Return of the Handy Cat
Catboat fans may remember the Handy Cat, a fiberglass, gaff-rigged 14-footer designed by Merle Hallett of Maine’s Handy Boat Service in 1969 and first produced in the 1970s by Cape Dory Yachts of Taunton, Massachusetts.
After building over 150 of the boats, Cape Dory sold the molds to Nauset Marine in the early ‘80s. A few years later, the molds were returned to Handy Boat Service in Falmouth, Maine, which produced the Handy Cat over the next several years. In all, several hundred Handy Cats were built from 1969 through 2003.
It seemed that the world had seen the last of the Handy Cat, but it turns out this cat has more than one life, thanks to Brian Connelly of Maine’s Stroudwater Boatworks. A longtime catboat aficionado who grew up sailing on Cape Cod, Connelly decided to revive the model after a conversation with Handy Boats’ Jay Hallett following the Cape Cod Boatbuilders’ Show last winter.
Under a special license agreement with Handy Boat, Connelly refinished the existing molds last spring then laid up the first 2 hulls in July. After a summer of finish work, testing, improving and tweaking, the first Handy Cat built in close to a decade was officially launched in September.
I found a Cape Dory Handycat for sale on the internet last summer. I just about drove to OK to buy it. I kept telling myself I didn't need another boat, even if it would have been a cool project to work on over the winter. By the time I finally decided I couldn't live without it, it had already sold. They are salty looking boats.
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