SV Cadence – Catalina 387

Catalina 387 is the type of sailboat we chose and named our sailboat SV Cadence (“sailing vessel” Cadence). Actually, I think her official name is just Cadence, but we’ve run across two other Cadences, both motor yachts. But anyways…

I assume you came to this page because you wanted to see a little bit about our sailboat. Maybe had questions about why we chose her or what her capabilities are. Maybe you’re shopping for your own sailboat to cruise or liveaboard. Well, this is the right spot, because we want to share a little about SV Cadence, a Catalina 387.

Let’s start with the sailboat itself.

SV Cadence is a Catalina 387

The Catalina 387 is a 39’10” sailboat with two full cabins, she’s ocean rated and is a sailing sloop. We chose a Catalina 387 for three main reasons:

  1. We could afford it, and it wasn’t going to require $50k or $100k of projects to get cruising ready.
  2. It had two full cabins, so we could raise our small family through middle school and/or high school.
  3. It’s ocean rated with hull specs that give confidence and some comfort offshore.

SV Cadence was constructed in 2003 and is a 2004 model of the Catalina 387. She’s the 8th hull that Catalina produced and previously went by the names Dionysus and Knot Working. Her previous owners took immaculate care of her, and we intend to continue that tradition.

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Catalina 387 Details About the Sailboat

The Catalina 387 was marketed by Catalina Yachts USA as the “high point in the evolution of the modern cruising boat”. She began construction in 2003, and SV Cadence is the 8th hull sold as a 2004 model.

Catalina 387 catalina_387_drawing from Sailboatdata

Catalina 387 sailing sloop as fin keel or wing keel

Let’s dive into some specifications for the 387.

Catalina 387 Specifications

She’s just under 40 feet, and her hull is in the 38′ range. She’s not terribly beamy, and Catalina did a great job with the lead keel by making the ballast heavy and stiff.

Length Overall 39′ 10″
Hull Length 38′ 9″
Length at Waterline 32′ 5″
Beam (Width of Sailboat) 12′ 4″
Draft (Depth of Wing Keel) 4′ 10″
Ballast 7300 lbs
Displacement 19,500 lbs
Sail Area (100% foretriangle) 719 sq ft
Sail Dimension I 50′ 11″
Sail Dimension J 14′ 8″
Sail Dimension P 44′ 2″
Sail Dimension E 15′ 8″

Is Catalina a Safe Sailboat?

No. It’s not an old-schooled heavy boat. It’s not full-keeled and not skeg-hung. Nor is it a cutter rig or ketch. So is it safe for traveling on oceans?

We have the 8th Catalina 387 built from over 900 boats. It’s just under 40 feet and weighs a bit over 20,000 lbs. It was designed as a smallish cruiser capable of going offshore but comfortable for a small crew at anchor.

Is it a Bluewater Sailboat?

Folks ask this a lot, and we know what they mean. Though the question does sound like they’re seeking some magic bullet or holy grail of offshore sailing. Some old heavy boat recipe that doesn’t really equate to comfortable life aboard.

Here’s a clip of Cadence hammering on a close reach in 3-5 foot seas and 30-33 knots of wind. See how she handles it.

Here’s what we know about Cadence from our experience aboard since 2020.

She’s not the fastest. But also not the heaviest/slowest. She’s not too wide, yet she’s wide enough to have creature comforts.

She’s not fully “bluewater” but not at all just-a-bay-racer. She is Ocean capable with yacht-building ratings up to hurricane conditions (hopefully, we won’t ever test that!).

The Catalina 387 is kind of a Goldilocks of sub-40-foot cruising boats. A balance of safety and comfort.

What we love best about Cadence is her comfortable layout inside and out and her comfort in a sea state. She gets tossed around as any sub-40-footer would, but she can handle her own very well. We are confident in her, and that’s due to the lessons learned from storms at sea.

Also, for modern 40-foot boats, she is among the heaviest. With her lead 9,000 lb keel and balanced rudder, we felt a little more at peace with her offshore capabilities (see the offshore specs below).

For a roughly 40-foot sailboat, she has two full cabins, which is perfect for our family of 3 (plus a doggie).

Offshore Sailing Specs

Capsize Screening1.85
Deck/Hull JointMechanically & Chemically Bonded
Comfort Ratio29.84
Ballast to Displacement Ratio35.79
Offshore Specifications; See Definitions Below

The Comfort Ratio was created by yacht engineers as a measure of motion comfort. It provides a reasonable comparison between yachts of similar size and type. Less than 20 is a lightweight shifty boat. The higher the number, the smoother the ride in the ocean.

A Ballast/Displacement ratio of 40 or more translates into a stiffer, more powerful boat that will be better able to stand up to the wind.

Here’s a look at Cadence handling 30-40 knots of wind in the Atlantic during a summer tropical depression in July 2021:

Highlights of Cadence

Before we dig into more specs or look into the offshore capabilities of the sailboat, let’s look into the highlighted features. They will reveal the design philosophy and original intent of Catalina Yachts when they built her. The following list is from the original Catalina owner’s brochure:

  • Wide, uncluttered weather decks
  • The longest, most comfortable cockpit in 38 feet
  • Powerful rig made easy to handle
  • Large comfortable galley for cooking without compromise
  • Roomy head with separate shower stall
  • Divided anchor locker with two rollers and electric windlass with up and down switches

From this list, we think Catalina really focused on a simple formula: Reliable and safe sailing and comfortable cruising.

After living aboard for over 2 years, we think the formula worked.