A History of Butt Cat boats by Mr John Butt
Hugh Stanley Butt (Stan) was born in 1917 in Kenton-On-Sea. After spending his time with the SA Forces in North Africa in the Second World War he came back to Kenton where he bought the family farm from his mother. He could not make ends meet so he started fishing for a living as well.
He claimed the ski boats of that era were very dangerous so went on to build his first catamaran in 1955 which were two wooden pontoons with an aluminum framework as the deck and held together with machine belting. This boat was washed off the Kenton beach with a high sea and wrecked on the rocks on the other side of the Kariega mouth. He then built his first fiberglass catamaran in 1957 which had a square flat tunnel. It proved to be problematic because it kept cracking on the corners in the tunnel. He then built another boat with a round tunnel in about 1959. This feature can be seen in most catamarans to this day. You don’t build a dam wall straight across a river or gorge!
The public started to become interested in his design. Soon after, he sold his first boat in 1961. Over the years he strove to improve the design and experimented with different models. It was never his intention to market and sell boats as he was a fisherman and built the boats for himself.
Nothing was ever put to paper. All the first molds were built in the ground out of bricks and mortar and designed by eye. Most probably his highlight was when he built his first 47ft on the banks of the farm in 1967, also in the ground. This boat was taken out the Bushman’s mouth and into the Kariega River and used on the river for many years. It had two 37HP Perkins diesel inboards. This boat had a very innovative design as the propellers and rudder could not touch the bottom. It was often seen surfing into the Kariega mouth when the sea was rough. In 1970 the first fiberglass molds were made and around 1975 the old man let me (John Butt) build the smaller craft. At that stage he was also building the redesigned 50FT and later designed a new planning type 45FT catamaran. This part of the building was later given to Charles Butt, my brother.
Butt Cat to this day have always strove to build a comfortable, strong and safe vessel and have continuously worked towards improving our designs.