>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...

Measuring future deck 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.
Begin making deck frame 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 one seat.
Painting deck Exterior latex paint, four coats, has worked really well. No more boat resin on these parts. Sun and water have not affected the paint.
Testing newly-painted deck 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 background.
Testing Centerboard position 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 Rudder and Centerboard with resin Sealing the rudder and centerboard with some boat resin I had leftover. Epoxy resin is not as smelly as polyester.
Heat-shaped bow is glued and weighted until dry

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 else.

Heat-shaped bow after priming with white paint 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.
Cutting mainsail 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.
Making a sail track on the mast 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.
Close-up on mast showing stays and eyebolts 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 Cone mounting procedure 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.
Cone tip attachment method My new way to close the top of traffic cones - wooden knobs bolted from the inside.
Storage under deck cover 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.
Underside of deck showing storage supports and hiking straps 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.
Traveler on rear spreader 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.
RebelCat 5 assembly 1 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.
RebelCat 5 assembly 2 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? Nor I.
RebelCat 5 assembly 3 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.
RebelCat 5 assembly 4 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.
RebelCat 5 assembly 4b 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.
RebelCat 5 assembly 5 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 spreaders.

RebelCat 5 sailing in Grand lake, Oklahoma

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 rear.

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.

Carrying RebelCat 5 on a roof rack

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 DVD which shows and explains the entire construction, step by step. Intro to RebelCat 5 here.


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