How far would you travel for a valued treasure? For Ned McMahon, a Woody Brown Catamaran was well worth a 4,300-mile round trip to pick up. Ned found the catamaran on Rawhide’s ebay store and could not believe his good luck. Ned considers finding this boat equivalent to finding a classic car hidden away in someone’s barn. Traveling the distance to pick up his treasure was a non-issue for him.

Ned resides in San Diego, California as well as Hawaii and has always admired Woody Brown Catamarans—what many deem to be the first modern catamarans crafted.

Ned’s 4,300 mile trip San Diego

Image courtesy of Ned.

A Legend Who Inspired

Woody Brown was a legendary surfer and boat designer who lived in Hawaii and designed the first modern catamaran, branded the Manu Kai, in 1947.

Woody Brown’s boats eventually inspired a Hawaiian cultural change that included the Hokule’a (Pronounced HHOWKuw-LEH-ah). The Hokule’a is a large boat first constructed by the Polynesian Voyaging Society in 1975 to honor the Hawaiian culture. The society wanted to replicate the tremendous travels the people had made in hopes of discovering new land.

Ned had always been partial to the Hokule’a because of what it represented and the boat’s beautiful wooden curves, simplicity, and speed. He decided to search for his very own Woody Brown Manu Kai (meaning Sea Bird in Hawaiian). He came across a 38-foot model on the Big Island near Hilo, but the rot and poor maintenance from the previous owner made it undesirable.”

From Good to Great

Since Woody did not craft many boats, Ned’s search proved difficult until he landed on Rawhide’s eBay store. He found a 20’ Manu Kai and made the purchase without hesitating. Some generous person donated the boat to Rawhide to help troubled youth. Good thing all the way around!

While getting the boat was special enough, it just kept getting better

  1. The boat had been originally purchased directly from Woody Brown himself (supporting documents came with the boat)
  2. The boat is in remarkable condition
  3. It is an original Manu Kai
  4. Duke Kahanamoku, a five-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, surfing champion, and “Ambassador of Aloha” represented the boat. (Determined by a brochure that came with the boat.)
    a. Coincidentally, in 1997 Ned became the minority owner in the business brand Duke Kahanamoku started, becoming friends with Duke’s family members along the way. Ned says once he saw the pamphlet, the whole thing came together for him.

Rawhide’s mission also spoke to Ned. He has spent much of his time taking at-risk youth on sailing adventures and has spent the last two years living in and managing a “House of Hospitality,” a shelter for homeless men.

Smooth Sailing Ahead

After a safe trip to Rawhide and back, Ned moved the catamaran to a local San Diego boat yard and began sanding and repairing spots in the fiberglass. He then repainted the entire boat and re-varnished the natural finished wood on the mast, boom, and other areas of the boat. The process took some time, but the hard work paid off. Ned was able to get the boat on the water and says that it sails remarkably well. You’ll even notice that Ned designed the catamaran to look like one of the boats from the 1950s picture above. He still has a few things to fine tune to get the catamaran up to full speed, but he said the first sail was great. Ned believes that it may have been the first time the boat has been in its natural environment: the salt water of the Pacific.


Rawhide’s eBay Store: Home to Collectibles and Special Finds

Ned’s story shows that no matter where you live or what your interests, Rawhide might have what you’re looking for. Ned considers the 4,300 mile trip well worth the find. We might have some treasure that’s worth a trip for you!