HISTORY: [Part 1] / [Part 2]


Staring up at the blanket of stars glistening from horizon to horizon, I never wanted to be anywhere else. A tiny isolated bay, a gently swaying deck and 78 degree temperature. Caleta de San Juanico on the eastern edge of Southern Baja is just such a place. And I was loving it. I’d trailered my F-31 down from Los Angeles to Mulege, launched and sailed to this picturesque bay and now had ten more days to revel in starlit nights and smog free days.
Click on image to enlarge
Click on image to enlarge
A good friend of mine had tipped me off to this marvelous corner of the world, but he had taken a month of gunkholing in his 41’ trawler to get here. My wife Heidi and I do not have that kind of time available to us. Trailering is our only option if we want to explore these pristine cruising grounds. And although we liked our F-31, as we sat in the cockpit, soft star shine filtering down over us, I made a promise to myself. I would have a large open deck, one where I could sleep under the stars on nights like this. A catamaran deck would be perfect. Thus began our dream.
Click on image to enlarge
A year later we bought our current boat, Magnificat, a custom 43 foot catamaran. We’ve sailed fast up and down the Southern California coast often sleeping under the stars but those jewel-like Baja bays called to us. I wanted to trailer to far off places and I wanted a wide, expansive deck. Heidi and I began a concerted search for a catamaran that would fulfill our dream quest. It was, as some of you might have already guessed… a fruitless search. There is no such catamaran. Thus my dream became more complicated.
Having spent the better part of my fifty years in and around boats, I was convinced that a boat with the characteristics I desired was not only possible, I knew exactly how to design it. I spent years in the Navy as a Certified Marine Technician and hold a US Captains license. I felt qualified to talk about my dream from a technical standpoint. I contacted several well known multi-hull boat manufacturers and was greeted with chuckles and outright laughter. “A 36’ catamaran, 23’ beam, foldable to 8 and 1/2’ towing width, WHILE on the water, WITH a covered deckhouse… Are you nuts?” they said. I rolled up my drawings and slunk out the door.
Click on image to enlarge

Now, I am not a naval architect, but I have designed and built all sorts of mechanical configurations for a wide variety of commercial uses. I KNEW my design would work. A designer of custom catamarans whose work I admired, was located in Seattle. Heidi and I took a chance and flew up for the day to talk to this man in person because I have to be able to look into the man’s eyes before I can bare my soul. We talked over lunch about what we hoped to do and how we hoped to do it. Kurt Hughes listened quietly and nodded every now and again but said little. Once or twice he briefly mentioned that we were sailing in uncharted waters, but that our quest fascinated him. And then he sort of looked off into the distance with a little smile on his face. I decided then and there. . . this was the man who could help us. We unrolled our computer drawings, hand drawn sketches, and pages and pages of figures, truly baring our souls to this consummate professional naval architect. For several minutes he said nothing but shuffled through the pages and drawings, then looked up at us. “This might just work!” he said calmly.

At that point, I smiled slyly and reached down to my large carry bag on the floor, took out an object and set it in front of Kurt. It was my laboriously constructed fully operational model of my folding catamaran. I introduced Kurt to “CAT2FOLD” and his eyes grew wide. He was unable to speak for a couple of minutes but he played constantly with the folding mechanism as if Heidi and I were not even at the table with him. Thus began what has proven to be a delightful working relationship and a beautiful friendship.

Next >> Realizing the Dream

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