Last month we gained an exceptional brokerage listing, a 1997 Catalina 34 MK II. Since then I have been asked several times what differences the MK (pronounced ‘mahrk’ just like Mark Twain) gives to the models that bear the title.
The best answers come from the source, so I went straight to Catalina. Warren Pandy, Catalina’s Manager of Service & Tech Support, explained to me that the primary difference is an older style keel stepped mast vs “the new, better and current state of the art compression post stepped mast”.
There is an article in the May 1999 issue of Catalina Mainsheet that stated the advantages of a deck stepped mast are twofold. For example, “in severe circumstances, if any of the shrouds or stays broke the mast would fall off rather than break somewhere in the middle.” This significantly increases the safety of the crew during a dismasting. The other considerable advantage is the elimination of the leaky mast boot. Many of us have had bad experiences with these filling the bilge with water and damaging the cabin top, headliner and sole, not to mention the leaks can travel across the cabin top and create water damage in other areas.
As for model numbers, differences between them could be small design changes to reshaping the hull. Let’s take the Catalina 400 MK I and the Catalina 400 MK II as an example. A change in engine manufacturer to a 56-hp Yanmar diesel in the 400 MK II was an upgrade from the previous 42-hp engine in the Catalina 400 MK I.
In addition to the small number of major changes there were “minor trim and styling updates” as the MK designations progressed. Just to name a few the Catalina 34 was designed to be wider in the stern than its predecessor. While on the 400 MK II two separate steering cables were used, a departure from the MK I version. The advantage being that if one breaks the other will still steer the rudder. Plus, on the 400 MK II additional hatches allowed for more air and light in the main salon, removable stanchions were added and the engine was made more accessible.
Essentially as the MK designations progressed over time they became a marker of the evolution of Catalina Yachts. Gerry Douglas, the designer, was able to further perfect popular models particularly after listening to helpful feedback from Catalina’s enormous group of loyal owners. The evolution of each model is a testament to the remarkable relationship Catalina Yachts has cultivated with Catalina owners. Thus, it is not uncommon to hear of Catalina owners having happily purchased and sailed Catalina Yachts their entire boating lives.