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Cat's Pajamas

Ha'Penny - a trailerable cruiser of distinction!

Design No.-15
LOA               24'0"
LWL              22'6"
Beam            7'6"
Draft (b/d)     4'0"
Sail Area        403 sf.

If you are feeling just a bit smug about some of your solutions to the problems that today's young families face, that's okay.  As a young person, you had dreams of owning one of those sleek 35 foot racing machines that the magazines assured you were the greatest things going, no matter that the same magazine has the same assertions regarding last year's model -- each of which rolled off of a fiberglass production line just like a hundred of her sisterships.  Perhaps while one is young and single enjoying the fine art of dinghy racing, things like camping on the floorboards, finding a warm dry shelter, and seats that don't make yours ache after 45 minutes are merely inconveniences.  When one has the safety and welfare of a family to consider (and the alacrity of one's spouse) somehow what were once mere conveniences grow in importance.  Once one begins to reflect on an historical perspective greater in magnitude than his or her own life, the "latest and greatest" from the glossies don't carry the weight they once did.  Placed in the perspective of today's economic challenges, creative solutions have great appeal.
Enter Ha'penny (pronounce it Hay-penny.)  Named for the traditional British currency that represents 1/2 a cent, you have your hand lightly resting on a tiller that guides a boat that you had the satisfaction of building yourself, saving thousands of dollars over the cookie-cutter fiberglass boats you are gliding effortlessly past.  You have under your command a small yacht that can be launched off of a trailer, releasing you from the expense of permanent moorings and freeing you to take your family to unexplored places each weekend.  You have trusted your family to a "shippy-looking" boat that simply exudes character while offering a dry sail, a comfortable motion, and a stable platform no matter what the conditions are.  Your sailing friends at first teased you about the maintenance the brightwork  required until you pointed out that it was epoxy-covered, impervious to water and needing no more upkeep than their 'glass boats.  They gawked at the sail area of her cutter rig until you pointed out that it is always easier to reduce sail as the wind builds than to add it as the wind dies, and when she ghosted past those under-rigged production outfits you held the glee of vindication within you, reflecting on the versatility and pure aesthetic appeal of the topsail cutter rig.  And when your family found that protected little inlet to drop a hook in, well fed and warmed from the chilly breeze of the evening by the tiny coal stove, you realized that there was nowhere at all on the planet that you would rather be than here, listening to the deep breathing of your children as they lay snug in their bunks, exhausted from a day in the sun.  The greatest danger to you right now is simply becoming too smug.

Simplicity.  Enough said.

Design No.-14
LOA                    24'0"
LWL                   20'6"
Beam                 6'8"
Draft                   3'6"
Sail Area            365 sf. (100% Fore triangle)

It has been one of those weeks for you - work has taxed your patience to the max, the baby has been sick, and it seems like the telephone has not quit ringing.  As the pressures of life only seem to be mounting, decompression time is finally here!  You've rowed your dinghy out to where you have Simplicity moored, Heeding her quiet beckoning even before you arrived at water's edge.  The squeak of the dinghy's oarlocks have finally given way to the gentle sound of wavelets tickling the yawl's  lithe hull.  You've boarded her, lunch pail in hand, and in a few short minutes her sail covers are off and stowed below.  Looking around at the other moorings, you realize that there are boats tugging at their painters that have not been used in weeks, some because they take a crew the size of the Philadelphia Eagle's defensive line to run, one or two because some bit of electronic wizardry has gone AWOL.  There are but a few others that persist, and you hear the sound of motors starting here and there, and occasionally get a whiff of diesel fumes as the breeze lofts them.  Not for you though, as you hoist the mizzen, leaving the sheet hard and feeling her obediently face the wind at attention.  Not a full minute later the jib is up, luffing a bit with the sheet paid out just a little.  Now she is ready, now she is a bit impatient to do what she loves to do the most...
You drop her mooring line, let her fall off the wind just a bit, and feel her spring forward like a cat as the jib fills.  A couple of minutes on this tack, a hitch over onto the other, and you are clear of the moorings and ready to add the main, easy to do with the cockpit-led halyards.  Sheeting in the main and trimming the mizzen, and she's sliding along across the bay just as easily as the knots dropping out of your rope.  A couple hour's worth of drinking in her gentle motion and admiring her flat wake, and the small cove you had in mind has volunteered itself yet again to you.  You drop the main, back the jib, lash the tiller over, and Simplicity rewards you with a well-mannered hove-to while you contentedly attack the contents of your lunch pail.
After a brief nap stretched out on the cockpit seat you note that the breeze has freshened a bit, so you take the opportunity to throw a reef in the main.  Better make it a double, just to be sure, as the center of the bay is likely to be spirited afternoon sailing this time of year.  Bringing her round on a course approximately back toward her mooring -- but not precisely, as there is no rush -- and she is off.  When she was launched last year, club members could not fathom her long keel, yawl rig, and uncluttered layout.  There was no door in her transom to get to the built in swim platform - and no built in swim platform for that matter, no electronics to tell you how fast you are going or at what time you are going to arrive at your destination, no built in TV or stereo to mask the gurgling of the water against the hull.  You smiled and enjoyed the questions, patiently answering their well-meaning but bedazzled awe based on your own change of heart regarding many of these points -- the long keel helps her track easily and minimizes leeway, and if you had wanted avionics you would be flying.  Motors are for those who don't sail, and you came to sail, not swim anyway!  You have an audiophile stereo system at home you can listen to tonight!  And here is the proof in the pudding -- she's heeling with excitement and almost quivering like a bird dog on point as the breeze pushes her, yet she continues to glide with an easy motion and respond to your lightest touch on the helm, almost as if she is reading your mind.
All too soon it's time to drop the main and round up to catch the mooring.  In less than 15 minutes her sails are covered, lines stowed, and you reluctantly slide the final drop-board home.  What a shame the baby was sick -- you're spouse would have so loved this trip!  As you lower yourself into the dinghy, you realize that your neighbor is sitting in the cockpit of his production boat sipping from a beer can.  You wave, exchange pleasantries, and notice the cobwebs in the rigging.  Perhaps we should have named the boat "Therapy..."

Confidence for Passagemaking

Cat's Pajamas

Cat's Pajamas - 30' Center Console Motor Launch

Around the shores of New England and the Thousand Islands, the launch is the bread-and-butter of power boating.  Cat's Pajamas is based on just such launches popular soon after the second World War, yet she sports a couple of surprises all her own.  Slide the hatch forward and open the hinged doors and there are inviting weekend accommodations.  As a nod to the modern need for fuel efficiency, within the lazarette hides a modern and quiet-running 4-cycle outboard motor.  Take a couple of hours to tour around your favorite islands, sneak into a snug gunkhole near sunset and let down her anchor, and slip into her well-cushioned bunk until the morning sun beckons you to a quick swim and another day of exploring!


It would seem as though the “Golden Age” of yachting has passed us by.  Instead, perhaps, there is a new movement afoot --  a movement of backyard and garage boat builders, building at home using plywood (often construction grade) and epoxy, building boats that were never designed nor intended to last more than a couple of decades, and having an absolute blast doing so!  This movement has spawned get-togethers that are called “Messabouts,” and they are happening all over the mid-west and western US!  The participants are called “Messers,” (and sometimes their boats are called “messes.”) The CenTex-16 grew from this fierce and irrepressible independence from economic recession mixed with the irrepressible desire to cruise, and without the need to mortgage your fuel.  It was heavily influenced by my personal experiences cruising on a sailboat, and the undeniable reality that getting there is sometimes have the fun and should be savored in a microwave, 80mph world.

  1. An affordable, easily built and easily managed outboard powered boat that will take a couple of people off to beaches or secluded river bends for a weekend or a few days, possibly beaching at night, but without the inconvenience of having to carry and pitch a tent every night.  Everything is – or can be – self-contained. 
  2. The boat needed to be trailerable, which means it needed to be launch-able from a trailer.  Those of us that have launched boats off of trailers realize that the easier it is to set up and launch a boat, the more often it will get used.  The CenTex-16 can be underway in a matter of minutes.
  3. It needed easy, home-built construction; yet with no compromise to strength or safety.  Plywood is the obvious choice; whether construction grade (least expensive, but lowest longevity) or marine grade (best value, longest life.)  Epoxy will extend the life of the boat indefinitely with little maintenance, and is easily applied.  While I have specified the use of a strongback in the construction of the hull because I think this is a bullet-proof method to make sure everything is lined up, symmetrical, and fair, it is not required.  This boat can easily be assembled into a robust model using stitch-and-glue or stitch-and-tape methods.
  4. It needed to be easily maintained.  Wood boats and fiberglass yachts all have their spring and fall required rituals.  This boat is neither; nor does the builder or owner need to participate in paying and caulking seams, painting, winterizing, etc.  Hose her off after use, sponge out the interior corners, do the normal maintenance any outboard requires, and we are good to go.  Clean her up with soap and water, maybe wax her once a year.
  5. Despite its low cost and ease of building, the boat needed to perform well (and fast does not necessarily mean well!)  I tried to envision all sorts of situations she would face; bobbing at anchor overnight, running up on a sand beach, moored to the guest dock in a marina, or puttering through the Inter-Coastal Waterway.  She needed to have a gentle ride, be seakindly in a blow, and weathertight.   I didn’t want her bow to slap a lot, I wanted places to stuff gooky anchors and sandy shoes while keeping bedrolls clean, and I wanted her to resist being pooped by following waves or blown about in crosswinds.  Especially, though, she needed to be comfortable and fun to use, or she would sit on her trailer while other boats were used.

The CenTex-16 was designed to address each of these goals.  She was given the profile of the beloved Sharpie, with plenty of rocker, to help her track.  Sharpies are well-known to be easily driven, and but a few horsepower will bring her to hull speed.  In a departure from the standard flat-bottomed Sharpie, she was given a hull with a slight vee, to soften her ride both under power and at anchor, despite requiring slightly more complicated building techniques.  Finally, she was given a raised deck, in order to maximize accommodations.

The Centex-16 requires 6 sheets of ¼” plywood, 9 sheets of ½” plywood, and can be completed using home center timber, some fiberglass and some fasteners, all of which are discussed in the building manual.

Note: These plans are available to purchase at


CenTex-16 Particulars

LOA......................................... 16’0”

LWL......................................... 13’9”

Beam....................................... 6’0”

Draft........................................ 9-1/2”

Displacement........................... 1275 Lbs

Horsepower............................ up to 20

Inkling Inkling - A Work In Progress!
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