More than just a catboat

Published on September 7th, 2021

by Lydia Mullan, SAIL
When you talk to Beetle Cat sailors, it’s immediately apparent you’re talking about more than just a 12ft 4in catboat.

“It began with my great-grandmother, who bought a boat for her four sons in 1928. They named it after her, called it the Queen Mary,” says New England Beetle Cat Boat Association Chairman, Bob Hawes.

“My grandfather sailed it with his brothers on [Massachusetts’s] Westport River, and then when he came back from the war, he married his best friend’s sister, my mother, and immediately bought a Beetle Cat. My mother’s name was Ann, so he named it the Queen Ann.”

Bob also brought his daughters, Heather and Jillian, up in Beetle Cats, and Heather now has three children of her own, all of who will someday skipper the family Beetle Cat, Pollywog. That makes six generations (and seven Beetles) for the Hawes family.

As adults, Heather and Jillian still race Pollywog together every summer. “I love that time together. I’ve always been her crew. There have been fights and tears, but most of all lots of laughs,” Jillian says. “Honestly,” she adds, turning to her sister, “if you ever had to get a new crew, it would probably drive you crazy.”

“It would,” Heather agrees, half-jokingly, “You’re the only person I can boss around and not feel bad about it.”

“A couple times I’ve wanted to jump ship during a race,” Jillian says. “All the boats around us can hear us bickering. They think it’s hysterical.”

“It’s more than the just racing, though,” Bob insists. “When I see them going out on their own or going out with their children, you know they’re learning lessons that go way beyond just sitting in the boat.” – Full report

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