Boat Review Date: December 2012
Author: Mike Brown
With just a 9.45m metre hull the new Catalina 315 has far more internal room than such older and longer classics as the S&S 34 – and sails better than most of them too. All the usual reasons for the spaciousness: more beam carried well aft, coach roof pushed forward trailer boat style, and plain clever design. There is argument-free room for extended cruising for four and weekending for six.
Externally the 315 is clearly a Catalina; internally it has the evolved structure of the latest models. Strength and collision resistance are the keynotes with knitted fabric laminates, claimed failsafe rudder system, new chain plate arrangement, genuine collision bulkhead, and new mast stepping system. This is especially interesting for WA, one of very few locations that regularly call for mast lowering. Instead of having to pay to have the mast modified and tabernacle installed, the 315 comes with a deck step as standard.
The keel is mainstream Catalina too, with a lead bulb – what most people prefer over iron. There is a choice of fin and winged versions, but the 1.91m draught of the fin is shallow enough for traditional local uses.
The rig is seven eigths, with the main’s share of the 55m sail area on the modest side. Interestingly, it has been given vertical battens even though there are no obvious reasons like in-mast furling. Clearly, Catalina feels this arrangement has advantages in its own right. The genoa has a self furler as standard, and a permanent short bowsprit is installed for the screecher.
The cockpit, longer than the design’s predecessor, is T-shaped, giving ample room around the wheel. Everything here works well: vision is good, everything falls to hand, and the instrument pods are in the right place. The primary winches are set well aft, easing life for a single hander; the oversized traveller eases it for everyone. There is access to cavernous storage below fitted with shelves. Getting forward from the cockpit is a secure operation on the characteristically wide side decks.
The interior has a composite timber-look deck. Less sexy than teak but impervious to food spills. Teak comes in elsewhere in solid and laminated form: bench and table tops, joinery and a share of the bulkheads. The galley, set in an aft corner, has a full U shape giving room for genuine cooking ability: plenty of bench area, a two-burner gimballed gas stove and oven, fridge-freezer, sink and ample storage. The dinette is ahead of it. This is an easy fit for four, and converts to a double bed for those social weekends. Opposite is a settee, long enough to make a seventh berth, the aft end of which doubles as a seat for the chart table.
The reality, of course, is that charts are most likely in electronic form, and the table is designed for the electronic era. The table itself readily absorbs a laptop, and the navigation panel has extra circuits for added options, as well as a very useful amp draw meter to keep track of power useage.
Sleeping cabins are in the ends, a double taking up rather more than half the space aft of the saloon, and convertible V-berths forward; all mattresses inner-spring. Nothing cramped here: both have the necessary deck space and capacious, cedar-lined hanging lockers, and both get plenty of natural light.
The bathroom is a miracle of space efficiency, and that said it is also a generous size outright. All the components are here, and showering is a full height, full elbow room operation.
The auxiliary is a three-cylinder Yanmar putting out 21hp and driving a shaft rather than a sail drive. Perhaps not enough motor for motor sailing, but plenty of grunt for manoeuvring in and out of pens and alongside, and able to hold hull speed indefinitely in windless conditions.
The Catalina 315 is a neat and complete package, and bargain priced at $175,000 thanks to the state of the US dollar.
Length overall 9.73m
Hull length 9.45m
Engine 21hp Yanmar
Sail area 54.72sqm
Fuel capacity 102L
Fresh water 155L