what size cat for small lake


I live on a small lake (approx .75 long miles by .5 miles wide) and I want to buy a cat. My wife thinks we should get a hobie wave but I'd like to get something a little bigger (Nacra 5.0?). People do live on the lake but there is never any speed boats and usually we'd be the only ones on the lake (other than maybe a pontoon boat or two). We also want to get a boat which we can take on Lake Michigan. Is there a best of both worlds? What length boat do you think we should get? Thanks in advance!
How about a Hobie 16? No dagger boards to worry about like a nacra 5.0 so if you hit anything it wont damage the boat.
How many people would you be looking to have on the boat at once? Maybe a Hobie Getaway would work well for you. I have seen them out on Lake Michigan. They are not a performance cat but large enough to take kids with you. I presume mostly recreational sailing is what you are looking for?

‘92 H18 w/SX wings
‘95 Hobie Funseeker 12 (Holder 12)
‘96/‘01/‘14 Hobie Waves
Not sure where on Lake Michigan you are located, but there is a nice looking Hobie Getaway on Ebay in West Chicago, IL. I have no connection to it.

‘92 H18 w/SX wings
‘95 Hobie Funseeker 12 (Holder 12)
‘96/‘01/‘14 Hobie Waves

I currently have no kids (27 years old) but my wife would be going out with me and maybe occasionally my dogs. I want to get something that isn't too big for my lake, and I have no idea how much difference a couple feet makes in a sail boat. Definately not looking for a getaway. I'd like to get something without a boom (as to not kill the wife while learning), although I'd probably get something with a boom if the price was right (she'd eventually forgive me). Come to think of it I might be sailing alone often as well... Is the wave/getaway/bravo the only sailboats without a boom or do some performance ones come with an optional boom? Anything else I should know before I make the plunge? Thanks!
The Nacra 5.0 is a boomless main and it also has no daggerboards - great solo boat but can also handle
two just fine - much better boat for your money


best of luck

Nacra 5.5SL
lots of boomless boats (gcat, supercat, etc) ... but that doesn't mean they are right for your situation.
Obviously, a 20 footer would be too big... but no matter the size of the cat... that size lake will be a study in good turning habits. On a 10 - 15 day, the lake will seem a lot smaller.

Personally, anything less than 18 feet is small and cluttered.

DeepseesPersonally, anything less than 18 feet is small and cluttered.

Well... i am not sure i agree... the h16, h17, p16, h14 are small.. yet simple enough that there isn't a line spaghetti farm

I live on a lake that is just a little bigger than the one you describe 1 mi x .5 mi and had to deal with the same question. While trying to make a decision I found a used Bravo locally that needed some work and decided to pick it up just to have something. After having this boat for a while I can say this:

It all depends on how you want to sail, I like when it really starts to blow hard, yea the bravo is not performance, but it crosses the lake in no time. I was considering a Nacra 450, no dagger boards, but after sailing in the Bravo, the Nacra would be way to much of a boat for that lake. Just about get up to speed and have to tack.

Now I'm back to looking at a Wave, and I think that's the biggest the lake will handle.

If you like to go out in light air and just take it mellow, than a 16 might work for you. Either way you go, I wouldn't recommend a boat with daggerboards or without kick-up rudders.


The length of the boat isn't the only factor that will determine how well it will work for you. That being said, a 240 acre lake doesn't really lend itself very well to almost any cat that you would want to take on Lake Michigan.

A few questions:
- How far is the trip to Lake Michigan and where would you launch from?

I used to launch from the South East side of the lake (Jean Kloch Park, Benton Harbor MI) and the prevailing winds cause the surf to be formidable. There are not many place to launch from the Michigan side (most launch sites have a bridge between the site and the lake). I hear Wisconsin is much more cat friendly (lots of beaches and offshore prevailing winds).

- How far is it from the parking lot at the launch site to the water? What is the terrain like?

If it is more than 50 yards across sand, go for a lighter boat. Hobie Getaway weighs about 400 lbs.

- What is the shoreline like on the small lake that you plan to use?

If it is rough, go with a roto-molded boat. I hit something last Saturday that was submerged in the water on a 30,000 acre lake and caused $2500 in damage. Fiberglass will give higher performance, but is not as durable.

- What is your budget?

It appears that you are looking for two boats. One open water boat and one small lake boat.

- How much experience do you have?

Lake Michigan can be a little unforgiving. If less experienced, consider a boat with a jib since it makes it much easier to punch through surf and you can cheat when tacking in rough seas.

- Combined crew weight?

edited by: rpiper138, May 01, 2009 - 05:01 PM
Rich brings up a real good point. One time during the dry season the lake was kinda low and while out on a stiff day I connected with an underwater bolder. The leeward hull really jumped up, I was really surprised at the impact. Checked the hull, some scrapes but no real damage. If it was fiberglass, I bet there would have been considerable damage.

Gotta love those roto-molded hulls, they really take a beating.

A wave, A 16 or a 5.0.

Whatever, that lake is gonna seem very small in a windy day. On plus side you will get plenty of turning practice!
Out of the three boats that Larry mentioned, the 5.0 will be the most fun on Lake Michigan (and the fastest). It is lighter and has less tendency to cartwheel than the H-16.

There is a good Nacra fleet in both Michigan(CRAM) and Wisconsin(CRAW) and Mark Biggers at The Cathouse (www.cathouse1.com) in Michigan is great when you heen anything Nacra related.

Both the Nacra and the H16 are considerably heavier and less durable than the Wave. It also takes a lot of wind for the Wave to come alive. Once it hits 20 knots, the Wave gets exciting. Much less than that and you really aren't doing much without the jib option.
i sail on an odd shaped lake of about 1,200acres, many say that the lake is too small for a hobie 16 but it seems fine enough for my slightly bigger 17 foot nacra 5.2.


cats of this size will easily do 15knots with a good wind and that means crossing your lake in about 2 minutes

i think 0.75ml x 0.5ml works out to about about 0.350 square miles, which is about 200acres if you round off the corners

a 16foot cat in a lake 1/6 the size of ours seems like a recipe for frustration

wave or even 2 bravos seems to make much more sense but if you can find a good hobie 14 cheap it also migth do with the added bonus of training you up well for a hobie16 if you get the urge to start trailering to bigger water

edited by: erice, May 15, 2009 - 12:51 AM

Completely agree that 5.0 is the best choice given the dual mission of micro/macro lake.

Just placed a good sized order with Mark at Cat House. They do make it easy to own a Nacra!

Larry: I bought my 5.5 from the Cat House. Mark is great to deal with. It is a little further away than it used to be since I am in Texas now.
Id go with getting a 16-18 sized boat. For the small lake you can learn to turn and get a handle of the rigging. If you flip it over you will most likely float to the shore before you get it back up..but again... learning lake. I think if you get a small one, and then get use to it, you will be sorry you didnt just go for a bigger one. ( incase you have a need for speed ) Once you get a handle of everything..take it to Lake Michigan and have a blast.