>RebelCat 5 - The Cat I Love Most
After RebelCat 4, there was still a cat
missing - the one that anyone could make. Nobody was
going to make a RebelCat 4 -
it was huge, complex... in short, it was simply beyond most
people's ability. So now it was time to go back to those
10-inch pipes and make the cat I had started BEFORE I saw
Waterworld and got 'inspired'. I documented the whole
adventure. Here it is...
||Look familiar? Starting RebelCat 5
in the same way as 4, because I found it to be
logical. I first find the place I want to sit
on the cat, then design the deck and the rest
of the cat around me. Here, just like on RC 4,
I'm sitting over the water. At this point, I'm
still 'feeling' how the cat will evolve -
nothing is decided.
||Now that I know what I want, I
start creating the deck frame. It will be wide
enough for two adults sitting side by side on
||Exterior latex paint, four coats,
has worked really well. No more boat resin on
these parts. Sun and water have not affected
||The wooden parts of the deck are
done. The aft spreader and rudder are coming
along. These pipes, which I've had now for a
long time, will not be on the finished cat.
They are just really convenient as a base for
building the cat. The cat's pipes are in the
||Unusual for a cat, a pivoting
centerboard, and it works phenomenally well. It
tucks up under the deck when launching and
beaching and can be set in five positions.
||Sealing the rudder and centerboard
with some boat resin I had leftover. Epoxy
resin is not as smelly as polyester.
This pontoon bow has just been heat-shaped,
and the overlapping PVC pieces coated with
glue. The weight holds the two flaps together
until the glue dries.
Heat-shaping is a technique I developed
while making RebelCat 4. It was so successful
at creating wedge-shaped, wave-piercing bows on
the pontoons that I have advanced the technique
for RebelCat 5. You have to see this cat
gliding through chop to appreciate how
hydrodynamic these hulls are. As I appear to
have invented this technique for large PVC
pipe, you probably won't see it anywhere
||Heat-shaping is now complete, and
the sanded hull is primed with white to cover
the dark spots so they don't show through the
final paint job. Krylon Fusion works great on
PVC. Leaves no smell, bonds well and doesn't
fade in the sun.
||A chalk-line grid on the concrete
tells me exactly where my sail should be. Here
I transfer the design from my computer printout
to the grid, then cut the sail out.
||A sail-track on the mast is a
modern concept. It's a channel in the mast
where the leading edge (luff) of the mainsail
(which has a rope sewn in it) is inserted and
follows the channel to the top of the mast.
This holds the sail firmly to the mast. I
invented an alternative sail-track for aluminum
pipe, which obviously doesn't have one. It's
very cheap and works great. You can see it
completed in the photo below.
||The aluminum mast, showing the
forestay (left), the pulley for the jib halyard
above the eye for the stay (top left), and one
of the sidestays (bottom right). The rope
creates temporary sidestays to hold up the mast
while the real stays are cut to length.
||Traffic cones for the tail of each
pontoon. Not glamorous, but they actually
perform so well that there is no wake at all
behind RebelCat 5. They are glued and riveted
to short pipe rings for attaching to the
pontoons or pontoon extensions.
||My new way to close the top of
traffic cones - wooden knobs bolted from the
||Storage trays under the deck
covers hold lots of things one needs close by,
like extra rope, food, water, tools, radio,
first aid, warm clothes, rain gear, etc. They
are sewn from polyester fabric and screwed
inside the deck frame under the covers. The
yellow square in the tray is painted cardboard
to add stiffness.
||The storage trays need some help
from a zigzag of nylon cord to keep them from
sagging. The blue webbings are hiking straps.
Slip your feet under them and you can lean out
over the water during strong wind.
||Good sail control requires a
traveler, and this one is easy to make from
polyester rope and a pulley. A block and becket
form the lower part of the mainsheet pulley
arrangement. The hooks are for a rear cargo
net. One hook needs to be screwed in.
||Assembly on a lake shore begins
with support spacers which hold the pontoons at
the right width for the cat to be built on
them. Each pontoon is made of two sections,
held together by couplers. This is the 21-foot
extended version of RebelCat 5. By putting the
cones on just the aft sections, the cat is
15 feet long. The two 6-foot extensions add
about 350 pounds of flotation.
||The couplers are on, making one
long pontoon from two sections. I think I
invented this too. Have you ever seen a
catamaran with pontoons made from two sections?
||Over the couplers is the deck. In
back is the aft spreader and rudder assembly.
In front, the bowsprit and fore spreader
connect to the deck.
||The mast sections are connected
and fitted with stays and halyards, then the
mast is stepped and the boom added. Deck and
seat cushions are strapped on. Centerboard is
pinned in place and rudder controls added.
Sheets are threaded through their blocks.
||Actually a photo from another
assembly, this shows me attaching the jib to
the forestay prior to launch. We raised the jib
while in the water.
||Fully assembled on Beaver Lake,
Arkansas. Assembly by one person takes about 90
minutes, half that for two people who know what
to do. The cat can be carried either from under
the seats or by the fore and aft
Light winds on Grand Lake, Oklahama give us
a chance to swim. Many parts of the cat are
suitable for diving from it into the water.
Getting back on board is very easy, and the cat
is so stable that walking around on it and
diving from it cannot tip it over. I don't
fish, but I suppose this kind of stable and
spacious cat would be ideal for it.
As far as sailing, it moves
quickly (see video on Home page) in the
slightest breeze, due to the large sails and
little resistance to the water. It sails very
quietly - there is no swirl of turbulent water
behind the cat, no wake at all, due to the
hydrodynamic shape of the cones at the
It sails very close to the wind, that is, it
points extremely well, probably due to the
large centerboard. Cats are notorious for
having to tack a lot to get anywhere. Not this
cat. It sails like a yacht.
The mainsail has reefpoints about a third of
the way up, so it can be made considerably
smaller in minutes. The traveler allows for
adjustments to the sail angle and shape - it is
about 56 inches wide, or most of the width of
the cat. Jib fairlead blocks are also
adjustable to five positions each side.
Cartopping with RebelCat 5 is so easy and
aerodynamic. Since most of the parts are light,
one person can handle them. The largest piece,
the deck, goes up one end at a time. It
beats pulling a trailer.
RebelCat 5 is a
mature and tested design. It sails well, it's
comfortable for long cruises, lots of storage
space - I'm quite pleased with it. If you want
to build one, I have produced a video
shows and explains the entire construction,
step by step. Intro to RebelCat 5
Plans on DVD
Make Your Own
with this step-by-step, how-to DVD.
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