Catalina 42

By Jack Hornor

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Principal Dimensions & Specifications
Measurements should be considered approximate and the manufacturer&s specifications may be relied upon. Bow & stern appendages are generally excluded.
Length Overall41’ 10"
Waterline Length36’ 0"
Maximum Beam13’ 10"
Maximum Draft6’ 0"
Displacement/Weight20,500 lbs
Fuel Capacity38 Gallons
Water Capacity115 Gallons
Sail Area 100%
Fore triangle
Sq ft.

Catalina Yacht has long been one of the most successful sailing yacht manufacturers in the world, but what is perhaps most impressive about a company that doesn't even advertise it's product is the number of hugely successful models they have had since introducing the Catalina 22 in 1970. In a business where a three or four year production run of a few hundred boats is considered a success, I can think of no manufacturer who comes close to Catalina's success in the number of models that remained in production for ten years or more. Having sold 700 boats in by it’s 13th year of production, the Catalina 42 is one of the most successful 40 plus footers ever built. Catalina's in-house design team, lead by chief designer Gerry Douglas for the last 25 years, designed the Catalina 42. Introduced with the 1989 model year, the 42 was the first American built sailboat of this size to offer a three-stateroom layout. The Mk I version was built until February 1995 (hull # 477) when it was replaced with the Mk II version which remains in production as of the 2004 model year. There were very few changes between the Mk I and Mk II models although, as a concession to popular European styling, the transom was rounded off at the deck. In addition, storage was added to the cockpit seating and a two-stateroom layout option was offered.

The overall length of the Catalina 42 is 41'-10", beam is 13'-10", draft is 4'-10" with a wing keel and 6' with fin keel according to the Catalina's specifications. Displacement of the Mk I was specified by Catalina as 18,000 lbs while the Mk II's displacement is specified as 20,500. Actually, Catalina admits they were optimistic with the original weight estimates and, in fact, displacement of both versions is closer to 22,500 lbs. No adjustment was made to the original draft specification to account for the additional displacement, although the additional weight is likely to add a 1 1/2 " or so to the specified draft.

The construction of the Catalina 42 is not without its faults but is as sound as any similarly priced and sized boats and better than some. The hull is constructed of a solid laminate of fiberglass and resin with no core materials. The hull is fitted with a structural fiberglass liner that incorporates the cabin sole as well as berth and furniture foundations. The deck is a cored composite with fiberglass and 3/4" end grain balsa wood. Where deck hardware is installed and 1/2" plywood is used instead of balsa wood. The deck and hull are joined in a shoebox fashion flexible adhesives and stainless steel nuts, bolts and washers on eight-inch centers. There is an aluminum rub rail with vinyl insert fastened at the deck to hull joint with stainless steel screws.

Even though Catalina has been using a vinylester resin barrier coat since 1995, there have been some reported cases of osmotic blistering of post as well as pre 1995 models. In most cases repairs have been taken care of under warrantee.

Catalina 42

Photo by Catalina Yachts

On deck, the Catalina 42 is clean and unobstructed except for deck hatches and handrails. The anchor windlass is located in a foredeck locker to keep it out of the way when not needed. Rigging shrouds are set well inboard to allow effective sheeting angles and easy passage on either side. The mainsheet traveler is located on the cabin top forward of the companionway and out of the way of the dodger and cockpit bimini. The cockpit is large with seats that are 6'-8" long and big enough to stretch out on. The helm seat at the transom opens to allow access to a swim platform molded into the transom. The Mk II version has a permanently installed drop-leaf table forward of the binnacle. The table is not removable and is inconvenient to get about while underway.

Although my personal preference leans toward the two stateroom optional layout offered on the Mk II version, both layouts are efficient and offer unique appeal. Both feature a head and shower forward where a V-berth cabin would normally be located. Between the main saloon and the forward head is a Pullman-styled stateroom with port berth and starboard hanging locker, chest of drawers and settee. The berth is wide and extends from centerline to the hull side but is only 72" long and not well suited to anyone taller than 6'. The main saloon features a port side dinette and, on the three-cabin model, there is a starboard galley in the main saloon. With the two-cabin arrangement the galley is located to the port side aft of the dinette and there is a settee and navigation station to the starboard side of the saloon. The three-cabin arrangement has mirror image quarter berth cabins aft. Both models have a second head forward of the starboard quarterberth cabin.

The most noticeable drawbacks of the cabin arrangements is the lack of convenient handholds.

Depending on the year of production, auxiliary power is provided by a 44 or 50 hp Yanmar diesel. Both provide plenty of power and the engine is accessible from all four sides, which is a real plus when service and maintenance is necessary.

The sailing performance of the Catalina 42 is very respectable and she has taken her share of silver in club racing. The sail area/displacement ratio of the 42 is a conservative 17, the displacement/length ratio is 196 and the PHRF rating of a stock Catalina 42 is usually around 105.

As would be expected the deep keel version is slightly more weatherly than the wing keel version. However, in ten knots of true wind, she should make an honest 6 knots pointing to within 32 to 34 degrees of the apparent wind.

The Mk II model rudder was changed to a deeper, higher aspect form which owners report improves handling and performance.

The Catalina 42 is a handsome boat that offers solid performance, excellent accommodations and good value for buyers looking for a cruiser or club racer in this size range.

Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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