Katie and Gus and Hobie

Gus rigs the Hobie Cat on the beach in front of the Royal Davui. Photos by David Lansing.

More from Katie’s blog:

Gus, the 18-year-old Fiji Youth Hobie Cat racing champion, whom (Grahame), the owner of the Royal Davui, picked up off the docks of Suva as a loitering youngster and taught to sail, is waiting for me down on the beach.

He looks at me and goes to the Marine Center for a pair of harnesses. Gus shows me how to hook into the side of the catamaran, and we’re off, one hull up, leaning back into the harness and bracing against the side of the trampoline with our feet, so that when both hulls are down, we’re parallel with the surf.

Gus and Katie set sail.

I have the jib, although I don’t do anything with it other than hold the rope for balance so hard I begin to get blisters. I arch backwards and drag my fingers in the water as we fly past, as the boat wavers up and down, so we’re almost vertical at times.

Gus chuckles as he tips it up, until he goes too far, and we’re so far upright I lose my balance and plummet to the ocean, and the boat tips over, sail flat. Gus tells me to climb up on the hull with him and help him right everything. Only we aren’t heavy enough, so I have to climb his knees and lean on his chest so we form a counterweight.

When all is righted, Gus tells me to take the rudder and the mainsail, and we go slowly back as he shows me how to catch the wind and steer. Every time we begin to tip too much and I let the sail slack to bring us down, he chuckles again. He asks me where I’m from, and I tell him that back there, it’s snowing.

We sail for nearly three hours, sliding around under the boom, and I’m thankful for my Under Armour, especially when I discover red burns up to my ankles. We tip the boat again, and then I’m hungry for lunch, which consisters of beer-battered fish and chips made from the mackerel Marguarite caught earlier—the best fish and chips I’m sure I’ve ever had.

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