After my gradual disappointment with inflatable sailing, I started to monitor craigslist for catamarans. Hobie 16's were at the top of the list but I eventually expanded my search to include Nacra 5.2 and Prindle 16. After some research I decided that a Prindle would actually be better as it is more novice friendly, and after some failed transactions (people who didn't have valid titles) I suddenly found myself parking a Prindle 16 on my driveway.
The boat sat unused for something close to 10 years, changing owners but never seeing much use. The trailer and hulls were sound (although dirty), but the wear items were trash - trampoline, lines, rigging were not in great shape. Before long my $600 investment turned in $2000.... some of the expense could probably have been avoided, but I wanted new parts on a boat I wasn't very familiar with.
Trampoline came from Slo Sail and Canvas (made to order), Lines and rigging from Salty Dog Marine, Sail repair from SailRite, and a bunch of little things from Murrays. On top of that, I wound up buying LED lights and new wheels for the trailer, regalvanizing the frame and rewiring the whole thing (it didn't even come with wiring).
The work took a couple of weeks (weekends mostly), but I soon had a very pretty trailer, beautiful navy trampoline, all new lines and vinyl-coated stays, and a patched sail (batten pockets were ripped here and there).
I never did figure out if my sail was Dacron or some other material, I simply slapped on Dacron patches and attached them with a sewing machine and Dacron thread. Sewing a sail is heavy duty work, I discovered, and I broke about 5 needles (and I was using #18 needles). This part of the process also forced me to get a rivet gun, as I had to reattach the metal parts and batten pocket protectors. Most of my battens were missing or broken, but I managed to get a new set custom cut for a great price from Bete-Fleming. Not wanting to leave well enough alone, I coated their ends with epoxy to prevent fraying and make them a bit smoother (probably could have used silicone instead)
The first major problem revealed itself when I attempted to step the mast on my driveway... I couldn't do it alone (then again, that was with no trampoline on the boat). That wouldn't do, as I'd like to be self-sufficient, so I bought a very basic hoist on Ebay for about $12 - it's a 6:1 block arrangement with hooks and cheap poly line. I attach one end to the forestay and the other to the mast cradle on the trailer, then I shoulder the mast up and guide it as I pull on the line. This arrangement works quite well, although having a helper makes it safer. You can see the hoist dangling off the mast cradle in the photo.
Soon enough it was time to try it out, so I went to a nearby small lake and put the whole thing together alone - it took about an hour the first time. Attaching the forestay shackle alone is a somewhat scary experience, I might have to think of some way to safety it so I can use two hands. This is what the boat looks like ready to go:
Ready to go
And here is where the work paid off... as soon as I got it in the water and pulled in the main, the boat took off, despite the apparent lack of wind! Nothing like silent and effortless acceleration after all that noisy struggle in the inflatable.