The Catalina 250 is one of a group of relatively lightweight, shallow-draft trailerable cruising boats that appeared in the mid-1990s, utilizing water ballast to provide stability. These boats notably the C-250, the Hunter 26, and the MacGregor 26 all are of very modern design, are relatively inexpensive, and feature workmanship and materials of generally serviceable but by no means superior quality. Their sailing qualities and accommodation plans make them suitable for daysailing and casual overnighting, rather than for serious cruising.
The term "racer/cruiser" has been used by many builders to describe their products, with varying degrees of truthfulness. Some are really cruising boats fashioned after racing boats, but only competitive in races at the club level. Some are pure racing boats, with perhaps a dodger and an enclosed head added to qualify them as cruisers. This series of Frers/Carroll Marine boats, however, are "racer/cruisers" in the truest sense.
According to the BUC Research Used Boat Price Guide, Chrysler first offered recreational boats in 1957, building three aluminum runabouts and cruisers from 16' to 21'. Its first fiberglass boat was the Caribbean 19' cruiser in 1958. The Buccaneer was the first sailboat in the Chrysler line, introduced in 1971. The Chrysler 22 appeared in 1975. Just when Chrysler stopped building it is uncertain, but according to BUC, 1979 was the last year; we have not received information from readers owning boats built later than that, so perhaps '79 was indeed the finale.
Beneteau is the largest builder of sailboats in the world. The French company has made its mark not only in Europe, but in the U.S. as well, opening some years ago a plant in Marion, South Carolina, with headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Probably more than any other company, Beneteau also has influenced sailboat styling--the so-called Euro-style, typified by smoked wrap-around windows, scoop transoms with molded-in steps, and lots of curvy interior shapes. The Oceanis 350, built between 1986 and 1993, is a reasonable example of Beneteau's impact on the sailboat market. About 144 were built in the US, more in Europe.
In the late 80's, the Ultimate 20's landscape was littered with the remains of boatbuilding companies that couldn't cut to fit. The conventional wisdom was that starting a new company was guaranteed to convert a large fortune to a small one. In this period, Jeff Canepa conceived the idea of entering the fracas with a pint-sized company based in Santa Cruz, California, that would introduce yet another performance 21-footer.
The MacGregor 26 is not your usual boat. We first reviewed Roger MacGregor's water-ballasted trailer sailer in 1987, and while we think our conclusions about construction and performance are still valid, we've received many letters from MacGregor owners saying our criticisms--especially our reservations about centerline water ballast--are at worst unfair, at best suffering from a lack of perspective.
Our story begins in 1970, with the introduction of the Cal 29. Looking for something similar but a bit smaller, the company asked designer Bill Lapworth for a 27-footer, which at first was the Cal 27, a fin keel, spade rudder design with a convertible pop top; another incarnation of this basic hull was the T/2. But the concept of the 29 found its full expression in the Cal 2-27, which began production in 1975 and continued to 1977, after which it was again modified and called simply the Cal 27...again. Production of it ceased in 1986.
Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadnt seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed-at least in the photo-pretty practical for routine boarding. One problem: the maker-the American Ladder Corp., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., appears to be out of business.