>FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which size PVC pipe diameter should I use to make my cat? A: You will need to decide first on the total weight of your boat, the crew and cargo at maximum load, double that to get your absolute minimum flotation. Then look at the sizes of PVC pipe available to you and pick the one which will give you the required flotation in a suitable length. You will probably be selecting between 10 and 12 inch diameter. 8 inch is okay for a small cat for kids, or for one adult on a cat with limitations (see below). More on this, see the Flotation Chart.

2. Can I use your plans on DVD to make RebelCat 1, with the yellow sail? A: Yes, you can build it, but let me tell you the reality of such a small cat. It was a lot of fun as a first attempt, and if I was a kid of 12 years, I would build one. I'm an adult, and there are limitations imposed by a cat made from 8-inch pipe. Flotation is below a safe minimum for an adult, comfort is minimal, controls are basic and performance is limited by small sails. But it was fun! Now that I have built three more larger cats with advanced controls, comfortable seats, large sails, storage space, etc., I appreciate the thrill of sailing comfortably for hours on a cat that really moves. Think about it - if you are going to be out sailing for hours, maybe all day, far from shore, you want to be comfortable, safe and have food, water, emergency gear and other things with you. You can make RebelCat 1 using 10-inch pipe, even 12-inch pipe, to solve the flotation requirement. You can add a more comfortable deck and seats, a taller mast, better controls, storage for gear... and what you would have is RebelCat 5! With the DVD, you can scale your cat up or down. Full description of construction with photos of RebelCat 1, RebelCat 5.

3. How much does it cost to build RebelCat 5? A: You are going to select materials for your cat, and your selection will determine its cost. PVC pipe prices vary widely, and I receive emails often telling me what PVC pipe costs in some state or country. NOTE: You do not want 'schedule 40' grade PVC pipe, you want PIP - Plastic Irrigation Pipe (thinwall) grade, it's the thinnest, lightest and cheapest. It's used for drains, not plumbing under pressure. My DVD details how to make it rigid and safer with bulkheads. Many of the materials you will find at your local building supply, hardware store and other common stores. A few things, like stainless pulleys, you may have to get online, and here's an excellent source for boat supplies: duckworksbbs.com/catalog.html. You may have some or many of the materials at home, saving you money. If you have a salvage yard nearby, that will be the place to get some parts cheap. You may even find PVC drain pipe left at a construction site, but ask before taking it. So the actual cost may vary from $100 to $300 or more, depending on what you can find cheap and what you have already. PVC pipe will be the most expensive part to buy, but I found a place in New Mexico (Sierra Irrigation) that has great pipe at low prices. I got 40' of 10" pipe for $87. Full details of RebelCat 5

4. How long will it take me to make a cat using your plans? A: Well, how long does it take you to do things with tools? I made RebelCat 5 in two months, but you will not be doing what I did. I was designing as I went, I made parts I never used, I was filming and photographing every step - doubling the time - and I had already made three cats from PVC pipe. A person capable with tools who can get the materials together can probably make RebelCat 5 in one or two weeks. Check out the team that made five cats in one day here.

5. Can I sail in the ocean with a RebelCat? A: The short answer is 'not recommended'. The reasons are that oceans are far more unpredictable than lakes and can be treacherous, even for boats that are designed for the ocean. These boats break up and sink with their crews every year. RebelCats are designed for the calmer waters of lakes. There are cats which can be assembled and which sail in the ocean, but they are expensive to make or buy and to maintain. RebelCats are designed for people who want to make their own sailboat from locally-available materials, using hand tools, without fiberglass and resin, without costly stainless steel boat fittings, and without learning new boatbuilding skills. RebelCats are not HobieCats and don't try to be. For ocean sailing, I suggest buying a used HobieCat or other racing cat. But be prepared for expensive parts and repairs. Search for a replacement part on the Web, like a mast or sail, and notice that you can build an entire RebelCat 5 for less! Please don't email me to ask if you can sail your RebelCat in the ocean on calm days or in small chop. Of course you can, IF you are an experienced cat sailor and remain close to shore and keep an eye on the weather.

6. How do I attach the X to the Y? A: Buy my DVD! I receive many, many emails every day, and I am often asked how to make or connect or attach or shape or... The best answer I have is to buy my DVD. It will save you all of the money, research and experimentation I have invested and years of your life. To achieve a mature and tested sailboat design is a major undertaking, and that is what I offer on my DVD. I have spent thousands of dollars and eight years developing this design. I tested RebelCat 5 for a year, made minor changes and improvements, and the DVD is the result of all of those years, that investment and experimentation. I simply don't have the time to teach by email. However... If you buy my DVD and need help with your own cat, don't hesitate to contact me for advice or help. Also, this web site may one day have a section or forum for helping those who are building a RebelCat using the DVD.

7. Can you come to my town and teach a class on building your catamaran? A: It's possible. If you have a group - club, school, organization - and want me to conduct a workshop on building a RebelCat, use the contact link on this site, telling me what you are planning. I think the RebelCat design would be perfect for high schools and boating clubs, so if you want to plan such an event, let me know.

8. Can you build a RebelCat for me? A: No, but thanks so much for the offer! I'm quite busy with my own projects. But if you have a group, see number 7. On the other hand, if you're wealthy, we might find a nice figure we both agree on!

9. PVC pipe costs $$$ here in XYZ city/state/country. A: Okay, it wasn't a question, more of a concern, but I get emails all the time with this. Again, make sure you ask for PIP (Plastic Irrigation Pipe) type PVC pipe, NOT 'schedule 40', which is thick-walled and intended for plumbing and higher pressure. PIP is the thinnest, lightest and cheapest PVC pipe available, so check again on the price, AND shop around as prices vary. The pipe you want is used for irrigation, and it comes in diameters like 8, 10, 12 and 15 inches (in the USA, metric in other places). I have bought and used all of those sizes for RebelCats. The ideal sizes for me are 10 and 12 inch, depending on the maximum load. See my DVD for a more thorough discussion of load, diameter and flotation. Also see the Flotation Chart. Update: This is large irrigation pipe, so contact irrigation suppliers which sell to large contractors building golf courses and supplying agriculture. If your area has agriculture, it's probable that there are irrigation suppliers there also. You want the thinnest PIP (there are three or four which correspond with pressure).

10. What kind of sails do I need for a RebelCat? A: Any kind you want. Sailboats are vehicles, sails are the motors that make them go. You can adapt many motors to fit in a car and make it go. You can also adapt many kinds of sails to make a sailboat go. Catamarans 'typically' have tall, narrow sails, but RebelCats are not at all typical, hence the name. RebelCats are not designed for racing with one hull flying out of the water, but they do go faster than monohulls for sure. So you don't need a tall, fully-battened, racing catamaran sail. But you do need sails, so you have several choices. Sew your own from Dacron polyester (expensive); sew your own from polyester fabric from Wal Mart (much cheaper); make them from polytarp or Tyvek (cheap!) - free plans and designs on the Web (search 'polytarp sail', 'Tyvek sail'); buy a used sail on craigslist or eBay; have someone make a sail for you (friend: cheap; stranger: $$$). So you see, there are many possibilities for putting a 'motor' on your sailboat. I bought a used book on sailmaking through Amazon and started making sails on a sewing machine, and so far all but one worked well, and that one can be fixed. My DVD shows how I made sails for RebelCat 5, but you will need more guidance to make your own. It is beyond the scope of my DVD to teach sail-making.

11. Can I use inflatable pontoons in place of PVC pipe? A: Probably, but you will have to modify the design. The parts of the cat which attach to the pontoons are all held in position with tie-down straps, and they are tight. To use the same method on softer inflatable pontoons would require another attachment method, because the pontoons would gain a 'waist' at each attachment point. Inflatables would need additional material and hardware or straps glued on top to receive and hold the eight load-bearing parts of the boat, and/or a board along the top to distribute the weight.

12. Why does it take 90 minutes to assemble RebelCat 5 before sailing? A: Every sailboat design has advantages and disadvantages over other designs. In order to design a cat which is easy to make with ordinary hand tools from locally-available materials, without fiberglass and resin, without special boatbuilding skills, I designed one which has the added advantage that it can travel on a roofrack, eliminating the need to pull a boat trailer. To achieve that, the cat is made of pieces which are assembled on the shore. This assembly takes time. RebelCat 5 has controls and features you may not find on other sailboats, and these additional controls and features must be added and adjusted during assembly. If you want a faster setup time, you can carry the cat on a trailer assembled. Also, 90 minutes is ONE person doing everything. If you have a helper who knows what to do, you can cut this time in half. See the construction and assembly of RebelCat 5 here. Update: I recently helped a friend get his HobieCat 16 ready to sail. It was on a trailer. He was unable to step the mast alone, so I helped with that. Then I watched as he added rudders, stays, sails and so on. It was close to an hour before he was ready to launch his cat from the trailer, and that took 15 minutes.

13. When will your DVD be ready? A: Ready.

14. Are you going to build the new version of RebelCat 1? When? A: I have already designed that new version, called RebelCat 6, bought the PVC pipe, and do plan to eventually build it. I can't promise a date. If you want to build the new version of that little yellow-sail cat, then you can use the same plans on DVD as for RebelCat 5, just scale it down. Personally, I would not use 8-inch pipe again for an adult cat, but for kids it would be fine. See the Flotation Chart before you build a cat.

15. What should I consider when deciding on the length of the pontoons? A: Two VERY important things: flotation and comfort. Longer pontoons means more flotation, and you have to get this right! See the Flotation Chart. Comfort here means the kind of ride you want. Rule: As the hull (pontoon) length doubles, the ride becomes 16 times gentler. That's right. If you have a ten-foot cat, riding on it will be 16 times more bumpy than on a 20-foot cat. Why? Because if chop is coming at you at a steady 10-foot interval, a 10-foot cat is going up and down over every wave. Up, down, up down... like a rocking horse. The 20-foot cat is riding on the crests and hardly dipping at all, because there are always two crests under the hulls. As a wave leaves the back of the pontoon, another crest arrives at the front, and there is one in the middle. If you observe both cats sailing side by side, the short one is rocking up and down, mast leaning forward then back, while the long cat is gliding smoothly along. I've been sailing all over on RebelCat 5 in the 21-foot extended length, and it is sooo smooth. I love it! The modular design of RebelCat 5 allows me to sail a long boat without much extra weight - just two 6-foot extensions at 30 pounds each with 408 pounds extra flotation in the two. So actual additional flotation is 348 pounds (408-60). And the extra six feet make the ride more of a glide, even in choppy water. ATTENTION: This is the most important decision you will make - the length of your pontoons - so plan carefully. Ever ride on a Hobie 14 catamaran? Up and down, up and down. A 14-foot cat, with little flotation in the points of the pontoons, is a rocker. Before you make a short cat, ride on one, then ride on a longer cat to compare. The modular design of RebelCat 5 gives you both, so you can configure your cat for how you want to sail. See the modular pontoons of RebelCat 5.

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