Letter from John Lack – with News and Recommendations

Catalac Catamaran Maintenance Issues

Dear Association Member

Well, here we are, yet another year flown past and still without the association spares listing. Whilst I am pleased to report that we have been so busy this last season, it is not particularly helpful to you, nor indeed of any assistance to my turnover. My apologies!

As the year aged towards its close, I learnt that a winding up order had been placed against Catalac Cruising Catamarans Ltd. Lest reprisals be taken, I understand that this does not affect John Williams, the contracted boat builder. So again “production” has ceased on the Catalac range.

Whilst we obviously promote and exhibit a strong association to the Catalac and will continue to do so, we have branched out at a tangent and formed Quay Rigging Ltd. with the added bonus of being selected Kemp Mast Service Agents, covering Lymington to Weymouth.

It is sheer coincidence, and certainly not a promotion for Quay Rigging, that my annual hints and tips should contain a section on rigging, following failure noted during this last season. If space allows, I have also included a section describing rigging for the modern yacht, which I hope will prove interesting.

Well, enough of the chatter head down to our findings and comments.


A slow trickle of gearbox problems still recur, associated to slipping between the drive cones. This is normally due to incorrect connection between the Morse control cable and the gear box lever on the earlier 7.5 h.p. models, which most of you have. The spring loaded connector (sprung loaded) should be on the bottom hole of the gearbox lever. We have encountered many with seized connectors, so please do check yours and make sure the spring system is free-moving and well greased. The later models have a rectangular solid connector.

Another cause has been when the controls have been “locked” into forward gear whilst sailing to “save wear on the shaft and stern gear”. You should have it “locked” in ASTERN. Incidentally, if you are putting the engine into gear whilst sailing to avoid the “rattle”, then you ought to check your cutless bearings and the state of the packing in the stuffing box.

We noted last season, associated to the age of the installation, that the Yanmar soft mounts are starting to delaminate, so I would suggest that these are checked as part of your winter programme. Replacements are not cheap but, compared to an engine potentially running amok in the engine space, the cost savings are there!!

Loom connectors are proving another source of unanticipated aggravation. These are the plug/socket connectors sited adjacent to the port aft engine mount. Lack of inspection and regular greasing has proved “fatal”. Whilst you are down in the depths, liberally covered in grease, cursing the amount of gear loosely stowed there, don’t forget the bilge pumps and float switches under the engines. Now is the time to check connections and clear away any accumulated debris.


….. and the doors of 9 metres seem to suffer worst. Obviously, there is very little that can be done to stop the dedicated thief but, on the 9M. the addition of a brass hasp and staple fitted to the door and sliding hatch face, will inhibit the use of a jimmy to spring the door open or fracture the laminate at the top section, for access to the lock internally.

Derek Oakley of Batticat 11 reported entry to his 8M. via the forward “escape” hatches, where the s.s. pins to the black nylon hinges were simply pushed out. Mr. Oakley is considering gluing the pins in, but I consider, without the pivot facility available to both halves of the hinge, failure may occur to the nylon. My immediate thought at the time was to fit a further thumbscrew device (as used to lock these hatches at present) under the hinge end of the hatch. Has anyone any better ideas please? Since drafting this letter, Mr. Oakley has suggested that a headed rod with a split ring or pin might at least slow the potential intruder down enough to make him give up.


… fortunately, no masts down unaided that I know of, except for one whom I will not name, for fear of embarrassment, but whom I know well enough for me to pass on to you all for the purpose of education, DO NOT FORGET TO DO UP THE BOTTLESCREW under the Rotostay prior to going home reflecting on your achievements in raising the mast manually. I didn’t ask, when required to quote for a new wheelhouse!

The original builders undertook the standing rigging in-house, using a talurit (copper) swage to compress the wire end onto the wire body, thus holding the s.s. thimble into place. The wire construction is 1 x 19 and, by the very nature of the job it was intended to do, is not at all flexible, (7 x 19 and 7×7 being those more commonly used for wire\rope halliards, steering wires etc.) Accordingly, a great deal of unfair strain and misalignment of the separate strands was “encountered” at the outset. By age process, these tight curves with the stress put on them are starting to break up, not only the wire strands themselves but the thimbles are “fracturing” across the body. So please, all of you, do check yours. Not just at deck level, up aloft as well. Remember, a replacement mast is now over £1,000, let along the damage it can cause, not only to the craft, but also to its occupants.

Roll swage is now the best method of “joining” wire to fittings. If in any doubt, please do phone or write for any advice I can give.

John L.


By Rick

Owner of a Catalac 8M and Catamaransite webmaster.

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