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New Boat New Ocean

Yesterday we took our ‘new to us’ 1993 Gemini 3400 catamaran out on the Sea of Cortez for the first time with moderate winds at 15mph and seas running one to two feet in height.

Last year we didn’t even take the boat of the mooring for our 3 months in Mexico. There was just too factors against us. Charley was only two months old when we came down last year, the outboard wasn’t working reliably, the sails and a few halyards were questionable, the drop keels were glued in the trunks with three years of crustaceans. I short, there was a lot of work to be done.

Coming from the east coast of the US to the Gulf of California, there are some noticeable differences. The seas in the gulf tend be short but choppy. ‘Square Waves’ are not uncommon- wave height and wave period being the same. The water is icy pacific cold, but the marine life is incredible.

Yesterday as we were bobbing into the wind right outside the entrance to San Carlos Bahia and we saw three whales! That was pretty incredible right next to shore. We’ve seen plenty of dolphin on the east coast but never sea lions.

We tied Emma in the cockpit with a short leash but we decided that Hil would be better of keeping Charley in her pack like a back pack. Hil could have her hands free and could move around in the cockpit without chasing Charley.

Sailing a catamaran ins a completely different feel from sailing a monohull. Our CSY 33 was heavy enough she really just started moving at 15kn and the Gemini flies at 15kn! Our mono was pretty quiet under sail cutting through the water with with her full keel. The Gemini makes a lot of noise any any point of sail abeam or closer to the wind. The infamous “bridge slap” takes getting used to but is not dangerous.

We raised the main and ran with the wind. With main alone the boat moves faster than we ever sailed on the CSY monohull. We were running 5-6kn with no sail trim and no head sail. With the head sail out speed picked up to over 7pm.

The ride gets a little rougher running in the trough abeam. I dropped the starboard keel and we turned close hauled and it feels like you’re screaming! The motion is lot more ‘bumpy’ for lack of a better description, like riding in a 4wheel drive off road.

We sailed for about 2 hours and motored back to the mooring. There’s still slot to learn before I feel comfortable heading out overnight across the Gulf to the Baja side of Mexico. I hope we can spend this trip to work on different points of sail and practice anchoring. Setting an anchor with a light boat requires different techniques than on our heavy mono.

We have basic instruments, boat speed, depth, autopilot that wanders, a wind speed indicator with a broken wind vane, and a new Garmin Gps that shows us high and dry on land at our mooring. I miss our old fashioned weather vane on top the mast. I would get more benefit out of the weather vane than the fancy wind speed indicator or the autopilot right now.

The Gemini makes a wonderful live aboard for our small family of four. We are very comfortable at anchor on our boat and it has some great interior amenities like the propane fridge and the queen master berth that are comparatively luxurious to other similar sized boats.

I’m looking forward to getting comfortable with the boat so we can start trekking. From our past experience I truly believe the boat can survive far more than the crew (usually). Our job as crew is to find out how the bot responds and what we can stand before we get into a bind.

That means more sailing…

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