The Catboat Era:
"Each page is an adventure in maritime history, a peek into the past of a small city still thriving on boats of a much different nature."
—Sharon Brown, Messing About in Boats
". . . The Catboat Era's fruitful, primary-source research, generally clear writing, and many wonderful photos deliver a rare and meaningful contribution to our understanding of one of America's most unique and enduring sailboats—and of a mighty interesting little city."
—Stan Grayson, WoodenBoat Magazine
"The Newport cat-boat is famous the world over for her handiness, speed, and ability. . . . I never saw one of them come to grief, and in fact they have always impressed me as being the handiest all-round boat afloat."
—Captain A. J. Kenealy in Boat Sailing in Fair Weather and Foul, 1905
When we think of Newport at the end of the nineteenth century, we think of life lived large—big houses, big yachts, big money. But like the diversity of people to be found in any waterfront town, there was a diversity of watercraft in Newport waters. In among the yachts are found the workboats and other small craft. John Leavens took a look back at the humble catboat, and found a wealth of information about its origin, its builders, and its owners. These small sailboats with their masts well forward served as fishing boats, livery craft, and pleasure boats, and were seen everywhere it turns out, in Newport waters. Combining years of research, conversations with waterfront habitués, and a fine collection of period photographs, John brought together the full story of Newport cats but passed away before it could be published.
Lawyer and management expert John Leavens (1907-1987) loved catboats—his own Herbert Crosby-built 21' 11" Pinkletink, first of all, and then every other catboat, catboat builder, and catboat sailor. With Paul and Molly Birdsall and the able assistance of his first mate, Pinkie, he founded The Catboat Association in 1962. He wrote extensively for the Catboat Bulletin, and in 1973 pulled together his accumulated knowledge and contacts to write The Catboat Book.
A former curator at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Judy Lund writes on a variety of maritime and local history subjects. Currently historian of The Catboat Association and a member of its Steering Committee, she has taken on the task of bringing John's manuscript to the boating community.
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Avenue
Gardiner, Maine 04345