The Catalina looks as good as it performs - and fishes.
Chris-Craft 29 Catalina: Sweet Stuff
There’s nothing easy about making a hard-core fishboat look as hot as Ferrari and as classy as a Cadillac, but Chris-Craft did the job on their 29 Catalina. We won’t dwell on the Catalina’s looks—the picture you see here tells that story well enough. The real surprise with this boat is the fact that it has the stout construction, sporty performance, and savvy fishability to back up those looks.
Check out the T-top, for a perfect example of the looks/brains/brawns combination. It has curvaceous, powder-coated pipework that matches the aesthetic of the rest of the boat. Even where the pipes are visible only from inside the console (where most builders wouldn’t bother doing any extra finish work) they’re powder-coated. The aluminum pipework is integrated into the console and through-bolted from the inside, to eliminate the usual tripping points found where pipes meet decks. And the supports run down through the console and deck, giving the top’s structure additional support that makes it solid enough for doing chin-ups.
Another example is underfoot from the moment you step aboard the Catalina: Perfectly-shaped solid—not veneer—teak decking is epoxied in place on the foredeck and swim platform. It’s set off by trim at the console and rubrail, and provides a far better footing then standard fiberglass nonskid. Now check out the upholstery; it has dual-density foam, which is the most comfortable around. The cleats are pop-ups instead of fixed, the through-hulls are 316-grade stainless-steel instead of Mylar, and the hatches are RTM (resin transfer molded) which not only creates parts that are 100-percent fully finished on both sides, it also ensures the best resin-to-glass ratio for maximum strength with minimum weight.
The boat’s design also melds looks and brains, including an eye-pleasing flaired bow and outer strakes (turned down at a seven-degree angle), which work together to re-direct spray away from the boat and keep you dry. Inner strakes are also turned down, these at a five-degree angle, providing additional lift to the hull. The bow has a 54-degree entry that tapers back through a variable-degree deadrise to 21-degrees at the transom. Run it trough a two foot chop as we did during my test run on the Catalina, and you’ll discover it’s a kick-butt design that keeps you as dry as any monohull around, while doing a great job of smoothing out the bumps.
Construction keeps up with the top-shelf design, starting out with a liner and stringers that are a single molded grid, affixed to the hull with Weld-On adhesive. Once the grid’s in place voids are foamed in. High-stress areas are Kevlar-reinforced, and an unusually-thick 22 mil gel coat is backed with a Vinylester barrier coat. Even the upholstery is over-built, with 35-ounce vinyl on the cushions. Solid? Darn straight.
When it’s time to drop a hook or two or 10, the Chris-Craft comes through once again. All the standard stuff you’d expect on any fishing boat is present and accounted for: four gunwale-mounted rodholders, under-gunwale rodracks, a raw water washdown, a 28-gallon lighted and rounded livewell, removable coaming bolsters, five rocket launchers across the hard top, and a folding aft bench seat. One beef: the livewell and raw water washdown on my test boat were plumbed to run off the same pump, which means you’ll have low pressure when using both at the same time and no back-up for either system if you have a pump failure.
An unexpected goodie deep-droppers and kite fishers will like is the electric reel pre-wiring under the gunwales. And, surprise—the transom also holds additional, unexpected rodholders. Check out the drink box under the passenger’s seat and you’ll discover another surprise, an electric refrigerator/freezerbox with dial-adjusting temperature controls. That’s sweet stuff—and it’s stuff you don’t find unless you’re looking at a boat that has a brain to match its beauty. Simply put, the Catalina has copious amounts of both.