Are Catalina Sailboats Bluewater Boats?

Are Catalina Sailboats Bluewater Boats? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 1, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Catalina’s can be used for coastal cruising and do great in fair winds
  • The Catalina 36 is an example of a blue water sailing boat but not all Catalinas are able
  • Make sure your boat is blue water capable or if it can only go into sheltered waters
  • Blue water Catalinas can handle over a thousand miles in places like the East Coast
  • The Catalina 36 is the best boat sailed from that brand for blue water sailing

Catalina Yachts are often debated for their seaworthiness and if they can stand up to tough conditions. So are Catalina sailboats bluewater boats?

The Catalina line of boats vary for their capabilities as a blue water boat, but they can handle blue water sailing depending on the model. The Catalina 36 MK II for example is one boat that has handled coastal waters and other offshore passages, excluding abnormal conditions while sailing.

After detailed analysis, the Catalina 36 is a true blue water boat as long as you handle yourself accordingly. Always try your best to sail in a good weather window of opportunity and think ahead for extended voyages.


Table of contents

How are Catalina Sailboats a Bluewater Boat?

Catalina sailboats have a classification just like any other boat. These classifications vary based on the manufacturer and the type of boat they are building.

Looking at the Catalina 36 this is a larger Catalina and can handle a little bit more from the ocean. Catalina’s in general are not meant for bluewater but this one sticks out above the rest.

CE Ratings for Catalina 36

Various CE ratings for boats indicate how well they can stand up to rough conditions on the water. The 36 has a rating of “A” which means it is ocean capable but it has a little bit more than just that.

These boats that have the “A” rating can handle winds over 40 MPH and significant wave heights of around 13 feet. These are not meant to handle harsh conditions like a hurricane so keep that in mind in case you are feeling like a daredevil.

Other CE Ratings for Catalina Boats

CE ratings vary based on the type of boat and other safety measures. The following are other ratings you might see on various Catalinas:

  • B Rating: This is for offshore boats with winds up to 40 MPH and just under 13 foot waves
  • C Rating: Inshore and coastal waters that can withstand winds up to 27 MPH and waves around seven feet.
  • D Rating: Sheltered coastal waters around the coast that can handle winds around 15 MPH and waves about two feet.

It is important to point out that just because your boat has a certain rating does not guarantee that you will be completely safe in those conditions. These are meant to help you determine what can handle inshore and offshore options.

Heavier Weight

Boats are typically on the heavier side if they are capable of being out in bluewater conditions. These provide more stability when the wind and waves become more intense.

The 36 is roughly 36 feet and has about 6,000 pounds of ballast which is great for bluewater. Hopefully you will not have to experience extreme conditions but it would not hurt to have a boat that can come close to withstanding it.


Catalina is a reputable boat brand that is constructed well and will last for years if taken care of properly. Frank Butler founded Catalina but has also made comments in the past that suggest these boats are not meant for bluewater conditions.

Instead Catalina’s are meant for cruising which can be close to those kinds of conditions depending on where you are on the water. No matter what Catalina you are using you should check to make sure it can handle bluewater conditions.

Large Enough Water and Diesel Tanks

If you plan on using a Catalina for living aboard or blue water sailing then you need to know how much your water and diesel tanks can hold. Failure to properly estimate these numbers can result in running out of both liquids. Better boats for blue water typically have large tanks that can last for a while.

Other Factors that Make a Boat Bluewater Capable

Despite the 36 not being a full-fledged boat for blue water sailing there have been other boats that also did not meet those criteria and were just fine in those conditions. This does not mean you should try it anyway regardless of your boat but rather take into consideration your situation and skills while sailing. Keep in mind your sailing experience and how your boat is best fit to cross the ocean in blue water conditions.

Accurate Weather Prediction

Checking the weather forecast ahead of time as often as possible when navigating can help you tremendously. This will help you avoid upcoming storms and the harsh wind or waves that come with it.

Having a boat that is too heavy can result in moving slower and you will be unable to outrun storms. Wind speeds will likely reach up to 40 MPH in storms that are closer to the equator but keep in mind your location and how the weather plays out.

Global Positioning System

Having a GPS is a lifesaver and can save you from a major headache. If you are needing to navigate away from a storm then a GPS can be a useful tool that you can use to bypass the storm but still stay on track to your destination. This also works great if you are lost after a storm.

Routine Maintenance

Looking over your boat before and after long voyages will help in prolonging the condition of your boat. Small concerns can be fixed a lot easier before heading out and it is good practice anyway to make sure your boat is operating as it should.

While checking out your boat it would not hurt to also keep spare parts of minor things. This makes it easy to make adjustments on the go rather than when you need something in the middle of the ocean.

Are Catalina Sailboats Bluewater Boats?
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

Are Catalina Sailboats Bluewater Boats?

Are Catalina Sailboats Bluewater Boats?
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy