Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Baja Multihull, a novel option
My first fishing experience on the Sea of Cortez was in 1956. I visited the very primitive town of Guaymas, Mexico with my uncle and a group of his friends. We drove the 1,000 miles towing his 16-foot Wizard fiberglass trailer boat behind us. I was 16 years old.

My fishing experiences in the Sea of Cortez continued with three or four boats I owned, including my 23-foot Blackman Center Console. It was a trailer boat I left in Baja Sur off-and-on from 1977 until the mid ’80s. I was also fortunate enough to be a guest on many sportfishers over the years, ranging in size from 48 to 100 feet – the Ocean Pacific, the Legend, the High Life, the Pastime, theC-Bandit, the Zopilote, the War Eagle, the Sea Mark, the Rojean and the Kingsway to name a few that come to mind.

WHEN HE OFFERED to give me a tour on one of his 50-foot x 26-foot Saba Multihulls, I eagerly accepted.

There were a few attempts at sailing in an 8-foot Sabot and, in 1988, Maureen O’Connor, Mayor of San Diego at the time, designated our 42-foot Uniflyte, the Water Closet, her official America's Cup yacht for the summer. It was a cool gig and Yvonne and I entertained different VIPs as guests and spectators on the Mayor’s official vessel. Among the notable guests were Brian A. Marshall, Great Britain’s Sherriff of Nottingham and his family.

Coincidently, Dennis Connor, along with his team on his catamaran Stars & Stripes, were the victors.

By this time in my life, I knew a lot about boats powered with either gas or diesel, but not so much about boats powered with wind … sailboats.

Last November, upon accepting an invitation to Marina Puerto Escondido for their Grand Opening, I was introduced to Kurt Jerman, owner of West Coast Multihulls, based out of San Diego that he had founded in 1999. In his early years in the marine industry, Jerman lived aboard and cruised extensively, and he has sailed practically every multihull on the market. He is also a highly-experienced power boater who has parlayed many years as business manager for one international builder of trimarans into a regional dealership for cruising catamarans and trimarans.

West Coast Multihulls’ location on the waterfront at Marina Puerto Escondido outside of Loreto is home to a small fleet of luxury cruising catamarans, along with a full-service marina, boatyard, store and restaurant. When he offered to give me a tour on one of his 50-foot x 26-foot Saba Multihulls, I eagerly accepted.

I was amazed at the accommodations, which included six staterooms along with six heads for 12 passengers – offering the ideal platform to explore 10 islands and dozens of unique anchorages throughout the area.

Many years ago in the mid ’70s I towed an 18-foot Bayliner to Nopolo Cove, about half the distance north towards Loreto. Deserted, the only development at that time was a cobblestone street along the beach where we camped. We would launch at a primitive launch ramp which was called Bahia Escondido. We fished, snorkeled and explored the surrounding islands during our many visits.

It is no longer called Bahia Escondido. After being dredged, it became Marina Puerto Escondido with 125 slips and other facilities.

AS WE SKITTERED over the light chop, I found a couple of trolling rods in the overhead racks and soon had lures swimming in the clean wake behind the boat.

As it turned out, I had a chance meeting at the official opening of the Marina with our friend Captain Pat Rains, author and photographer, who has logged more than 100,000 nautical miles skippering a variety of yachts (sail and power) up and down the coasts of Mexico and Central America while updating her nautical guidebooks – Mexico Boating Guide,” “Cruising Ports: the Central American Route,” andMexWX: Mexico Weather for Boaters .”

The two of us were invited to take an afternoon cruise aboard the multi-hulled Saba with other guests visiting Jerman. We both admired the spacious craft as we cleared the harbor. There was seating everywhere – topside, up forward, on the bridge and in the cockpit. Soon, the sails were unfurled, and the unobtrusive, quiet motor was silenced as the light winds filled the sail.

As we skittered over the light chop, I found a couple of trolling rods in the overhead racks and soon had lures swimming in the clean wake behind the boat.

Seabirds could be heard squawking as they followed us from one island to another. The porpoise found us as well, and without the engine noise, we heard the sounds of their splashes as they leapfrogged toward us while we trolled a little shy of 10 knots under sail.

While the other guests enjoyed their drinks and snacks chatting about the Baja scenery, I found myself mesmerized as I watched the lures, trying to will a dorado into the pattern for a photo-op. Then I began imagining how great it would be to spend a week exploring the surrounding islands on the catamaran with a group of friends, anchoring in different coves, fishing close to shore in the inflatable – just doing all the stuff that often is taken for granted on the Sea of Cortez.

Never had I considered a sailboat as an option. According to Jerman, the cost is remarkably affordable at approximately $6,000 for a three-day trip or $12,000 (not including food/drinks or taxes) for a week with a licensed captain.

This is not your run of the mill “sailboat!” It would be fair to say that the prototype was Dennis Connor’s Stars & Stripes that we watched win that America’s Cup back in 1988.

You did more than win that race, Dennis. You and your crew gave us a platform that will serve us well into the future.

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