A refection back “How GatoLoco Arrived in the Sea of Cortez”
Wow, It’s hard to believe we’ve been sailing GatoLoco for 7 years and have launched Baja cruises south from Puerto Penasco the past 6. What an impact this catamaran has made on our lives. This journey started many years ago (too many) when the GatoLoco partners met while racing Hobie cats off the beach in Penasco. After coastal cruising the Penasco area in an Oday and then moving up to a Stiletto performance catamaran (Dos Buenos) with few amenities, the partners set our sights on a catamaran that would open the door to experience all the Sea of Cortez. While attending the Oakland Boat Show in 2002 we walked on a Seawind 1000. There was a flash of excitement finding a boat that seemed perfect. Little did we know the extent of this “life changing moment” which launched our journey to explore the Sea (of Cortez). Since taking delivery in May of 2002 our adventures at sea have not stopped giving us endless rich memories on board our Auzzie catamaran.
Our first glimpse of GatoLoco  was on the top rack of a container ship in Long Beach Ca (may 30, 2002). She rode from Sydney with a perfect view of the Pacific. Within hours she was launched and introduced to her new crewmates. Our maiden voyage was to head south to San Diego for some final equipment to be installed. It was on the Police Docks, in San Diego, that this Australian catamaran learned of her Latin destiny as she was christened “GatoLoco”. GatoLoco meaning crazy cat in Spanish was a hint of where she was headed and personalities of her crewmates..
Hey, this is getting to be fun walking down memory lane. Feel free to leave comments to clarify anything you might like to add. I’ve got lots of nautical miles under these keels “so to speak” with all the hazards that brings, so no offense will be taken if you add more details. Anyway lets continue.
It’s a foggy day as we take official ownership of GatoLoco outside US waters off San Diego and head south to Ensenada, Baja 1/2 day south. The visibility remains marginal as Gato Loco enters Mexican waters for the first time. She will call Ensenada home until we head to Cabo in October. The cool mist from the fog has a chill in the air that us desert dwellers from Arizona are loving. Relaxing on the foredeck someone yells “there’s something ahead very faintly visible in the fog”. Yes, it’s coming our way and it’s tall and square!! Oh shit, it’s our first encounter with pirates and worse yet we have no way to defend our selves. Man the bow pulpits!!! Awesome, it’s the tall ship “The Rose” filming Masters & Commanders and we’re right beside them. Actors are in the rigging and lots of crew on deck. Too cool… Oh Shit again, as a 40′ gray whale surfaces only 50 meters in front of Gato Loco. Yes, let the adventures begin.
During the summer of 2002 GatoLoco was visited by crew members in Ensenada  almost every weekend as we prepared for our first 10 day cruise south to Cabo in the Baja HaHa Rally in October. Lots of fond memories from Ensenada, Hussongs cantina, Papa’s & Beers and great street parties during Mardi Gra and summer holidays. Partner, Rick developed many friendships in Ensenada and was extremely sad as we sailed south during the Haha without an opportunity for him to say adios..
Shortly after the start of the Haha  winds built and we have dual head sails flying. This looks promising and we’re in this rally to win our class. Before we can blink an eye sunset on the first day is up on us.. Sailing Dos Buenos, we’ve done some overnight passages but not for 10 days.. Watches are organized with Bill & Dave one 3 hour watch and Rick and Lowell (me) another. Frankie works as a floater to help both watches. Winds are steady and we’re making great progress. The Haha has 120 some boats all heading south for the season or on to other destinations like GatoLoco… Third night approaching Turtle bay here’s an excerpt from the log.. Sailing watches were awesome last night with heavy phosphorous spray coming off the bows and wind at our stern.Two times during our watch (Frankie, Rick and I) we had dolphin running with us. You could see then shooting through the water like a torpedo and leaving phosphorous trails like a jet. Rick was on the bow hooting and hollering 🙂 Well, just as planned, we made it to Cabo and gained valuable seamanship experience. We also followed the ancient sailor tradition and hit the pubs as soon as we set foot on shore. Squid Row was where the damages were done. I’m pleased to report that no members of the GatoLoco crew were thrown out the front door by security, that’s a good thing. Day 2 in Cabo was the awards ceremony when we found out we placed 2nd in the catamaran class, beat out by an Australian designed custom 42 cat that was very fast.
Bill is thinking to himself, Why didn’t we plan some weather days to sail GatoLoco to La Paz, after the Haha festivities wrapped up. Seas are 10′ as GatoLoco crashes through waves windward close hauled as much as possible. Every wave requires attention to steer off the wave to ease landing on the back side. The Pacific waves rolled past smooth compared to these steep monsters. Bill’s friends Carlton and Jake had signed on to help Bill take GatoLoco to La Paz and her first experience in the Sea but at the moment are no help, both very seasick and setting white knuckled on the steer seats. They need to make La Paz in two days to make their flights so hopefully weather will back down soon before they have to face the Channel Cerralvo where it can get really nasty. Bill steered all day facing weather worse than he’s seen to this day. Huge lesson learned.. “Weather Days”.
GatoLoco passed her first test from the Sea of Cortez and settled into a quiet berth in La Paz on the first of December 2002. The dream of have a cruising catamaran in the Sea of Cortez fulfilled and crewmates feeling very accomplished to have made the journey from Long Beach Ca, to La Paz. A seasoned veteran Sea of Cortez sailor, with an eye about to tear up, told us how excited he was for us to see all the Sea has to offer for the first time. His past wonderful experiences were going to be our future experiences. He seemed to yearn to start over. We’re very excited… GatoLoco welcome to the Sea of Cortez.. (Dec 1, 2002).
The co-owners (partners) of GatoLoco are Bill Hensler, Rick Quant, Dave & Ellen Redden and Lowell & Frankie McCulley.
Thanks for your indulgence. Hope you enjoyed a little history. Leave a comment if you would like.
Back to Baja 09. Our crew list have been filled and travel arrangements organized. Kerry Fahey gets the award for traveling the farthest, coming from Sydney Au. If you requested to crew but didn’t land a spot, we’re sorry and will look to you to fill any cancellations we might have. Here’s the current plans..
Leg 1 April 11-19, Crew: Bill, Bruce & Cynthia Tegge, Clyde Betts sail from Puerto Penasco to San Carlos
Leg 2 April 19-26, Crew: Lowell, Frankie, Neely, Bill, Victor & Leselie Rangel
San Carlos to Loreto. Santa Rosilia, Mulege and visit new friends (overnight anchorage) in Bahia San Marcos
Leg 3 April 26-3, Crew:Bill, Lowell, Frankie, Neely, Kerry Fahey (AU)
Seawind Rally to Loreto Fest. Sail from Loreto heading south to meet Seawinds coming from Cabo, maybe meet 2 days south. Kurt will be sailing north from Cabo with California Seawind owners.
Leg 4 May 3-10, Crew:Bill, Frankie ,Lowell, Neely, Bob & Chris Sanders, Kerry Fahey (AU), Murril Gash
Sail the Loreto area …. Steve and Cindy will also be in the Loreto area this week.
Leg 5 May 10-17, Crew:Bill, Lisa Wendt, Sally Dalton, Marilyn Haney
Frankie, Neely and I head back to San Carlos flying or by Ferry.
Leg 6 – May 17-24, Crew: Rick Quant & Crew sailing in the Loreto area.
Leg 7 – May 24-31, Crew: Bill, Mike Clark, Liane Guathier, Mike & Gill Panasewicz sail back to San Carlos
Leg 8 – May 31-?, Crew: Bill & his family sail San Carlos back to Puerto Penasco
Roger’s concert in Penasco is June 6th. Until the next update… The Gato Loco Crew
Here’s a chart for Leg 1 that Bill outlined in his update.
Until the next Update.
Lowell for the GatoLoco crew