The Catboat Era in Newport, Rhode IslandBook - 2005
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.