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Any interest in a Catspaw build? Also featuring rabbits.


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Just back from a week at the island place.  Of course, Saturday I mostly just hauled gear to the cabin - no backpacks yet on the wife's collarbone so I had to carry 10 days' worth of supplies (about 240 beers + whatever the wife is going to drink, plus I think there was some food) up the steep path to my place.
Sunday I went looking for some timber.  Look straight enough?
And so the axe-work begins.
This looks dangerous but I'm actually just skimming the axe along the surface, not swinging it.
Then scraping it with the edge:
If you're handy with an axe you can cut stuff pretty precisely.  Eventually I switched to a plane.
Here you can see that I am basically dependent on cordless tools to do any real boatbuilding work at all.  Also careful observers will note that the sprit is nearly finished in this pic and that was the last piece to build.
I think my expression about covers my combined sense of satisfaction and fatigue
So off I went!
She really moves.  Easy handling even with minimal wind.  Points fairly well into the wind, considering.  Absolutely HAULS downwind.  Rows like a dream.  Really happy she turned out as well as she did.  Never want to build in my apartment again.
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Wow, I really admire your work with the axe! I'd have to put a motor on the axe, though. Even with a lo-o-o-o-og extension cord from civilization out to the island. Anyway, she's looking great, and so is that look of satisfaction on your face. You deserve it. Have the bunnies been sailing yet?

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11 hours ago, Chick Ludwig said:

Wow, I really admire your work with the axe! I'd have to put a motor on the axe, though. Even with a lo-o-o-o-og extension cord from civilization out to the island. Anyway, she's looking great, and so is that look of satisfaction on your face. You deserve it. Have the bunnies been sailing yet?


Thanks! They don't seem much interested in the sailing life, although one of them hung out with me as I made the sail.  



11 hours ago, AmosSwogger said:

Great pictures; nothing better than ax, knife, and plane work.  You would have made a great ship's carpenter in the 1800's British Navy.

Thank you - I had that job on my mind a lot as I worked.  Those guys must have been true masters with a sharp edge.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...

You know it occurs to me that I never gave a good update on this thread, but the little Catspaw has gotten a TON of use.


I ended up moving to my summer cabin last year, which is on a tiny island with no roads or even docks.  Every morning for about six months I'd walk down to the beach, pick up the Catspaw and carry it to the edge of the water, row out to my boat and leave the Catspaw on the hook, take the boat across to the big island and go to work, and every evening I'd come home and row back in.  I did it in storms, in the dark, tired, injured, hung over, you name it.


The boat held up at least as well as the owner.  It took a little damage in rough weather one morning - the big boat was bucking around like a rodeo bull and the flare of the bow came down on the cockpit coaming, snapping off a section.  But I think that was 5000 pounds of fiberglass getting dropped around 4 feet onto the bow of the catspaw; I can't complain about a little cosmetic damage.


I sailed it a lot when I wasn't working and it goes pretty well, considering it's a little eight foot pram.  And it keeps on absorbing whatever I throw at it: I left it on the hook for a month because I got busy with some projects here and couldn't get back to my summer place as planned until a few days ago...a handful of barnacles had adhered to the graphite bottom, as depicted below.  I scraped them off and let the shore crabs deal with the mess.


It's now also officially a three-person craft, as it turns out that spending six months with my wife at a cabin with no electricity requires alternative forms of entertainment.  In fact we resorted to this method of staying occupied at the beginning of April so by the time we left, I was trusting the Catspaw to transport a woman whose centre of balance had shifted substantially...one could almost say that with only about 10 weeks to go before requiring an extra seat in the boat, she had become rather unbalanced.  The Catspaw, on the other hand, remained quite stable.


I would say its most demanding application was shuttling her back and forth on our last trip as a childless couple...she was 10 days out but wanted to get on the water, so we went back to the cabin for a few days and did a bit of trolling for winter springs.  By that point she was so off-balance that loading her off the big boat and into the dinghy took about two minutes and I wished I had a small crane, although in case she reads this I'll point out that it would only have been for convenience and it could have been a crane with a very low working load limit, although of course I would deny knowing exactly what the load would have been.


Anyway it has had an enormous amount of use (the boat, not the wife) and I still get compliments on it (also the boat although the wife is pretty good also).  I'm hard on gear but the Catspaw is holding up well and I would recommend the design to anyone who wants a tough little dinghy with a lot of carrying capacity.  And it does work well as a three-person boat.





2020-07-02 09.57.32.jpg

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