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The Catboat

The pleasures of a distinct American sailing craft.

Tuition: $825

Note: Prior sailing experience required for this course. This is a five-day course ending Friday evening.

Catboat photo

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.

Martin Gardner is a natural teacher. Very patient, experienced, well-organized, and very informative.”
R.B., Tucson, Arizona
I came to Martin Gardner’s course on catboats with a few goals. I got to sail on 3 different catboat designs on the beautiful coast of Maine. We got to navigate in the fog one morning. And I learned more on the history and sailing of this design than I could have ever hoped for. My hopes were exceeded! Thanks.”
J.T., Hopkins, South Carolina
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