Deck & Cockpit
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. An aluminum toerail provides options for securing additional hardware and blocks, and the 28” stanchions are higher than on other comparably sized boats.
Catalina is known for their cockpit comfort and the 355 is no disappointment. Angled benches, an insulated folding table, and stern rail seats are standard. The walk-through transom leads to an ample swim step that makes boarding easy. The aft storage locker is in addition to the very large, portside lazarette with gullwing access. Wind instruments sit below the NavPod that holds the Raymarine multifunction display. This makes the whole binnacle area lower and lets shorter folks see forward without obstacles. Also nice are the helm seats that are 8” higher than the cockpit benches and help with visibility as well.
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 6’5” headroom and features 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 to port can be converted to a straight settee with extra cushions, and this also forms the seat for the aft-facing nav station. The nav desk includes a recessed laptop compartment with power ports and a file drawer to store all manuals.
Rig & Performance
Sail area (100% foretriangle) is 572 square feet, but the 355 can carry up to a 155% genoa, which boosts total area over 700 square feet. A 135% genoa is standard, as is a furling main with vertical battens. The Selden 19/20 fractional rig is deck-stepped over a compression post. We sailed with the optional Utility Power Sail (UPS) by Doyle, which is a type of gennaker on its own roller-furler that is hoisted with the spinnaker halyard. It was a good sail to have in the light winds we experienced that day. It adds about USD $4,000 to the base price.
The five-foot-long Garhauer traveler with single-side handling and 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 wheel. There are forward and aft lower shrouds and in-line uppers that allow for tight sheeting angles and good upwind performance. Added safety comes in the form of twin backstays that terminate independently at the masthead. This keeps the boarding area clear and a tall helmsman from ducking the backstay when moving from one side to the other. The decks are wide and clear and there are handy mid-ship cleats on both sides.
Systems on Catalinas are thus arranged with an eye to access and servicing. All wiring on the 355 is laid out in conduits under the cabin sole. The engine’s fuel and oil filters are in a dedicated chest in the head. The main electrical panel, which is itself quite large, is augmented by an auxiliary panel so that extra electronics can be added easily. One detail I liked was the sight gauge on the generous-sized holding tank, which makes it possible to accurately assess when a pump-out is required.
There’s enough room for a family or a pair of couples to live aboard for an extended period, and the boat is set up to sail well. Cockpit ergonomics are superb, and functionality generally is very good. Construction and finish are well above average for a mass-production boat.