Catalina 445

This Ocean Series offering takes a step in a new direction with a design that hints at performance and an interior that's all about creature comforts. A boat review from our November 2009 issue

Catalina

After spending the last few seasons replacing tried-and-true models in the Catalina line, designer Gerry Douglas headed in an entirely new direction when he sat down to draw the lines for the new Catalina 445, a twin-helm, sporty-looking sailboat that will claim a place of its own in the company's Ocean Series, between the 440 and 470.

I say sporty because the 445 is a bit narrower (with a beam of 13 feet 7 inches) than its Catalina cousins, and the cabin top has a low profile and is sleek, tapering off to meet the foredeck ahead of the Seldén slightly fractional (at 19/20ths) mast. And hull number one, the boat I test-sailed on San Francisco Bay, was fitted out with a removable bowsprit that let us power up in the uncharacteristically light-air conditions with a code zero headsail. When the wind picked up late in the afternoon, we easily furled the A sail on its flexible furler, set the 135-percent working genoa, and reached along the city's waterfront and out toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

In breezes that ranged from single digits to the high teens, the boat moved along quite well. Like other recent Catalinas, the 445 has the sail area it needs when the waves are still ripples. With a breeze in the 10-knot range, we made about 5.5 knots over the ground and tacked through angles that hinted at the 445's P.H.R.F. racing potential. When the breeze builds, the roller-furling main with vertical battens and the genoa can be reduced accordingly, though I found that even in the late-day gusts, the 445 stood up well to its full sail plan.

Douglas, in fact, designed his latest cruising boat with the occasional racer or performance-interested skipper in mind. The laminate schedule used to lay up the hull-solid glass to the waterline, and balsa-cored above and in the deck-was beefed up, and longitudinal aluminum stiffeners were added halfway up each side of the hull to create a structure that would be up to the demands of offshore racing-or bluewater voyaging.

Catalina is a company that listens to its customers, and Douglas says that the message he heard from owners was that most couples who want a 40-something footer don't often need three cabins but could use more storage. Forward, the owner's roomy stateroom features a queen-size bed-the bed's forward end can be tilted up with an electric motor for reading-and its own head and shower.

Aft, to starboard, is a second large cabin, this one fit out with a diagonally situated double. This cabin shares its head and shower with the saloon. Both fore and aft heads connect to gravity-drain holding tanks with a combined 54 gallons of capacity. Located on opposite sides of the boat, both face inward, ensuring that there'll be a place to go on either tack.

Aft and to port of the companionway is a smaller cabin that can be set up to meet an owner's needs at the time: as a sleeping quarter for friends or kids or, with the berth folded up, a storage space or workshop. Access to this cabin is through a door aft of the galley and also from above, through the cockpit settee.

The L-shaped galley sports a three-burner propane stove and oven, Isotherm refrigeration, and a number of amenities that a cook will appreciate, including storage for a set of Calphalon pots, an idea that Douglas' wife came up with to prevent rattling.

Teak laminates and solid teak trim are found throughout. In the saloon, a portside U-shaped couch surrounds a table that can be lowered to create another double berth. Opposite, chairs sit to either side of a small table that can also be lowered to form a berth or settee. Just aft is the nav station, with room for paper charts and a dedicated place to set a laptop.

Comfortable as the interior was, on the day we went sailing I spent most of my time topside, enjoying the ride. There's ample room at the twin wheels for the helmsman to get comfortable, and visibility as far as sails and telltales are concerned is excellent. On the boat we sailed, the optional wood cockpit tabletop added a bit of flare to the easy-to-maintain fiberglass topside, and the built-in cooler beneath it will be welcomed on a hot day.
All sail-control lines lead aft from the mast to winches near the companionway, as they do on all Catalinas. My one gripe is that the mainsheet leads there, too, meaning that you have to leave the wheel to trim it. That said, with an autopilot and easy-to-negotiate cockpit, the job is doable.

The 445 is powered by a 54-horsepower Yanmar and a conventional shaft and prop. Leaving the dock and while under way, the boat responded quickly under power, and noise levels below seemed within reason. Engine access is excellent, thanks to an engine box that can be moved out of the way, and I liked they way the filters were grouped together in a small closet.

The 445 comes with either a fin or a wing keel, both made of lead, which isn't always the norm on a price-conscious production boat. Fitted out in the fashion of hull number one, the new 445 carries a price tag of about $315,000; the base price is about $30,000 less for a boat delivered to the East Coast.

Because our test sail doubled as a photo shoot for the just-launched boat, I got to spend a lot more time sailing the 445 than I normally would. I found lots of comfortable places to while away the afternoon and appreciated the boat's ability to handle changing conditions of wind and sea state. Simply put, as a sometimes racer or an all-the-time cruiser, the new boat from Catalina is one that you'll enjoy spending time aboard. And that's the whole idea, isn't it?

Mark Pillsbury is CW's editor.

Specs

LOA 44' 5" (13.54 m.)
LWL 38' 4" (11.68 m.)
Beam 13' 7" (4.14 m.)
Draft (fin/wing) 6' 4"/4' 10" (1.93/1.47 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 856 sq. ft. (79.5 sq. m.)
Ballast (fin/wing) 7,200/8,200 lb.
(3,266/3,629 kg.)
Displacement (fin/wing) 23,500/24,500 lb.
(10,660/11,022 kg.)
Ballast/D (fin/wing) .31/.33
D/L (fin/wing) 186/194
SA/D (fin/wing) 16.7/16.2
Water 178.5 gal. (676 l.)
Fuel 66 gal. (250 l.)
Mast Height 63' 10" (19.46 m.)
Engine 54-hp. Yanmar
Designer Gerry Douglas
Price $285,000
Catalina Yachts
(818) 884-7700
www.catalinayachts.com