Newport Vessels Catalina Review

Newport Vessels Catalina Inflatable DinghyDinghy Overview

The Catalina dinghy is Newport Vessels largest inflatable boat dinghy. The Catalina is designed both for professional uses, like water patrolling, but it’s just as suitable for recreational use like diving, fishing and cruising. Do you know how they tested this boat? Three men, (each with their own boat) took a 50 mile trip from the Newport Beach harbor to the Island of Catalina, which is located 25 miles off the coast of California. All the three boats performed excellent with no punctures or damage, which resulted in three very happy men.

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The Catalina is 12 feet 6 inches long, making it one of the biggest dinghies you can buy online. The inflatable tubes are 18 inches wide which makes for one smooth and balanced ride, even on rough water where there’s plenty of wind and waves.

It has a carrying capacity of 1,603 pounds, more than enough to carry all of your family, a powerful gas motor and anything else you want onboard.

It’s made with a triple layered 1,100 denier PVC. This is the same type of material white water rafts use, making this boat almost indestructible. Running it into docks, dragging it across the concrete or any other normal boat activity will not affect the performance of the Catalina. The PVC not only protects the dinghy from scratches and punctures, it also protects the hull from UV rays.

Thanks to the large carrying capacity, you can install a 20 HP gas motor, which will give you speeds up to 26 MPH and beyond. For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, there are two aluminum oars included.

It has an inflatable keel which makes turning, banking and acceleration real smooth. It also helps with steering, making it a lot easier to maneuver through difficult or technical waters.

The Catalina might be a big inflatable and little more expensive inflatable, but with the price comes great versatility as well. It will handle rough oceans as good as calm lakes, and everything in between.

Features

  • Triple layered 1,100 denier coated with heavy duty PVC
  • Capable of taking up to 20 HP gas motors
  • Huge carrying capacity
  • Inflatable keel to make steering and maneuver as smooth as possible

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 150 inches in length (12.6 ft) , 55 inches (4.5 ft)  in width and 18 inches (1.6 ft) in tube diameter
  • Capacity: 1,600 pounds
  • Weight: 160 pounds
  • Material: Triple Layered 1,100 denier coated with PVC

Our Review

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Let’s just start of our review by saying that you cannot get any closer to a “real” boat than this. And for the price you’re paying, it’s no wonder people absolutely love this dinghy. Since this is not your typical inflatable, we though it would be nice to do a “not-so-typical” review. Instead of going to the lake we have 5 minutes from here, we took it to the ocean to see if it really will hold up to rougher water.

There’s been some bad feedback, but supposedly it’s outdated

We were actually pleasantly surprised by the Catalina; we had read a lot of negative feedback on sites like Amazon before we got to try it out. So let’s start by explaining the bad feedback. What people have been complaining about is the fact that their boats started to fall apart after a year or so, rendering them useless. The most common issue was that the glue started to delaminate, making the seams and other parts of the boat come apart. We looked into the issue and found that their older models from 2011 were the fault of this. And judging by the reviews, almost all of them were published during 2012. Whether this was a faulty set of products or not, we will never know. What we do know is that the amount of complaints have been reduced dramatically during the last couple of years, so we take that as a good sign.

Humongous carry capacity, you can bring your whole family onboard

So, back to the review, what’s the best part about this boat? For us it is the huge carrying capacity. We can bring our dog, kids and even friend or two onto the Catalina, and we still have space left! It’s a great family boat indeed.The large carrying capacity makes it a perfect choice for those of you who’d like to mount larger gas motors on your inflatables. We rented a 18 HP motor for the day and managed to reach speed up 20 MPH with us two, our 2 kids and one dog, you will probably be able to get more with a stronger motor and if you’re by yourself.

Handles rough waters like it’s nothing

When we boarded the dinghy and drove further and further away from shore, I started to worry that it maybe after all wasn’t such a good idea. There were some moderate waves and wind, nothing too bad but it was our first time with the boat after all. Then suddenly the wind picked up a bit and… nothing. It was like nothing had happened, the boat was really stable and we all felt safe on it, even with stronger winds. We’ve tried aluminum boats in the past but they aren’t anywhere near as good as this one. With that said, we can safely say that this is the most stable inflatable we’ve ever gotten to try. If I was skilled enough to do backflips, I would be able to do them on this boat because it’s so stable.

Not very portable for an inflatable

The biggest drawback with this boat is it’s portability, or the lack of it rather. With it’s 160 pounds it’s nothing you can throw into a small carry bag and hike down to the beach. While it’s possible to store the Catalina in your apartment and other small spaces, it’s just too heavy to transport without a car. Well unless you’re really strong of course, but we take it that the person reading this is average. So you’re sacrificing portability for stability and carrying capacity, there are always trade offs.

Not suitable for rivers over class 1

The inflatable keel is a nice touch and it really does help with the steering and makes the boat whole lot more maneuverable. But we just want to stress that even though it can take rough waters, it does not mean you should take this into a river over class 1. It’s maneuverable compared to other dinghies, but compare it to inflatables that are specifically made for rivers and you’ll see that it’s inferior.

Pros

  • Can carry more weight than the majority of inflatables
  • Super stable, more stable than some aluminum boats
  • Easy to cover large distances with a strong motor
  • Will handle rough waters without any problems

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky when it comes to portability

Conclusion:

It’s a good boat, albeit more expensive than your average inflatable boat. But then again, this is more than your average inflatable. If you like to carry a lot of people, equipment, or want to mount large gas motors, you’re going to love it.

We haven’t had any problems with the boat coming apart, neither have the dozens of people we’ve spoken to. But that doesn’t really guarantee you will have the same experience, it’s better to inspect the boat thoroughly and do a check every month to see if it’s still holds up. The boat comes with a one year warranty, so you have 12 months to see if there are any problems.

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