October 16th 2013. By Zuzana Prochazka.

Catalina 310: Perfect for the Cruising Couple

The Catalina 310 had a production run that lasted almost a decade, and it remains a popular sailboat among cruising couples to this day.

The chief designer at Catalina Yachts, Gerry Douglas, introduced the Catalina 310 in 1999 and well over 300 hulls were built by 2008, when the design was discontinued. Unapologetically optimized for a couple, the 310 was a departure from other brands of this size because it didn’t make any promises it couldn’t keep – it’s a very functional boat, for two.


Displacing only 10,300 pounds, the Catalina 310 sails well in light air.

The construction of the 310 mirrored its predecessor, the 32. The hull is solid fiberglass, the deck is cored with plywood, and the cabintop with end-grain balsa. A grid-and-beam system and a liner were then installed. Two keels were available, a deep fin that draws 5’ 9” and an optional shoal wing keel that saves two feet below the waterline. A large spade rudder keeps her very maneuverable in tight spaces.

The double-spreader masthead rig supports a high aspect mainsail. Standard equipment on the original boats included a Dutchman flaking system and a 135% genoa. The shrouds terminate on the cabintop, leaving 18” wide decks for easy movement fore and aft. Four self-tailing Lewmar winches manage the lines – two primaries and two on the coachroof – and are led aft for easy singlehanding.

On a beam reach, she’ll do 6.0 to 6.5 knots in 12 to 15 knots of breeze, and like most cruising boats, will need to be reefed when winds exceed 17 knots. Under power, she’ll cruise at 6.3 knots at 2500 RPM with a two-blade fixed prop. Although a bit heavier than similarly sized contemporaries, the Catalina 310 reportedly sails just as well and stays dryer than either a Hunter 326 or a Beneteau 311.

Cockpit & Deck

Catalinas are renowned for their cockpits and the 310 is no exception. This cockpit will easily accommodate eight for cocktails, especially with two perched on the stern rail seats. Access is easy via the walk-through transom that also has a space for two transom lockers, the emergency tiller attachment and a transom shower with hot and cold fresh water.

A large fold-out table attached to the binnacle separates two 80” long seats. The cockpit is wide, which is nice for moving around, but people with short legs may find it difficult to brace themselves when heeling. Instruments are mounted near the wheel and there’s a large locker to port that can stow lines or even a deflated dinghy.

Creature Comforts

Below is where the Catalina 310 really shines for two. Although children or the occasional guest can be accommodated in the aft berth, this boat is really built for a couple due to its open floor plan.

The master stateroom forward has a walk-around queen berth which is better than on some boats 10’ longer. There’s plenty of stowage in lockers and drawers, a door for privacy, and a window-type opening that connects the saloon and cabin. When only two are aboard, everything can remain open and connected, which makes the boat seem larger.

catalina 310 galley

The galley in the Catalina 310 isn’t huge, but it does offer all the basics.

The saloon is surprisingly large with an L-shaped settee to port and a two-seat straight settee to starboard. The galley is L-shaped too, and has a single sink, a two-burner Hillrange stove/ oven combo and a top and front loading Adler-Barour reefer which makes it easy to reach everything without having to disappear inside. Two handy cutlery “drawers” tip out and hold a chef’s selection of tools. Having few real separations, the boat provides an airy and generous space for two rather than a cramped and compartmentalized boat for four.

The head is small but fully enclosed with a marine head, sink, shower and cabinets. Tankage is pretty generous with 55 gallons of water under the master berth forward and 20 gallons of fuel aft. The fuel tank runs athwartship and the pick-up is on one side – a design flaw that leaves a quarter of the tank unusable depending on what tack you’re on when motorsailing.

Aft is a double berth that runs athwartship, and a nav station that although compact, is pretty clever in its design. Outboard of the small desk, there’s room for the installation of electronics and the berth serves as the seat. The desk is hinged diagonally so it can open or close for better access to the berth. Most of the navigation will be done at the saloon table, leaving the desk to be used as extra galley countertop space.

For a 31 foot boat, the 310 has a most regal companionway. The steps are large, easy to maneuver and are nothing like a ladder. Better yet, the whole cover hinges open to provide good access to the engine, a freshwater-cooled, 25 hp, 3 cylinder Universal diesel that burns about a half a gallon an hour at cruising speed.

catalina 310 sailing

Today, Catalina 310s are listing for about $75,000 – $80,000 on Yachtworld. This is within $5,000 of the purchase price when the boats were new. And that’s a powerful statement, in a world of depreciating assets.

LOA: 31’ 0” * Beam: 11’ 6” * Draft: 5’ 9” * Displacement: 10,300 lbs. Fuel capacity: 20 gal. * Water capacity: 55 gal. * Sail Area: 490 sq. ft.

Zuzana Prochazka

Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.