What's new

Looking to Purchase Boat in Spring 2021 - 12.5 Expo vs Sunfish


New Member
Hi everyone...new to this forum, definitely not new to sailing.

I've been thinking of purchasing a boat for a while. Typically, I just rent a Sunfish when I go to the lake, but since the rental places are closed this year (and I'm sadly stuck without anything to sail this summer), I'm finally coming to grips with the fact there is no time like April to buy a boat.

I have it down between two models. While I've sailed larger boats, I do like the small boats best (plus they fit my budget best).

The Sunfish is a known commodity here, and while it's a great boat, I also am looking into the Catalina 12.5 Expo. From what I have read, it's far easier to rig and get going, seems to have a regular seat instead of a cockpit, and has a few other more modern features that make it, in some ways, a little better than the Sunfish...though I've also heard it's nowhere near as fast as the Sunfish.

Has anyone sailed both boats, and if so, what are your honest opinions of these two head-to-head?

One thing that may go in my favor toward the Catalina is the ease of rigging. I find it the hardest part, and I think it's because I'm not the strongest person on the planet. My upper body strength...well, let's just say some of my secondary math students could bench press twice as much as me. (I teach 7-12 math and the heaviest object I usually have to lift on the job is an AP Calc book). The Catalina looks easier in that regard, but again, I need some input here from those who have actually sailed it (I only found one good review of it online).

I also have a few questions on equipment in general. I have two cars and neither is a great choice for towing a boat. My daily driver is an Acura ILX (compact sedan) and my second car is an old Honda Civic. I'm thinking of putting a hitch on the Civic, since the storage guys I'll probably use are a few miles from the lake; I can operate the Civic in low gear. Eventually, I'll pony up for the dock space, but I know there's a waiting list for that. I also know that I can't car-top this boat because of my lack of upper body strength and the fact my cars don't really lend themselves to that. I'm OK with pushing something off a trailer; if I have wheels on something I can usually handle it. For those with little cars like mine, what are some of the trailers you'd recommend?

I'm also looking for a good place to get this boat. I'm thinking of buying new so I know exactly what kind of wear and tear I'd have on it. I do this with all my cars for that reason. I live in Pittsburgh and most of our boat dealers seem committed only to larger, powered boats (i.e. pontoons). It seems the closest dealers are in Cincinnati and Detroit, both of which are a good six hours away from me. I'd probably rent a pickup truck for the drive there if I had to do that, but if there's anything closer to Pittsburgh, I'd love to know where that may be.

I definitely want to make the purchase next spring. I'll have the Acura paid off in November so I'll have the cash, it's more or less just figuring out which boat to get. Any input is appreciated. Thanks!