I was reading up on the 31 Commanders (specifically the Sport Express) and came across this review in Soundings about a 1986 Commander 27 twin engine, double cabin cruiser.

https://www.soundingsonline.com/boats/used-boat-review-chris-craft-...

I'm confused as to which model this might be. Were there other models/years not indicated in the list of models?

If anyone knows how the Commander 31 handles chop and/or what the deadrise is, could you kindly pass that along, as well as any feedback on the 31 Sport Express in general.

Been driving myself nuts for way too long trying to decide on an affordable, safe boat to take the grandkids whale watching and day tripping off the Massachusetts coast. I'm not sure the really deep Vs are the way to go although I trust they would get me home safely. I have to allow for people who get seasick and are claustrophobic in most cabins---so I thought the express might be the way to go?

Thanks!

George

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That looks like a Catalina to me. I had a 280 Catalina, it rode well on plane, handeled chop well but was very rolly off plane. It has a round bottom. 

I now have a 31 Commander. It has a much stiffer ride with a very low flat deadrise. You have to slow down in chop to avoid pounding the boat, but the boat is much more stable in all sea conditions than the Catalina. 

That article is a Catalina no doubt. I would say a Catalina 28. The Commander 27's were built between 1965-1970. Very different construction techniques and the Catalina's have their own styling that were borrowed from the Commanders.

I’m laughing all the way thru the article... The guys extensive resume, knowledge of history, etc,etc and yet he knows NOthing about the 27 Commander... dear god!

Well thank you all very much---I was thinking it was me suffering a brain cramp.

Thanks Mike for the assessment of the Catalina vs 31 Commander. The pictures are great. You say the 31 is much more stable in all sea conditions. Would the 31 Express be as sound a choice as any for a group of seasick claustrophobes ?

Dramamine is your friend, take on the way to the boat! ;)

from the article:

“It was a lot of boat for the money,” he adds. “It sleeps six, has a 12-volt/120-volt refrigerator-freezer, hot and cold running water and a shower.”

Huh?  which boat is he talking about? Certainly not a 27 Commander.

I looked at a 31 Sports Express recently. In my opinion, its cabin is cramped because so much space is given to the huge cockpit out back.

I don’t have alot of experience on other boat brands. All I can tell you is the Commander is more stable the the Catalina. I know a 31 Sports Express has a huge deck so that would probably help with claustrophobia. A deeper V boat should ride through chop smoother. 

Plympton said:

Well thank you all very much---I was thinking it was me suffering a brain cramp.

Thanks Mike for the assessment of the Catalina vs 31 Commander. The pictures are great. You say the 31 is much more stable in all sea conditions. Would the 31 Express be as sound a choice as any for a group of seasick claustrophobes ?


Thanks for the input---it is much appreciated


That description would fit a 280/281 Catalina. The layout is almost identical to my 31 except the head and galley are reversed. It’s more spacious due to the extra beam too. Most of the extra length th is in the deck. It could sleep 6 without much issue as long as the people on the dinette don’t mind getting cozy. 

Jim Frens said:

from the article:

“It was a lot of boat for the money,” he adds. “It sleeps six, has a 12-volt/120-volt refrigerator-freezer, hot and cold running water and a shower.”

Huh?  which boat is he talking about? Certainly not a 27 Commander.

I looked at a 31 Sports Express recently. In my opinion, its cabin is cramped because so much space is given to the huge cockpit out back.

So I stumbled on this thread (I'm not sure how) but since having my grandfather's 16' Cruisers inc woody for the last 16 years, I finally have an inkling for a larger boat to go further in Lake Erie. I've been looking for a 251 Catalina but also have casually browsed this page for 27' Commanders. 

I remember seeing this article and thinking "I'm not an expert on these....but that is not a 27' Commander". I browsed through some resources I have and couldn't figure it out. Since I've been obsessively looking at small Catalinas, I decided this wasn't a 280/281 either. 

Turns out, a search of "1986 Catalina" says this is a Catalina 294. I don't even know what that is, but its certainly not a Commander OR a Catalina 280/281. My guess is it was a Murray last gasp update on this older hull.

To anyone else and off topic, how do the 27 Commanders and 251 Catalinas do on Lake Erie chop?

It sure looks like a Catalina 280/1. I had a single V8 engine boat. There’s one in the marina I am in that was taken over by the marina. It has twin 4cyl engines, which seems like a good combo for these waters. A good river cruiser. I can take some photos. 

I can't speak to Lake Erie chop (although I used to boat on Lake Erie in a 22' Owens) in a Commander, but my 27 Commander handles coastal chop around Newburyport Mass. pretty well. The Merrimack River bar is notorious, and only once did we feel at risk in 4-5 foot rollers. Adjust your speed and you'll be fine. Go too fast and it will pound on the nearly flat bottom.

 "To anyone else and off topic, how do the 27 Commanders and 251 Catalinas do on Lake Erie chop?"

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