Vineyard Catboat

The lines to a new catboat design.

I’d like to share what an old friend and colleague wrote on a quick perusal today.

“…quite appealing with a number of subtleties which should look great in real life. Boats like these always strike me as odd balancing act, closely akin to what I do on Historic Preservation architectural projects. At first blush, it would seem that restoring a building requires very little creativity since you are only following the path circumscribed by the original building design. But as the project progresses, it is the strict constraints of the existing path that makes accomplishing the goal all the more challenging.

In a similar manner, I would think that wandering down as well-worn a path as designing a small catboat, in its own way, would at first glance seem very limiting, but of course its the refinements, subtleties, and the rethinking – without damaging the concept – that make this particular process all the more challenging and a successful design all the more rewarding.

As I see the design, its is a creative blending of some of elements of the early planning dinghy hull-forms (such as Uffa Fox‘s late 1930’s designs or Harry*) with the classic catboat typology. It is fun to read your drawings and see those places where the lines subtly stray form the mundane; to see the slight hollow in the waterlines at the bow and gentle flam of the topsides forward, and think of this passing through a wave, neither so fine that she porpoises, not so blunt that the bow collides forcefully with each wave, and with just enough flare to keep her dry. Similarly, I look at the stern and see the beauty of the tumble-home and raked transom, and your cleanly drawn run, so hard to achieve with this much beam, which should produce enough lift to surf and perhaps even plane in the right conditions. What a blast on a quiet Sunday afternoon, or a with a bone in her teeth, blasting back home with the wind from her quarter!…

Sail Plan

Jeff sent these comments after I posted the sail plan a few weeks ago.

“She is just the bees knees. Makes you wish for a virtual breeze and a virtual place to sail her…. The few times that I drew catboats with Charlie (Wittholz), I was amazed at how hard they were, its not that you couldn’t get fair lines, and it was not that you couldn’t get sweet lines, but somehow getting fair sweet lines was a killer. Then again I was an amateur, even if I was working for a Catboat pro….

The first boat is already under construction in Edgartown, planning on a Spring launch. As it stands there will be two boats, one for my client, the second for the builder. They also hope to stir up some interest in setting up a local fleet!

Drawing her was a real treat. This design was all hand-drawn and the calculations were done with my trusty old planimeter! After working up a schooner design last summer  as part of a “conversation” with Nat Benjamin, I’ve been wanting to work this way again. Now I’m looking forward to my next opportunity.

I learned a lot from doing CAD, but I believe the best lines are hand drawn.

* Jeff and I racing my sailing dinghy Harry years ago in Saint Michael’s Maryland.

Jeff was a collaborator in Designer & Client.

Martha’s Vineyard Catboat








  1. Antonio — I was present at the Arey’s Pond Cat gathering ceremonies last week to introduce our Cape Cod Catboat Race. I have been told that you are a very serious catboater and I wanted to personally invite you to our regatta. There are 2 races for catboats. The first is the Cape Cod Catboat Race on Thursday September 9th and the 2nd is on Saturday September 11th. I hope that you can join us and if there is anything I can do to assist or make it happen, please let me know. There are a limited number of free moorings available for participants. Thanks! Regards, Charlotte

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