When I first rode the Chris-Craft Catalina 26 and wrote up the boat review I tried to make the point that its fishing ability was surprisingly good for a boat with so much emphasis on panache, and while I might say the same thing about the Chris-Craft Catalina 29, I won’t. Because truth be told, anyone who steps aboard this boat is just as likely to grip a wine glass as a fishing rod.
Unlike the similarly-styled Sun Tender version of this hull, the Catalina 29 has fishy features like an open aft cockpit, integrated fishboxes, a 28 gallon livewell, and a raw water washdown. There’s also a two-tray tacklebox, though it’s accessed from inside the console (which is not exactly convenient to get to during a hot bite). But it also has a refrigerator under the passenger’s seat, buttery-soft upholstery, and more teak accents than a Trumpy. Even the “cutting board” is teak. How many of us would really take a knife to squid or butterfish, on such a work of art? Well, okay—I would, but I’d feel bad about it.
|Fuel capacity||220 gal.|
|Water capacity||31 gal.|
What I wouldn’t feel one iota of guilt over, however, is using this boat as a center console lounger/cruiser. Many people under-rate the effectiveness of a center console when it comes to cruising abilities, and this is a mistake. The Catalina I tested was one huge sun-lounge from the console forward, and it had a comfy two-person transom seat as well as the twin helm bolsters. A half-dozen people would be exceedingly comfortable using this boat for day-cruises, coving at the beach, or going for a dinner cruise. Sure, if it rains you’ll miss the protection a cabin offers, but otherwise your standard cruiser can’t top it. Plus, you get gobs more open area (like that sun lounge) than a cabin boat can provide.
|Test conditions: Winds of 5-10 MPH, 2 POB. Performance data courtesy of Yamaha.|
|Power||Twin F250 Yamaha four-stroke outboards, swinging 15" x 21" three-bladed stainless-steel props.|
Performance-wise, the Catalina can compete with either the hook-heads or the cruisers. Top-end breaks 53-mph, and a mellow 4500 RPM cruise will keep you kicking along at 41.0-mph. The seas are a bit snotty? No worries; the Catalina 29 chops through ‘em, thanks to the steep 21-degree transom deadrise. Part of the credit for this boat’s smooth ride also goes to its weight distribution; it comes up on plane without gobs of bowrise, and stays flat as you apply power. Check out this short video, and you’ll see one of the reasons why - as well as some other evidence of smart design on the Catalina 29.
The bottom line? Sure, you can fish from this boat. And there’s no question, it’ll make a great cruiser. But when push comes to shove, the Chris-craft Catalina 29 will be most appreciated by the boater who doesn't focus solely on one use or the other. Instead, he or she steps aboard with a wine glass in one hand, and a fishing rod in the other.
Other Choices: If you want a center console that focuses far more on fishing—and costs significantly less than the quarter-million dollar approximate price tag of the Catalina 29—check out the Cobia 296. For another center console with multi-use appeal, the Pursuit 310 is a good one to check out.
For more information, visit Chris-Craft.