What Catalina Yachts Learned from BMW: the all-new 5 Series
Catalina has dubbed their latest line of performance cruisers the 5 Series, and is marketing this new group much like BMW markets their various models.
When Gerry Douglas sat down to design the first in the 5 series, the Catalina 445, he started with a clean sheet of paper. As Catalina’s chief engineer and designer, Douglas wanted to create a performance-oriented boat that incorporated the builder’s years of construction experience, but that would also set itself apart from its own heritage as well as from other production boats.
The US-designed and built line now includes the 445, 385, 355 and 315, two of which have won awards over the past few years.
The emphasis in the 5 Series is on strength with a five-part construction process: the hull, internal grid structure, hull liner, deck liner and deck are all molded separately. The hull is solid fiberglass below the waterline and cored with ¾-inch balsa from the waterline up to provide strength, stiffness and insulation. A watertight collision bulkhead is forward and the fractional rig is deck-stepped, with a compression post support system that is metal-to-metal and doesn’t sandwich the deck, therefore relieving it of compression and the resulting potential for sagging or gelcoat cracks. The DeepDefense™ rudder system is designed to break away in case of an underwater collision or grounding, leaving the top 60 percent in place for fail-safe steering.
On deck, the low profile cabintop is sleeker and has less windage than previous models, while still incorporating Catalina’s trademark large, ergonomically correct cockpits. Tall stanchions provide lifelines that are higher than on just about any other production boat, and everywhere there is a grippy and durable diamond non-skid that is safe underfoot.
Clever details throughout include excellent access to the engine and systems, a cabinet in the head that groups much of the plumbing and valves in one place, metal doorframes that won’t warp, compact four-way fold-out saloon tables, custom mattresses with extra coating on the coils to preclude rusting, and an electrically operated master berth that raises for comfortable reading or TV viewing. All interior furniture can be removed without compromising the structural integrity of the vessel, and the boat is quite open down below with no partial bulkheads or knees to interrupt the clean lines and layout.
The Catalina philosophy is stated as “designing boats that stand up to real-world conditions, sail well, are comfortable above and below, are easy to maintain and hold their value.” The response from both the industry and the boat-buying public has shown that the 5 Series solidifies this philosophy, while living up to its own special name.
For more information, visit Catalina Yachts.
- Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.
Tags: 5 series, BMW, Catalina Yachts, Zuzana Prochazka