Small wooden boats sailing on South Lake Union

Boatbuilder and teacher, Ben Kahn presents the process and lessons learned building a 1920 kitten boat with CWB students Gary Brewer and Scott Foster. This boat is the first traditionally built boat in the Wagner Education Center. Register today to join us virtually for free!

The Kitten was designed in 1920 by John Winslow of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. A 15-foot wooden sailboat, the Kitten was designed to teach young women how to sail, and a detailed article on how to build the small craft was published in Pacific Motor Boat Magazine that year. Two years later, Winslow relocated to Seattle, bringing along a small fleet of Kittens to the Seattle Yacht Club. He made fast friends with local sailors, and with the help of famed Seattle boat designers and builders Ted Geary and Norm Blanchard, he modified the design of the Kitten. A fleet of these boats were built and used to teach Seattle’s young sailors. The new design made the Kitten the first self-rescuing dinghy on Puget Sound. This small vessel has marked heritage significance to King County’s maritime history, and today, there are no known seaworthy wooden Kittens.

To learn more about The Kitten Project by visiting the project page.