There is a season of my life that not many know about. I remember it very fondly. I call it “the season of flying”. Not in airplanes, but on a Hobie Cat.
These are catamarans. Hobie was a brand. This isn’t us or my picture. I actually don’t have any pictures, sadly. The only souvenir I have of that time is this shirt.
It was 1984. I was in my mid-twenties and dating Rich Cooley, a co-worker at AMF Tire Equipment Division. He was an engineer and I was the Document Control Clerk. We dated for a couple of years and probably would have ended up married except for the fact that he didn’t want any more children and I did. Anyway, while together we participated in many regattas on his Hobie catamaran.
We both lived in Huntington Beach – not together – but, I was at his place as often as I could be because he lived a block from the beach! We traveled up and down the Southern California coast from Dana Point to Long Beach, participating in these regattas. It was one of the highlights of my life. I adored being on the water, looked pretty good in a wetsuit back then, and flying a catamaran is one of those life experiences you never forget!
This is what we called “flying” (again, not us) and it was a BLAST! You’re basically using your body weight against the wind in your sails to keep the boat from “turtling” (going upside down) while gliding across the water. Turtlng was not a good thing. If that happened it was quite an effort to get the cat upright again. It only happened to us a couple of times and I only remember once where we had to get help from some other people. It looks pretty freaky too – this tall mast and sails upside down under the water. Not your favorite thing to have happen.
I operated the jib (or headsail) while Rich handled the mainsail. A cat can be sailed solo, but it’s much less stressful with two people. And when you’re racing, it’s also a big timesaver to not have to tack all on your own. Especially in choppy water! We mostly raced on the ocean, so chop was a definite thing to deal with.
I remember one regatta in particular and I would have to say it was my favorite. We sailed from Newport Beach to Catalina Island, then camped on the island beach overnight and returned to Newport the next morning. I remember the trip over was very choppy almost all the way. When we got close to the island it calmed down. It was the first time I saw a flying fish and water so clear you could see almost to the bottom. The waters around Catalina Island were gorgeous! I haven’t been there since, so I have no idea what it looks like now. It was the longest race we ever did and the most memorable for me.
Two things I remember most about all of those races were going out for dinner and drinks with our sailing buddies after (White Russians for me most of the time), and the ride home in Rich’s Volkswagen bus. I never liked driving the thing, but it was fun to ride in. Then there was cleaning the sand and salt off of everything once we got home. It was some work, but well worth it. Rich took a picture of me once right after a race and I looked like a wild woman. A very happy wild woman; sun kissed, wind blown, no makeup, hair going everywhere – it was awesome! I really wish I had that picture.
I don’t know what sparked these memories, but they came flooding in this morning so I thought it would be a good time to share them with my kids at least. Michelle might remember Rich and his mom. His mom used to look after Michelle while we were racing. We also took her out on the cat a few times – never flying as she was like 4-years old – just a little sailing.
These days the only flying I do is in an airplane. I live hours from any beach with a husband who only goes to the beach to make me happy. But, I have these memories of this awesome thing that used to be part of my life and I think that’s pretty cool. I am a beach babe at heart and probably always will be. I may never sail a cat again, but I’ll always have my “season of flying”. ⛵️🥰