Not many cruising sailboats launch over 1,000 hulls before they’re redesigned, so when the Catalina 425 was drawn, architect and builder Gerry Douglas knew the pressure was on (read our design review of the original Catalina 42). The new model replaces a boat that was manufactured by Catalina Yachts for over two decades. In Douglas’ words, he had the chance for a “do-over” so he set about creating a born-again classic. We got our initial glimpse of the boat at the Annapolis Boat Show, where we shot this short First Look Video.
The new 425 is the newest model in Catalina’s 5 Series (see Catalina 275 Sport, Catalina 385, and Catalina 355 reviews) but the lines of the latest hull have changed from those of her sisters. The nearly plumb bow flows back to a flatter sheer, the beam stays wide farther, aft and the transom is more vertical. A standard, fixed stainless-steel sprit moves the bow roller well forward and away from the stem, and is the perfect place to attach a downwind sail like an asymmetrical spinnaker in a sock or a Code 0 on a top-down furler. For upwind work, the 98% self-tacking jib from Doyle Sails makes single-handing an easy reality.
For racing, there are long genoa tracks on wide side decks to manage an optional 155% headsail. The standard rig is a deck-stepped Selden mast, double aft-swept spreaders, and additional forward lower shrouds for enhanced strength. It’s designed so that any one piece of rigging can fail without bringing the mast down. Presumably, it’s also easier to tune and won’t warp. The air draft is 62’ 11”. This means you have about a foot left for lights, a Windex and VHF antenna, and still be able to clear the bridges of the ICW. Twin backstays connect to the deck just outboard of the wheels so if you’re tall, you won’t hit your head on the wire when driving.
The double-ended mainsheet leads to the starboard cabin-top winch or back to the helm at the port sheet winch–a perfect set-up for fully crewed or short-handed sailing. The sail plan includes 940 square feet of sail area when using the standard in-mast mainsail with vertical battens and a slight roach. It’s the perfect arrangement for a couple, although a Code 0 is de rigeur as the jib won’t produce the best results when sailing with the wind aft of the beam.
On Deck on the Catalina 425
Douglas always pays special attention to the ergonomics of the cockpit because that’s where people spend most of their time. High angle seat-backs and handholds are key. The 425 cockpit was shifted aft, which is why the walk-through transom is more vertical than on the rest of the series. Settees on either side are 6’ 6” long so tall sailors can stretch out or six people can dine al fresco. The drop-leaf centerline table has an optional integrated cold plate and makes a fine foot brace when heeling. Two rails along its top provide handholds and will also help keep drinks in place, which is good because a few more cup holders sprinkled around this area would be helpful.
Four small but important details include the helm seat cushions, which wrap around in a 90-degree angle so you can drive in comfort while sitting outboard from where you can see the jib. The companionway hatch has a flip-up threshold that reveals a counter-weighted hatch board tucked below. It can be raised with one hand and there’s no more storing of multiple boards. To starboard, the settee has a panel that flips up and together with filler cushions, turns into a nice sunpad, playpen or even outdoor bunk. And finally, a feature I used several times on our sea trial was the extended solid railing that runs from the side gates all the way to the pushpit. This “no man’s land” can be quite dangerous when getting in and out of the cockpit and it’s nice to have something solid to grab, especially when the boat is heeling.
The forward end of the table holds the only compass aboard. For those with good eyesight, it’s a workable alternative to having one at each wheel. Twin Edson pedestals (that hold optional composite wheels) are angled inboard. Their thin bases make room for the driver to stand comfortably behind or in front (which is handy when steering backwards into a slip.) Raymarine instruments are on both sides, while the single 12” multifunction display is on a swivel at the aft end of the table so it can face either helm. Especially nice is the right-handed gearshift at the starboard wheel, which is at waist level so you can engage the engine when docking without bending over and taking your eyes off the bow.
Inside the Cabin
Douglas got his idea of the ideal interior by visiting U.S. and European boat shows. He noted that three cabins seemed optimal in this size vessel but decided to make one convertible for greater utility. The port aft cabin can be used for sleeping or for stowage, or even to work on the engine and genset. That leaves two more staterooms aboard; the starboard guest cabin with a double inner spring mattress and the master suite forward with an island bed and Catalina’s signature electric headboard that lets you sit up and read in bed without a mound of pillows.
Although there are three cabins, Douglas still managed to incorporate a U-shaped galley, which is to port as you descend the companionway stairs. A small portion of the last step folds up so you can open the front-loading Isotherm refrigerator and pull the vegetable drawer all the way out. The cleverness of that small detail will undoubtedly make for good cocktail conversation in the anchorage.
The rest of the galley includes another top-loading refrigerator (or freezer), an optional Dometic bottle cooler, twin sinks, and a three-burner Force 10 gimbaled stove and oven combination. Stowage is pretty good in the galley and is excellent in the saloon, where nearly 80 percent of the cavities can be used to secure gear or provisions.
A U-shaped settee wraps around Catalina’s trademark folding table, which shrinks to half its size and lowers to make into a berth. Overhead there are two butterfly hatches that open forward and aft to generate maximum airflow. To starboard, the chart table is also a cocktail or game table but it doesn’t lower to form a berth because Douglas felt that four sleeping areas were plenty.
The cabin sole doesn’t extend under the furniture so it can be easily removed without damaging the rest of the interior. And of course, as on all Catalina models, every piece of equipment can be taken out of the boat via the port cockpit hatch or the companionway. That’s a nice bit of planning for when changes may be needed down the road.
The interior finish is teak with a clear coat. No other options are available. The exclusion of a stain is by design so that you can sand out any dings and refinish the surfaces without creating halos of color. The doors and furniture corners are trimmed in solid wood because that’s where scrapes and damage are most likely to occur and because Douglas feels that is the right way to build a boat even today, when engineered surfaces proliferate. A new stylish accent is the addition of maple slats high on the hull sides, which add a bit of contrast and lighten the interior nicely.
The 13’ 8” beam and the combination of numerous ports and hatches give the interior an open feel where nobody will have the sensation of being buried. The more traditional styling offers a nice alternative to the hyper-modern and angular interiors of many European production boats, but it’s changed up enough to feel new and fresh.
I like sailing Catalina boats with Douglas—the insights into what was done and why are best heard directly from the designer. That’s why I was excited to hop aboard hull number-one for an afternoon of dodging thunderstorms and gliding along in light winds on Tampa Bay. In its redesign the 425 shed 2,500 pounds, due mostly to deck construction, which is cored with a carbon honeycomb. The hull is a balsa core sandwich above the waterline which adds stiffness even as it also lightens the build.
Our initial breeze was 13 to 14 knots and the 425 sailed at 6.7 knots at 45 degrees apparent wind angle. As we eased to 110 degrees off the wind, the breeze went to nine knots and the boat speed dipped down to five knots. With three of us aboard, we soon got lost in conversation because the boat seemed to sail herself and required little attention as the self-tacker took care of the jib.
Our test boat had the optional shoal keel with a wing and a draft of 4’ 11”. The standard deep keel draws 6’ 8” and will be popular with West Coast sailors. Douglas pointed out that these are lead keels, not iron, which is another nod to enduring quality.
We may have been on the first of the 425 but hull number five was already in the mold, while another dozen orders were on the books. “When we introduced this model, every broker signed up to take one,” said Douglas. I can see why—she’s one sweet ride.
Auxiliary power is provided by a 57 HP Yanmar diesel that sits just forward of the optional Fisher Panda 7 kW genset. Both engines were moved forward in the hull to keep the weight out of the stern. Access to both is quite good, with side doors in the port utility cabin. The front of the Yanmar is accessed via the removable companionway stairs, which I’d like to see put on gas shocks so they lift but stay attached. The current arrangement disconnects the entire staircase, which is a large piece of furniture to move around.
The 425 is lively under power. We motored out the Manatee River in a one-foot chop and the optional Gori folding three-bladed propeller pushed us at 8.5 knots at 3200 RPM. A more economical cruising speed would be around 2600 to 2800 RPM and 7.5 knots.
The new Catalina 425 is a package that’s the real deal. Much of this is due to Douglas’ attention to small details and his unwavering commitment to incorporating owner and dealer feedback. “I’m a lurker,” he says. “I watch people use their boats in the coves of Catalina Island and I overhear their conversations at boat shows. Observation is the best way to learn because if you ask people directly, they’ll tell you their aspirations rather than how they actually use their boat. They don’t know they are my focus group, but they are.”
Douglas keeps a notebook on every design and visits chat rooms and owners’ groups to gather intelligence for improvements. “We built 1,022 of the old 42s and I’d be pretty dumb if I hadn’t learned anything in 25 years,” he adds.
But it’s clear that he did—because the 425 is a fine do-over, indeed.
Other Choices: Beneteau’s Oceanis 41.1 is another new model in this size and price range. The Bavaria Vision 42 may also be of interest to sailors looking at the 425. Slightly smaller but still worth comparing are the Marlow Hunter 40 and the Dufour Grand Large 405.
For more information, visit Catalina.
See Catalina 425 listings.
|Sail Area||940 sq. ft.|
|Fuel capacity||56 gal.|
|Water capacity||114 gal.|