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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Magic Cat
September 26, 2014
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Most monohull sailboats Felix’s size rely on a heavy keel for stability and to keep them upright. As the boat heels over, the heavy weight acts as a counterbalance, overcoming the sail’s tendency to push the boat on its side.

Not so with Felix. This cat does not have a ballast keel or internal ballast. Instead, to remain upright under sail, she relies on a wide beam. Felix is 14 feet wide. Much like a person standing with their legs spread wide, this makes it harder for the sails to push the boat over on its side.

felix cat boat art terry halpern bow view
The head-on view. In naval architecture terms, the wide beam gives Felix plenty of “form stability”.
felix cat boat art terry halpern stern view
Viewed from aft, the wide beam is especially apparent.
felix cat boat art terry halpern cockpit
A wide, clear view for the helmsman

Art Halpern built Felix with this lack of ballast in mind. For its length, the boat is light. It displaces 8,500 pounds. The weight is concentrated as low as possible in the hull. The diesel engine, stoutly built centerboard case and the centerboard are located just at or below the waterline. The decks are three-quarter inch plywood sheathed in fiberglass. The top of the cabin house is one half inch thick. Instead of heavy stringers, frames and bulkheads, Art says the laminated cabin house sides add most of the longitudinal stiffness.

Higher up, where cutting weight brings the most stability benefits, the boat is built with the lightest materials possible. The carbon fiber mast – at 60+ feet – weighs 125 pounds. Instead of metal wire rigging, the spar is held up with low stretch synthetic line. High tech laminates were used to build the sails.

art terry halpern felix cat boat terminal ends
The intersection of heavy and light materials as viewed from the forward compartment. The dark, carbon fiber mast rests on the mast step in the bottom of the hull.
art terry halpern felix cat boat terminal ends
The mast is held upright with high tech synthetic line. Here, the terminal fittings that secure some of the rigging to the hull.
art terry halpern felix cat boat logo doghouse
For all the emphasis on performance, the boat features some lighter touches such as this cartoon figure inlaid in the front of the wood cabin house. “Felix,” says Art, “was named for the magic cat.”

Up next, building Felix.

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Posted Friday September 26, 2014 by Bernie Harberts

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