American Cat Boats

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  • Pub No.: 5710
Edwin J. Schoettle/An interesting overview of that uniquely American design--the Cat Boat

by Edwin J. Schoettle

It was the work-boat that originally suggested the craft which became the models of our early types to be used for pleasure sailing. Boats throughout the world were as different in sizes and shapes as were the customs of the various people. It would be a great study to solve the why and the wherefore of the existence of all the curious-looking craft used for fishing and commerce. Those at the Fiji Islands, Australia, Bombay, and other eastern ports being the extreme opposite to the models used in England. Bermuda over eighty years ago had its own type, schooners, rigged with Marconi masts and jib-headed sails. The Arabian dhow, the most unusual double-hulled boat, was probably the model of some of the earliest American racing catamarans. The English had a score of distinctive types with picturesque titles—Pollywogs, Penzance Luggers, Galway Hookers and many others. Think of the Dutch boats with their curiously shaped fat hulls and heavy construction. The Mediterranean had its own, rigged with lateen sails of many colors. Those in American waters were all different, Boston boats being entirely distinct from those on Long Island Sound. The fishermen of Barnegat Bay developed catboats, sneak boxes, and garveys, and much could be written of the originality of design of these. Chesapeake Bay was known best for its Buckeye, a model found to be equally satisfactory, and in some cases much better than those there in use. It therefore stands to reason that the native boats in use in certain waters were not always the best for the purpose for which they were built and used. In searching for a type that seems from the earliest day to have been distinctly American, we find none that has the importance of the catboat.

24 pages, 6 plate(s)

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