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Seller's Description

“Cat’s Paw IV” has a pedigree of a very capable offshore vessel. She is cutter rigged, and has a skeg hung rudder, cut-away fin keel and triple reefed furling main. The double ended design ensures you a comfortable ride with a following sea. This vessel is a veteran of a circumnavigation and is equipped to do it again.

The interior design and equipment will have you preparing and enjoying your meals on long passages, and the ground tackle will let you sleep in peace when anchored when you’re there.

She has just been in the workyard being maintained and cleaned before returning to storage. This bluewater boat is ready to be splashed and shakedown cruise for her next Captain.

Equipment: More pictures and details at Cortez Yacht Sales in San Carlos, Sonora Mexico



William Garden
Philbrook's Boatyard
# Built
FG w/Airex core


Length Overall
39 6 / 12 m
Waterline Length
33 5 / 10.2 m
11 7 / 3.6 m
4 7 / 1.4 m
21,000 lb / 9,525 kg
7,500 lb / 3,402 kg

Rig and Sails

Reported Sail Area
799′² / 74.2 m²
Total Sail Area
799′² / 74.3 m²
Sail Area
340′² / 31.6 m²
45 11 / 14 m
14 9 / 4.5 m
Air Draft
Sail Area
459′² / 42.6 m²
50 11 / 15.5 m
18 0 / 5.5 m
Forestay Length
54 0 / 16.5 m

Auxilary Power

Fuel Type
Fuel Capacity
53 gal / 201 l
Engine Hours


Water Capacity
100 gal / 379 l
Holding Tank Capacity


Hull Speed
8.6 kn
Classic: 7.76 kn

Hull Speed

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.


Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

A more accurate formula devised by Dave Gerr in The Propeller Handbook replaces the Speed/Length ratio constant of 1.34 with a calculation based on the Displacement/Length ratio.

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio.311
Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

8.59 knots
Classic formula: 7.76 knots
Sail Area/Displacement
16-20: good performance

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.


SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64)2/3

  • SA: Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D: Displacement in pounds.
<16: under powered
16-20: good performance
>20: high performance
<40: less stiff, less powerful

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.


Ballast / Displacement * 100

<40: less stiff, less powerful
>40: stiffer, more powerful
200-275: moderate

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.


D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet
<100: ultralight
100-200: light
200-300: moderate
300-400: heavy
>400: very heavy
Comfort Ratio
30-40: moderate bluewater cruising boat

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.


Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam1.33)

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet
<20: lightweight racing boat
20-30: coastal cruiser
30-40: moderate bluewater cruising boat
40-50: heavy bluewater boat
>50: extremely heavy bluewater boat
Capsize Screening
<2.0: better suited for ocean passages

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.


CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet
  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
<2: better suited for ocean passages
>2: better suited for coastal cruising



A stout double-ender which many compare to the Valiant 40, the Fast Passage 39 has all the hallmarks of a legendary cruiser; speed, ruggedness and a dash of fame. So perhaps it’s a little surprising only 41 have been produced, and those in search for one may have an adventure on their hands; they are hard to find.

The Fast Passage 39 traces its origins back to the pen of William Garden and a boat called Bolero, a 40 foot sloop conceived in the 1960s. The story goes that Denny Coverdale working for Philbrooks Shipyard on Vancouver Island (Sidney, BC) cruised in tandem with her one summer, and with his shipyard looking for bigger projects, approached Garden to design a modernized version for production. The result was the Fast Passage 39, introduced in 1975, and purportedly the boat that Garden himself said would be the one he’d take cruising.

Philbrooks built 36 of these boats, some of which we sold as hull and deck kits to be finished by their owners. The molds were then sold to Tollycraft who completed a further four boats in Kelso, Washington before production ceased in 1985. It was one of these boats that Francis Stokes bought and christened Moonshine, racing her to second place in her class in the inaugural BOC singlehanded around-the-world race, one of 10 boats to finish from a field of 16.

Many comparisons can be made with the Valiant 40, apart from the obvious similarities above the waterline, the numbers are really telling. Though the Fast Passage 39 is narrower the two share similar LOA and LWL and their displacement and ballast figures are nearly identical. Their underwater shapes are also very similar, the Fast Passage 39 is a tad more evolved with slightly less wetted area and flatter sections forward and aft of the keel.

Under sail the boat performs well through a full range of conditions. Francis Stokes noted the boat’s relatively shoal 5′ 6″ draft was advantageous downwind, her inherent directional stability and responsive rudder also allowed good control under wind vane, even down steep waves. He noted when alongside a Valiant 40, the Fast Passage 39 would need to reef early but would always be as fast. To windward the boat has a tendency for a lot of leeway when heeled more than 20 degrees. Where the boat really excels is in light winds.

The Fast Passage 39 story did not end with the Tollycraft boats, in more recent times Jeremiah Mitchel acquired the molds which were lying disused in tall grass. Michel with the intention of kickstarting production made improvements to the boat including airex coring in the deck (replacing the original balsa coring) with kevlar reinforcing. However only one additional boat was produced which was built in 2000 by Northern Marine. The boat is known as a Fast Passage 40.

Buyers Notes

A well known problem among owners is delamination in the rudder and deck. In the case of the rudder, the originals were not very well built though owner many have corrected this issue on many of the boats. In the case of the decks, leaks have been the cause of the balsa coring rotting out, leading to delamination.

Philbrooks is known to produce boats of excellent quality, in the case of the kit boats check for quality of finish, kits boats have to fetch less money. Francis Stokes also proved that Tollycraft-built boats are just as good.

The Fast Passage 39 is rare to find on the market, with such few numbers produced and owners do tend to keep them. The boat has a tendency to be sold person to person without ever hitting the open market. As of 2010 the estimated the asking price of these boats are in the range of $80k-$170k USD.

Links, References and Further Reading

» Fast Passage 39 Review by John Kretschmer, Used Boat Notebook p187-191
» Cruising World Magazine’s review of the Fast Passage 39 by Mark Schrader, Dec 1997
» Blue Water Sailing Magazine’s look at the Fast Passage 40, Jun 2010
» A look at the Fast Passage 40 by Quentin Warren writing for, Aug 2000

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