By: Pete McDonald
March 14, 2018
When Chris-Craft first introduced its Catalina line, it proved ahead of the trend of converting center consoles from utilitarian fishing machines into luxurious and seaworthy dayboats. By protecting the helm console behind a fully enclosed glass windshield it calls a pilothouse, Chris-Craft furthers the center console evolution.
Chris-Craft is certainly not the first builder to do this — Everglades Boats immediately springs to mind — but it did an excellent job of incorporating the windshield and hardtop into the Catalina’s overall design so that the whole boat maintains a distinctive style. You know the look — a rising sheer line, aft tumblehome, richly colored hull sides with a boot stripe, and as much teak as your budget can stand. The 30 Pilothouse turns heads, and its quality construction ensures it will do so for years to come. Having tested the boat in Florida, the first thing I appreciated about the Pilothouse helm was the air conditioning that manufactured a cool breeze as I idled the boat out of the marina, a task made easier with the Mercury joystick control. The inset multifunction displays at the helm proved easy to read and, from a standing position, I enjoyed good visibility through the tempered glass. While the 21-degree transom deadrise isn’t as sharp as the designs on comparable center console hulls I’ve tested, the 30 Pilothouse proved seaworthy in handling a tight bay chop, as well as several manufactured rollers. With the optional twin Mercury 350 Verados, I pushed this boat to a 56 mph top-end speed. At a 30 mph cruising speed, the boat handled lock-to-lock turns with aplomb. Thanks to Mercury’s Active Trim, the boat always kept an excellent attitude.
Chris-Craft rates the boat for a crew of 12, and every one of them will enjoy a comfortable seat thanks to the foldout benches in the main cockpit, the sun lounge in front of the console, and the wraparound cushioned bow seating. A teak table deploys behind the leaning post for entertainment purposes.