Catalina Yachts, one of America's most venerable and influential sailboat builders over the last 50 years, introduced their all new Flagship Catalina 545 at October's Annapolis sailboat show. The American-designed and American-built family cruiser follows the very successful 425 that was launched two years ago and is a big sister to that design in many ways. This is the new look of Catalina's Ocean Series yachts.
The boat is immediately distinctive when you first see it lying at a floating dock, as it was at the show. There are three large square windows in the hull, tinted dark so you can't see inside; the sheer line is quite flat and modern; the bow, with it's built-in bowsprit, is not exactly plumb but is more vertical than in earlier designs and similar to the 425's bow; and, the cabin top is streamlined and low so it fits neatly with the curve of the sheer and the cockpit coaming.
Like the other boats in the Cruiser and Ocean Series, the 545 is a couple's cruising boat that will be used for regular coastal cruisers and then taken offshore occasionally to move it to some new and interesting cruising ground.
Starting in the cockpit, the new boat has twin wheels, with useful instrument pods, a large drop-leaf table on the center line and bench seats that fold out into wide sunning beds. All lines lead aft to winches on both sides of the cockpit so a single watch keeper (with an autopilot) can handle the boat alone and from the helms. The seats aft are large and comfortable for long watches and the coamings are high enough to provide good back support and to keep water out of the cockpit. You spend a lot of time in a cruising boat's cockpit, so getting it right is one of a designer's most important tasks. In the 545, Gerry seems to have got it very right.
The side decks are wide and have a low molded bulwark for a toe rail the keeps dropped tools on deck, funnels water to the scuppers and adds structural strength to the hull-to-deck joint. The side stays are placed inboard on chain plates next to the cabin side. This keeps the genoa sheeting angle as narrow as possible and means that you don't have to duck under a diagonal when the boat is heeled over. The foredeck is uncluttered and large enough to carry a good-size dinghy when going to sea. The forward locker is huge and roomy enough for spare gear and extra rodes.
As a sailing and cruising machine, the 545 has been set up with a good combination of proven traditional design aspects and innovations that make life aboard easier and sailing more efficient.