Catalina Yachts' founder Frank Butler's initial intent was not to produce and sell boats, but rather to have one built. In 1961, Butler took over the production of his own boat when his original boat builder ran out of funds and borrowed money from Butler; the builder was not able to repay the debt. Instead he gave Butler the tooling to continue building the boat. Butler later gained full control of the company, renaming it Wesco Marine and later Coronado Yachts. Many Early Coronado 25 yachts have the Wesco Marine nameplate on the transom.
Among the first models built by Coronado were the Victory 21 and the Super Satellite. In 1964, the Coronado '25 was produced, becoming the first boat with a one piece interior, making the boat stronger, lighter, and less expensive than previous models. By 1969 the Coronado 27 and 30 foot models were being produced. In 1969 Butler sold Coronado to the Whittaker Corporation which had already acquired Columbia Yachts; Whittaker continued the Coronado line until 1974 producing the Coronado 34 with the center cockpit models 35 and 41. Butler remained with Whitaker for only one year then left due to disagreements with management.
The first model built by Catalina Yachts was a 22 foot design previously rejected by Columbia. By 1977 Butler had designed and produced three more models: the Catalina 25, Catalina 27, and the Catalina 30. In 1978 Catalina developed the Catalina 38 based on molds for a Sparkman & Stephens racing design purchased from the bankrupt Yankee Yacht Company. Butler redesigned the interior and gave it a "Catalina deck", taller mast, shorter boom, and moved the rudder.
In 1984 Catalina acquired Morgan Yachts and continues to use the brand name for the new deck-salon style Catalina Morgan 440 introduced in 2004. The other Morgan models including the Catalina designed M381 and M45 center cockpit models were recently retired.