How to Buy a Used Hobie 16
by John Webster, November
The Hobie 16 catamaran is the second largest
boat fleet in existence; with over 135,000 boats
built they make up the largest Catamaran one
design fleet in the world. This being said,
second hand Hobie 16’s are in abundance all over
the USA. Looking for a good used one to buy
comes down to what to look for…
The construction of a Hobie 16 hull is the
reason these boats are light weight and fast. A
sandwich construction consisting of a fiber
glass outer shell, a layer of foam, and then an
inner shell of fiberglass, makes them strong,
light weight, and ridged. The asymmetric banana
shaped hulls make these boats ideal for “beach
cats” as there is no need for a “dagger board”.
The two hulls are the most important parts of
the Hobie 16. You need to thoroughly inspect
both hulls starting at a point 5 inches from the
front pylon (supports the trampoline frame) and
going forward about 36 inches.
Start by pressing your palm on the upper surface
of the hull. There should be no deflection
(softness) anywhere this area. If there is any
deflection whatsoever your search has ended and
a new search must begin - this boat is not worth
going any further (unless you were looking for a
parts boat). This means that the sandwich
construction in the hull has delaminated,
and the hull is due to break without warning.
Repairing this can often take more time and
expense than simply finding a better boat.
This cross-section demonstrates a delaminated
hull; this hull broke on the water.
Once the hulls have passed your inspection the
next most important part of a Hobie 16 is the
sails. They have two, a foresail or JIB and a
Main sail. Hobie 16 sails are full batten sails,
which mean there are stiff fiberglass battens
that help shape the sail. It may be worth it to
check if these battens are broken or missing the
caps – which can be replaced relatively easily.
Wear can take place through the batten pockets,
so check these out for failed stitching, holes,
poor condition of the batten pocket protectors,
missing screws or rivets etc. While some of this
can be repaired you should look for a sail that
has minimal issues in this area.
The Hobie jib sail slaps the mast while under
sail at every tack (upwind turn), this causes
the edge of the sail to wear… look for this
The sail material is crispy when new and, with
use, becomes like a limp dish cloth. The sail
you are looking for should still have some
crispness to it. Obviously holes and patches in
the sails are not only ugly they affect the way
the sails work, so look for sails that are hole
and patch free. Sails that are dirty will stay
dirty as there is no secure way to clean them!
This is an integral part of the Hobie 16 design.
The trampoline should be tight enough to cause
the side rails of the frame to bend inwards an
inch or so. If there are any holes or wear, or
if the tramp is not able to be tightened to
cause the side rails to bend then you will need
a new trampoline.
Main & Jib Sheets
The control of the Hobie 16 is achieved via a
series of lines, blocks, and pulleys called the
main sheet system, the jib sheet system and the
The main sheet system includes the
main sheet and the
upper and lower blocks. Look for the main
sheet to be in good condition and not worn out.
Check that the blocks still run freely and that
all the screws are there and tight. Check that
the lower block cam cleats still function.
The jib sheet system includes the
jib sheet and the two jib blocks, as well as
the two clew blocks. Just like the main sheet
system check that the jib sheet is in good
condition and not worn out. Check that the
blocks still run freely and that all the screws
are there and tight and that the clam cleats are
still in good shape. The clew blocks are on the
jib sail at the clew, so make sure they are
there and that they are in good shape.
The traveler system consists of a traveler
control line, a traveler car, and the cleat to
retain the traveler line. Look for the line to
be in good shape (sometimes this is the lazy end
of the main sheet), check the cleats to make
sure they are doing their job. Make sure the
traveler car is in good condition and that
it runs freely with load and that it moves
without any hitches as it travels from one side
of the rear crossbar to the other. All these
parts are readily available and can be replaced
Rudder and Tiller
To control the boat the rudder system consists
rudder blades, mounting and locking castings
rudder cam, and the
rudder plunger, as well as the spring and
adjusting screw. There is a rudder pin holding
these assemblies to the transom via gudgeons.
Check for loose pins that have excessive wear or
worn out gudgeons.
The rudder system is linked via a tiller cross
bar and in the center of this bar there is a
tiller extension. The attachment of this
extension needs to be in good condition however
if worn you can replace it. There are all kinds
of ways to improve the way the tiller/rudder
If you have reached this point in the check list
and have found that the boat passes most of the
above items or you can fix/replace small items
that are missing or worn out, you have found
yourself a good used Hobie 16!