Catspaw and Sylvester

  • Advertise with us
Project by shipwright posted 12-07-2010 03:55 AM 4598 views 3 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These are two little cats that I built in the early 80’s. Catspaw was my own boat for several years and Sylvester was built for a client. Her second owner was Will Millar, lead singer of the Irish Rovers, who wrote about her in his book “Messing About in Boats” and which I last saw at the heritage docks of the Vancouver Maritime Museum about six or seven years ago.

These little vessels are 19’6” long and are flat bottomed “dory” type hulls, the smallest editions of designer Jay Benford’s Sailing Dory series. They can be quite cheap and easy to build or as can be seen in Sylvester they can be dolled up a fair bit.

One photo shows the “catboat kit” as I call it, the assembled materials for Catspaw two months before her launch. The rest are “after” shots.

I should say for the uninitiated that all this feline nomenclature relates to the vessel type “catboat” which is a sailing vessel with one mast all the way up in the bow and only one big sail. (Not to be confused with “catamaran” which has two hulls)

I am posting this as an intro to the next “Shipyard Memories” which will illustrate the conventional plywood style of construction.

Thanks for looking.

Comments, critiques… All welcome.


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

19 comments so far

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3086 days

#1 posted 12-07-2010 04:00 AM

you continue to be my woodworking hero!

those boats are absolutely beautiful! I think it’d be SO much fun to learn how to build something like that! Simply amazing! Thanks for posting!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3232 days

#2 posted 12-07-2010 04:18 AM

Great looking sailboats. That’s more living space in a 19’ boat than I’ve ever seen. My holder 20 is so tiny inside that it’s like sleeping in a coffin. And I don’t think I’d try to race your catboat downwind. That’s a lot of sail area. Here’s my Holder 20. Several fiberglass trees were sacrificed to produce my boat.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3768 days

#3 posted 12-07-2010 04:19 AM

Beautiful boats in a beautiful country. Very impressive work! Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3456 days

#4 posted 12-07-2010 04:23 AM

It must bring a great sense of joy and accomplishment to see some of your work years later maybe even by chance. Most woodworkers I have talked with get fairly passionate when they discuss real wood boats. My hat once again is off to you Paul. A boat like that sure stands apart from all that fiberglass around it. What a treasure.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3876 days

#5 posted 12-07-2010 04:28 AM

Oh my, those are beautiful. I am just in awe. I can not imagine building things such as that.
True craftsmanship. Wonderful pictures.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3707 days

#6 posted 12-07-2010 04:35 AM

I remember the Irish Rovers!

Great boats, I would really like to see one up close one day.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View sedcokid's profile


2731 posts in 3593 days

#7 posted 12-07-2010 04:51 AM

Man oh Man, These are just perfect….. You have done a tremendous job on these!!

Thanks for sharing!!

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3071 days

#8 posted 12-07-2010 04:59 AM

Flat out beautiful. Never had an opportunity to sail before and can just imagine how awesome of a feeling it must be. You da man Paul! I’m very impressed with your handy work.

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Broglea's profile


685 posts in 3085 days

#9 posted 12-07-2010 06:29 AM

Again, thanks for sharing these gems with us. I hope you don’t run out of ships to post/blog about. I really enjoy seeing these.

View Robster40's profile


28 posts in 2833 days

#10 posted 12-07-2010 07:06 AM

Excellent work. I can’t even imagine building a boat. Although, wood floats so I could just grab a big piece of that and set it adrift. Works in the movies. Thanks for sharing.

-- Rob, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,

View MichaelA's profile


778 posts in 2883 days

#11 posted 12-07-2010 07:50 AM

Paul your boats are beautiful. Most of all carpentry craftmanship came from the boat builders.
You are one of the few original carpenters remaining.

-- The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. "Helen Keller"

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4087 days

#12 posted 12-07-2010 11:06 AM

Very special Paul. That fifth pic is something else. You do this to me at the onset of winter. Grrrrrr.

I believe you addressed it in another thread but I still can’t get use to the idea of a wood burning stove on a small wooden sailing vessel. Even at anchor in a quiet cove I’ve had storms come up in the middle of the night, the wind change direction suddenly and toss the boat quite a bit till I’ve reset the anchors. The Chesapeake is well known for it’s Nor’Easters that seem to come from nowhere. Or some idiot recklessly fly by in a stink pot and toss us in his wake. The thought of a stove seems idyllic in theory, but I don’t know… perhaps it’s just something one gets use to over time.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2851 days

#13 posted 12-07-2010 11:13 AM

Keep them coming.
I enjoy all your pictures, past and present.
So glad you took the time to keep records.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2792 days

#14 posted 12-07-2010 11:14 AM

Thanks all.
Hal, You’re right. They have a bit of weather helm downwind in a blow, but with the boom out at 90 deg to the keel (no standing rigging) they go like hell.
It’s bolted down Chip. No different from an oil stove except that it won’t run away on you and burn your boat down when you leave it. It just slowly cools down.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4087 days

#15 posted 12-07-2010 11:21 AM

I figured the stove was fastened. Now if you could only fasten down burning embers… or a wayward spark from a popping log. As I said, it’s probably just because I’m not use to having one. I really like the idea though.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

showing 1 through 15 of 19 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics