Story by Lee Wicklund -- Initially I had planned on doing this race with Chris Green as we had talked about doing it for the past few years on my Nacra 20 beach catamaran, 20 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, 390 pounds with no cabin, just a trampoline between the hulls. Usually something came up and we scrapped the idea. This year, I was hell bent on doing it. Unfortunately Chris has a job and couldn't get out of some previously scheduled commitments.
I contacted Wendy Simkins of Spanish Fork, Utah since she had expressed great interest in doing more of this type of racing at Ruff Riders in South Padre. She bought a ticket and headed down Wednesday evening before the race. I stopped by the Green's for a few last minute items and picked up Wendy at the airport then headed to Galveston. The forecast wasn't looking to favorable for a beach cat doing this in the dark and I was contemplating my escape routes should it get too rough. Initially it was looking like the weather wouldn't get rough till mid day Friday, so we should be ok.
My niece who was about 9 years old at the time, was a good swimmer, body-surfer, and had taken some kind of a junior life saving swimming pool class. The two of us had swum like fish together in the ocean surf, many times. So I invited her along for a possible boat ride. I invited my parents too. It was a ploy. I could tell them that they were needed to baby-sit my niece in case I found it unsafe to take her on the boat. This way, I did not have to admit that I wanted my father there in case I couldn't raise the mast or get the boat back onto the trailer.
I had sailed my friend, Dan's Hobie 16 in a lake and had sailed my 12' mono hull in another local lake. Both experiences were lacking much wind. I knew where to find wind; the Pacific Ocean. I was familiar with where all the public motorboat launches were and I chose the one that I thought looked like it had best access. I was not too far from a well-known catamaran beach at Claremont Street but did not know anything about Claremont.
Los Angeles harbor is huge, a hundred square miles. It seemed like a good place to get ocean breeze while not being too affected by the surf. I headed to Cabrillo Beach public boat launch in San Pedro. When I got there, the wind was already blowing pretty hard and I was noticeably intimidated. I spoke to one of the locals and asked about how windy it gets there. He found out that I was a rookie and immediately told me that I was at the wrong place. I did not know that I was at the windiest hole in Los Angeles that carries the nickname "Hurricane Gulch!"
I had been tracking the wind speed, from the office, at 12-16 knots steadily from the southwest all morning. Around noon, I was able to get a crew to head out to the lake at 2:00 PM - Friday July 25, 2003.
I should have known was not a good sign that on the way to the lake there was a major accident. An driver had crossed the center lane of the highway and hit another car, forcing us to detour and delay launching.
My Hobie 18 Magnum catamaran is kept mast up on a catamaran beach inside the Muskegon Harbor breakwater, so we quickly got it rigged and launched. The acceleration out of the harbor was GREAT! After clearing the lighthouse, that is where we ran into a slight problem.
It has been a tough month for me and yesterday's adventure was hopefully the peak of my excitement for the month.
At June's end I had a great trip in the Channel Islands National Park with my crew, Bill Mattson. We sailed Whisk (my Mystere 6.0 catamaran) for four days, covering 140 nautical miles and visited a lot of places that we had not yet seen. We hit a superb weather window that occurred as the "June Gloom" lifted and light to moderate winds blessed our days of sunshine and calm seas. July was off to a bang for me as I toured the West Coast by car and saw a spectacular fireworks show in Seattle. On the way back home, I took a jet boat ride on the Rogue River in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Bill Cash" Date: Sat Nov 9, 2002 9:01 am Subject: Re: Charters
Katherine and I are planning a vacation around our 30th anniversary in February. One thought is to go to Belize and do the "Under the Sun in Belize" trip. Sounds like a fun trip... 8 days on an 18 going from Cay to Cay and lodge to lodge, BUT its expensive. $1950 each plus 750-1000 each for airfare. And since we don't know anyone who has done this trip we have some reservations about dumping 6K on a vacation.
My second thought is to do a bare boat charter, BUT the vast amount of our sailing experience is on beachcats or very small monoslugs. IM not sure a charter service is gonna allow us to bareboat a 30+' catamaran with beachcats as the backbone of my sailing resume... Can anyone point me to a "more relaxed" charter service, in the Keys of the Islands?
From: "Damon" Date: Fri Nov 8, 2002 9:08 pm Subject: Re: [beachcats] Charters
Do it! Do it! Take lots of pictures and write an article for TheBeachcats.com, you can be the reporter for the Central America desk while your there. <grn> The pay will be low (0), the work will be hard, but the honor will be great!