Here's a new family cruising boat from Frank Butler and the Catalina in-house design team. The brochure says it's "a cruising couple's dream." It would be fun to compare this boat to the Catalina 30 from more than 20 years ago and contrast the differences. I'm not sure what this would prove or that I would consider the differences improvements. However, it seems our tastes change with time, and in the eyes of the Catalina marketing team, this is what the typical cruising couple wants today. The Catalina 310 is a good-looking boat that avoids the silliness of Euro styling. It's California clean.

It's a good hull shape. I happen to have had a boat under construction at the same yard that did the hull tooling for this one. I was impressed with how slippery it looked. It's a chubby boat, but what new 31-foot production boat isn't these days? I use simple LOA divided by the maximum beam for the L/B ratio. It works out to 2.69 for the 31. If you have trouble keeping these numbers relevant, try making a list of them that you can refer back to while reading the reviews. At 2.69, the lowest L/B on my list, the Catalina 31 is proportionately wider than the Hunter 26. But beam isn't all bad. Beam adds stability, interior volume and cockpit space. The D/L of 247 further indicates that this boat was aimed at interior volume.

You have a choice of two keels: a straight fin drawing 5 feet, 9 inches, or a winged fin drawing a scant 4 feet. The straight fin keel carries an additional 400 pounds of lead increasing the D/L to 257. This is unusual. Generally the shoal-draft keel carries more ballast to make up for some of the stability lost by reducing the draft. In fact I'm certain, and I'll bet you a Henry's that the brochure has this printed backwards. You have to be very careful with any published numbers.

I guess the idea these days is to make the interior appear as familiar as possible to a newcomer to sailing. This means eschewing all the features that are near and dear to the old salt's heart and going with more "decor-oriented" features. The Catalina 31 has a removable dining table that you can replace with a cocktail table. Hull ports are situated so you can look out while seated. The galley looks fine with a top- and front-loading reefer. There is even a head divided to make a shower stall on this boat. The brochure says there is a "diagonally folding chart table," but I have no idea what that means. The forward cabin is very roomy with a big double berth. I guess you could use some Velcro to keep your pillow from falling off the end of the berth. The aft cabin has another double berth, but it looks pretty snug to me in terms of vertical clearance.

The SA/D is 16.56, which I think suits this type of boat well. You can always chase big rig numbers, but it just means that in less than experienced hands the boat will be overpowered more quickly, and people will get scared. The rig has in-line spreaders and fore and aft lowers. Midboom sheeting will make fitting a dodger easy. A rigid vang is standard.

This would make a good little boat to introduce a family to the joys of cruising.

Latest Catalina cruiser with lots of interior volume.

DraftFin Keel 5'9", Wing 4'
Displacement10,300 lbs. Fin Keel, 10,700 lbs. Wing Keel
Ballast4,000 lbs. Fin Keel, 4,400 lbs. Wing Keel
Sail Area490 sq. ft.
AuxiliaryUniversal 25 XT 23-horsepower diesel
Fuel20 gals.
Water55 gals.


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