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A catboat is a sailboat with a single sail[1] on a single mast set well forward in the bow of the boat. Traditionally they were gaff rigged. Most have a shallow draft,[2] with centreboards, although some have a keel.[3] The hull can be 12 to 40 feet long with a beam half as wide as the hull length at the waterline.[4]

Advantages of this sail plan include simplicity of construction, maintenance, and sailing. Its disadvantage is a limited ability to sail upwind.[5]

The origin of the name is unknown. A catboat is not the same as a twin-hull catamaran.

Some cat boats in current use include the Beetle Cat, the Redden Catboat,[6] the Nonsuch, the Inland Cat, the Zijlsloep,[7] the Cape Cod Cat,[8] Com-Pac Trailerable,[9] Marshall,[10] Menger, [11] and the APBY cat boat.[12]

From the 1850s to the early 1900s catboats were the dominant inshore boat on the New England coast, both for work and for pleasure.[4] They were used for fishing and coastal transportation. Their popularity declined in the commercial world where they were replaced by motorized boats. In boat racing the tendency was for larger sails, which favored other rigging styles.[13]

Catboats in Europe[edit]

Great Britain and Ireland[edit]

In 1851, during the 'Great Exhibition' a Catboat called 'The Una' was put on display at The Serpentine, Hyde Park. She was seen by Dixon Kemp who was much impressed with her. After 'Una' sailed at Cowes, she impressed many of the sailors who built a fleet of them. After 1907 'Una' raced at the Upper Thames yacht Club.[14]

In Bray, Co. Wicklow, south of Dublin a fleet of one-design catboats, 12 feet in length and 6 foot beam were designed and built in 1897, and they continued to race for several years at home and at local east coast regattas.[15]


  1. ^ "ABOUT CATBOATS - Catboat Association, Inc". Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  2. ^ MacKenzie, Mike (2005–2012). "Home page". Sea Talk Nautical Dictionary: The Dictionary of English Nautical Language.
  3. ^ "What's a Catboat". The Catboat Association. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b "The Catboat". Chesapeake Catboat Association. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Pat (2015-10-30). "What's in a Rig? Cat Rig". American Sailing Association. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  6. ^ "The Redden Catboat". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  7. ^ "The Zijlsloep". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  8. ^ "The Cape Cod Cat". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Com-Pac Trailerable Cat Boats". Com-Pac Yachts. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Marshal Cat Boats". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Thompson Boatworks". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  12. ^ "Arey's Pond Boat Yard". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  13. ^ "History of the american catboat". Catboot Seezunge. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  14. ^ Yachting Monthly August 1910
  15. ^ Yachting Monthly August 1910

External links[edit]