Fifty Years of Catalina Yachts

  July 1969 – Frank Butler, formerly of Columbia Yachts, built Catalina’s first model, the Catalina 22,  in North Hollywood, CA.  The company hoped to build 100 boats if all went well.  



March 1970 – Catalina’s second model, the Catalina 27, was introduced following the success of the Catalina 22.  A Catalina 27 was featured as the “Iola” in the 1991 film And The Sea Will Tell, based on a book by Vincent Bugliosi.

December 1974 – Catalina’s third model, the Catalina 30, was introduced; the trend- setting design was an immediate sales success and won  its class in the Newport to Ensenada Race.




February 1975 – The Catalina 22 far exceeded Frank Butler’s goal to build 100 boats when hull number 5,000 was completed.




          January 1977 –  The Catalina 25 is first produced  




June 1978 – The Catalina 38 began when Molds for a Sparkman & Stephens racing design were purchased from Yankee Yacht Company.  Frank Butler redesigning the interior and gave it a Catalina deck, taller mast, shorter boom, and moved the rudder (changed to spade).  The Catalina 38 replaced the Cal 40 as the official Congressional Cup boat.  A popular S&S contemporary is the Swan 38.

August 1979 – The “International Friendship Regatta” was held in Japan; 4 U.S. and 10 Japanese crews competed in Coronado 15s.
February 1980 – Sail Magazine named the Catalina 22 “trailerable boat of the decade.”
March 1980 – The Catalina 38 was selected to replace the Cal 40 as the match- racing boat for Congressional Cup by the Long Beach Yacht Club; Dennis Durgan won.
September 1980 – Catalina 22 hull number 10,000 was completed. C22s are being built at Catalina’s East and West Coast plants in England, Australia, and Canada.
January 1982 – Patrick Childress completed a 2 1/2 year, singlehanded circumnavigation in his Catalina 27.


  July 1982 – The first Catalina 36 was completed at the Woodland Hills, CA . plant.  




March 1983 – Mainsheet Magazine issue no. 1 was published, quickly growing to over 100 pages and 10,000 Catalina owner subscribers.



May 1984 – Catalina acquired Morgan Yachts in Largo, Fl., which became the Morgan Division of Catalina, specializing in cruising and charter boats and building many Catalina models on the East Coast.

May 1985 – Catalina 27 hull number 6,000 was built in Woodland Hills, making the C- 27 the largest class of keelboats in the world.



January 1986 –  The Catalina 34, first produced in the 1986 model year (with the first hulls constructed in 1985). The early 1985 and 1986 hulls have a deck stepped mast with a Universal 25 (21HP) diesel engine.  Later boats have a larger engine and keel stepped masts.





January 1987 – Capri 18 is introduced.



October 1987 – Catalina 30 hull number 5,000 was completed. Catalina 30s are being built at the East and West Coast plants, as well as in Canada and England.
November 1987 – Singlehanded sailor Shane St. Clair sailed his Capri 18 from Oxnard, CA., to Hawaii in 28 days.
July 1988 – Billy Peterson supervised the installation of the largest (70 ft.) computerized sail- plotting and cutting machine in the U.S. at the Woodland Hills, California plant.


  August 1988 – Coronado 15 skipper Alison Jolly became the first woman to skipper in the Olympics; she won a gold medal in the women’s 470 Class.





January 1989 – The first Catalina 42 was built. 100 hulls were delivered in the first year, breaking U.S. production records.   The hull was adapted from an earlier racing hull designed by Nelson Merek, with a new cabin top, interior, and rig in order to make it a comfortable coastal cruiser.  The boat is moderately stiff and capable of weather legs approaching 8 knots, and downwind action which can push the knot meter past 15 knots. 

February 1990 – Catalina 22 hull number 15,000 was delivered.





March 1990 – The Catalina Capri 37 was selected for the Congressional Cup, replacing the ever popular Catalina 38, the first time a fleet of 11 had been designed and built especially for the Congressional Cup. Chris Dickson won.



September 1990 – Catalina 30 hull number 6,000 was completed, setting a new keel- boat production record.




1990 – The first Catalina 28 was built.




January 1991 – Catalina 38 was retired.




August 1991 – Catalina’s Morgan Division completes Procyon, a 65- foot test boat for new concepts in yacht design and construction for Harken and Procyon Inc.





November 1992 – Catalina’s Morgan Division introduces the Morgan 381, the first all new Morgan model in a decade.







December 1992 – The Catalina 270 was unveiled, replacing the C- 27 and the boat won one of  “Boat of the Year” awards from Cruising World Magazine.





  February 1993 – The Catalina 320 was introduced at the first “Sail Expo” and was enthusiastically received by new owners.




February 1994 – The Catalina 400 was introduced at “Sail Expo,” the only twin- wheel boat built in the U.S.; it was the hit of the show.



February 1994 – The Capri 16.5 was introduced at “Sail Expo,” a beach launchable performance sailing dinghy for sailors with a wide range of ages and skills.




May 1994 – The Catalina 250 was introduced as the first water ballast trailerable sailboat from Catalina.







November 1994 – The Catalina 42Mark II Model.  was introduced with the two cabin MK II hull #480 in 11/94. The first three cabin MK II was hull #505 built in 5/95 . The most significant changes were the carrying of the beam further aft with a subsequent enlargement of the cockpit and a larger transom with softer lines. The rudder has also been redesigned and features a larger elliptical shape for increased control.


January 1995 – Frank Butler received Sails’ Industry Award for Leadership for building boats that are “straightforward, offer price for value, are solid and honest”…“With a product analogous to the Ford in the car business, Catalina Yachts has allowed vast numbers of people to experience sailing, considering both the skill level and financial wherewithal of potential sailors, that might not have been able to otherwise, thus radically changing the sport of sailing over the past 25 years.”




January 1995 – The Catalina 22 Mark II was introduced with a re- designed enlarged deck,  and a new interior.


January 1995 – Frank Butler received Sails’ Industry Award for Leadership for building boats that are “straightforward, offer price for value, are solid and honest”…“With a product analogous to the Ford in the car business, Catalina Yachts has allowed vast numbers of people to experience sailing, considering both the skill level and financial wherewithal of potential sailors, that might not have been able to otherwise, thus radically changing the sport of sailing over the past 25 years.”
February 1995 – The Catalina 22 was named as one of five charter members to Sailboat Hall of Fame.




March 1995 – The Catalina 36 Mark II is selected as “Boat of the Year” from Cruising World Magazine.

April 1995 – Catalina 250 Hull number 100 was built in Woodland Hills.




February 1996 – The Catalina 34 MarkII was introduced with a redesigned and enlarged deck, a reconfigured transom, and a new  interior.






March 1996 – The Catalina 28 Mark II won one of  the “Boat of the Year” awards from Cruising World Magazine.






April 1996 – The Catalina 380 was introduced to fill a gap between the C36 and C400.  This model was basically a scaled down C400 developed from the Morgan 381 hull and was the basis for the later 390 and 387 models.  Although larger than a typical 38, it replaced the C38, which was retired in 1991, in that niche.


November 1996 – Catalina 400 Hull number 100 was built in Largo, Florida
January 1997– The Catalina 380 won the “Boat of the Year” awards from Cruising World Magazine, in the Mid – Size Cruising class.




January 1998 – The Catalina 470 was introduced.


January 1999 –  Catalina inaugurated the Catalina Cruisers Hall of Fame to honor the Catalina owners’ who have made notable voyages aboard their boats.




February 1999 – The Catalina 310 was introduced and  won the “Boat of the Year” award from Cruising World Magazine, in the Pocket Cruiser class.


February 2000 – The Catalina 310 was selected by Sail Magazine and its readers as one of the Top 10 sailboats for 2000.
December 2000 – Catalina 36 Hull number 2000 was built in Woodland Hills, CA.




January 2001– The Catalina 390 is introduced and nominated for the “Boat of the Year” awards from Cruising World Magazine, in the Mid – Size Cruising class.  This boat is substantially a 380 with a spilt rear cabin and reconfigured head floor plan to allow egress to the third stateroom.   Note the added metal support from the sink area to the cabin top and the elimination of the nav-station seat, these are part of the differences from the C380.  The C390 was popular in charter fleets, where an additional cabin allowed three couples more privacy.





September 2001 – The Catalina Capri 22 was updated and was selected by Sail Magazine and its readers as one of the Top 10 sailboats for 2001.


May 2001 – Catalina 14.2 Hull number 5000 was built in Woodland Hills, CA.




January 1998 – The Catalina 470 was introduced.






January 2002 – The Catalina 350 was introduced to enthusiastic reviews.  One hundred boats were sold during the first model year.





July 2002 – The Catalina Expo 12.5 and 14.2 were introduced.  These are particularly easy to sail for both younger and older sailors.



September 2002 – Catalina Capri 22 Hull number 1000 was built in Woodland Hills, CA.





January 2003 – The Catalina 387 was introduced.  This model is a substantially reconfigured 380, with changes to the aft stateroom floor plan, main cabin ports and hatches, and a longer cockpit.  The rudder and the prop shaft supports were changed.  It is offered with two rear stateroom options (centerline and athwartship berth).   The Catalina 380 and 390 models were retired.


June 2004 – The Catalina Morgan 440 was introduced which combines the rugged offshore features of Morgan with the comfort, ergonomics, and style of a Catalina.  In order to fully enjoy the views from the 440, the main cabin sole is raised to provide great visibility from the large, wide, cabin windows. Beneath the cabin sole is a large engine space, built-in room for generator, tanks, both fuel, water and waste, and space for a water maker, and other cruising equipment.  This boat won Cruising Worlds 2005 Boat of the Year Award for its class.

January 2005 – The Catalina 30, Catalina 50, Morgan 381, and Morgan 45 were discontinued. 


  November 2005 – The Catalina 309 is introduced at boat shows.   This boat is based on the 310 hull design with a cabin layout similar to the C30.  It is a performance oriented craft with double spreaders and fractional rigging.  It is sad to see the venerable C30 replaced, but this is a nice vessel.
January 2005 – The CatalinaMorgan 440 wins one of Cruising World Magazine’s “Boat of the Year” awards for “Best Production Cruiser 40’ to 45’
January 2008 – The Catalina 28, 310, and  36 models are retired


  February 2008 – The Catalina 375 is introduced as a replacement for the C36, but has a longer waterline and a broader beam than the Catalina 387. It is heavier than the Catalina 36, but lighter than the Catalina 387.  




Editor’s Note:  Several years ago I wrote an article for Wikipedia the online encyclopedia.  This was just after the 2006 SF Bay Rendezvous following a great conversation with other Catalina owners over Sunday breakfast.  I did some internet research on the history of Catalina Yachts, and found little in the way of a comprehensive history.  I pulled together what I could from many sources and then Vice President Gerry Douglas reviewed it for me and gave some additional background.   Though Wikipedia allows unrestricted editing by all participants, the article there remains is substantially what Gerry acknowledged back in late 2006.   However, the original text is preserved here.

Kevin Murray, Vice Commodore (emeritus), C380/390/387 International Association.

Founder – Frank Butler

Catalina Yachts is a U.S.-based builder of fiberglass monohull sloop-rigged sailboats ranging in sizes from eight to 47 feet in length. It was founded in 1969 in Hollywood, California by Frank Butler.  Catalina Yachts’ founder Frank Butler’s initial intent was not to produce and sell boats, but rather to have one built. In 1961, Butler took over the production of his own boat when his original boat builder ran out of funds and borrowed money from Butler; the builder was not able to repay the debt. Instead he gave Butler the tooling to continue building the boat.  Butler later gained full control of the company, renaming it Wesco Marine and later Coronado Yachts.   Many Early Coronado 25 yachts have the Wesco Marine nameplate on the transom.

Among the first models built by Coronado were the Victory 21 and the Super Satellite. In 1964, the Coronado ’25 was produced, becoming the first boat with a one piece interior, making the boat stronger, lighter, and less expensive than previous models. By 1969 the Coronado 27 and 30 foot models were being produced. In 1969 Butler sold Coronado to the Whittaker Corporation which had already acquired Columbia Yachts; Whittaker continued the Coronado line until 1974 producing the Coronado 34 with the center cockpit models 35 and 41.   Butler remained with Whitaker for only one year then left due to disagreements with management.

The first model built by Catalina Yachts was a 22 foot design previously rejected by Columbia. By 1977 Butler had designed and produced three more models: the Catalina 25, Catalina 27, and the Catalina 30. In 1978 Catalina developed the Catalina 38 based on molds for a Sparkman & Stephens racing design purchased from the bankrupt Yankee Yacht Company. Butler redesigned the interior and gave it a “Catalina deck”, taller mast, shorter boom, and moved the rudder.

In 1984 Catalina acquired Morgan Yachts and continues to use the brand name for the new deck-salon style Catalina Morgan 440 introduced in 2004. The other Morgan models including the Catalina designed M381 and M45 center cockpit models were recently retired.

Catalina Yachts Today

Catalina 22 Circa 1970

Catalina Yachts is one of the largest boat manufacturers in the world, with over 60,000 boats manufactured to date.   Though Catalina produces boats from as small as eight feet under their Capri nameplate, the company is best known for its production of mid sized cruisers. The ocean going Catalina 50 was their largest design, but has been discontinued and replaced by the 470. Most original models are still in production albeit with substantial modifications, and there are examples of every Catalina model still in use.

Gerry Douglas became Chief Engineer and V.P in 1982 and has designed all the boats in the line since then, starting with the Catalina 36. Wesco Marine is currently held as a separate entity which provides rigging hardware to Catalina Yachts. In 1998 Gerry Douglas and Sharon Day were made partners in this privately owned company; however, Frank Butler remains active to this day.

Catalina 470 Circa 2003

Catalina had two production facilities; one in Largo Florida, the former home of Morgan Yachts (merged with Catalina), and one in Woodland Hills California, where the company is headquartered, as of 2008 the Woodland Hill plant has been closed though the offices remain there.  Catalina’s classic approach of putting the deck on before the components go wasl followed in the California factory, but in Florida the components go in before the deck goes on. In some cases large assemblies such as the head (bathroom) are pre-assembled and craned into the hull. This may be a vestige of the Morgan production culture. However in any case the philosophy remains that every bolt on part must fit through the hatches for maintenance — even the engine. Most of the older designs are produced in California and the majority of the more recent offerings are produced in Florida. As a side effect, the C42 (42 foot) is less expensive in California than the smaller C400 (40 foot) due to shipping costs.

With a few exceptions, Catalina has focused on long term models making small changes from year to year; this has encouraged the development of owners’ associations which promote “one design” racing and other forms of camaraderie. In return Catalina makes sacrifices in the ability to compete with cutting edge styles and trends. All of the larger cruising class boats, 27 feet and larger, have fixed keels with lead ballast. A notable feature of most Catalina boats is large cabin interior and storage they provide.

There seems to be a design trend developing since the early 1990’s as evidenced by the C320, C350, C380 (series), C400, and C470 boats. These boats are taller and carry their beams (width) further back in the hull, than the classic Catalina designs such as the C30, an American Sailboat Hall of Fame inductee, C34 and C36. All seemed to be influenced by the M381, Catalina’s first redesign of a Morgan boat, the classic Morgan 38 and its variants. The most recent designs are the Catalina Morgan 440 which seems to be addressing Hunter’s deck salon competition, and the C309 which updates the aging C30; the C309 shares a hull with the C310, but has a C30 style interior and is the first production Catalina model with a fractional rig.


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Kevin Murray, Broker, Walnut Creek,CA