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Used Boat Notebook - Catalina 27 - By John Kretschmer (cont.)

9.9­horsepower engine) difficulty in maneu­vering in tight quarters and the inability to charge batteries efficiently.

The inboard option is probably better, although the engine location under the cockpit is difficult to access, making even simple tasks like checking the oil a challenge. The Universal Atomic 4 at one time dominated the sailboat market and is plenty of engine for the Catalina 27. Although gasoline engines have gone out of fashion, Atomic 4 parts are readily available and cheap. You can actually buy a completely rebuilt Atomic 4 for less than a new 10-horsepower outboard. Diesels became an option in the late 1970s. Some boats were fitted with a 6­horsepower Petter, which is a cranky machine under the best of conditions and doesn't provide much oomph. Later boats had two cylinder Universal diesels. If I could find a 27 with one of these, especially if it had low hours, I'd jump on it.

Under way

Naturally, the different hull and rig configurations influence the sailing characteristics. One of the most surprising features of the 27 is how nicely it sails. The boat is fair­ly well balanced, and according to several owner reports, thrives upwind in moderate conditions. In heavy air the 27 is a bit tender and one owner suggests putting the first reef in the main at 12 knots. Ironically, another says he sails his boat on breezy San Francisco Bay and is impressed with how stiff the boat is. Several owners who race the boat note that fairing the hull is critical, and another attributes his success to changing the wire rope halyards to Kevlar. My own experi­ence is limited to a few sails on Michigan 's Lake St. Clair long ago, but I clearly


remember the boat being responsive, relatively fast and easy to sail.

The Catalina 27 fits the vague description of coastal cruiser and casual racer. With that said, several boats have made impressive pas­sages. I remember talking with a young solo sailor in Bermuda who was heading toward the Caribbean in his 27, and I heard of another 27 that circumnavigated.


The Catalina 27 didn't become one of the most popular boats ever built without good reason. It offers good sailing, comfortable accommodations, one-design fleets and active owners groups. With prices ranging from around $6,000 for old, tired 27s to around $20,000 for late model gems, the boat is also a terrific value.-


Reprinted with permission, November 2002 SAILING, volume 37, no. 3. – All rights reserved.