Pocket cruisers have always appealed to me. The security of being self-reliant in the smallest package is a nice image. I remember at 14 years old "lofting," with my mother's yarn, a 14-foot pocket cruiser on the floor of our living room. Catalina is expert at small, affordable sailing packages, and this 25-footer is a good example of the breed's progression.

The Catalina 250.

The Catalina 250.

When I first looked at the drawings of this design I was struck by the forward position of the centerboard. Board position is a question of helm balance. With this boat carrying water ballast, the board is essentially unweighted, so positioning the board is done irrespective of weight and trim demands.

I think we have to leave it to Gerry Douglas and the rest of the design team at Catalina to get this right. I'd rather see the board aft. The high-aspect-ratio board and rudder should give this boat good speed to weather. The new board sweeps aft at 18 degrees. There is also a fixed-keel version in the works that will allow the cabin sole to drop down, giving a full 9 inches of additional headroom.

The ballast is 1,200 pounds of water carried in the bilge. There are 90 pounds of lead in the centerboard to overcome the buoyancy of the board. The advantage of the water ballast is that you can quickly reduce the weight of the boat down to 2,400 pounds for trailering. The negative side of water ballast is that the VCG will be rather high, and there is always that fear that someone will forget to fill the ballast tanks before hoisting sail.

The deck is carefully sculpted, with the cabintrunk extending almost to the rail. This is great for volume below, but it also means that you have to climb over the trunk to go forward. Small boats are like that. The large cockpit opens to a convenient swim step area to port.

Below, the 250 is handsomely detailed. You can sleep four on this boat. There is a reasonably sized head to port adjacent to an equally reasonable galley to starboard. The icebox is a cooler stowed below the counter. A pop-up dodger over the companionway is a great way to capture some useable headroom.

The rig is a pivoting masthead sloop with swept spreaders. When we include the ballast water with the dry displacement, the SA/D is 18.45.

Is it a good-looking boat? I think so. Given the volumetric demands, combined with trailering limits, the designers at Catalina have done a nice job keeping the profile low and the lines drawn out to avoid a stubby look. Catalina always seems to find its own look without leaning on Euro styling.

The conveniences of water ballast and trailerability make for a great weekender.
Draftboard up 1'8", board down 5'9"
Displacementwith water ballast 3,600 lbs.
Ballast1,200 lbs. water 90 lbs. lead
Sail Area271 sq. ft.
Fuel6 gals. (portable gas)
Water5 gals.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.