to sail than trailer boats.  Sometimes you can find a real bargain by looking for the slowest boat in a one-design fleet, and used race sails are often better (and cheaper) than the sails that come standard with new boats.  If you are not racing, you will never notice the difference performance between the fastest and slowest one-design from the same fleet.

OTOH some race boats should be avoided.  Melges are intense boats and costly to maintain, and maybe not the best choice for a casual sailer.  J24s are popular because there are lots of race fleets around, but I find them uncomfortable, and they have a balsa core construction, which I would avoid.

If you don't need a cabin and you want a fixed keel, Solings are excellent boats.  Colgate 26s are nice, easy to sail boats with bullet proof construction.

Macgregors, O'Days and Hunters have a reputation of being floating Winnebagos.




post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

So, I have looked at a couple Catalina 25's with H20 ballast.  Looking for a fixed keel but few and far between.  Can I trailer and launch a fixed keel at a normal boat launch ramp without too much problems?  After reading more a fixed keel would be more desirable but may have to settle for a swing or H20 ballast with choices available around here.


Any thoughts about a Hunter 27?  There is one for sale in my area with a fixed keel.

post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 

Can anyone advise on the difference between the Catalina 25 and a Catalina 250?   I am still looking at boats and hope to make a purchase by this coming weekend.  Going to look at a Catalina 250 this week.  Hoping to find a suitable fixed keel or wing keel boat but these seem more rare right now than the swing keels or water ballast boats.  I may have to compromise for now for my beginner boat and look down the road for a more ideal option?  The Hunter for sale in my area does not have a trailer so that one is out.


The J boats look nice but not as much a family boat or as versatile as Catalina style for camping or just spending time on the water.



post #17 of 21

Swing keels are kinda dead.  Small boats tend to just have "lifting keels".  Ie they dont "swing" aft, rather they are just raised vertically.  These work well, but serioulsy compromise your interior space.


Do not buy a Hunter.  These are the K-Mart of boats.  They look ok, but poor quality fittings, etc.


J's are great boats.


Catalina's are also well made, no-one would suggest otherwise, but they are known as a floating caravans.  I quickly looked up the 250.  At nearly 1500kg, with tiny sails (12m2 main!), it will be REALLY slow.  Nothinng wrong with that, but be aware that you are giving up a lot the joy of sailing, for the ability to camp on it.  This is a full time "green run" boat.  Most guys with boats like this rarely use them for overnighting....they learned long ago a better compromise is to get a more of a "sail boat" and enjoy the sailing.  Then get a good tent, stretch your legs onshore, have a campfire etc.  Being onshore just makes life alot easier for camping...a boat gets real small fast.  Kids can run around on land, use the bush as the toilet etc.


Js tend to get the balance between comfort and performance better.  Thsi will allow you to play with the "blue runs" at least. 


Spinnakers.  I noticed the 250 also appears to be with no spinnaker.  Sailing under spinnaker is one of the greatest joys in sailing or otherwise.  Any boat can be fitted for one after the fact, but it is pretty expensive, could cost a few $1000 easy, after you get a pole, a spiinaker, the lines and fittings required.  Assy's are super easy to use and fun for kids.  Sym kits are great too, but a little more complicated to run.  Hence somthing to consider when buying....

post #18 of 21

I bought a Precision 21 new in '88. It has a ballasted shoal keel with a centerboard that swings out of it, not compromising cabin space. In many ways it is like a Catalina 22: forward v-berth, twin quarter berths, porta-pottie, single burner alcohol stove, ice box. Another nice feature of the Precision, especially for camping on board was that it didn't have a compression post under the mast; it uses a carlin (heavy beam) to distribute the downward force of the mast to the hull instead, leaving the interior, particuarlly forward, much easier to navigate.


The Catalina 22 made me think more of pop-top trailer campers than a sail boat. The Precision was a sail boat. It sails well and has held up beatifully. I re-did the standing rigging after about 10 years of heavy sailing. Sails could use some reshaping, but they have lasted with only minor repairs with 10 years of heavy sailing and 15 years of two weeks a summer.


The precision is easy to rig. Easy to launch with it's 2 foot draft. Launching a keel boat like a J-24 can be a real chore or really easy. I've seen it go both ways with different crews.


I have a custom canopy that runs from the mast to the transom the entire width of the boat suspended by the boom to make camping on board more comfortable; you don't have to close the main hatch to stay dry in the rain. It is also provides shade when spending time on the hook.


I'd recommend Precision as a brand based on my experience with my boat. It was hull 33 in the line.

post #19 of 21

I think that the Catalina 25 (I don't know about the 250) is probably a great camper and I'm sure it sails fine. Most posters here are commenting from the point of view of sailing performance. I rather doubt the Catalina is a great performance boat. It tries to do too many things in a relatively small package. My guess is that it's reasonably well made, durable, trailers well with it's swing keel. I'll bet it would be a lot of fun and a great experience for you and your family and a good way to enter this kind of sailing. After you've had it awhile you will develop a better understanding of what kind of sailing experience you are looking for and what kind of boat you want. You may just start looking for ways to further outfit the Catalina or you may decide you want to move toward a more high performance boat. With that in mind I would only caution you to get into the Catalina (since it is your first boat of this type) in a way that, if you decide in the future to move into something else, you can do so without taking too large a hit. Also you should inspect the sails or have someone check them out for you. Sails can be a significant expense and, if they need replacing (ie bagged out or deteriorated) the boat shpould be priced accordingly. Have fun!


Suggestion: Get the seller to take you out for a sail in the boat you are considering, go through, if possible, the whole sequence of launching (it trailer sailing is an important consideration), setting up the boat, and sailing it. This should give you some idea if you will enjoy the boat.


On the other hand, there is this:http://www.hobie33class.com/index.html

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for your help.  It's looking like the choice has come down to the Catalina 250's.  Looks like a good family boat we can use for camping and still get descent performance out of with the wing keel.

post #21 of 21

You'll have a great time with your new boat.  Enjoy your "camping" experience.  We're headed out in a couple of weeks for the Gulf Islands in B.C.  It's always an adventure no matter how many times you go out.


A quick hint:  Do your "man overboard" drills with each of you at the helm before setting out on a trip.  It can be a fun exercise and could save a life, maybe yours.


Congratulations Skipper, and good sailing.  Let us know how your first trips go, and take pictures!

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