|By: P/C Wolfgang Kutter, SN|
Interesting to note that the dinghy was built in San Diego in 1982, and exactly 30 years later it returned "home". For the time being I will keep this web site open and I will continue to look for people, who own the same type of boat.
This is my story of a catspaw sailing dinghy, sprit rigged, hoping that this will find other owners of this boat design. I would like to exchange experiences in sailing this boat, maintenance tips and learn more about her history.
In 1998, I purchased this dinghy from the widow of a good friend of mine, who was the previous owner and with whom I sailed several times on Big Bear Lake (Southern California). I understand that the boat was built around 1980 by Dennis Ferguson of San Diego. I named it "Kat Too", because I used to own another boat with the name "Katinka".
A great sailing season started in May of 2001 on Big Bear Lake, with the mountain peaks still covered in snow, and it ended in November. Due to extensive travels to Europe and Hawaii, "Kat Too" has not been out much in 2002. Southern California has experienced a few years of very low precipitation and the water level on Big Bear Lake was 12 to 15 ft below normal. During that year I could not sail into many of the bays and coves which I used to go into. The spring of 2003 was slightly wetter. However, due to personal circumstances, I did not sail "Kat Too" during the entire year of 2003.
In 2004 she found a new home in Orange County (Southern California) due to our move to this area in April. I have explored new sailing grounds, starting with the bay and harbor in Newport Beach. By the way, Newport Beach Harbor is the largest harbor for pleasure boats in the world. One can see boats from 10 to over 100 ft in length.
Until March of 2004 the boat and trailer were stored in my garage, since then both are in an open parking area. This has led to the deterioration of the varnish and trailer paint. During the spring of 2008 I revarnished the inside of the boat and in April of 2009 I did the outside hull, plus touched up the paint of the trailer.
On September 17, 2011 the American Legion Yacht Club of Newport Beach, CA had their annual Wooden Boat Festival. I exhibited "Kat Too" amongst many other wooden boats of all sizes. The larger boats were in the water, whereas trailer boats were shown in the parking lot. It was a fun day and the event gave me the opportunity to talk to many wooden boat enthusiasts, especially with those who built their own boat. Not having built "Kat Too" myself, I learned a lot about fabrication techniques of small wooden boats.
During the winter of 2001, I added a new bench (see picture below), which is lower than the original benches. This was done to allow my two young grandsons (then 10 and 8 years old) to sit lower in the boat and have a safer seat to enjoy the rides.
The boat can utilize a small electric trolling motor connected to a marine battery (battery comes with the boat). The problem I had was the fact that I never knew how much the battery was discharged. Therefore, in August 2001, I mounted an automotive digital plug-in voltmeter. In order to make this installation as unobtrusive as possible, I affixed an automotive cigarette lighter recepticle (auxiliary power supply) under the rear bench and connected it in parallel with the battery cable leading to the trolling motor. The voltmeter fits nicely into the recepticle. Works like a charm !
One of the challanges sailing this dinghy is the fact that one cannot take down or shorten sail while underway. I devised a rigging setup so that the sail can be shortened anytime to about 1/2 the original sail area. Two separate lines were run to the back of the boat. The first runs from the upper part of the sprit to the mast, through a block, down the mast, through a second block (mounted on the deck) and finally through some guides to the back, tight off on a small cleat. The second line runs from the claw of the sprit through a block on the mast, down to a block on the deck and again through another set of guides to a second cleat in the back of the boat (see pictures below). By first loosening the line to the claw and then pulling the other line, so that the sprit will be parallel to the mast, the sail area is cut in half (see Video below). This is very useful in high wind conditions, especially when coming to a dock.
Due to the fact that I hardly go sailing anymore (age, mine ! ..... not the boats age), I have decided to sell the boat, including the trailer and all accessories listed below. So anyone in Southern California, interested in purchasing this unique boat, you can contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
|* History||* Specifications|
|* Accessories||* Construction and Materials used|
|* My Challenges||* Picture Gallery|
|* Other Information Resources||* Similar Boats in Existence|
|* Kutter's favorite Links|
N.G. Herreshoff (Captain Nat)
The older of the Herreshoff brothers, John Brown Herreshoff, who was legally blind since the age of 15, founded a boat building company in 1863. In 1878 N.G. Herreshoff joined J.B. as a partner and they called their very successful firm the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. N.G. Herreshoff (Captain Nat) was born in 1848 and he died in 1938. There is a Herreshoff museum located at the old estate and boat building facility. For details see their website at Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol, RI.
Through the "WoodenBoat Forum", Thad Danielson of Redd's Pond Boatworks , gave me the following additional information: (quote) 'The lines of Joel White's Catspaw dinghy are based on the lines of one of N.G. Herreshoff's COLUMBIA Lifeboat Model tenders. The model was carved in 1899 for the "lifeboat" of the America's Cup defender COLUMBIA. This was the last tender/dinghy model Captain Nat carved for the Herreshoff Mfg. Co. There are a couple of previous models that were used sparingly, but all of the Herreshoff dinghys after 1899 were built from the Columbia model.
After N.G. left in the mid-twenties, his son Sydney ran the company and designed the "tech dinghys" for MIT and possibly others. Catspaw's sprit rig is White's, Nat typically used a leg of mutton' (end of quote).
According to Barry Thomas of the Mystic Seaport Museum, the original 11 1/2 foot COLUMBIA lifeboat model dinghy was built in 1905. It was considered the ultimate of the lapstrake yacht tenders.
Does anyone, besides Mystic Seaport Museum, still own one of the original Herreshoff dinghies or one of the replicas ?back to Table of Contents
"Kat Too" Picture Gallery:
(Click on pictures to see enlargements)
You can reach me by e-mail at:
Last up-dated: 2012-11-04
This boat has fore and aft decks which serve as flotation tanks and allows the boat to be launched stern first from the deck without swamping.
Copyright© 2000/2012 WKutter
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Last up-dated: 2012-11-04