I have really missed sailing since we sold SunShower. So this spring, Gretchen and I decided to buy a centerboard to sail on Smith Mountain Lake. I began searching for an old person's boat, one that was relatively comfortable, easy to sail and stable. We settled on a Catalina Expo and picked it up from Avon Sailboats in Rochester Hills, MI, in late June.
As the wind returned to the Lake this fall, we've been able to get out sailing and put her through her paces...and we are very happy with our purchase! The catboat rig with one sail attached to the Hoyt boom is easy to handle. The boom is high enough to allow easy tacking/jibing without bending too much or fear of hitting one's head. Unfurling and furling the sail from around the mast is easy and allows for the quick reduction of sail area if needed. I was surprised that standing with the tiller between my knees and the boom off center is the best position to unfurl and furl the sail. I think it is a more natural position for pulling the control lines than the crew has up front. The rigging on the boat is excellent. All of the controls are where they should be. It's the first boat I've owned in 40 years of sailing that every control is where it should be; I can't think of anything to change! The seats and the rails are wide and provide comfortable seating positions. The boat is very stable for a 14 footer, a big surprise for Gretchen and me. It even handles motor boat waves quite well! Finally, we love the blue sail!
Conclusion: The Expo is a great old person's boat! We have found her comfortable and easy to sail in winds up to 15 mph. We wanted a boat we could sail into our seventies on SML and we think the Expo fits that bill.
The one caveat is simple. It is a cat rig and does not point as high as a sloop rig. So if you plan to race, buy the Catalina 14.4, the sloop rigged mother of the Expo.