In 2009 I found myself on a spirited test sail of Catalina’s then new 445 with chief engineer and the Catalina’s designer, Gerry Douglas onboard. Gerry pointed out the new thinking that went into that design and I have to say it was an impressive set of innovations. It turns out success breeds success and the 445 was very well received so Catalina carried the key design elements into the new Catalina 355 which features a low cabin profile, a long waterline, a reasonable 12’ beam and moderate freeboard. Our wind was quite a bit lighter for the 355 test sail but it still proved to be a fun and easy boat to sail.
On deck, the Catalina 355 is all about performance, safety and ease of use. A removable spinnaker bowsprit forward can be stored in the anchor locker behind which is a watertight collision bulkhead. The decks are clear with 13’ long inboard genoa tracks and six shrouds that allow for tight sheeting angles and good upwind performance. A tow rail provides options for securing additional hardware and blocks.
The 355 displaces just under 15,000 lbs with the wing keel option that draws 4’ 6”. You can also opt for the deep draft fin keel that draws 6’ 8” and save about 1,000 lbs. and probably will improve your upwind performance a bit. Cruising speed is expected to be 5-6 knots with max speed around 6.5 knots.
The 100% genoa is 572 square feet but the 355 can carry up to a 155% headsail which is well over 700 square feet. A 669 square foot 135% jib is standard. The rig is deck stepped with a compression post that goes through the deck for strength and watertight security. A five foot long traveler with a ball bearing car and a 6:1 adjuster makes for easy control of the mainsail. Two cabintop winches control most running rigging while the two primary winches are positioned well aft and within reach of the helm.
Catalina is known for their cockpit comfort and the 355 is true to that form. Angled seats, an insulated folding table and seats incorporated into the stern rail are standard. The walkthrough behind the helm area leads to an ample swimstep that makes boarding easy and incorporates storage lockers that are in addition to the very large, portside lazarette with gullwing access.
Down below, the 355 took some leads from her bigger sister as well and with good results. The master cabin is forward with an island berth that has an articulating mattress with an electric lifter so you can read or watch TV while inclined at a comfortable angle. There is plenty of storage in two cedar lined lockers and drawers under the berth and there is room to stand up and change even with the door closed.
The saloon has a starboard side U-shaped settee with an optional quad leaf folding table that accommodates a dinner party or shrinks neatly to provide more room in the cabin. Two seats with a small cocktail table on port can be converted to a straight settee with cushions and this also forms the seat for the aft-facing nav station t. The nav desk includes a recessed laptop compartment with power ports and quite a bit of room for the installation of electronics.
Further aft on port is a roomy head that includes a separate stall shower. A nice feature here is the filter locker that provides easy access to the fuel and cooling water filters and valves.
Across from the head is the L-shaped galley with a top and front loading reefer and two deep sinks on the centerline. There is plenty of counter space but like on most boats of this size, hope for little traffic to the aft cabin when you’re cooking – the door opens right into the galley. The finish is clear varnish on light teak and teak veneer surfaces.
The Catalina 355 was introduced at the Annapolis boat show this year with a base price of $165,450.
Specs for the Catalina 355
Length Overall 35' - 5"
Length of Waterline 30' - 2"
Draft Fin Keel 2.2 m 6' - 8"
Wing Keel 4' - 6"
Designed Weight Fin Keel 13,800 lbs
Wing Keel 14,800 lbs
Engine Yanmar 29 HP
Total Water Capacity 101 gal
Fuel Capacity 30 gal
Holding Tank Capacity 27 gal
Sail Area 572 sq. ft.
This article first appeared in Latitudes & Attitudes magazine.