After I graduated from Santa Monica High School I wanted to do something exciting but couldn’t quite choose what to do. I did construction and my boss just gave me his old Malibu 18’ Outrigger because it had a rotten main hull. This was when people built their own boats from lumberyard materials and a little fiberglass. The Hobie Cats were just coming out. It was the early 1970’s.
I rebuilt and upgraded the whole boat which took months. It was finally do
ne and ready to sail with a friend who knew how to sail. It was blowing hard and it flipped over. We didn’t release the sail so when we flipped it right side it took off. We were about a mile or two offshore. Luckily it flipped over the outrigger and we got back to shore. It was then that I joined the Malibu Yacht Club. It was not fancy and more like a bunch of friends on the beach who all loved sailing through the surf. It was pure California beach culture of the 1970’s, We raced so I really got to know the limits of the outrigger.
One of the members of the Yacht club was Hans who always beat me in races but liked to adventure. We took both our boats to Mexico and then to Catalina which was 40 miles due south of the beach. We started out early in the morning in the foggy summer gloom and tried not to get wet pushing through the surf. We started our small outboard motors
and headed out. Sometimes towing a few Hobie Cats behind. Getting there felt like arriving in Tahiti with the crystal clear waters at Parson’s Landing where the Yacht Club reassembled for a week long campout party. I dove for abalone and fish. One time we went around the 26 mile island and slept on the beaches or on the boat itself. Waking up and seeing fish below was like dreaming. The Outriggers were much better at this than the Hobie Cats. Many many stories later I started making kayaks.
40 years later I stayed with Hans in California and he bugged me one time to many about building a new Malibu Outrigger from the same plastic I build the kayaks from. The old Malibu’s were hand built from Plywood which would be very hard to produce today. We decided to go for it.
Hobie type beach cats are not popular anymore but fishing kayaks and SUPs or Stand Up Paddleboards are rapidly gaining in popularity. There is also a whole culture of people who paddle the long outrigger canoes for speed and community. Fishermen could take this boat that goes way easier and farther through the surf to get the big ones offshore. Maybe they don’t even need or want the sail. The SUP crowd coul
d put their SUPs on the arms between the hulls to make the outrigger a SUP mothership for distant adventures. Sleeping on the boards would be easy. Going to inaccessible surf spots would also be a great adventure.
Community is also important here. The Malibu Yacht Club was a recipe for fun. It was like having a house on the beach with no house to buy or maintain, I think the dues were under a $100 a year. There were no parents or authority to tell us what to do. The stories that we were left with were priceless. Boating and the water has a way of shaking things up and putting people out of their comfort zone but usually safely. Kids that I saw grow up there got enough thrills in the surf and offshore to make it so they didn’t have to get their thrills on th
e road. This was high thrills and relative safety vs medium thrills and low safety. There were the old wise men and women who would have classic sayings that would be funny truths about life. All of this combined with being on the water made me feel really alive. I get that same feeling with the kayaks but the outriggers are in a different league of adventure. It is my intention to have groups of people in given areas that could all sail together if they want and if it can work create a sort of air B+B for boats so that these outriggers would be available all over the world with like minded people to sail with.
The new outrigger will have a dug out portion of the deck to things like ropes and fishing equipment can go in there. It is all self bailing where the hulls meet. Since the hulls go together in pieces that will be a natural drain. The little 2 piece outrigger 14’ hull can be used as a main hull for one person paddling or sailing. The stern will take a rudder if necessary. This small outrigger should be very easy to car top. There is of course a one piece 7 foot smaller outrigger that goes with this arrangement. I have seen small outriggers like this that were really fun in the surf and were very portable and lightweight.
Now I am older and want to fool around again but don’t have to worry about choosing what boat to use. I think this boat chose me.