13 Jul 17:
We are looking for any information on Diamond Bottom catboats built and raced in Pascagoula in the 1950s. Mr Olsen (sp?) was one builder who worked at Mike Flecha's shipyard. We know of several that were built named SEA SPRITE, VAGABOND, REBEL, DRIFTWOOD, MOONLIGHT, TROUBLE and BLACK CAT. By description the bottom was cross planked and the sheer planked lengthwise, with only 6 inches or so of sheer. Hull made from cypress. Frames and spars from longleaf pine. Centerboard with a barn door rudder.
It is possible that this is a similar design from the 1880s, the lines were drawn by Chapelle in 1953, taken from a half model at the Newport Yacht Club. The boat was fast and never beaten in the 2 years that it raced.
05 Aug 17:
Chapelle's lines of the 1870s diamond bottom catboat arrived from the Smithsonian today.
We scaled the lines down to 16 feet and laid out the outline. Looks like there will be plenty of room in the cockpit for 2 adults or 4 kids.
15 Jan 18:
Scratched together a paper model of a 17 foot Diamond Bottom Catboat, lines taken by Chapelle in 1953 from a half model he saw at the Newport Yacht Club. The boat raced from 1880-1882. We are researching a similar 16 foot catboat that was raced around Pascagoula in the 1950s, and once we get enough information we plan to build one, gaff rigged, with a cross planked bottom. Only 2 of those frames would be used for the fore and aft bulkhead in the cockpit, the rest are just paper showing the cross sections. The cross planks would be 4-6 inches wide, and get smaller in width towards the bow. Inside the hull there would be 6 stringers running fore and aft. Cross plank builds were fast and economical, very few parts to cut, stem, keel, transom, centerboard trunk to form the spine. Put in 2 permanent bulkheads and a few temporary molds to define the beam and sheer, attach the sides, then start laying planks. Flip her right side up and put on the deck. Looks like there would be room in the cockpit for a horseshoe shaped seat.
20 Jan 18:
We have been quizzing our Biloxi buddies, Russ and Buddy, about Gulf Coast catboats. Buddy mentioned a 16 foot cross planked, lapstrake boat designed by Peter Culler and offered to send us some of the plan drawings for us to look at. One thing we are especially interested in is the dimensions to the gaff rig, at 182 square feet it is quite impressive.
Buddy is sending the rest of the plans and maybe that will give us some more ideas on cross plank construction. Thanks to Russ and Buddy for keeping the Gulf Coast boating heritage alive!
08 Dec 18:
Picked up a 1"x8"x16' piece of select pine to sketch out the lines for the keel. Trying it out on an inexpensive piece of lumber first, and then we may switch to cypress.
We also wanted to see if the lumber would take the 1-6-0 (foot and a half) rise up to the transom. It will.
10 DEC 18:
Confirmed today the the correct name for the Ford family boat was SEA SPRITE. She was white on the sides with light green deck and cockpit. Black trim, white rudder, green tiller with black on the end. The girls took the rudder home at the end of the day to prevent the boat from sailing itself away, Margaret reports that the rudder was quite heavy for a teenager to carry :) Back in the 50s the boats were moored just off the beach, stored on the porch during the off season.
...to be continued...
We need information, especially dimensions for a moderate sized gaff rig spars and sail. Please post a note here if you have info or send us a private message on facebook Small Boat Restoration.