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Small Boat Sailing

The Catboat

The pleasures of a distinct American sailing craft.

August 18 – August 24
Brooklin, Maine
Martin Gardner
Experience Level
Activity Level

This is a five-day course ending Friday

Catboats have been around forever and are as much a part of America’s history as the Model T Ford or the Wright Brothers’ first flight. These shallow-draft, broad-beamed, centerboard boats with a single mast right up in the bow have played an important role among American working and pleasure craft. The earliest examples of these vessels were found sailing in New York waters. As the type spread into New England, changes were made to accommodate not only the different conditions encountered along these open coastlines, but also the different fisheries in which they would be employed. They eventually garnered the attention of sailing enthusiasts and became popular as a racing class, youth sail trainer, family daysailer, and cruising boat. Catboats are, as L. Francis Herreshoff said, “one of our most romantic types” and survive today as pleasure boats—very pleasurable boats—simple, roomy, comfortable, and when properly handled, very well behaved.

This course combines practical skills with some fun, relaxed voyaging. We’ll use catboats large and small. We’ll rig them, sail them, reef them, and moor them. We’ll learn how to let them take care of themselves, to self-steer, and to heave-to. We’ll pick exciting destinations for day trips, sail to them, anchor, and explore local waters and islands. We’ll cover all the basics of seamanship with particular emphasis on navigation, using tools ranging from the lead line to the iPad.

Catboats lend themselves to relaxed sailing, and we’ll make a point of soaking up the beauties of the Eggemoggin Reach and other local waters as we cruise under plenty of canvas.

  • Who is this course best suited for?

    This course is appropriate for students with some knowledge and experience. Basic knowledge and ability to sail is required for most waterfront courses.

    This course involves a moderate level of activity throughout the week including: having adequate balance and agility to get in and out of boats on a moving float or other boats.

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