The new Chris-Craft Catalina 34 Pilothouse puts a premium on rugged performance and beautiful lines.
The metallic mahogany-red hull on the new Chris-Craft Catalina 34 Pilothouse catches my attention right away. It appears soft, like a favorite cashmere sweater, yet is buffed to such a high sheen that the sun’s reflection, though muted, is powerful. The captain welcomes me aboard and I quickly gather my wits.
“The hull is hand sanded at the factory with not six hundred-grit sandpaper, not one-thousand-grit, but up to five-thousand-grit sandpaper,” explains Gavan Hunt, sales director for Chris-Craft located in Sarasota, Florida. “The hull sides are dyed blue to spot any imperfections. Then the team goes over the boat with lights to find any blemish and fix it, and as you can see, the hull color is matched to the engines. The five-part paint process includes three levels of clear coat that virtually eliminates any possibility of fading.”
Good looks have always been paramount at Chris-Craft. The Catalina 34 has fit the bill since her launch three years ago. However, the Pilothouse version of the Catalina 34 made her debut at the 2017 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show with a design that provides more creature comforts to match its good looks. Not to be confused with a “raised pilothouse,” Chris-Craft’s modification of the center console design allows for enhanced protection from wind and weather. “The captain and guest can stay behind the uniquely integrated windshield out of the wind and spray but still connected to the outside,” Hunt says and adds that it’s only one of the great features that make it special.
Another special touch aboard the Chris-Craft Catalina 34 Pilothouse includes a cockpit door to starboard that allows easy access to and from the docks as well as from the water via a swim ladder that deploys from a hidden compartment. “Our customers want to pull up to the dock and step out, and a door that opens to the outside pushes you away from the dock,” Hunt says. “The door opens inward, which is an uncomplicated design that works great. Our customer is a very discerning buyer, and we feel like the Catalina 34 Pilothouse elevates itself above the fray.”
Chris-Craft offers a choice of Mercury or Yamaha outboard power. The Catalina 34 Pilothouse hull design responds well to a variety of horsepower options, and configurations include twin and triple 350-horsepower and triple 300-horsepower packages. Joystick control from Mercury’s Joystick Piloting, or Yamaha’s Helm Master or Optimus 360, provide the maneuverability and ease of operation today’s owners want. In addition, the Seakeeper 3 gyro stabilizing system is soon to be available as an option.
“The Chris-Craft Catalina 34 Pilothouse rides very dry on a conventional hull,” Hunt says. “The triple three-hundred horsepower engines push it to a top speed of more than sixty miles per hour. It’s got the right amount of Carolina flare, and you don’t have to worry about stuffing your nose in the following sea. It’s safe and comfortable, exactly the boat a Chris-Craft owner would expect. We’re not looking to set any speed records, but our hull is an amazing performer with a perfect combination of speed and handling attributes.”
Quality abounds aboard the Catalina 34 Pilothouse from the electro-polished stainless steel used throughout to the Sure Shade awnings. That’s not to mention the real teak decking on the swim platform aft of the cockpit. “Teak is nature’s nonskid flooring,” says Hunt. “Our teak vendor custom builds the teak pieces for us to exact specifications, and we use adhesive to create an inseparable bond to the boat. This teak is amazingly durable and will withstand the test of time. Teak can be misused and abused for years, but then we can sand it down and brought back to its original beauty. It is one reason why multi-million-dollar yachts have teak decks; looks luxurious and exudes quality and feels so good on your bare feet.”
Access to the cockpit from the aft swim platform is via a port-side boarding door in the transom. The cockpit features a transom bench seat and a drop-down seat in the port gunwale, creating a U-shaped lounge. Forward of the bench seat in the cockpit sole is a hatch that allows access to pumps, batteries, and a generator.
Chris-Craft uses the Mastervolt CZone digital control and monitoring network that incorporates the latest interfaces and lightweight NMEA 2000 network cable. Wiring is simplified as the CZone system replaces the complicated switching clusters and wiring runs.
“The CZone is really cool. It allows you to instantly access all switches for your stereo, fuel management, engine functions—everything right on the multifunction displays,” Hunt says. “Additionally, it also allows you to do switching from your wireless remote or smartphone. If you forget to turn off your batteries and you’ve already covered the boat, for example, you don’t have to shimmy under the cover. You can just switch them off remotely.”
The helm features triple Pompanette bolsters facing an expansive dashboard. The dash features your choice of twin Garmin 12-inch or 16-inch multi-functional displays. The captain’s seat in the center is well positioned in relation to the steering wheel. Throttles and shifters are to the right on the dash along with the joystick. Atop the dashboard is a padded top with a compass in the center. “Access to the wiring and electronics for the dash is easy,” Hunt explains, showing how the top section of the dash console lifts on a hinge. “This allows you to get to the back of everything, and we label our wiring harness so you know exactly what’s going on.”
The Chris Craft Catalina 34 Pilothouse is built for a comfortable overnight trip. The cabin space below sleeps two adults comfortably. Air conditioning, a head, and mini-galley provide all the necessary comforts, while real wood accents offer unique styling.
Moving forward to the bow, twin sunpad/reclining seats in front of the console offer the best spot for comfortable cruising. The seat pad lifts to reveal a deep locker. A U-shaped bench seat connects along the bow gunwales, and a teak bow platform at the peak provides access to the power windlass. The entire bow area also can convert into a huge sunpad with the option to cover it with a canopy. “I believe our customer is not going out on the water because he has to,” says Hunt.
“He’s going out because he wants to. Our customer is not typically focused on fishing, although he might go out and fish. We cater to a very elite clientele that appreciates excellence in every area of their life. They appreciate our painstaking attention to detail. Sometimes it’s a passion for the teak styling cues or amazing paint and finish quality, but in general, our owners are drawn to the Catalina’s beautiful form. It’s nautical art.”
I think Rembrandt would agree.
Weight (dry): 12,500 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 322/50 gals.
Power: 3x Yamaha 300-hp outboard engines
Cruise/Top Speed: 27.9/61.6 mph
Range @ cruise: 414 nm
MSRP: Call for price
8161 15th Street East
Sarasota, FL 34243
By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating July 2018