View Full Version : John D. Little lapstrake 16' catboat

Andrew W
03-08-2007, 09:21 AM
I have always admired the John D. Little lapstrake 16' catboat from afar; now I may have found one to (potentially) buy. Anyone have any direct experience with this boat and any comments? Thanks.

03-08-2007, 01:15 PM
This one? http://www.sailblogs.com/member/flanderscat/



Search 'lapstrake catboat' and you'll find a few threads

03-08-2007, 01:48 PM
Hi Andrew,

That would be my boat in the photos above.

I am not an experienced boat owner nor sailor, this is my first boat.

2 seasons out with the boat, and last season was rather short, didn't get the boat in the water till mid-July, but ask away and I'll try my best to answer.

03-08-2007, 08:41 PM

I may know a little of the boat you are looking at. I did talk to another owner of a 16' down somewhere in Maryland who the next season got his hands on an 18' version, and I know he put his 16' up for sale. This fellow drove all the way up from Maryland with his wife to get a look at my boat on it's launch day, while he was still waiting for his boat to be trucked down. They also very generously gave me a very good bottle of champagne.

If it is that boat, it has differences from mine. My boat has ply laps, that are riveted and glued, so no water take-up time. His boat I believe was plank-on-frame, with the requisite soak time.

This gentleman also mentioned that my (tiny) cabin had more structure inside, with the two small bunks that I have.

The cockpit sole/floor in mine is also plywood, with hatches, and space underneath that was left for a small diesel. I have since filled up that space with an inboard electric motor setup. His boat I believe had individual boards for the cockpit sole.

I also have a small electrical system for the running lights, the cabin light, and the bilge pumps(2).

My general impressions of my boat for what they are worth...

The boat is very well built, some say over built. I weighed it at the end of the first season and it weighed around 2400 lbs. Like I said my experience is very limited but to me it feels like a small ship.

To me the full sail is huge and very powerful. I generally sail now with a single reef in, and I don't feel any lack of power. Last season I didn't put the full sail up at all. The first season on an extremely light wind day I would have put the full sail up rather than deal with the outboard, but last season I was trying to run the electric motor as much as possible to put it through it's paces, and it is too easy to just turn the key and silently go.

I did go out once on a very windy day by myself, and put the sail up with two reefs in, but when I couldn't turn up to tack, I put the sail down and called it a day.

In general the boat tacks very easily, but slowly. I have never gybed. It does not seem to point high, but that could easily be my lack of skill and experience. The sail I have is also the original sail from 1989, and could probably be better.

What else can I tell you?

Andrew W
03-09-2007, 09:02 AM

Thanks -- that is the basic boat, ply laps 16'. It is actually up in Massachusetts. I am glad to hear it is not underpowered; easier to reef than to go the other way (I'm not sure how one would do that, but anyway ...) I am very interested in your electric motor adaptation. The one I am looking at has not power, and I hate outboards handing off the end. To me it ruins the lines, although I understand the convenience of outboards. Did you do it yourself? Does it have a fixed prop with a stuffing box, etc?

Where do you sail? I will be sailing on Buzzards Bay, Mass, known for its winds and occasional chop. I'd be interested in how she behaves in a chop, although it kinda feels like I'm hooked already!

thanks again

03-11-2007, 10:43 AM
Hey Andrew,

I hated the outboard off the end also, even with the nice Spartan bracket that I have. I also quickly learned to be very careful of the mainsheet when tacking, after it caught on the outboard.

The boat was built to some day have a diesel installed, with the shaft hole already drilled, cutouts in the cross-members(term?) under the sole, and a cutout in the skeg for the prop.

I have a fixed 2 blade Campbell sailor prop, and a regular stuffing box.

The motor system came from Elco, and I had it installed by a boatyard in Greenport.

I sail around the west end of Peconic Bay, between the forks of Long Island. This bay usually has a short chop going. I tend to only go out on nice days, but the boat seems fine in the chop. The sail is powerful enough to keep you going. My main enemy is the much larger waves kicked up by the big powerboats out there.

03-11-2007, 11:26 AM
Ken, it looks like you did a beautiful job building her. I'm on Long Island and would like to see your boat. I sail a gaffer out of Mt Sinai, although I've been doing a lot of repair, and no sailing.

03-12-2007, 09:44 AM
Hey John,

The boat was built by John D. Little, who passed away maybe close to ten years now.

I keep the boat in a marina in Flanders, just east of Riverhead heading down the south fork. You are very welcome to come out and see the boat once it is in the water. If you have experience with catboats or gaff sails I would appreciate any pointers you could pass on.

Andrew W
03-12-2007, 01:28 PM

Thanks again for the info. I'm going to look at the boat this week, and may be back to you with more questions. I appreciate it.

-- Andrew

03-12-2007, 02:38 PM
Hey andrew,

Let me mention what has needed work since I got the boat.

The centerboard case has leaked a little, and right now that is my only leak.

The pre-drilled shaft hole also leaked a fair bit. Tried to stop this with some lead sheet patches tacked on both ends. The patches reduced it to almost nothing, but this never really stopped leaking till the shaft hole was filled in with the shaft and fittings.

I had the whole centerboard rebuilt just before I got the boat, so that has been fine.

The seats/benches and various other parts are held together with bolts/nuts, quite a bit of these needed tightening.

The pintles/gudgeons(?) for that gigantic rudder have all been replaced, but one. They were all very worn from use.

My cockpit used to have drains, that went through some very heavy tubing to some very old seacocks. These seacocks used an expanding rubber plug design. These also leaked on me and had to be overhauled. The overhaul was easy to do (basically smooth down the rubber and replace). With the electric inboard installation I removed the seacocks all together. There was no room anymore for the tubing, and it would have been impossible to get to the seacocks to turn them or service them, so they are gone. The whole cockpit drain system seemed like a joke anyway so I don't feel I am missing anything. I still have the drain plates in the cockpit sole, but now they just drain into the bilge, to be removed by the two bigle pumps I had installed.

I'm not sure if the boat you are looking at was riveted and glued, but this spring some of the bungs covering the rivets on the outside of the hull are raised and loose, so these will be replaced this time.

That's all I can think of right now.

03-16-2007, 09:52 AM
Thanks Ken, I'd love to see your boat. I've sailed a Beetlecat once, and sailed with Jim on Sea Rover (26' cat) once, But I've sailed my gaff Friendship hundreds of times. Let's get together when you've launched. Or if you want my help launching and rigging, send me a message.