Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sailing A Gaff Rigged Cat Boat

Com-Pac Horizon Cat

We met Bob and Linda from Illinois last year at a Com-Pac sailboat gathering referred to as the CLR (Carlyle Lake Rendezvous). They just recently bought a condo down here in Punta Gorda and called to see if we could get together. It just so happened that another Com-Pac sailor (Bryan) lives in this area and he was hoping to get together as well. It worked out perfectly that Bob, Linda, Bryan, Brenda and I met at Fishermen's Village Marina for a tour of Wrinkles and lunch.

We decided that lunch and a cold beverage at Laishley's Crab House was in order. We ate some very tasty meals and talked about our love of sailing and sailboats. How nice it is to chat with people that have similar interests. The conversation came around to going out for a sail the next day which sounded wonderful to Brenda and I. We quickly agreed to hop aboard Bob and Linda's Horizon Cat the next afternoon. Bryan graciously offered a ride in his Eclipse as well, but we have sailed on that model already and we have always wanted a chance to play with a gaff-rigged catboat.

Bob picked us up at Harpoon Harry's dock near our boat and we motored out to meet Bryan who was sailing on another friend's boat. Linda happily stayed home as she isn't a huge sailing fan. She was excited that Bob would have fellow sailors to share his love of sailing for an afternoon. Bob fired up the15 hp inboard diesel auxiliary which really scoots the Horizon Cat along. Then he raised the big sail and began telling us a bit about the extra spar and control lines that a gaff-rigged boat uses. We didn't have great winds, but there was enough to get a decent feel for how she sailed. This salty looking sailboat features a wooden wheel that just seems right.

Bob at the helm.

When Bob offered me the wheel I jumped at the chance to play with a new toy. I slowly figured out a few of the nuances of this type of rig, but I could see that some experience would be required to make it perform. Sail shape can be adjusted in different ways than a mainsail. At times Bob would adjust the sail to a point I would have bet wouldn't provide forward power and yet it did. Hmmm, I think he knows what he is doing.

Mike and Bob
Bob and Brenda enjoying the day.

I experimented by steering well past pinching and then getting the wind too far aft. I was having fun learning her quirks, (steering an "S" shape is a point of sail isn't it?) but I could see Bob was itching to regain control and make her sail properly. Once Bob had control again we started sailing nicely and just enjoyed being out on a beautiful sailboat. We traded the helm a few times until the sun began to bake us. 92 degrees without a bimini gets pretty hot after a while.

We decided to call it a day and Bob expertly motored us up to the dock to drop us off. Thanks for the wonderful day Bob. We truly enjoyed your company and the opportunity to experience a cat boat.


1 comment:

  1. I remember meeting Bob and Linda at last years CLR and had a delightful sail and chat aboard their Horizon cat. Wonderful folks.