Installing a trampoline on 18′ Hobie Cat

Main Thread 6 min read

I recently purchased an 18′ Hobie Cat. I got a great deal from a family friend. Unfortunately the boat was not well kept over the past few years. Upon taking down the mast after my first time out, my shipmates foot ripped right thru the starboard trampoline. Of course this occurred at the beginning of the summer. I had a few options:

  • Repairing the tear, by sewing or patching from the bottom side
  • Replace just the ripped starboard trampoline
  • Replace the entire trampoline

I went with the installing a new trampoline. Although this the most expensive option, it's probably the simplest. Plus having a brand new trampoline really made the hobie cat look sharp. Aside from the sails, it visually dominants.

Getting the Parts

Hobie parts seem to only be sold thru their distributors. Short of finding used parts on Craigslist, Ebay, etc. I ordered a catalog from Hobie Cat directly. It was free and came in a few days. From there I just matched up part numbers and called my nearest dealer. Although the catalog had all the information, the dealer was knowledgeable and made some helpful recommendations – such as purchasing extra line. It took about 10 days for them to get the parts and then ship to me. If you live in a sailing area, not the Midwest, your dealer may be close enough to drive.

The Project

Before I tackled this project, I did my usual Google Search to familiarize myself with the process. Short of a post on the Hobie Cat Forum and another repair instructional, I did not find a good DIY. I read these two and then inspected my Hobie. It's important to take a minute and plan your attack. The last thing you want is to get everything apart and realize something's missing. Don't be that guy.

I did this project with the boat on the trailer in about 2 hours and used the following tools:

  • Gloves: for hand protection
  • Knife: for cutting
  • Lighter: to burn the rope ends.
  • Vice Grips: for hard to reach places and extra tugging.

Removing the Old Trampoline

As I purchased a brand new trampoline and line, I didn't need to save anything. So I cut out the old line to save time. You could undo the knots and lacing if you wanted to reuse the line. Tip: I took pictures of the ends, knots, and lacing with my iPhone for reference. Unlacing also gave me a good idea of how everything is assembled. In a nutshell, the port and starboard tramps were laced to each other down the middle and along the rear strip. Everything tied off in the rear center, with the rear strip line starting thru a hole in the hull cover.

Once the line was removed, I pulled out the three trampoline pieces. There is lipping that runs the around the inner frame of the boat securing the edges.

For the port and starboard pieces:

  1. I stood at the front crossbar and used the foot straps to pull while I feed the excess towards the ground.
  2. I then feed the piece from under the crossbar to unwrap it and relieve any pressure.
  3. Then removed the piece completely by pulling it out towards the middle of the crossbar.

For the rear piece slides our like the other two from either side of the boat. Some water may help ease this process. But if you're replacing everything, then there's no reason to be gentle.

Installing the New Trampoline

Essentially this was the reverse of the steps above. The footstraps and pocket are obvious indicators to which side belongs up. For the rear piece there are other visual indicators such as stitching and glossiness. Tip: I recommend cleaning out the lipping and inner frame before installing the new trampoline while you have this chance. I used compressed air and a rag. The new pieces may not be positioned exactly right. Don't worry or force things. The lacing will bring it together. I found that using some of the old line to temporarily lace and pull the ends worked well also. Water could also help lube the lipping. That's what she said.

Hobie Cat Trampoline Lipping
Hobie Cat trampoline front (mast) lipping

Depending on your set up, there could be rigging, wings, or racing platforms in the way. If it's the latter, you should know more about these things than me. Either way, you may need to remove these components. My boat is stock, so I am of no help in this area.

Lacing and Knots

First, I am sure there are an infinite combination of lacing methods and knots for the trampoline. There was nothing special about the previous installation. In retrospect, asking the dealer for instruction or a diagram would be best.

I started in the front of the boat lacing down the middle. I used my pictures as reference for how to start lacing. Mine started at the first grommet on the port side. The rope was tied to itself underneath the first grommet on the starboard side with two half hitches. I feed thru the tops on the starboard and bottoms on the port. Again, no reason other than I felt this looked good making Z's all the way down. Although I pulled the rope thru all the way, I didn't pull tight until every third pass. I left about a foot of excess at the end of the last starboard grommet (it has one more) and then cut the line. I then went under the boat and pulled the line from front to rear like monkey bars (wear gloves).

For the rear, I put a stopper knot on the end and feed it thru the side holes. I laced and tightened just like the middle. When I reached the end, there was a single center grommet on the rear strap that was open. I tied all of my line ends to this with a bowline. Although I felt I may have done something wrong this was how my previous installation was done.

In the end, I used three lines total – middle, rear starboard, rear port. However, it seemed entirely possible to use just two, keeping the same line for middle one rear side. This may indeed be the dealers recommendation. For me, tautness and symmetry were my gauge.

Pro Tips

  • Stay organized with the excess line by using the same hand. It was annoying to pull all the slack thru, but even more annoying when I tried to do it quickly using both hands and realized I tangled up my next pass.
  • Don't cut the line until you are done lacing the first pass. You don't want to end up with too little.
  • You will want to re-tighten things at least once after the line and trampoline get wet and worn.
  • Although new line looks good regardless, request line that matches your trampoline's color.
  • Build a relationship with your dealer. They will be an invaluable reference and help build your confidence to tackle these projects yourself.


Personally, I find DIY rewarding because it builds my knowledge of the boat. If something were to happen on the water, it's better that I know. Of course, some things are either not worth the time or better left to an expert. It's up to you, but hopefully this helps replace a trampoline.

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