Bekins, Man, Bekins!
A short history of the Malibu Outrigger
by Dana Munkelt
In 1950, Eisenhower was elected President,
the Corvette was still three years away, Errol Flynn was
a big star, and in Topanga, California a carpenter with
a few friends, some plywood, and a painter’s drop
cloth put together the first Malibu Outrigger.
many Marines, Warren Seaman had been stationed in Maui during
the war, and later when he saw a sailing outrigger under
the Malibu pier, he thought he could do a littler better.
At nearly 19’ x 11’, with 190 sf of sail they
became the most popular of beach outriggers built at the
Malibu Yacht Club, a club located on the beach, and in those
days populated with carpenters, plumbers, movie extras,
and not a celebrity in sight. An egalitarian bunch looking
for a cheap thrill from their backyard boats launched through
the surf, and still faster to Catalina Is. than big shots
from the marinas.
of people got their start sailing with Malibu’s: Wayne
Mort, movie set builder, Warren Seaman, carpenter, and later
the “S” in CSK Yachts, Mike Eaton, San Diego
surfboard maker, Hobie Alter (yes, that Hobie), Phil Edwards,
a Hobie designer, and Steve Dashew, designer of “D”
class catamaran Beowulf, and recently the Deerfoot 60’s.
All built and raced their own boats against guys who would
go on to be Star boat and Lido 14 champions. Alamitos Bay
and Mission Bay in San Diego became other centers for the
Malibu, with racing held all along the coast, and of course,
in Hawaii. Some 2000 were built, mostly by their owners.
Hardware might be made by Bill Buck when he wasn’t
being a fireman, or a really fast boat might be ordered
from Warren or Mike Eaton.
to Catalina, down the coast, into Mexico. This boat was
sailed by some real indivualists. Bob Fourtiea used to sail
a 24’ version down to San Diego each summer. When
asked how the boat went back to windward he said: “Bekins,
man, Bekins!” Meaning he hired a moving van company
to ship it home dismantled. A 32 footer, built from the
remains of a wooden landing barge raced the Newport-Ensenada
several times, and cruised the Channel Is. in the summer.
By the late 60’s there was competition
from the beach cats. The British Wildcat, Carter Pyle’s
P-Cat (you can still order one!), for example. In 1968 Warren
Seaman was in Hawaii and was asked by a surfer named Hobie
if he saw anyhing to improve on a 14’ cat he’d
Mort has since moved to Hawaii, built a few boats, and keeps
the plans available, and recalls: “At one time there
were about 25 Outriggers on the beach at Malibu, and more
along the coast, and scattered as far as Tahiti and Africa.
They were designed to be as simple to build and sail as
could be, “tank tested” in the Catalina Channel,
and created many great sailors and boat builders, such as
Warren Seaman. To this day there is no mistaking the romantic
rig of a Malibu on the horizon, and it’s too bad that
people don’t make the effort to build such a boat
instead of buying.”
Mike Eaton agrees, saying: “The
Malibu looks much more graceful on the water than the modern
cats with their industrial pipes and wires.”
the number built, few Malibus are still sailing in Southern
California. Sometimes you see one in a backyard with peeling
paint, or over the bar in a beach restaurant. There is a
bright red one I see every year or so. Once I was leaving
the harbor at 8 am, and noticed a little sail miles to seaward
and inbound. We passed some distance apart, but there was
no mistaking that sail and red hull. He must have spent
the night at sea.
Wayne L. Mort, SR 11026, Keaau, HI 96749, USA, 808/966-4475.
click images to enlarge