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Sail away with Kurt Peterson

Kurt’s grin aboard Tigress says it all—he is exactly where he wants to be,
doing exactly what he wants to do.
Photo courtesy of Catboat Charters

In recent years, a colloquial response to the question, “How’s it going?” is the answer, “Living the dream,” but most often, the line carries a hint of irony. Kurt Peterson, however, is one of those rare souls for whom the expression is literally true. When he recalls his childhood, he speaks fondly of “growing up on a catboat.” He has sailed all of his life, and in addition to cruising from Cotuit to Edgartown, his father took the family to Boston, Cuttyhunk, Nantucket, and Mystic, Connecticut. As an adult, Kurt has sailed from Maine to Key West; prior to founding Catboat Charters, he worked as a private captain, and he maintains a USCG 50-ton license with an Auxiliary Sail endorsement. Despite his wanderings, Kurt’s dream led him to open up his charter business back in Edgartown. In describing his son’s voyage to this point, Eric Peterson states: “Kurt and his three brothers all loved to sail from an early age, but I don’t think any of us thought you could actually make a living sailing. Pretty darn smart!” Success in the business did take a bit of time, however. Kurt recalls: “When I first started in 2015, I lived on the boat, a 24-foot Atlantic City Cat, until I really got things going. Now I have a place on the island.”

Kurt purchased his company’s flagship, Tigress, in 2016. Originally built in Wareham, MA in 1927, she had been lovingly restored by her previous owner, Roger Fuller. Kurt says, “All the wood is still solid, which is rare for a big boat of her age.” Tigress is 29 feet in length, weighs 22,000 pounds, and comfortably accommodates six guests in addition to the captain and his one-person crew. “She’s a real relic of a catboat,” says Kurt. “I’m really proud to own the Tigress.” Catboats are suited to day sailing charters since they are so beamy and stable; they don’t tip as much as sleeker sailboats, and with just one massive sail, they are far easier to crew than schooners or even sloops. Also, their sails typically carry at least two rows of reef points, which allow for decreasing the sail area on windy days. They are great boats for the Cape and Islands because they typically have shallow drafts. As Kurt puts it, “We can sail close to shore and see a lot of beautiful scenery that some other boats don’t have access to.” Many cats have interesting histories and personalities, as well, and the Catboat Association, of which Eric Peterson is a former president, is quite active in providing historical information and community news to boat owners and enthusiasts. One family that owned Tigress in her early years had sailed to Florida as a family of five, but by the time they sailed back north, they had added a new fourth child. “Last summer, some of the family members came out sailing with me,” Kurt recounts. “The mother was 90, the same age as Tigress. When she came aboard, she said, ‘Hello, old friend.’ It was so nice to see someone with such a connection to the boat.”    

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