Catboat design question-mast location

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Gary Joyce, May 3, 2011.

  1. Gary Joyce
    Joined: May 2011
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    Location: Aquebogue, NY

    Gary Joyce New Member

    This may offend some wooden boat purists, but ... Most of my and my partner's boat construction experience has been with powered craft for commercial use.

    We're now taking on a sailboat. The aim is to prove that sail dredging is still a viable - and environmentally sounder - way of dredging for scallops. Think Chesapeake Bay oyster rules. We obtained a catboat (that's what was used up here ..Peconic Bay, NY) least 65 years old, tho I think much older. Anyway ...

    We're NOT going to restore this Bristol ... we want to make it a work boat.

    That said ... QUESTION:

    How important is the location of the mast in the boat insofar as the craft's seaworthiness? We're debating using the original site, or moving it aft about four (4) feet. We're not using the original mast (a beautiful piece of wood, by the way), we'll be using aluminum masts and plastic sails ... etc ... we just put the boat in to dry, we'll be taking the house off and making her an open boat ...

    Any suggestions (I can handle curses and abuse for doing this to the boat), ideas, etc., are welcome ...but the mast location thing kinda worries me ...

    BTW: the dredges are about three foot wide, and we plan to drag two

    TIA- Gary
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Placement of the mast is fairly important. If you move it aft 4 feet, then you'll likely ruin the balance of the boat and she'll go lee on you. This is dangerous, particularly for a working craft, which needs good balance so the skipper can have an easy time with the helm, without tossing crew members in the drink. Cat boats aren't known for good "manners" under sail, especially if the wind picks up, so balance is important.

    If you did move the mast aft this much, you could probably rig a small sprit and hang a jib, though now you'd have two sails to manage. Much depends on the design and how much the CE moves when the mast is relocated. Moving 4' on a 20' boat is a huge amount and will likely make the boat unmanageable, but 4' on a 30' boat isn't quite as bad. It's still a fairly big move, but proportionately less significant.

    More information about the boat, it's general dimensions, the design name, make, model etc. would be helpful, as would pictures.
  3. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    May I ask why you want to move the mast? I would think that one of the reasons for a catboat having its mast in the bow to begin with, was to get it out of the way.
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Working cats "worked" the way they were quite well and the big but low gaff sail was an important part of the whole deal. Putting 'aluminum masts and plastic sails' sounds like using a modern marconi rig, which won't work in the original location due to lack of beam to take the shrouds I would think.
    What's your question about the mast location in regard to seaworthiness specifically?
    The hull/rig combo was designed by someone who was very familiar with the type and its vices so shouldn't be changed significantly if you want to avoid problems.

  5. MastMonkey
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    MastMonkey Junior Member

    I can't add any more to what has been said so far, but I really applaud your efforts at making working sail viable.
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