Catalina 385

By: John Kerr

Catalina’s Gerry Douglas has spent a considerable time listening and bucking many trends. His boats have stood the test of time and his brand following is the envy of many builders globally. His latest boat, the Catalina 385 takes off from his 445 launched in 2009, and the 355 introduced last year which both enjoy a nice balance of classic looks with a sense of being functional and innovative; that makes the Catalina brand so solid.

Clearly the increasing demand Catalina anticipates will be in the mid-size cruiser market (under 40 feet) and we sense they are right. The dock talk in Annapolis and more recently in Miami confirmed this. in this new 385, Douglas has another solid candidate for consideration. Not intimidated by the ever-increasing trend to European styling by many competitors, Catalina has been true to its form and history but this new look has a pleasing style. The only European mark on this boat is the EU’s (European Union) Category A rating.

The hull is built with a mix of solid glass and vinylester from a foot above the waterline down and a balsa core up. The deck is attached using a four-inch inward flange that is bounded and mechanically fastened. Catalina is using an inner structural grid to allow it to better manage resulting rigging loads that facilitates a strong forward watertight “Strikezone” bulkhead.

The mast’s stainless steel compression post also connects to this grid eliminating deck compression with the increased benefit of leak elimination and increased noise typical with keel-stepped spars.

The narrow lines and complimentary scaled beam coupled with the choice of two lead keel configurations (bulb 4’ 6” or fin 10’ 6”) make this boat a perfect fit for a broad range of sailing conditions and locales.

The simplicity of approach is trademark Catalina and it all begins with the long and wide self-bailing cockpit and the aft section allowing easy steering positions with a large wheel that easily collapses when at anchor. There is a removable helm seat as well, along with two integrated stern seats in the stern pulpit. Seating is optimized and comfortable with the long, wide, high-backed cockpit seats that surround the well-built and engineered wooden cockpit table.

Sail control is optimized through the well-placed long inboard genoa tracks and an extra long traveller that levers a 6:1 control adjuster making it effortless. The new Catalina backstay system is a nice touch, too.

Moving forward, the reasonably wide, non-skid decks, with 27” double lifelines mounted with robust attachments, is safe and easy with well-placed handholds.

The anchor locker is deep, allowing easy access, and the integrated windlass and its switches are easy-to-use. A neat feature forward is the removable strut for the optional asymmetric spinnaker – a perfect accessory for this boat.

Below decks the look is hand-finished teak with appealing furniture and finishes. All the hardware and fastenings are strategically located and aligned with solid teak doorframes set in aluminum frames to prevent warping. With many Catalina designs, it’s the little things one has to look for to appreciate what this boat has to offer. For example, Catalina uses its own high-pressure, maintenance-free laminate with a unique slip-resistant surface and includes storage compartments that are sealed from the bilges and hull liners and are extended to insulate and make internal cooling and heating systems more effective.

The two-cabin layout features a double berth aft and a large vee-berth forward that has a neat electric lift for the head of the bed. The forward cabin has a bank of drawers, vanity dressing table and a privacy door. Moving aft, the large head to port with its stall shower and neat vessel style basin is offset to starboard by a large, cedar-lined hanging locker and three-drawer bank.

The lounge area boasts a quad-folding table opposite the L-shaped settee and opposite to starboard, has two seats split by a game table that folds down to make an additional berth. The navigation station with its laptop bin and easy accessible AC/DC outlets is set off the port settee.

The galley is well designed to starboard with a functional U-shaped space that includes a standard microwave oven, ample front-loading refrigerator with freezer, stainless steel LPG gimballed stove with oven, excellent storage and options for additional refrigeration, if needed.

Bernie Luttmer and the team at Swans Yacht Sales were very excited about launching the newest model of the new Catalina 5 Series at its Whitby location last month. “The Catalina 385,” according to Bernie, “is a great complement to the series right between the 355 and 445 models introduced in 2011.

The first thing Bernie pointed out as he went down the companionway into the main salon was the stainless steel grab rails and the stainless pole at the galley. Design and functionality were built into to the 385 to provide safe and ease of moment throughout the whole salon when the conditions warrant. Often the term “classic” is used to describe the Catalina style and feel. This has been their hallmark and this model – though thoroughly new – retains the traditional feel and lines of tried and tested Catalina success over the years.

The sealed crash bulkhead is just one of the many newer features that impressed Bernie. He really gets excited talking about the Catalina line-up and that crash bulkhead – an engineered safety feature that provides peace of mind to owners.

When asked who the target customer is for the Catalina 385, Bernie was quick to say that although it is great family boat, he sees many owners of 30-36 foot older boats moving up to a new 385. It has lots of room yet is not so big as to be overwhelming to sail; it is a sailboat that is ideal for our northern cruising but perfect for a couple to safely go south for a winter or two. Bernie can’t wait for the season to get under way so he can spend more time at the helm saying, “There have only been a few boats in my career that are as well balanced on every point of sail as the 355 but I feel that the 385 might just be its’ match”.

On the west coast, Len Baronit from Yacht Sales West also has high expectations for this new addition to the Catalina line-up. “The new 385 is a perfect couples (or family) cruiser. Catalina offers many quality features: lead keels, strike bulkheads, standard in-mast furling, real interior teak and a great cockpit. This new design follows the successful 445 and 355 and we look forward to seeing this new design in the bay very soon.”

Length Overall    39′ 2″/10.9 m
Waterline Length    34′ 5″/10.4 m
Beam    13′ 1″/3.98 m
Draft (Fin Keel)    6′ 10″/2.08 m
Displacement    15,500 lb./7,021 kg   
Ballast (Fin Keel)    5,200 lb./2,355 kg
Sail Area (100 %)    676 sq. ft./62.80 m2
Fuel     36 gal./144 l
Water     97 gal./368 l
Waste    31 gal./118 l
Engine    Yanmar 3JH5 Diesel
Designer    Gerry Douglas
Base Price    $208,495 US

Test boat provided by and price quoted by Swans Yacht Sales  

Canadian Dealers

Sailwest Sailboats  

Yacht Sales West  

387 • 440 • 445 • 470 (2 Cabin)

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 – The Catalina 385, A Great Complement to the Catalina Ocean Series.
Photo 2 – The lounge area boasts a quad-folding table opposite the L-shaped settee
Photo 3 – The large head to port with its stall shower and neat vessel style basin is offset to starboard by a large, cedar-lined hanging locker and three-drawer bank.
Photo 4 – The galley is well designed to starboard with a functional U-shaped space that includes a standard microwave oven, ample front-loading refrigerator with freezer, and a stainless steel LPG gimballed stove with oven.
Photo 5 – The forward cabin has a large vee-berth that has a neat electric lift for the head of the bed. It boasts a bank of drawers, a vanity dressing table and a privacy door.
Photo 6 – The two-cabin layout features a double berth aft
Photo 7 – Bernie Luttmer of Swans Yacht Slaes being interviewed by Canadian Yachting in the salon of the new Catalina 385.
Photo 8 – The Catalina 385 under sail.

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