Catboat construction

Back to Main Story:Clubhouse for catboats

These vessels were so-called because of their cat-rigged sails at the bow which were traditionally made from flour sack-cloth.

In Cayman, these catboats were double-ended to make it easier to haul turtles overboard, load goods and maneuver the vessel.

The wooden frames were constructed from the locally-grown plopnut tree, the planks from cedar, and the keels and gunnels from mahogany, all hand-crafted using rudimentary tools.

Usually varying in size from around 12 to 30 feet, catboats had a shallow keel, ideal for the waters inside Cayman’s reefs.

The hulls were traditionally painted blue as this was said to make them invisible to turtles, while black and white lines around the gunwales of the hull were said to look like clouds when seen from beneath the water.