The history of Baba 40 number 1

Sonrisa is the first Baba 40 to come out of the renowned Tashing boat yard in Taipei Taiwan. Hulls are typically numbered in sequence for a given model, so the first Baba 40 built is known as “hull number 1.” Owners of classic boats often refer to their boats both by name and by hull number as it gives some additional sense of history of the vessel. If you go to the Baba 40 listing at you’ll find all of the specs of the Baba 40, but you’ll also find a picture of Loncia which we learned was Sonrisa’s original name.

The Baba was conceived by Bob Berg who was working at Quicksilver Yachts at the time. He commissioned Bob Perry to design a line of what at the time was thought to be the quintessential cruising vessel.

For the full history of the Baba line of sailboats designed by Robert H. Perry, you can read the story on his blog. The Baba 40 comes into the story at Part Three, but you really should read the whole history of the Baba’s that came before.

I blog the Baba………………….Part 

More Baba blog Part two

A note from Bob Berg aka Baba

The Baba Saga Part Three, the final installment

We found Sonrisa in 2013 for sale in Long Beach California. Her owner had outfitted her for open-ended cruising, but returned from Mexico where he put her up for sale. On April 27/28 2013 Kristin and I had made a trip to San Diego to look at some cruising boats that made our short list of considerations. We looked at a Valiant 40, a Kelley Peterson 46, and a couple of others. We had intended to also see a Baba 40 in San Diego, but our broker could not get a hold of anyone to show us the boat. On the return trip I got a call from our broker and he mentioned that there was a different Baba 40 in Long Beach and if we made a detour the broker would show it.

On the drive to Long Beach Kristin and I chatted about what we did and didn’t like about the boats we had seen so far. I really liked the Valiant as it was the best value of all the ones we’ve seen so far, but Kristin thought the aft cabin and galley were pretty cramped. The Kelley Peterson 46 was palatial in comparison, but it was also the most expensive one on the list and while it had two heads, neither had a dedicated shower which we wanted. I had wanted to see the Baba in San Diego. From the ads it looked pristine, although the price matched its condition.

When I was living aboard my first sailboat Contigo when I was in my 20’s (also a teak-laden double-ender, but a wood one) I had always admired a Baba 40 that sat in a slip opposite mine. I never saw that boat move from its slip and it pained me that such a beautiful boat would sit idle and gather moss. I wanted to at least get aboard a Baba before settling on our cruising boat, but at this point it was an outlier on my short list. I knew the maintenance that wood decks and trim would entail and they tended to be more expensive than comparable Valiants of the same age. But still, I should satisfy my longing from years ago at at least see the inside of one for once.

Arriving in Long Beach we met the broker at the dock to take a quick look at this Baba 40. It was less expensive than the one we didn’t see in San Diego, but at first glance we could see why. The beautiful teak trim was faded and grey and flecked with the last remnants of the orange-brown Cetol that had given up its struggle against the sun. However, it was very well equipped and the broker indicated that the boat came with everything we saw – 2 dinghies with an outboard for each, solar panels, wind generator and plenty of spares.

Sonrisa shortly after we purchased her.

By this time Kristin and  I had a routine for how we toured vessels. We each had things we were looking for and we asked lots of questions, but neither of us would let on if we were interested – we would play it cool in front of the broker.

Going below exceeded even my inflated expectations of what the interior of a Baba would be like. While many of the boats we looked at either had decidedly sparse interiors or veneered interiors that seemed to evoke 1970’s lounges, the Baba seemed more of a work of art. Where others had either painted or veneered plywood, the Baba had solid teak staving. Everything was curved and everything was finely joined together. Plus I loved the layout – big beautiful salon table, a two-butt galley (a kitchen space big enough for two), nice big shower stall, private aft cabin and cabinets everywhere.

Still, when we headed back to the car I was sure that Kristin would have been put off by the faded teak and ugly upholstery. We got in the car and Kristin closed the door she couldn’t contain herself any longer and blurted out, “That’s our boat!”

A little stunned, I asked what was it about that boat that spoke to her.

“Just… everything. I like the layout and the aft cabin and the galley and it’s so pretty. It’s doesn’t feel unmanageably big, but it’s big enough to feel safe. It doesn’t have to be this one, but I know I want a Baba and I like this one. Of all the boats we’ve looked at, this one, well, it just feels like home.”

Feels like home

There are endless heated discussions about what makes the perfect cruising boat – catamarans versus monohulls, sloops versus cutters, aft cockpit versus center cockpit, smaller versus bigger. All of those are really preferences. If you start with well-founded boats with good reputations and of those you find one that your spouse says “feels like home,” you’ve found the perfect boat.

She came with the name Sonrisa and we liked it and decided not to change it.

She was originally named Loncia and started her voyaging in the waters of the Puget Sound. Under 3 past owners she has been from Alaska to Mexico to Hawaii. We hope to take her even further and do a Pacific loop that includes the South Pacific.

Several years later, when we were in Monterey in 2017 heading south for the SoCal TaTa we were chased down by a kayaker as we approached the fuel dock.

“Did that boat used to be called Loncia?” the unknown kayaker called out.

“Why yes,” I replied.

“I thought I recognized her, that’s my old boat!”

In quite a chance occurrence, Brent Peterson just happened to be heading south again on his J-boat for the 2017 Baha HaHa while we were passing through. While we didn’t get a chance to sit down, we did exchange some history about Sonrisa dockside. He told us his family were liveaboards and they raised their two boys on her. He was particularly proud of his 16-day return passage to the west coast from Hawaii. We can only hope to repeat this performance.