Pascagoula Diamond Bottom Catboat MARGARET ROSE

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.

Our boat will be named MARGARET ROSE.

03 Jan 19:

Moved the keel longeron to the Carriage House, took some measurements from the Newport Catboat plans, scaled them to 16 feet.

14 inch rise from the keel up to the bottom of the transom, starting just behind the centerboard trunk slot. We screwed the longeron down to the floor at about 10 1/2 feet.

Centerboard slot runs from about 5 1/2 feet back to 10 1/2 feet.

Tape measures show approximate location of centerboard trunk.

16 Jan 19:

Went back through the Mystic Seaport Museum Watercraft, written by Maynard Bray and published in 1986, looking for catboats around the 16 foot range. A couple popped up, one was SANSHEE, around 15 feet. We ordered a copy of the plans and are taking notes of dimensions, they should be useful to scale for our 16 foot Pascagoula catboat build. We are most interested in different sail rig sizes.

07 May 19:

Float test for the catboat keel batten.

17 Mar 20:

Looked at some drawings by R.D. Pete Culler of a diamond bottom catboat, they'll be good to develop scantlings.

So she got to go to the top of the Marine Traffic Control Board.

04 Apr 20:

Wandering around the Carriage House, worked on the mizzen for our Grumman 17 Scout and took care of a few other items, not all planned orin an expected sequence. When we get distracted by multiple small or large jobs while on the way to do what we set out to do, for instance today it was to work on the mizzen spars for SCOUT, we call that "Yak shaving." As an example, when I pulled out the spars today, I noticed the cork board behind the work bench. That got me to thinking about the catboat that we are designing, and I thought, hey, I can move this cork board real quick to a more accessible area before I start on the spars. So the work bench got rolled out away from the wall, and I saw that the border had fallen off the cork board. Should I fix that or just put the board in the new spot by screwing the frame to the studs? Tried screwing the frame, that didn't work. Take the board back down. Skipper said fix it. I tried putting screws in the corners to hold the frame, which required me to pull out 2 drills, different bits and a hardware box. That didn't work because the particle board frame just crumbled where the screws went in. So i went to find some gaff tape to just tape the corners, that worked.

Next I had to move a couple of tool trolleys to get to the new spot of the cork board and Skipper said, "Hey did you cut yourself?" She said it looked like there was blood on my elbow, I looked around and noticed drips of red on the floor, followed the drips and saw where a bag of red paint had been punctured by an nail when I moved it out of the way of the cork board. So I got the paint wipes, Skipper cleaned me up and I got rid of the bag and cleaned a little where it dripped, but it added some patina. Finally got the cork board moved to the new spot and hey, an hour and a half later, we're finally working on the mizzen spars.

With those yaks shaved, we turned our attention back to the catboat. Laid down a baseline for lofting, marked out 1 foot increments out to 16 feet, actually I first marked out 11 foot 2 inch increments and then realized I goofed that up...too much math...called it a day. We are scaling plans dwon from 17 feet to 16, we'll get some rest and work on that a bit more.

05 Apr 20:

There's the plan and then there's actually what happens. We have Chapelle's line drawing for a 17 foot diamond bottom catboat, and we planned to scale that plan down to 16 feet. Let's see that's .941176 smaller. So I did a bunch of measurements and scribbled all over a copy of the plans and headed out to the Carriage House to transfer those numbers onto a lofting on the Carriage House floor. But first I had to correct my highly calibrated blue tape baseline, and mark off 1 foot increments out to 16 feet. Then I used the square to find a perpendicular at each foot mark, took the steel tape to find the Feet-Inches-Eighths point, make a mark and put in a deck screw.

Somewhere along the way I remembered that I wanted to scale the beam of this boat down from 8'6" inside of plank to 8 feet outside of plank. I thought I could just reduce everything by 10 percent but instead discovered I needed to draw a new sheer line, and get those new measurements off of the new line. Fiddled with the fair curve and came up with a sheer that looks okay, pending Skipper's approval.

If Skipper is happy with it then we can pull new measurements off of the lofting at a few points to get the measurements we need for building molds and bulkheads.

Placed the rough keel batten down to start thinking about keel shape.

01 Jun 20:

Played around with the sheer line for the catboat, gave her a little reverse curve aft of the beam.

And propped the keel batten up to see the shape of the skeg, plus checked out tiller placement.

03 Jun 20:

We referenced Chappelle's 17 foot plans and drew them down to a 16 foot boat with 8 foot beam, did some math and laid out the lines for a transom pattern. Cut out the pattern with a DeWALT 24V XR jigsaw.

05 Jun 20:

Chatted with Carter at East Passage Boatwrights about a few catboat build topics. He strongly recommended solid wood planks for the crossplank bottom vs plywood, lots of extra work sealing the plywood and still a decent chance for water intrusion, so our decision is finalized on that. Skipper probably already knew anyway, she was just waiting for me to catch up. For the bottom planks, 2wo 3/8th inch layers, staggered, with some canvas or batiste in between to act as a membrane to reduce leaks. He says the crossplanking on hard chine hulls really tightens up the hull and fewer frames are needed, which is also what we have seen while reviewing other similar cross planked, deadrise diamond bottom boats. More conversations to come, on scantlings for stringers, transom and stem plus centerboard weight and overall target weight for the 16 foot hull.

16 Jun 20:

We got an order to make cypress handrails for an Alcort Super Sailfish, so I went out to Wilson Lumber to see what they had cut up recently at their sawmill. It was a good excuse to pick up the first batch of boards for the catboat.

Lumberyard video.

The handrails came out great, more on that in another post.

18 Jun 20:

Planned to apply a second coat of TotalBoat WetEdge Fire Red to ZIP but Skipper intervened, said sZIP looks great, we had good coverage, and if I kept painting she would never dry. SO we rolled her out by the flagpole to let the Florida sun bake the finish.

That gave us time to work on MARGARET ROSE. We drew out the keel batten/longeron, Skipper okayed it and I cut out a master batten from cypress with the DeWALT 20V brushless 6 1/2 inch circular saw. I cleaned up the corners of the centerboard slot with the DeWALT 20V jigsaw.

Once we were happy with the master we cut out 3 more layers from 3/4 inch stock, with one layer being from the first pine board we bought when we were fiddling with the design a few months back. We need thickness on the bottom so we can bevel for the Diamond bottom (V bottom) and still have meat left to fasten into. The Sharpie makes a nice saw kerf wide line, easy to see and cut along.

Maybe the boat's name should be SAWDUST, because that is what it looks like we're making.

We screwed the bottom board down to the deck, then screwed each layer to the board below it. Then we hoisted the transom end to get some prebend going, that end needs to rise a little over 12 inches for the final shape. Let me back up a minute, I was sitting in The Moaning Chair trying to figure out whether to prebend first or cut the shape first. Skipper suggested that it might be easier to cut the board if it was flat vs curved, a no brainer.

I was also trying to figure out how to jack the boards from underneath and Skipper suggested that we use her hoist. That worked great, the line raised the end about 8 inches and I got inspired to add a ratchet strap, that raised the boards up to the required 12 1/8 inches.

The skeg was next, how to make a 12 inch tall skeg from boards under 11 inches wide? I ripped some 3/4 inch scrap to 1 1/2 inches wide, then we stacked the strips until we got a stack just over 12 inches. I scribed the keel curve from underneath the keel to the side of the skeg, then tried to carefully carry the enire stack of 16 strips over to the work table, to Skipper's immense entertainment. I almost made it, the last few feet the strips started to delaminate and I got a nice pile on the table. It was easy enough to line them back up based on the scribe mark.

Next I unstacked the strips and dry fastened them together one at a time with #8 silicone bronze screws. This will be our version of drift pins, I may or may not leave the screws in when we epoxy all the strips together in a few days.

Trimmed the curve with the DeWALT 20V brushless jigsaw.

Dry fit the skeg. Which was another question. Fit the skeg to the keel or the keel to the skeg? We are going with skeg to keel. But first we need to epoxy all the skeg strips together and run them through the thickness planer to get the sides smoothed down.

Keel Batten video:

19 Jun 20:

We used the pattern we made a few days back to trace out the transom. The transom will be 1 1/2 inches thick, there will be a lot going on back there with the big bar door rudder and horse for the sail. We'll make it fro two layers of 3/4 inch cypress, each layer is cut from 2 pieces to get the height we need, and we offset the join line on each layer to get the most strength and lower the chance of leaks. The 4 pieces will be fastened with thickened epoxy, with a layer of muslin in between the outer and inner boards to create a watertight membrane.

20 Jun 20:

Went up to Lowes to pick up lumber for the strongback. Pandemic pickings were slim, lumber deliveries from Canada have either slowed or stopped. Skipper's trailer and deck worked out perfect, just the right heighth to slide lumber directly from the cart.

21 Jun 20:

Skipper says why not use the Sunfish Finishing Dolly as a base for the strongback for the catboat build? We took a look at it and it will work great. I tacked on the 2x6x16 lumber, need to cut pieces for the ends next. It is very close to level where it sits but what we will do before we add molds and bulkheads is pick a spot on the Wheel Deck and get everything level, shim as needed. Might even add 2x4 "landing gear" that swing down when the strongback is going to be in place for several days like we did with the Penobscot. The strongback will stay outside while we are in the cutting and sanding phases, and we can move it inside the Carriage House as needed, for final fittings and paint.

The top of the 2x6 just clears the swivel bunks, perfect!

Capn Jack's chocks, he made a lot of them.

24 Jun 20:

Cut the rungs for the ladder frame strongback out of pressure treated 1x6 deck boards. We are using pressure treated lumber because these parts will live outside most of the time. The ends were cut from PT 2X6. 3 feet seemed like a good width for the rungs.

Strongback video:

27 Jun 20:

Made some parts for the Pascagoula Diamond Bottom catboat MARGARET ROSE, glued together 4 pieces to make the transom, stuck them together with TotalBoat THIXO Wood and sandwiched a strip of muslin in between the outer and inner layers of cypress. The muslin will help ensure a watertight membrane between the laminated layers. Light clamping while it dries. Also stacked, glued and screwed strips of cypress to make a skeg aka deadwood. Then we started considering the bow stem profile, the stem pattern from our Penobscot 14 is a good start.

The transom will be laminated up with 2 pieces of 3/4 inch thick cypress (top and bottom) per layer, and 2 layers. We offset the location of the horizontal seam on each layer. We will glue the pieces together with TotalBoat THIXO Wood from Jamestown Distributors, a wood colored thickened epoxy adhesive, dispensed from a Newborn 18:1 High Thrust Caulk gun.

Dispensed the THIXO and spread it out with a putty knife. Also put THXO in the seam. We placed a layer of muslin between the layers of the transom, to help make sure there was a good fill with the THIXO and to create a watertight membrane. The next transom layer is laying nearby, and the offset seam is visible.

We used the plastic putty knife the force the muslin down into the THIXO, then added a skim coat of THIXO on top of that. We also put a coat of THIXO on the inside face of the second layer of the transom.

Had some fun with the THIXO. We appreciate the support of the team at Jamestown Distributors, they are always handy for Tech Team help and send us complimentary goodies to try out on our restorations.

4 transom pieces laminated, ready for clamps.

Light clamping for thickened epoxy, just enough to see a tiny bead squeeze out of the seams. Too much pressure can force all of the adhesive out and there would be a glue starved joint.

Next we turned out attention to the skeg (deadwood). We put a bead of THIXO between each layer and then screwed the layers back together one at a time. The Frearson Head silicone bronze screws will hold the cypress strips together as the epoxy dries and they will be captured in place and act as small drift pins.

Before we took the dry skeg apart we numbered each layer and drew an alignment line, the line helps get the pice lined up so the screw can find its old screw hole.

Skeg video:

Tiny beads of epoxy squeezeout are best, we have a few dry spots that need attention.

We used the DeWALT 20V brushless drill with pilot hole countersink bit to make a few new screw holes, the DeWALT 20V brushless impact driver to drive the Frearson Head silicone bronze screws from Jamestown Distributors and the THIXO to glue everything together.


We used the putty knife to spread excess epoxy into the dry seams.

Here's a trick shared by Louis at Tips From a Shipwright, we placed a few screws under the sked to hold it up off of the table while it was drying.

Lamination Tips:

Shifted our attention to marking a centerline on the ladder frame strongback. Pulled a tight line then marked the line on each station crossmember.

We'll need to make a bow stem pattern, took a look at the pattern from our Penobscot 14 to see how it might look.

29 Jun 20:

We spent the afternoon pondering stem shapes for MARGARET ROSE, compared the stem pattern from our Penobscot 14 to the stem of the 1880s Newport Diamond Bottom catboat. So far we like the sleeker shape of the Penobscot. One more stem to throw into the mix, it's a secret. Stay tuned.

03 Jul 20:

We sanded the transom with 120 grit discs on a DeWALT 20V random orbital sander.

The skeg would fit through the DeWALT Tabletop Planer so we ran it through to remove excess epoxy and get the laminations smoothed out.

09 Jul 20:

We considered several shapes for the bow stem on MARGARET ROSE, and settled on hybrid shape that drew elements from our Penobscot 14 ST. JACQUES' stem and the stem on our O'Day Day Sailer II CYANE. CYANE's bow is what Capn Jack called a Destroyer bow, almost plumb and full at the foot, so we used the upper 2/3 for that shape and used the quick run to horizontal from the Penobscot stem.

Cut the shape of the inner stem out of pattern plywood with our DeWALT 20V jigsaw, it still purrs like a kitten.

Smoothed the edges to get rid of splinters and sanded off the multiple stem shapes we had drawn with a 120 grit disc on the DeWALT 20V random orbital sander.

Clamped the inner stem to the keel to see if we like the fair curves.

12 Jul 20:

To make the inner stem for our Pascagoula Diamond Bottom Catboat MARGARET ROSE we cut 4 layers of 3/4 inch cypress. Each layer was made from 2 pieces cut from 12 inch wide stock, and we alternated seams each layer. Layers were glued together with TotalBoat THIXO Wood, a thickened epoxy dispensed with a Newborn 18:1 Hight Thrust caulk gun. We put in several temporary deck screws to keep the 8 bits from sliding around and clamped until we saw a small bead of epoxy squeezeout along the seams. Too much clamp pressure could squeeze out all of the adhesive.

To make the inner stem for our Pascagoula Diamond Bottom Catboat MARGARET ROSE we cut 4 layers of 3/4 inch cypress. Each layer was made from 2 pieces cut from 12 inch wide stock, and we alternated seams each layer. Layers were glued together with TotalBoat THIXO Wood, a thickened epoxy dispensed with a Newborn 18:1 Hight Thrust caulk gun. We put in several temporary deck screws to keep the 8 bits from sliding around and clamped until we saw a small bead of epoxy squeezeout along the seams. Too much clamp pressure could squeeze out all of the adhesive.


2 part thickened epoxy adhesive dispensed from an 18:1 High Thrust caulk gun, the resin and hardener mix in the mixing tube. That saves an enormous amount of time, we skip the measuring and mixing and filler dust. #totalboat

We aligned the 8 pieces and drove in a few temporary deck screws to keep the pieces form sliding around under clamp pressure. Then clamped with light pressure until we saw small beads of epoxy squeeze out of the seams. Next we smoothed the excess epoxy down to ensure full seam coverage and to reduce finish sanding later.

Jamestown Distributors donated the TotalBoat THIXO to MARGARET ROSE, we appreciate their support and love the simplicity and speed of THIXO from a tube. #totalboat

Care package for MARGARET ROSE! Jamestown Distributors donated 5:1 Epoxy resin with their Special Clear Hardener and silica filler, WetEdge colors Sea Green, Black and Bristol Beige, Gleam Satin varnish and a lot of THIXO Wood. We'll use the epoxy mix for larger batches, and the Special Clear Hardener will save time when we seal some pieces like the inside of the centerboard trunk. The Special Clear Hardener will not blush, so we don't have to rinse between coats.

TotalBoat ships free in CONUS. FMI: Jamestown Distributors Tech Team (800) 497-0010 Try our discount code LEWISBOATS if you have a JD account and check out online.

13 Jul 20:

Air Temp 88 F, Dewpoint 82 F, Heat Index 104 F so we are hiding in the air conditioning. Winds gusty all day too, 15 knots gusting over 20 at times. So if you like windy saunas, head to Florida!

We'll be learning a new planking method with MARGARET ROSE, diamond bottom cross planked. She was planked that was for expediency and because those were the materials available, off cuts from the shipyard. We are chatting with a few folks about the method and referencing some photos from Pete Culler's book Skiffs and Schooners.

We did sneak out long enough to see how the inner stem might look.

And if you're wondering if you could evere build boats, Pete Culler said... 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.


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