Chris-Craft Catalina 29 Review: Poetry in Ocean

The Chris-Craft Catalina 29 proves that center console and fishing don’t necessarily have to go hand in hand.

2nd March 2014.
By Lenny Rudow

When I first rode the Chris-Craft Catalina 26 and wrote up the boat review I tried to make the point that its fishing ability was surprisingly good for a boat with so much emphasis on panache, and while I might say the same thing about the Chris-Craft Catalina 29, I won’t. Because truth be told, anyone who steps aboard this boat is just as likely to grip a wine glass as a fishing rod.

chris-craft catalina 29

Let’s review the mission of a center console like the Chris-Craft Catalina 29: cruising, entertaining, and… um… what was that other thing?

Unlike the similarly-styled Sun Tender version of this hull, the Catalina 29 has fishy features like an open aft cockpit, integrated fishboxes, a 28 gallon livewell, and a raw water washdown. There’s also a two-tray tacklebox, though it’s accessed from inside the console (which is not exactly convenient to get to during a hot bite). But it also has a refrigerator under the passenger’s seat, buttery-soft upholstery, and more teak accents than a Trumpy. Even the “cutting board” is teak. How many of us would really take a knife to squid or butterfish, on such a work of art? Well, okay—I would, but I’d feel bad about it.

Length 29’5″
Beam 10’2″
Draft 1’9″
Deadrise 21 degrees
Displacement 8,200 lbs
Fuel capacity 220 gal.
Water capacity 31 gal.

What I wouldn’t feel one iota of guilt over, however, is using this boat as a center console lounger/cruiser. Many people under-rate the effectiveness of a center console when it comes to cruising abilities, and this is a mistake. The Catalina I tested was one huge sun-lounge from the console forward, and it had a comfy two-person transom seat as well as the twin helm bolsters. A half-dozen people would be exceedingly comfortable using this boat for day-cruises, coving at the beach, or going for a dinner cruise. Sure, if it rains you’ll miss the protection a cabin offers, but otherwise your standard cruiser can’t top it. Plus, you get gobs more open area (like that sun lounge) than a cabin boat can provide.

Performance Data
Test conditions: Winds  of 5-10 MPH, 2 POB. Performance data courtesy of Yamaha.
1000 5.8 2.7 2.2
2000 8.9 6.3 1.4
3000 18.2 12.3 1.5
4000 35.5 19.4 1.8
5000 46.3 29.9 1.6
5950 53.4 42.1 1.3
Power Twin F250 Yamaha four-stroke outboards, swinging 15″ x 21″ three-bladed stainless-steel props.

Performance-wise, the Catalina can compete with either the hook-heads or the cruisers. Top-end breaks 53-mph, and a mellow 4500 RPM cruise will keep you kicking along at 41.0-mph. The seas are a bit snotty? No worries; the Catalina 29 chops through ‘em, thanks to the steep 21-degree transom deadrise. Part of the credit for this boat’s smooth ride also goes to its weight distribution; it comes up on plane without gobs of bowrise, and stays flat as you apply power. Check out this short video, and you’ll see one of the reasons why – as well as some other evidence of smart design on the Catalina 29.

The bottom line? Sure, you can fish from this boat. And there’s no question, it’ll make a great cruiser. But when push comes to shove, the Chris-craft Catalina 29 will be most appreciated by the boater who doesn’t focus solely on one use or the other. Instead, he or she steps aboard with a wine glass in one hand, and a fishing rod in the other.

Other Choices: If you want a center console that focuses far more on fishing—and costs significantly less than the quarter-million dollar approximate price tag of the Catalina 29—check out the Cobia 296. For another center console with multi-use appeal, the Pursuit 310 is a good one to check out.

See Chris-Craft Catalina 29 listings.

For more information, visit Chris-Craft.

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About the author:

Lenny Rudow

Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including and YachtWorld. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.
Connect with Lenny Rudow on Google+

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