Catalina 270 Running Rigging (Initial Notes)

I have owned two Catalinas now, a 1984 Catalina 27 and this 2000 Catalina 270. I like Catalinas, they make nice boats in so many ways, so I keep owning them! But one downside is that the factory running rigging designs leave something to be desired. I've also owned a Colgate 26 and done a fair amount of racing on various other boats so I have developed some ideas of what I'd like.

The Catalina 270, like the C27, has some inherent limitations:
  1. Mid-boom sheeting
  2. Very limited cabin-top space for lines ( here is a good read on what a Catalina 27 owner did to address these problems)
My C270 has one additional limitation/benefit which is that a previous owner installed a dodger. This further limits cabin-top space (but is so nice on cold or hot days!)

This page has my summary on what I found and what I don't like.

If you'd like to see how I solved the problems documented here, see my C270 Running Rigging 2.0 document.

1. Mainsheet

So near, yet so far! Due to the dodger, the mainsheet isn't accessible at the traveler:

The mainsheet (and main halyard) go through clutches on the starboard cabin top. That is just wrong! The mainsheet must be free to run at all times.

This also means the mainsheet is not available to the helmsman which is a problem. If the mainsheet is held by the winch self tailer it means it can't be dumped from the helm. Otherwise, the helmsman needs to hold on to it continuously which is going to get very tiring very fast. That's how I've had to sail it initially, but it is not a good answer. Also, if sailing with friends it means the mainsheet is crossing the cockpit which is uncomfortable for everyone.

If the jib is led to the cabin-top track that further complicates the problem, as the winch isn't available for the mainsheet on port tack.

So, the mainsheet setup needs to be redesigned as the #1 priority.

2. Reef Lines

The factory setup is a mess: a single-line that goes through the reef tack, through the boom to an internal car and back out. A complex setup with lots of friction and, worst of all, a risk of tearing the main. Proper reefing calls for tensioning the main halyard first, before putting any tension on the clew line.

Only one reef is possible with this arrangement.

The owners manual has a diagram of the lines inside the boom but I don't find it clear, here is clearer drawing of the reef line and car inside the boom:

This is what the internal car looks like:

3. Outhaul

The outhaul terminates in the boom by the gooseneck, which isn't particularly useful (even less, given the dodger).

The factory outhaul also has that most annoying of rigging misfeatures, a line jammer in the boom. These are nothing but trouble.

The owners manual has a diagram of the lines inside the boom but I don't find it clear, here is clearer drawing of the outhaul inside the boom:

The line marked #1 measures 30 inches (not including extra line needed to tie the knots).
Line marked #2 measures 95"
Line #3 measured 200"
The existing line was 8mm thick.

A photo of what it looks like outside the boom:

4. Boomvang


5. Cunningham


6. Topping lift

The topping lift terminates at the mast, which is fine, except the mainsheet and reef line terminate at the cabin top! That means raising or lowering the main (or reefing) involves running back and forth between the mast and the dodger.

7. Main halyard

The main halyard leads to a starboard side cabintop clutch. This is fine by itself, although as noted the topping lift terminates at the mast which means running back and forth. Also, given the limited cabin top space for lines it is a waste to use up one slot for the main halyard. I just about never adjust the main halyard underway (cunningham is easier) so I'd rather free up the slot.

8. Jib halyard

The jib halyard leads to a port side cabintop clutch. It's nice to be able to adjust the tension so this is a good location.

There is also a second jib halyard also leading to a port side cabintop clutch. There isn't really a need for this so it effectively wastes a slot but there it is.

9. Jib sheets

This problem wouldn't apply to most C270s but because mine has a dodger, the jib sheets like to get caught beneath the dodger like this:

On every tack I need to remember to clear the line or else it tends to rip out the button which holds the dodger in place. Annoying!


Here's a rough drawing of the existing arrangement when I bought the boat (according to the owners manual this is also the factory layout, looks like previous owners have made no changes):

Back to my Catalina 270 page.