A 17′5″ (5.30m) catboat gunkholer

by Laurie McGowan

BLACKTIP catboat.

From WB No. 256, May/June 2017: Featured in Design Sketchbook from WoodenBoat Magazine. BLACKTIP is a step up from cabinless camp-cruisers. With two small two-berths, sitting headroom, and a cookstove, the boat offers more comfort and convenience. The cat rig is lightweight and easy to handle.

The bimini top offers ample protection from the harsh Australian sun. It must be easily and quickly stowable, in case a big wind comes up or the crew needs to stand up in the cockpit. The relatively wide beam offers good form stability, and the full sections forward will keep the bow from depressing under sailing loads. The spars are of carbon fiber—though they may also be built of wood. The swing-back bowsprit handles either a gennaker or an asymmetrical spinnaker.


  • LOA: 17′ 5″ (5.30m)
  • LWL: 17′ 3″ (5.26m )
  • Beam: 7′ 10″ (2.39m )
  • Draft: 9′ to 4″ (0.20–1.22m)
  • Displacement: 1,770 lbs (803 kg)
  • Ballast: 531 lbs (241 kg)
  • Working sail area: 235 sq ft (21.83 m2)
  • Downwind sail area: 412 sq ft (38.28 m2)
  • Displacement/length ratio: 154
  • Ballast/displacement ratio: 0.30
  • Prismatic coefficient: 0.59
  • Working sail area/displacement ratio: 25.7
  • Outboard: 2–3kW electric

Laurie McGowan is a Nova Scotia–based boat designer with a diverse on- and below-water work history. He specializes in energy-efficient commercial and pleasure boats. More of his work may be found at

Do you have a boat concept you’d like to see Laurie McGowan develop on these pages? If so, send it to Sketchbook, WoodenBoat Publications, P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616, or email it to Your letter should be no longer than 500 words.

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