Review: The Catalina 30 Pilothouse

The Chris-Craft Catalina 30 Pilothouse is for families as well as anglers.

Catalina 30 Pilothouse
Chris-Craft designed the Catalina 30 to have as many as 12 people aboard.Courtesy Chris-Craft

Chris-Craft's Catalina 30 Pilothouse is a mix of two boat types: rugged center console and high-end day cruiser. I ran the 30 in Sarasota, Florida, with company Chairman Stephen Julius and President Steve Heese, who explained the design process behind the many small details that make this Chris-Craft's concept unusually thoughtful.

The hardtop, for instance, matches both the soft curves of the Catalina’s hull and the interior design of the bow. (From overhead, the hardtop looks like it could fit nicely into the foredeck space, like a jigsaw piece.)

The beefy, black-framed windshield is also aesthetically dynamic and provides a climate-controlled pocket for all types of weather. During our sprint around Sarasota Bay, the helm proved the place to be. The summer Florida sun was beating down, but air-conditioning vents kept the area as cool as if we’d been inside. The space looked smart too, with matching helm and companion seats hand-stitched in diamond patterns with the Chris-Craft logo, as well as two 12-inch Garmin touchscreen displays, a stainless-steel wheel, throttles and Mercury’s joystick steering control.

Catalina 30 Pilothouse

Smart Seating

Twin upholstered lounges (with space for an optional table) set below the gunwales make the bow a secure relaxation zone with great views, even when running.Courtesy Chris-Craft

The Catalina tracked true through the portside-thumping chop thanks to the Mercury Active Trim and Lenco trim tabs, and handled sharp turns without faltering. This boat can venture offshore for fishing and diving, and get back home fast. Owners can choose among three outboard options: standard 300 hp Mercury Verados or 300 hp Yamahas, or (like our test boat) optional 350 hp Verados that deliver a top speed of 49 knots.

The tough-guy performance gives way to a softer, more sensitive side in the 30’s details. The Heritage Trim package adds teak accents to the gunwales and foredeck. In the cockpit, a pull-up teak table with foldout seats forms an alfresco dining area. With the push of a button, a motorized SureShade emerges from the after section of the hardtop.

Catalina 30 Pilothouse


The area abaft the helm is designed for groups, with fold-down seats and a teak table. The cockpit is also built for fishing, with an optional livewell under the helm seat and rocket launchers integrated into the transom. The starboard-side door should make bringing the big ones into the cockpit that much easier.Courtesy Chris-Craft

The 30’s cabin is not the utilitarian cuddy found aboard a lot of boats in this size range. It has a ceramic sink and modern faucet, a berth (with electric toilet underneath) and a hanging locker. Wood doors and trim add a sense of elegance.

Refinements in the foredeck include two lounge seats with a drop-down drink holder. Julius and Heese “tested” these lounges with their feet up during the run back to the dock, strategizing about modifications they plan to make on future Chris-Craft models.

Catalina 30 Pilothouse

Instant Access

The 18-inch-wide side door turns the boat into a diving platform with easy exit and entry. The door also makes it simpler to hop on board from a dock.Courtesy Chris-Craft