Matthew Dunning

Matthew brings fifteen years experience cruising multihulls on Puget Sound and points north to the TMC brokerage team. Along with his practical knowledge of multihull designs and seamanship, Matthew is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in Geography. He has an intimate knowledge of the  ...more

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Under the calm guidance of Phil Berman and the Multihull company I bought my beautiful yacht L'Aventura, attaining a dream of more than 20 years standing. And in Phil I met a friend. Live the dream - buy a Cat.

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Privilege 42

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Chancerelles

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~ Carter J. Mills
Lagoon 410 S2

Cats On The Baja Haha

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In the 2009 Baja Haha, multihulls checked in together as the "No Comprende" division. I don't understand either so I guess I fit right in. Poobah, Richard Spindler's 63' catamaran Profligate, shepherded a fleet of 165 vessels from San Diego to Cabo. And shepherd she did as there was some spectacular - some might even say sublime - sailing and a very eventful trip. The fleet saw light air and fog, heavy air with big following seas, and perfect breezes under moon lit skies. We even had a sinking to add drama to the radio nets and we certainly enjoyed a whole lot of howling at the moon.

In addition to Profligate, 16 other multihulls were in the fleet, which was not a bad showing (ten percent of the fleet and the most ever - but I still don't understand). No Comprende contained everything from a Catana 52 to a Gemini 105MC. There were two Seawind 1000s, including the XL that I was aboard, four trimarans (one a 45' with a cat ketch rig), a Lagoon 470 and 380, a Fountaine Pajot 56' and 46', a Lidgard 43', a few custom cats and tris, and even a Kennex. The parade out of San Diego Harbor was truly a visual feast.

Leg one, Baha Hahaa double-overnight to Turtle Bay, started with light air and fog with a wave train due in from a storm off of Oregon and an increasing wind forecast. The Poobah, those with green crew, and the tail of the fleet sought shelter behind numerous capes just inside the rhumb on the second night, but much of the fleet pressed on. The seas got up but had a reasonably long period as they were an older train. Winds rose to 25 mph and gusts to 35 mph. The chop built and the cats were really moving. These conditions prevailed throughout the second night and into the third day.

During all of this, a J-120 got into a pod of humpback whales and the skipper watched her windex disappear before her eyes 45-minutes later. The rudderpost had torn the hull on impact and the lead took her to the bottom. The crew of student sailors was rescued 2 hours later by the Coast Guard who estimated average seas of 18-20' at the time. No catamarans were harmed. And it was a good thing the cats didn't tangle with the whales because we were surfing! The wind was blowing, the sun was shining and we were having fun. With an F-boat driver at the wheel we rumbled towards Turtle Bay catching an 18.6 at one point. We rounded into Turtle Bay sure we'd made great time, only to find the Catana, the Lidgard, the Corsair, a custom Hughes, & the cat-ketch trimaran.

The cats anchored close to the pier and the fleet built-in behinMatt and Hectord throughout the night. By sunris e the fleet was definitely in and the town of Turtle Bay was graciously accommodating. Pangas roared to life. We had a sly tip that Hector, and his son, Ivar, were the pangateers who would take care of our every need and they didn't disappoint. The water was warm, the sun was shining, the company was great, the ceviche was fantastic, and the beach party was a sight to behold.

Leg two brought light to moderate air, broad reaching conditions and a rolling spinnaker start. The big cats were striding out in the sunshine. The spectacular coastline of the outer Baja Peninsula unreeled before our eyes only to drop away east toward evening. A second day and night of light and sometimes fickle winds brought us across the bight to Cabo San Lazaro and Bahia Santa Maria. Bahia Santa Maria is a vast bay which could easily protect 20 Haha fleets. But the best anchorage in the prevailing norwesterlies is the north corner beneath the bluffs and this is where the cats collected and where the Lagoons rafted up and threw a double-hulled party for single crew. In the morning, I really didn't understand. Yes, the water was warm, the sun shone, the company was great, and the anchorage was a visual feast, but it was the Lagoons that threw the party and the entire anchorage howled at the moon. Ask me about it sometime.

BahaLeg three was a single overnight to Cabo and this is where the sailing got sublime. That afternoon and evening we had flat seas, good wind and we flew along. Profligate reported 9 to 15 knots in 15-18 knots of wind broad reaching. It was a spectacular night's sail. In the evening we hooked dorado and tuna and then daybreak and cruise ships and huge daycharter cats and the arched cape itself. Squid Roe, Cabo Wabo, beach parties, awards and whale tales soon followed. We had to spend 4 days on the hook enroute to La Paz just to recover.

This is prime cruising territory for catamarans and yet they are still exotic here. I find this odd as the Pacific is the ocean from which multihulls stem and it offers unparalleled cruising opportunities. If you don't understand either and would like to seek enlightenment aboard a catamaran in Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria, or amongst the Vagabundos del Mar on the Sea of Cortez and do the Baja Haha next year or perhaps the Pacific Puddle Jump, just give me a call.


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