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Currently in Build

Four Carbon Fiber Cutters

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Make no mistake, this has been from the start a very different kind of project. If I sound nonchalant about it I am far from that.

The purpose for this design is for it to be a rugged and strong boat capable of keeping a crew of four comfortable at sea for long periods of time. When the preliminary design was finished we, Jim Betts the builder and I, were told that the first four boats are spoken for. We had assumed we were working on one, single boat. Wrong! Four boats.

To make it even more unusual the client decided that the boats were to be built in Carbon fiber and epoxy. The boats are relatively heavy, about the same D./L as a Valiant 40, 260 so we did not need a carbon build to save weight. But after meeting with the builder, a well experienced carbon fiber builder, initially the client and builder decide that carbon fiber was the best material for the job. Being able to save weight on the basic structure allowed me to increase the amount of ballast to 44% B/D ratio. With the ballast, internal, nestled down in the bottom of the keel the VCG for this design is very low and that will result in a stiff and stable boat able to carry full sail in excess of 20 knots TWS. Given that the basic style of the boat is in the Bristol Channel Cutter model the carbon build and stability profile of this boat will set it apart from the traditional build cutters of similar style. In short, there has never been a traditionally styled cutter quite like this one. Of course the rig is also all carbon fiber.
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I live an hour from the builder’s yard. I grab Ruby and we drive to the yard each Wednesday just to hang out, check on details and ask questions. I have had more fun with this project than any other. Bob P.
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Catari - A 62' Ketch at Pacific Seacraft

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Paul called me just about the same time that Kim called me. Their ideas for their own custom boats could not have been more different. But I like different and I jumped on both projects with equal enthusiasm. We started Paul’s boat around 49’ LOA but it had growing pains as we began to explore options. In short time, kind of, we were up to 62’. Our simple little, light air, Chesapeake Bay cruiser had grown to a complex offshore ketch with the emphasis on comfort and easy of handling.

I have lost count of all the hulls I drew before landing on the final hull shape. I knew that short overhangs would give us the best boat speed but Paul’s wife had her own ideas of aesthetics and she wanted to see some overhangs. No problem. We began running VPP tests to evaluate draft options due to the shoal draft attraction with the boat living much of the time on the Chesapeake. We finally decided on 7’ draft with a long, moderate aspect ratio fin keel. I wanted a stiff boat with a good LPS so I put the lead all along the very bottom of the fin ending in a trim beaver tail.

The overall look I was after was of a boat from around 1958 maybe to 1962, something sort of Phil Rhodes-ish in general contours. I have always been a huge Phil Rhodes fan and the traditional styling conventions of the Pacific Northwest were not appropriate for this East Coast yacht. I wanted very much to avoid those Bill Garden styling clichés. I like to flatter myself by thinking that my designs have my own stamp. I’d like to think that you can pick out a Bob Perry boat from the fleet even though I have tried to develop a wide range of styling approaches. My goal is to wrap the new, custom boat around the owner’s own image of how he sees his life on the water. It might be an Italian wool suit for one client and an all L.L. Bean wardrobe for another.
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The truly distinctive feature of CATARI is the two cockpits. In the early design stage the client could not decide on an aft cockpit or a center cockpit. I casually suggested that we could have both. There I go again, just making life hard on myself. Soon we were exploring the benefits of having both cockpits and it was a done deal. The benefits are tremendous. The challenges are also tremendous. The ketch rig was a given from the start. Paul simply likes the look of a ketch and no whining on my part about the benefits of the sloop rig was going to change that. So now add to the complexity of the ketch rig the added complexity of two cockpits, a long cabin trunk and a pilot house. This became the most complex deck I had ever designed. I enlisted help on the deck layout and the rig from my old pal Tim O’Connell. Tim is a very god racing sailor and an expert of gear and the most current electronic sailing aids. Full size mockups were built for the deck to ensure that the deck would work as planned. We could sit in both cockpits. We could steer the boat. We could sit under the pilot house overhang. We could check all ergonomic relationships and fine tune. The crew at PSC was most helpful during this mockup stage as we threw change after change at them.
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But again Jody Culbert III rode into the project with his 3D modeling skills a blazing and we embarked on a long series of 3D modeling options. As I have mentioned before, all I have to do is mention a feature and how I see it and Jody can read my mind. I’d say in all honesty that Jody can match my image in 3D almost exactly 92.75% of the time. We speak the same language and share a love of similar boats. Before long we had massaged the deck of CATARI into what we all thought was an attractive looking deck. We came back and revisited the pilot house after the first full size mock up revealed that we could use a little more shape to the forward end. We also came back some time later and totally revised the companionway hatch to the center cockpit. I have fun with Jody sharing his computer screen with me so I can sit here and watch Jody manipulate the shapes. “Can you pull that corner back 2”?” Done.
The interior layout is the product of countless hours of revising and refining. There was hardly anything we did not explore. The galley must have gone through a dozen iterations. Final design details were only arrived at with the expert full size mockup work of the PSC crew.

Finding the right builder can be a challenge too. Paul and I got very lucky in that Steve Brodie and the crew at Pacific Seacraft showed interest in the project right from the beginning. This is their first totally custom project and they are doing a world class job. For me they are very easy to work with. They communicate frequently and everyone contributes ideas. How can you not like working on a project with a foreman named “Thumper”? Engineering for this project was done by my old friend Ivan Erdevicki in Monte Negro.
My clients can ask for some odd, even weird features. My inclination is to always tell them “Yes, we can do that.” Then curse later. Sometimes we have to cut back a bit on the initial suggestion but I do my best to make it happen without compromising the performance or safety of the boat. In the end I want to be proud of every feature of the boat. While it’s all important to make the client happy I have to make myself happy at the same time. I’m confident in this. I like my boats. If there was an element to a design I did not like then I would change it until I did like it.
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CATARI will be the most complex boat I have ever designed. It has all the comforts of home and then some. I expect the boat to sail very well and to be a standout in any harbor. This has been a most enjoyable project with a very appreciative client and an excellent builder. This has truly been a team effort. I like that. I can put together a great team.
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