Submitted: 04-19-2006 by ecargo
I bought a used Prijon Catalina a couple of years back and have used it for two seasons. I paddle mostly on Long Island Sound--not open ocean, but with the risks and pleasures of any large body of water. I've been very pleased with the Catalina for the most part--it's a little high volume for me (5'5", average build), which makes reentries a little harder than a boat that sits lower in the water, but it handles beautifully, particularly in terms of turning and tracking.
The Catalina does weathercock quite a bit in wind--that's my biggest (and really only) complaint about the Catalina. That said, leaning the boat slightly and using sweep strokes makes it easy to compensate for weathercocking, and models with a skeg probably mitigate the issue even more.
The Catalina has excellent secondary stability, making it easy to perform carved turns and practice sculling, bracing, etc. I'm purchasing a fiberglass boat this season, but plan on keeping the Catalina as a plastic knock-about boat and to take friends out in. It's been an excellent first boat to expand my skills in.