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  #1  
Old 04-27-2011
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Com-Pac Cat Boats

I am curious about cat sailboats, I just find them interesting. They seem to be fairly expensive compared to boats much bigger and they appear to really be stylish for being small. What are the advantages of them over a sloop rig? I just wonder since the mast is mounted on the deck at the bow and uses only one large mainsail. It seems this rig would be at a disadvantage since you can do little adjusting in various conditions such as strong winds. This also leads me to believe excessive healing is to be expected. I also wonder if it is a good idea for someone learning how to sail since all they have to manage is one sail? I guess I bascially want to know what people think about these type of boats? I don't read too much on them but yet from videos they look like they sail very well and stable. I also don't hear a whole lot about them. In my marina, I notice only one person has one but I never met them. So I wonder if hearing and seeing little is because they are just too expensive for smaller boats or not really good sailing boats? I mention Com-Pac because they have some really nice looking ones.
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Old 04-28-2011
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Minnewaska will become famous soon enough Minnewaska will become famous soon enough
I agree, they are cute little boats. Still thinking of getting one for the lake near my home. I haven't sailed one yet, but am told they are very stable. They are very heavy for their size, due to their heavy keel. But still only draw less than a couple of feet, IIRC.

No doubt, they sail slowly. However, for a boat under 20ft, no displacement hull is going to sail very fast.

I think the primary advantage of the cat rigged small boat is the forward placement of the mast. It allows for substantially more room in the cockpit, which is a serious issue in boats of this size. You will have to play with the gaff for sail shape. No matter what, you are only going to ghost along at a few knots, so just sit back and enjoy.

Let me know if you sail one, I'm still thinking about it. Trying to stay on my meds and not own two boats!
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Old 04-28-2011
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Catboats

They are fun and easy to sail. Look up thr CATBOAT ASSOCIATION on the web. and you can get all the info you need.
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Old 04-28-2011
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Catboats were originally created as a work boat. They were easy to sail. One sail equaled less work less clutter. They are/were very beamy boats which creates a lot of stability and also could haul a lot fish, cargo etc. If you were going to load the boat down with a lot of weight going fast just wasn't in the design equation.
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Old 04-28-2011
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We had an 18' Herreshoff "America" catboat for 16 years before moving up to a 35' sloop. It was gaff-rigged, displaced 2500#, had an 8'+ beam and drew 1'10" with the centerboard up. The cockpit was huge--about as big as on our 35" sloop. The cuddy cabin could accommodate a couple for a weekend but it was really like camping out in a pup tent.

The sailing characteristics are generally misunderstood by the casual observer. They are very good off the wind and are better at beating than most folks think, but a well-designed sloop should do better to weather. They are very stable due to form stability, which is provided by the relatively wide beam (compared to length on deck). They typically suffer from a lot of weather helm (due in large part to a single sail) and have a big "barn door" rudder to deal with that.

The weather helm is a useful safety feature, however. If you get caught with a gust, rather than heel over and broach, you are more likely to head up--whether you wanted to or not!

With all the power in one sail, you want to reef when you first think about it. Should you get caught overpowered, you can drop the gaff--called "scandalizing"--and dramatically reduce effective sail area while moving the sail force closer to the center line. I've been caught in 30 kts without a reef and can testify that an 18' catboat can readily handle it in protected water. The design evolved to serve fishermen, after all, and they needed to be able to deal with a perverse turn of weather--often without auxiliary power.

The large cockpit is a definite liability if you get pooped, so the catboat is not considered appropriate for blue water. That said, we routinely sailed her along the New England coast between Shelter Island and Block Island, but didn't challenge the weather. The 50 mile round trip to Block Island was a once or twice yearly event for us.

It has been said that it is easy to sail a catboat, but takes some experience to sail her well. What this means is that beginners usually pick up catboat sailing very quickly, but will have to gain some experience to race the catboat competitively. BTW, the Catboat Association sanctions races in the Northeast every year. Their website (The Catboat Association, Inc.) also lists catboats for sale, if you are interested.

You may be surprised by how much a used catboat goes for, but the upside is that they hold their value much better than "ordinary" sailboats. In other words, you will likely recovery a high percentage of your "investment" when you go to sell.

As we get older, we keep looking back wistfully at the catboat and may eventually downsize to one.
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Old 04-28-2011
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I started out sailing in a gaff-rigged dinghy on the Norfolk Broads, and they are in fact very stable and pretty fool proof. I had no idea what I was doing at first but that little boat was never scary even though it was very gusty.

Advantages :

Easy to reef, just lower the gaff and tie the main off at the boom
Easy set-up - instead of one huge mast you have two smaller ones to handle
Easy handling - only one sail - much easier when tacking!
Stable - low centre of effort
In the puffs you have one sheet to let out, not two so you are less likely to capsize

The main disadvantage is that they don't point too well.
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Old 04-28-2011
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You guys have some positive remarks about them. I don't read too much online about them but the little I have read elsewhere was also positive. Pretty classy looking little boats though, I may recommend one to my brother in law. I really like the Horizon Cat, unbelieveable how much is in that cabin for such a small boat. I would like to try and sail one once, see how it is. I am going bigger for my next boat though but that wont be until a while. I am fixing mine up too nice to depart with it anytime soon.
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Old 04-29-2011
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My understanding is that the Horizon Cat is the reincarnation of the Herreshoff America. Com-Pac modified the keel, but otherwise it looks pretty much like the America we had.

Apparently the keel modification allows the centerboard trunk to be below the cabin sole and may be part of the redesign of the underbody to reduce the appreciable weather helm of the original America. Can't tell from their website, but it appears they eliminated the keel cutout that accommodated an inboard-mounted outboard motor. This would reduce turbulent flow and move the center of resistance aft to reduce weather helm. Apparently they've replaced the old barn door rudder with a more balanced design.

The redesign of the cabin is really impressive as is the overall remake of Halsey Herreshoff's design. I hope ComPac picked up on the evolution of the America sail, which resulted in a shorter foot and longer luff than the sail supplied with the first 2 dozen hulls out of Nowak and Williams. That made a big difference in weather helm.
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Old 04-29-2011
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check this out:

Wyliecat Performance Yachts: Wyliecat 30
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Old 04-30-2011
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The Wyliecat has a single sail with mast forward but otherwise has none of the signature Cape Cod catboat characteristics which include a beam that approaches half the waterline length, little or no overhang, and a gaff rig (yes a few of the fiberglass Cape Cod catboats were marconi-rigged and some were sloop rigged) and a centerboard (with very few exceptions).

Part of the Cat Boat experience is in maintaining a traditional look and sailing experience, which is reflected in a camaraderie among catboat sailors that is part of the package. They aren't kidding when they refer to these as cult boats. A good deal of the enjoyment is in the simplicity of the rig and its operation on a fairly stable platform and the ability to negotiate skinny water.
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