ORLEANS – The conditions for Arey’s Pond Boat Yard’s annual Cat Gathering are anything but consistent. Some years, the sailors taking part in the just-for-fun regatta are met with hardly any wind at all. Other years, Mother Nature presents them with blinding fog that make it difficult to enjoy the scenery — never mind actually navigate the course.
The conditions weren’t a problem Saturday afternoon when 82 of the 106 boats that registered for this year’s Cat Gathering crossed the start line during the 29th installment of the event, which is widely celebrated for being one of the East Coast’s largest annual gatherings of catboats.
Featuring an extensive fleet of boats — some of which date back to the early 1900s, and many of which were built by the ABPY staff — the gathering saw a convoy of sails travel from Little Pleasant Bay through The Narrows and into Big Pleasant Bay, where competitors finished after just about an hour of sailing.
“In years past, there has been pretty much no breeze,” said Trevor Deegan, a Brewster resident and former APBY employee. “It’s been kind of the ‘Great Float Across Pleasant Bay.’ I want to say this is the seventh or eighth Cat Gathering that I’ve been to, and this is the first year that we’ve had a consistent breeze all the way through.”
Like many of the past APBY employees who return each summer to take part in the Cat Gathering, Deegan said he can’t stay away no matter how much time has passed since he worked at the boatyard.
“I worked here from 2014 to 2016 or 2017, something like that,” he said, “but I come back every year for this. This was one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had. Everyone here is really cool — I’m still friends with everyone. It’s just nice. It feels like a slice of old Cape Cod.”
Capturing that old Cape Cod feeling is precisely the reason another Brewster resident, Don Ziegler, keeps returning with his wife, Janet Atherton. Atherton said the couple have continued to take part in the Cat Gathering since they got married in 1996 — an annual tradition Ziegler said is in part enjoyable because of the course.
“It’s just beautiful,” he said of Pleasant Bay. “There are spots out there that you can look and not see any houses, so you can pretend it’s 1620.”
When asked why she thinks sailing enthusiasts flock to the Cat Gathering each year, Atherton said it all goes back to Tony Davis, who in 1991 became the third owner of the boatyard.
“His spirit and his leadership,” Atherton answered when asked why people return each summer. “He’s always there and he’s a very gentle person, a sailor who has been around the world. His spirit is the reason why it’s probably so popular.”
This year’s gathering even attracted some rookie competitors, including Katharina Rooney and her husband Peter, who traveled from Keene, N.H. to participate.
“Last year was not the year to do it, but we bought a boat and got to know the boat and raced it at our club in New Hampshire,” Katharina Rooney said. “We had watched the videos that Arey’s Pond put out and we had been told what a nice place this is. We said, ‘Let’s check it out’ and this was a great experience. It’s just an amazing place down here. The people were friendly and it’s really laid back.”
While Atherton said she expected her and Ziegler likely finished in the middle of the pack, she also pointed out that the Cat Gathering is really much more than a competitive race; it’s a sight every boat lover should check out at least once in their life.
“You’re surrounded by boats,” she said. “It’s almost a parade of sails.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com.
2021 Cat Gathering Provisional Results – Complete Results Posted at AreysPondBoatYard.com
Traditional Class—1. Dunbar Montgomery—Alan and Fran McClennen (59:40); 2. Crosby Wianno Sr.—Michael Dunne (1:07:09); 3. Sharpie Design—Andy Scherding (1:10:10); 4. Vintage R-19—Tim O’Connor (1:34:36); 5. Eian Oughred Yawl—Walter Kangas (1:39:59); 6. Melonseed—Lindsay Herrin (1:45:50).
Catboats Over 19’—1. Marshall 22’—Richard Stewart (1:01:00); 2. ABPY Caracal—Scott Brown owned, sailed by Matt Dooley and crew (1:01:54)**; 3. Huddlestun 20 ‘Pandora’—Burt and Drew Staniar (1:06); 4. APBY 22’ Carolyn—Eric and Carolyn Broege (1:12:09).
Crosby Cat Class—1. Conjurer—Fred and Lynn Villars (1:25:34).
Marshall 18’s—1. Boeketje—Pete Caroll and Family (1:02:42); 2. Pleasant Dreams—Rick Cain (1:03:07); 3. Open no Cabin—Jeff Coe (1:04:16); 4. Ripple—Bill and Maureen Terrell (1:04:25); 5. Gata Gorda—George Seibert (1:04:37); 6. Sail#605—Mon Cochran (106:14).
Marshall 15’s—1. M-15—Neal Tomkinson (1:06:11); 2. PBCB—Jim Nathanson (1:07:16); 3. PBCB—Eliza McClennen and Herb Heicht (1:07:49); 4. Near Thing—Christopher Smith (1:11:06).
APBY Open Lynx—1. Sail #35—Rob Muller (1:06:10); 2. Sorbet—Julian Davis (1:15:29)**; 3. Mistral—Mark Kritzman (1:27:37); 4. Arthur B—Charles Zelle (1:28:43); 5. Namaste—Jan Schneider (1:29:24).
APBY Cabin Lynx—1. Sail #007—Carl Bechgaard (1:16:01); 2. Wandering—Mike Duggan (1:22:27); 3. M&M—Michael and Michele Jenness (1:28:35); 4. Valaradane—Robin Davis and Joe Capuano (1:29:04)**; 5. BB of the Sea—Jim and Ginger Knickman (1:29:06).
Baybirds Celebrating 100 Years—1. Sail #18—Charles Melcher (1:05:39); 2. Sail #8—Ed Coburn (1:06:09); 3. Sail #12—Don Snyder (1:07:56); 4. Sail #33—Andrea Lobkowicz (1:08:22); 5. Sail #44—Robin Adams (1:12:02).
APBY 14’s—1. Ali Cat—Allison Coleman and Natalie Coleman-Fuller (1:10:53); 2. Bad Cat—Haley Cedarholm and Dustin Page (1:16:30)**; 2. Sail #236—Peter Rooney (1:16:48); 3. Six Sisters—Rob Michaels (1:18:18); 4. Sea Guard—James Pennington (1:18:40); 5. Sail #262—Karen Taylor (1:18:40); 6. Sail #202—John Pappalardo (1:20:04).
Compass Classic—1. Business—John Laurino (1:15:44); 2. Q.A. Girl—Jill Klein (1:17:19); 3. Pause—Amy Voorhes (1:28:03).
Beetles Celebrating 100 years—1. Sail #3—Susan Powers (1:26:01).
**APBY-associated entries and honorary placing