CAT PPALU: Holed in St. Maarten

10 Mar

Ppalu at anchor

Major bummer here. D. Randy West, the well known West Indies multihull maven, is struggling to salvage his new ride, the Peter Spronk-designed Cat Ppalu (see photo above), which he bought and renovated last year after a 20-year quest.

Major coincidence here, too, as Randy was in St. Maarten racing on the Gunboat 62 Tribe at the Heineken Regatta with, among others, Tribe‘s creator and original owner, Peter Johnstone, who has been resolutely ignoring some e-mails I sent him last week asking questions about the new Gunboat 60. I had just figured out where Peter was, and why he wasn’t answering e-mail, when I got word from Paul Gelder, ex-editor of Yachting Monthly in the UK, that Ppalu was in trouble.

I gather from the blurb on that YouTube video that Ppalu somehow dragged on to a reef and was holed while Randy was out racing.

Johnstone and West

Old partners in crime. Peter Johnstone (left) and D. Randy (right) on Tribe this past weekend

Trine under sail

Tribe under sail last week. She was the Gunboat that started it all

Ppalu, when first launched in 1978 (Randy was actually on hand to help carry her into the water!) was purportedly, at 75 feet, the world’s largest catamaran at the time. Like many of Spronk’s boats, she was designed for the Caribbean charter trade, but was also unusually fast.

Ppalu ad

Magazine charter ad for Ppalu circa 1980

Ppalu docked

Ppalu about the time Randy bought her last year

Ppalu rehab

Randy at work renovating her on St. Kitts

As mentioned up top, D. Randy has waited a long, long time to lay hands on this boat. I’m sure he’ll move heaven and earth to get her floating again.


  1. Mikhail Shamkin

    We just found out about the ‘Mishap’ – we are deeply saddened. My wife Dawn and I were married at Nanny Cay Tortola on PPalu November 23, 1991, it was a wedding to be remembered as a matter of fact people still say it was the Best Party they have ever attended. Good luck with the restoration, perhaps if it is in the cards we can celebrate our 25th Anniversary with you.
    Mikhail Shamkin

  2. Captb

    That’s a sad thing, just watched the of luck with the repairs!
    Happy sailing, that’s a cool cat. Captb

  3. Ross

    I built crowther 45 in 80, liveaboard 10 years- LOVED
    your vid of PPalu history! Boating was so special then –
    custom one offs putting performance and efficiency first, now it is all accommodation driven mass production and new
    multihullers don’t understand what has vanished in the old tighly knitted community, possibly you live in THE 1
    last location where that spirit isn’t yet lost. As Dick would say, Cheers!”

  4. G Zarek

    So sorry Randy and Joanne. I am spreading the word. I have a saying I will send to you, Chin Up! G

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