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Author Topic: Catalina Factory Tour - Largo Florida  (Read 2107 times)
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Steve Sayian
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« on: December 29, 2007, 08:03:08 PM »

This year we did a 'non-traditional' Christmas and went to Florida Dec 21st and returned Dec 28.  For a lifelong New Englander, this is a very big deal! We stayed at Treasure Island, outside of St. Petersburg and the day after Christmas we went to the Catalina factory in Largo for a tour.

Our tour guide was Warren Pandy, Manager of Service and Technical Support. The tour was about an hour and we went through most of the production facility.  I had never seen a fiberglass boat manufacturing plant so this was very interesting to see the process.  In the case of Catalina's', each hull is hand layed up.  The average boat takes about 2 months from initial gell-coat spray to shipment to the dealer.  We saw a couple Catalina/Morgan 440's in initial stages (huge hulls when they are empty!!!), many 320's in various states of completion and the brand new 375 (C36 replacement), hull number 1 with hulls 2 and 3 close behind (hull no. 1 is going to the Boston Boat Show in January and on to the Chicago Show later in Jan).  We were amazed at the complexity of the lay-up and most importantly, the attention to detail Catalina puts into building their boats.  All chain plate areas of the decks have 1/4 inch series 316 stainless backing plates glassed in and are later drilled and tapped to receive bolts.  All winch bases, traveller, and stanchion bases have stainless backing plates glasses in.  The hull and decks have integrated raceways for wiring that eliminate the possibility of chafing from hull movement under sail/power.  The walkways in each deck have a balsa-core that is cut in 1 1/2 inch sections and held together on the backside by a vinyl adhesive.  When these sections are layed up, the resin penetrates in between the individual sections forming an encapsulated piece.  Warren said that should an area of the deck fracture and the core become impregnated with water, the damage would be isolated to a very small area that can be fixed.  He showed us a core sample from a C42 hull that was removed for a depth sounder and it had to have been about 2 1/2" thick!!!  All through-hull flanges are glassed into the mold on initial gell-coat layup and the mat and roving are added as the layup progresses.  They manufacture all their interior wood (teak) framing and fiberglass molded head/galley components.  We were very impressed with the overall quality and attention to detail that goes into these boats and are very glad we own one!!!  They let us take some pictures of the hulls and production process but we had to agree not to distribute them.  I would highly recommend that if you have a chance, that you take a tour of the facility (CA or FL).

A few months ago there was a post on the site about the C34 molds being shipped to the Florida plant.  I asked Warren if production had started and he wasn't aware that the molds were being sent there.  He thought they may be in-transit.
Today I was at Eastern Yacht Sales (South Shore Boston area dealer) and was told that the 34 is going into 'limited production' for 2008.

Anyway, that's my tale.  As I mentioned, I'm sure glad I own a Catalina and feel very confident in the construction methods and overall quality of the boat!

Steve
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Steve Sayian
"Ocean Rose"
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Jon Schneider
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2007, 08:34:06 PM »

A few months ago there was a post on the site about the C34 molds being shipped to the Florida plant.  I asked Warren if production had started and he wasn't aware that the molds were being sent there.  He thought they may be in-transit.
Today I was at Eastern Yacht Sales (South Shore Boston area dealer) and was told that the 34 is going into 'limited production' for 2008.

Anyway, that's my tale.  As I mentioned, I'm sure glad I own a Catalina and feel very confident in the construction methods and overall quality of the boat!

Steve

Great write-up Steve.  Thanks.  That's bad news for the C34 line if Warren wasn't aware of the whereabouts of the hull molds.  I suspect they're in the process of "rationalizing" their line-up.
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Jon Schneider
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Ken Heyman
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2007, 10:51:36 PM »

From this and previous posts it's not sounding encouraging for the "34". Nonetheless Catalina is a solid company (we think) and accordingly support should be available in years to come.
On a related note, it was sad to see that a Catalina didn't make it into "Cruising World's" list of favorites in the current issue. Beneteau and Hunter were represented.

Happy New Year all,
Ken
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Ken Heyman
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2007, 11:43:25 PM »

On a related note, it was sad to see that a Catalina didn't make it into "Cruising World's" list of favorites in the current issue. Beneteau and Hunter were represented.

I wouldn't worry too much Hunter and Beneteau this year.  Next year will be Catalina's year with the new 375.  The boating industry is becoming pretty much like the automotive industry.  Something new every year, something really big ever three or four.  Glen what's-his-name, the chief architect of Hunter, has been truly prodigious in redesigning the whole fleet since he's been there, and I think he's actually done a great job.  I don't like the look of Hunters, especially in comparison to Catalinas, but they're not embarrassing anymore (anything but). 
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Jon Schneider
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2007, 08:04:10 AM »

When I spoke with Gerry Douglas at the Annapollis Boat Show he stated the C34 was still in the line up, but as with all businesses, they will evaluate the model line up each year. 
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Ken & Vicki Juul
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2007, 10:08:38 AM »

...they will evaluate the model line up each year. 
I think GM says that to the press right before they close a plant ;(  I wonder if our model ceases production what effect that would have on the value of our boats?  The whole Pearson line went out of business 15 years ago, and their models have held their value quite well.  I suspect ours will too... might even heighten the value by permanently capping the supply. 

I'm actually really surprised that Catalina hasn't come out with their own version of a large daysailer... They could take a C34 hull, elongate the bow by a couple of feet with half of that going to a retro CCA-like overhang while putting a bit of classic curve in the toerail line and extending the cockpit by a couple of feet.  Actually, even better, if they still have the old S&S-designed C38 mold, that could be instantly transformed into a magnificent daysailer (beautiful lines with its classic protruding topsides) by redesigning the deck and cabin layout.  Ah well, I wonder if it's too late for me to go into naval architecture... (yes)
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Jon Schneider
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arthur
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2007, 01:32:23 PM »

Steve,   My wife and I have stayed on Treasure Island and enjoyed the beach and 'John's Pass'. 

Thanks for the great report on the making of Catalinas.  I have a 34MKII and heard like many others that they may be discontinued.  This should be good for us, I believe.  Limited supply usually means higher prices if one wants to sell.  I don't plan on selling mine as it is almost the perfect size for my wife and me.

Happy New Year and may the winds always be on your beam and the seas gentle.
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dbpaul
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2007, 02:50:45 PM »

Steve
I can't find the pictures you took at the Catalina factory.

paulj
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Steve Sayian
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2007, 05:18:07 PM »

Paul,

The stipulation that they let us take pictures at the factory was that we would not distribute them to any site. 

I gave my word that I wouldn't distribute them.

Hope you understand.

Steve
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Steve Sayian
"Ocean Rose"
1999 Mk II
Wing, Std Rig, Kiwi Prop
#1448, Hingham, Mass
Steve Sayian
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2007, 05:20:43 PM »

Arthur,

We stayed at The Sand Pebbles which was about 1/4 mile from John's Pass!
Loved it and are plannoing to go back next year (2008).

Steve
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Steve Sayian
"Ocean Rose"
1999 Mk II
Wing, Std Rig, Kiwi Prop
#1448, Hingham, Mass
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