SKAT, CATBOAT, 12' X 5-1/2', 250 POUNDS
Long time readers may recall this design
as being in the prototypes section a while back. One was
being built and nearly completed when the builder had
to put it aside to work on some realities of life, something
that happens to all of us from time to time. But another
prototype was soon underway.
Skat is a small traditional looking
catboat based on a similar boat in HOW TO BUILD SMALL
BOATS by Edson Schock. My copy is undated but the style
of the boats suggests to me that it was written in the
1950's. The book's hulls are plywood but none are done
"instant" style. I admire Schock's designs for
their simple good looks and wholesomeness. Skat is like
the little catboat in that book but is a taped seam instant
boat with a gaff rig and kick up rudder replacing the
original's Marconi rig and barndoor rudder.
I think a shallow V bottom like this
one can outperform a flattie. If sailed flat this hull
will have no chines in the water while the flattie will
have two. When heeled the V hull will have only one chine
in the water while the flattie may have two. If the flattie
is heeled so one chine is "flying" the flattie
may match the V. This shape was once quite popular because
it worked so well with flat panels, the Lightening, Y
Flyer, and Wind Mill coming to mind.
The 81 square foot gaff sail works with
a 14 foot long mast which should make for better trailering
than the original 21 foot mast. I kept the centerboard
layout and I think this is just one of two boats I've
drawn that had a centerboard. A leeboard won't work with
this traditional shape. For a leeboard to work here the
entire rig would have to be shifted aft at least a foot.
Construction of Skat calls
for three sheets of 1/4" plywood and four sheets
of 3/8" plywood. No jigs or lofting required.
The prototype Skat was built by Tidmarsh
Major in Georgia. He took his time and did a great job
including making wonderful details that I never show in
the plans. You can see it is a 12' boat that will handle
two full grown men. Here is a letter I got recently from
I'm just back from a week at the Gulf of Mexico
sailing Skat, and she performed beautifully. I took
my stepfather out for a couple of long sails and he
was thoroughly impressed with how well she sailed.
We launched at Fort Morgan Marina on Mobile Bay
and sailed to the mouth of the bay. The Marina is a
mile and a half or so from the fort, so it was probably
two and half miles or so to the point. We sailed upwind
through about a 1 foot chop. It was a little bit wet,
but Skat made good progress in the brisk breeze.
At the mouth of the Bay, we headed out into the
Gulf with the ebb tide. There were some pretty good
sized waves (2 feet or so) coming from several directions
as we exited the Bay and the ebb tide met the current
along the beach, combined with the wakes of all the
fishing boats coming and going. Skat sailed happily
through it all.
After that, it was about a 7 mile run downwind
to the house we were staying at through 2 foot swells.
Along the way we saw a large pod of dolphins (10 to
15) who swam within yards of the boat. In total, we
made about 10 miles in just over 2 and a half hours.
All week, we kept the boat pulled up on the sand,
and went out daily. We saw dolphins every day, and at
one point had 3 adults and one child out for a short
sail. Winds were light, but Skat moved gently along
One afternoon I was out in about a 2 foot chop.
Skat would make some progress to windward, but not much--the
chop pushed us back nearly as much as the sail pushed
At the end of the week, we sailed back around the
point to the boat ramp at Fort Morgan to take out. The
final cruise was a good bit longer than the first, however.
We had a favorable breeze to begin with, and for the
first 2 miles had an easy beam reach. Then the wind
died for about an hour. There wasn't a ripple to be
seen. Once the wind picked up, it was a light breeze
from the west, exactly the driection we were headed.
For most of the trip, we beat to windward in about a
5 knot breeze, then headed into the bay with the tide,
again through 2-foot seas, and finally made the boat
ramp just before dark, for a trip of about 5 and a half