John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.
Catalina 350
Length overall  36'5"
Beam  13'
Draft  4'6"
Displ. 12,012 lb
Fuel 39 gal
Price as Tested $179,000

The year 2009 marked Catalina Yachts' fortieth anniversary building production sailboats. It all began in 1969 when company founder, Frank Butler, produced the Catalina 22. In the past four decades, Catalina Yachts has grown to be America's largest sailboat builder and leads the industry in repeat customers. The formula for their success, according to Butler, is to build good boats that are a good value to the customer. To do this they focus on efficient production and design--and when it comes to design, Catalina's are remarkable not for flashiness but for understated practicality.

With enthusiastic owners associations for every model produced, Catalina Yachts has been able to tap users for input more effectively than most builders. The Catalina 350 MkII design reflects the feedback and comments of more than four hundred loyal Catalina 350 owners.

As a lifelong sailor and career captain, I see the thoughtful design effort put into the boat reflected in the little things, such as comfortable cockpit settees that have good back support and are long enough to sleep on. The mast shrouds land on the deck inboard so that it is easy to move fore and aft along the side decks. The mechanical equipment is easily accessible--no mean feat on a mid-size sailboat.

Down below the Catalina designers have made good use of space. Her 13-foot beam carries well aft making the interior quite large for a boat of this length. The master stateroom is forward and features a centerline double bed and private access to the head, which is to port. A separate shower stall makes the head more user friendly for cruising. The saloon and galley are commodious and comfortable. I did notice that the chart table shares the end of the port settee and faces aft and to port on an angle; with so much room in this cabin, I would prefer a dedicated chart table area. The aft stateroom has an athwart-ship queen that is tucked under the cockpit.

I sailed the 350 MkII out of Chesapeake Yacht Sales in Deltaville, Va., on a pleasant afternoon in June. The wind was about 12 knots and the Bay was smooth. Although there were five of us aboard, I found that it was quite easy to singlehand her through tacking and jibing without any difficulty. The cockpit also proved to be quite roomy and never felt crowded. The stern rail seats are not only comfortable, but they give passengers a great perch for relaxing and staying out of the helmsman's way.

All in all I found the Catalina 350 MkII to be a great cruiser for couples or young families. It is also an ideal size for cruising the Chesapeake Bay as it offers roomy and comfortable accommodation but will have no problem finding a transient slip in most any marina. The wing keel option provides a shoal draft--a good choice for Bay sailors who prefer to anchor out in those shallow gunkholes.