The Fly’n Hawaiian:
Blind Ambition Meets Reality in the Pacific Ocean
By: Glenn Peck and Ted Lyman
Has anybody else been following the story of the once local vessel Fly’n Hawaiian? Both of us have been aware of this strange tale for several years now. When an update was reported in the SF Chronicle a few weeks ago, we got together to share our personal memories of this boat. They were raucous enough to warrant a Blog entry (of course, you will be the judge of that.)
The story starts five or so years ago and is set at the Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael. A guy who obviously has a name but prefers to go by “Hot Rod” got the idea to build a boat and sail it to Hawaii and beyond. That he goes by the name Hot Rod suggests how this story plays out—which is to say that it doesn’t end well. But what a story it is up to that point.
Glenn used be a charter captain out of Loch Lomond Marina and continues to fish there. He followed this story more closely than Ted, but both of us have been intrigued over the years to the point that this story must be told. Ted saw the boat up on the hard and under construction on a couple of layovers he had in that marina over the years going to and from the Delta and the Bay.
But first, about the boat itself; there is no evidence of plans as such and plenty of evidence of weak vision and poor execution. The basic idea was a catamaran, about 65’ long. It would weigh something like 8,000 lbs., a huge thing, but this of course wouldn’t be known until it was “finished". It was to be un-powered except by sails hung on two masts salvaged from somewhere—the idea was apparently to build a bastardized, ketch-rigged sailboat that would be very heavy but have no engine. It was a bad idea from the get go.
What was the weather like so many miles off the coast of California in the middle of winter? Can you imagine huge waves climbing those stairs and coming aboard through those huge patio doors? One can. Were they on a shakedown cruise to get the bugs worked out? Not likely being 120 miles off the coast and on a course pretty much direct to Hawaii.
What is known for sure is that five people were lifted off a dismasted and thereby seriously disabled sailboat by a Coast Guard helicopter. The boat was apparently left to drift or whatever is it's destiny after such a problem in the Pacific in the dead of winter. Hot Rod and his erstwhile crewmates survived what was clearly a bad dream. Where is the Fly’n Hawaiian today? To our knowledge, there have been no reports. It is either on the bottom or headed there.