I have just launched Catnip, my version of William Garden's 12-foot gaff-rigged cat, TomCat. It took two years to build her but I was out of commission for six months last winter and that slowed things down.
I have sailed her several times now in light airs-- five to eight mph maximum -- and she goes much faster than I had expected, is stable and very obedient. A very pretty boat and by far the most successful project I have ever done.
Garden designed her in 2005, I think, when he was 84 and he designed her for his own personal use. I think he wanted a more comfortable and geriatric version of a beetle cat. I am younger than he -- 71 -- but from the look of him not nearly as fit and healthy. I have several ailments which are debilitating and was glad to have not only enough time to complete Catnip but to sail her as well!
She's a fine boat and pretty as a picture. I would not advise anyone to select her as a "first" boat project. She's carvel-planked and we had to steam most of her planking and she's a high intermediate build, in my opinion. I have built seven small boats, a couple of lap-strake rowboats, a lap-strake Arch Davis Penobscot 17 and a cluster of other small craft and I was pretty well stretched. The plans are little more than blueprints and no hand-holding at all.
Arch Davis, on the other hand, walks one through his boats with the best manuals and videos I have ever seen. His Penobscot boats (14 and 17 footers) would make a good first time project for anyone with elementary wood-working skills.
Catnip is an absolute joy to sail and better suited to single-handing for a geriatric boater.
-- John Aitken
Sailing on the Bay of Quinte