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Looking for advice on a cat for a novice


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Hello, my name is John. I just joined this forum. I'm thinking about buying a cat to have a bit of fun with. I'm an total novice at sailing. My sailing experience consists of 2 outings on a Hobie Wave (I think) at a resort on my own. Had a great time. And one outing with my wife about 12 years ago again at a resort. I'm not sure what boat that was. I don't think it was a Hobie. From memory it was about 14ft. We had a great time back then too.

Can anybody offer any advice on what I should look for in a boat? I'm not even sure what budget I should allow for. I'm thinking for a first boat, no more than $2k to $3k including trailer. I'm not interested in racing at any time. I just want to go out and have some fun, either solo or with my wife or friend.

Any advice will be very welcome. I live in Western Sydney.



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Ryde and Concord sailing club is a good start.

You may not want to race but to learn it helps to be somewhere where the sailing is relatively intense.  Some clubs have learn to sail programs too.

Cats are a good choice, if you find things getting too hectic you can just sit there and they generally won't suddenly capsize!

I sail a 14ft cat which allows me to rig and unrig without assistance (just a few seconds of balance to get the mast in it's step - again something you'd learn if around others).  My cats have generally cost around $1250 although one I had cost me $600 and it was a good buy and competitive too.  Maricats and Windrush are good starters but don't take my word for it, look up a club and go along.

There are a few people who come up from Sydney to Lake Macquarie to sail.  Here you don't have ferries rushing around or narrow channels but you do have the comfort of knowing that if you get into trouble you can just sit there and you'll end up on one shore or another (not New Zealand!).

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Thanks for the reply jimbo. I might give some clubs a call. I'm at Camden in southwest Sydney, so maybe the clubs at Illawarra might be easier for me to get to. I just can't get excited about racing. I don't have a competitive nature at all, so the whole racing thing would be lost on me. I just want to have a bit of fun sailing around.

From what you've said, it seems like I should be able to find a boat at a reasonable price with some money left over for maybe some lessons or something like that.

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There are a couple of benefits of going racing.

1. you do it together - sounds odd but there's nothing worse than going somewhere and feeling that you don't know what to do or how to do it.  

2. you sail in company - there's nothing of greater comfort than knowing that there's someone in close proximity, and also someone in a rescue boat

3. with racing you sail a course.  This means that you have to learn how to sail to all points of the wind.  Doing this while racing, or following the others around if you will, can mean the difference between carrying on and giving the whole game away.  Couple of weekends ago I stuffed up nearly every tack - quite disheartening until you realise that most of the others are doing the same (it was windy and I sail cat rigged Maricat - pigs to tack - no centreboards and I think I had the sail set up wrong).

Yes, Illawarra is good.  Port Kembla Sailing Club is going quite strong at the moment and has quite a good mix of different classes.  Go and talk to them.  There's the Southern Highlands club at Fitzroy Falls too.

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Hi jhv001,
I can keep my eyes peeled for a good 2nd-hand Windrush 4U - as I'm the 'unofficial' NSW agent for the boats.
I'm in Sefton - with 2 boats that you can have a look at - (not for sale) - but they'll give you some idea about what's involved...
I sail for recreation down at Clontarf - beautiful spot - but you do need beach rollers to fully enjoy it - or have a 4WD that'll get the trailer down the beach...
I do agree that even starting out at a club is a good idea - regardless if you have no competitive spirit - because a properly tuned and rigged boat is a joy to sail - and there's no quick or reliable way to know if you've got things right otherwise...
(bottom-line: do u wanna sail a 'dog' or a properly set-up cat?)
Call me anytime for advice...
Hero Hoists
Ph: 1300 79 5438 / 0413 29 3318
There's a page on the Hero Hoists website devoted to the Windrush 14...

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Thanks for the replies jimbo and Rohan. I posted a reply but I seem to have lost it.

jimbo, you make some good point, I was only thinking of the competitive nature of racing. I suppose you could learn a lot in that sort of environment. I will get in contact with some clubs to see which would best suit me.

Do any clubs have "club" boats that can be used by members or do you generally need your own boat?

Rohan, I may call you after the new year for some advice and maybe see your boats. Thanks for the offer.


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Mannering Park, Budgewoi and Toukley (Central Coast clubs) all have club dinghys. A reasonable 2nd hand 14' cat should cost around $1200,

you will see some as low as $500 but there are some traps for the unwary which differ with each design.

Give me a call on 02 43591729 and I will give you a list of what to look for in each, or,

come up to Mannering Park on a saturday for a guided tour of good Maricats and Paper tigers, 

may also be able to organise a loaner for you.

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Thanks darcy1945. My parents actually live on the central coast near Toukley, so I'm up that way quite a bit. When you say "club dinghys", are you talking about a single hull sail boat, or is that a generic term to include the cats? From what I'm understanding, the cats are easier to sail and less prone to capsizing. Is that correct?

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Dinghys are monohul, but I do have a spare race rigged Mari which you could try. Windrush and Mari are the best of the production 14s

Hobie 14s are no longer made in Aus, but, a good, late model Hobie Turbo could bear serious consideration (They are uncomfortable to sit on

and are not as bouyant as the Windy/Mari) 

Crew weight is the critical factor when choosing a cat, 14s will struggle with weights over 130kg and recommended weight  for 14s is around  85kg.


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Hello John

great to see more people interested in  sailing

there are many different makes of catamarans available in varying sizes for combined or solo crew weights

it sounds like you want a cat to solo sometimes but mainly take someone with you so the cats that come to mind would be just above the fourteen foot class which will not perform well with two adults aboard

phone the clubs you are interested in to see if someone needs regular crew on a cat that was made for two and you will learn quickly and gain confidence needed to skipper your own boat

happy sailing !

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Thanks for the great replies. I weigh 85kg so it sounds like a 14ft would be good for solo but no good for two adults.


5 hours ago, eragon said:

it sounds like you want a cat to solo sometimes but mainly take someone with you so the cats that come to mind would be just above the fourteen foot class which will not perform well with two adults aboard

Eragon, you confused me a little. You said the cats that come to mind are just above the 14ft class, but then you said they will not perform well with two adults. Is there a typo in there or am I misunderstanding something?

In early January, after the new year, I plan to contact some clubs and maybe some people on here who where kind enough to give me their number to call.

In the meantime, I want to try and learn as much as I can so that at least I have some kind of starting point as to what I may need. 

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G'day John,

There are many different boats to choose from as are the price ranges, for example just last week a 16' catamaran on Gumtree was sold for $100 and came with 2 sets of sails and a registered trailer, sadly it was an older boat and with not many ever being made...... but as a starters boat to learn on you certainly could not have gone wrong. I own 4 boats and she who must be listened to occasionally had a very stern NO as soon as I added it to the watchlist, otherwise it would be resident here now

14' boats generally were aimed at the solo sailor with some ability to be a "father & son" unit in some cases. Most 16' boats were aimed at the heavier adult sailor that sailed solo or a lighter adult with the slightly lighter son, in some cases the boats in that class actually suited 2 average adults, I actively sail a 16' Mosquito catamaran solo, however my 19yearold son has crewed for me on several occasions...... we race most weekends against other Mosquito catamarans and some of those are sailed 2-up as a husband and wife team and they are highly competitive and do very well within the fleet. 

There are many makes of boats to choose from and my best advice is to get out and about with as many of the local clubs in your region as possible and see what they are sailing predominately, even if you have no desire to race or be involved in a club the information sharing will be priceless and of great assistance to a newcomer such as yourself and you also have, as previously stated, the assistance of a rescue boat on hand when it goes wrong (as it undoutably will).

Once you have a basic idea of the size and type of boats that may suit your needs then and only then should you start seriously start looking and ..... here's the clincher..... take a knowlegable club member with you when you get serious enough to be carrying the wad of cash to a potential seller...... taking someone that actually understands the class of boat you may wish to purchase WILL save you from the bad experience of buying a lemon.

One thing I have noticed so far is the lack of personal information you have given us, a simple run down of your abilities with some of the aspects of boat ownership would for example be  an advantage in assisting us in helping you with a solid choice of class......EG: can you do fibreglass work ? can you do wood work ? any skills in manufacturing metal ???? These are all basic skills that most sailors have to some degree in order to offset some of the costs that can at times be horrific to say the least.....

Here's a good example of a learning curve that I went through...... http://www.catsailor.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=266555#Post266555

Prior to this old girl my woodworking tools consisted of 3 pro chainsaws, an axe, and a 70ton wood splitter. My fibreglassing skills were nill, but being in the structural engineering and fabrication industry I had the ability to manufacture many of my own parts which saved me lots of cash

Enjoy the thread ;)






I own 2 Mosquito catamarans, one is the old green girl that I've had a ball on for very minimal outlay of money but big on invested time, the other mosquito is my pure racer specifically for state and national class racing...... my 3rd boat is an RL 24, a 7.4metre cabin cruiser that I actively race when crew availability is good, this boat is currently being changed from a race boat to a week away live onboard cruiser. The 4th is an Impara Cadet, a 12' catamaran aimed at the better junior sailors back in the 70's, there's a thread on the forum discussing these boats, mine is being currently restored and should be back on the water early in the new year.



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G'day Kingy, thanks for the detailed reply.

First up, some info on myself as requested. I'm 43, and I'm an aircraft engineer by trade. I'm pretty handy with most materials, and generally pretty quick to pick up new skills where needed. I don't have much experience with fibreglass, but have friends and family that do. I only recently learned that a sail can just be considered an airfoil that uses the same aerodynamic principles as an aircraft wing, and suddenly things started making a lot more sense. I've never really given it much thought before other than the wind pushes on the sail and the boat moves. On my last holiday when I sailed the cat at the resort we were staying at, I started looking at the telltale ribbon on the rigging and the angle of the sail and relative wind, etc and it all looked like a vertical aircraft wing and all of a sudden I was able to sail the boat so much better (for a novice that is).

I will definitely be contacting some clubs in the new year and see if I can get out on the water with some people to find out what would best suit me.

I had a quick look at the link you provided for doing up your boat. Looks like it would have been a fun restoration. I'll have a read through the thread when I get more time. I'm at work now.


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I'm from Port Kembla Sailing Club located on Lake Illawarra. We currently have people from Cam d en and The Oaks sailing with us. We sail all sorts of cats particulaly 14 and also larger cats. Just about everything posted here is spot on.

We also hve a number of people like yourself started sailing with us this season. We start back ok on the 12 Jan for our first race after Xmas. Your best idea is to drop down and talk to all h e guys and girls who wil more than happily give you the information you need.

I would definitely suggest you don't buy a boat until you talk to people at any if the clubs, there are good bots and bad boats for sale and being cluded up with what to look for is  invaluable. You can get me on 0421 927 146 is you would like some info.



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Hi John

Many great Cats to choose but one that is designed for a range of skills, easy to set up, robust, can take 1-4 adults is in fact the Hobie Wave. It is very popular in the US but also there are plenty here as well for a range of prices second hand. Just check it out on YouTube and on the Hobie Web site and Hobie Forums http://www.hobiecat.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=24

But if you want to race, be on a trapeze then you would need something else. If you are a L plate or P plate sailor then don't choose a Cat that is high performance but hard to handle and hard to set up. Walk before you run...

Good Luck



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