Monday, November 7, 2011

The Baja Ha Ha

The Baja Ha Ha

For those who don't know the Baja Ha Ha is a sailboat rally that travels annually from 
San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.  This year about 150 vessels of all shape and sizes participated.  There was a 60 foot steel cutter down to a 27 foot Catalina and everything in between.

The rally offers just enough support and organization to get the slightly nervous boater down the coast safely without micromanaging each Captains judgement and decision.

The Ha Ha left San Diego on October 24, 2011.  We sailed three days and two and a half nights to Turtle Bay.  We had a couple of days rest then the fleet departed for Bahia Santa Maria. It was a lovely two day two night sail to Bahia Santa Maria.
After a couple of days rest in Bahia Santa Maria the fleet set sail for two days and one night for the final leg to Cabo San Lucas .

While in San Diego we enjoyed one last send off from our family.  Jeff's brother Mike came out from Arizona for a few days and my parents , Josh and Rachel came down for a week end visit.  It was hard to say good bye.

Mike and Jeff in San Diego

La Familia aboard the Buena Vida

The week before the start of the Baja Ha Ha is aptly named Ha Ha week.

All kinds of great events were scheduled and cruisers could just drop in for what ever event sounded good to them.  The Ha Ha turned out to be a perfect balance of light organization with just enough support and opportunity for camaraderie.
Downwind Marine, West Marine and the Maritime Academy all hosted presentations, lectures, and potlucks.  We attended a couple of lectures that were really informative but the highlight of the week was the Ha Ha/Halloween party hosted by West Marine the day before departure.  The fleet spent so much money at West Marine it was scary!  West Marine was great though, the most helpful and friendly staff ever and they provided free hot dogs and soft drinks every day we went there.  I figure 5 days of hot dog lunches for Jeff off-set the price of one acrylic wine glass purchase but there is no way to off-set the damage done to his health!

The Ha Ha Halloween Party.

Simple yet effective.

My cruising buddy Trish

Steve and Trish with crew mate Dennis.  Great fun was had with the crew of Kayuma.

Just before we cast off the lines.

This was supposed to show off our team t shirts but no... It is always something!
At the start of the rally about 150 sailboats sailed out of San Diego Bay.

Our first day was cool and drizzly.  Bring on the Mexican heat.
Our first sunset, here comes our first night watch.
 The run from San Diego to Turtle Bay was fabulous.  The first day we had to motor as there was just no wind but by mid morning the second day we had good wind and sailed all day and all night.  Actually flew at night!  Flat seas, tons of stars great wind and we were sailing at 7.5 knots. Good sense would dictate reefing at night but we were having such an amazing sail that we put it off as long as possible which meant all hands on deck around 0300 to deal we the issue.  Rookie move but we don’t regret it.

Wing on wing.
Livin' la Buena Vida!

Our first catch!  A huge squid.

Calamari anyone?

Jeff and Jim on the pier at Turtle Bay

We made such good time that we arrived at Turtle bay around mid night instead of the expected 0600, since we had all been to Turtle Bay in the past and were familiar with the bay we decided to do what all cruising books discourage and go in to the bay and anchor at night.  It was another all hands on deck event but went without a hitch.
After a good night sleep I went topside to find us anchored out in the middle of the bay, what a weird sensation.  After breakfast we moved in closer to the town and out of the dust bowl that can blow through the flat land.
Turtle bay is a small, dusty fishing town with a couple of beach side restaurants, small markets and a motel.  The Ha Ha beach party was super fun with volleyball, boccie ball, tug a war and a great potluck lunch.

Lot's of nice families and kids participate in the Ha Ha.

The Beach Party was awesome.
We said good bye to Turtle Bay and sailed downwind to Bahia Santa Maria.
We have been running 3 hour watches at night.  9pm-1200, 1200-0300, 0300-0600, 0600-when the next person wakes up.  We all take turns at each shift and we rotate each night.  
During the day we have a very informal situation.  Jeff and Jim love to be at the helm and usually push me out of the way if I forget my place and stand at the helm so I graciously step aside.  It is only fair as I do all of the meal preparation and most of the clean up.  Jim has been great and always offers to do the dishes after dinner.
A typical day in the life:
0730 Jeff makes coffee and we all slowly wake up while underway.  Around 0830 I go down and make breakfast then around 1000 clean up the galley, make our bed, brush teeth, sunscreen, clean up our room if any clothes, books, cameras etc. where left out the night before.  Jeff and Jim are topside rigging preventors, fiddling with the whisker pole, trimming the sails etc.  Around 1100 I am ready to settle down and read a book but then
A fish is on the line and the excitement begins.  “GET THE GAFFING HOOK,  GET THE VODKA,  OH...GET THE BIG BLUE TUB TO PUT THE FISH IN.”
By the time the Tuna is in the blue tub the cockpit looks like a murder-suicide scene.
Now for the next bit of time we struggle with our conscious while filleting the tender little morsel.  Rinsing and bagging must be done with great care as we do not want the Buena Vida smelling like a tuna canning plant. I know Jim thinks I am a bit neurotic about the cleanliness of the boat but, the cook rules the galley.
Now to clean the blood off every surface topside, spray and wash the shorts and 
t shirts of the parties involved and then go back and clean up more blood that was missed the first round.
By now  it’s  1330 and everyone is hungry so I prepare a salad of Cabbage, green onion, cucumber, and dried apricots with a dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and a bit of sugar for sweetness.  A pot of white rice, spicy green beans and Jeff BBQ’s some of the Tuna.  Wow.  All of that work was worth it.  What an amazing lunch enjoyed on a calm sea with warm sun and cool breeze.  Perfection.
By 1500 all the dishes are done, more blood is found and cleaned in the cockpit, the sails are trimmed and Jeff and Jim go down for a nap.  I enjoy an hour of two of solitude on watch.  Evening comes quick on the boat and preparations need to be made for the night.
Around 1630 I pull out my hat, gloves, gortex Patagonia shell, a polar fleece, Jeans and Ugg boots and stack neatly on the bed.  I put a flash light and knife if my jacket pocket.  I scan the boat for anything that has been left out and might launch during the night when the wind and seas pick up.
Now, it is time to make a light dinner but even just reheating the Italian food from the other night involves using every pot I own.  We have been under sail all day and using the microwave as night approaches is not a good idea.
Pasta, eggplant, raviolis and Italian sausage are served at twilight, oh what I would give for a good Sangiovese right now but no...we don’t drink underway and especially not at night.  We need all of our senses to correctly interpret the running lights on the horizon and the radar targets that pop up.
Now Jim or I do the dishes and it is really dark.  The stars are magnificent and the sound of the water rushing by is better than any music I could select.
The 2100 watch person goes below to read or nap and at least one person stays at the helm.  Hum... another day has gone by and I never had a chance to read or write... and my friends thought I might get bored on the boat.

Jeff's Yellow Fin.

Can't wait for dinner.
Saying goodbye to another great day of sailing.

Bahia Santa Maria was a beautiful spot.  I could have spent four days there hiking, surfing, swimming, kayaking and more.  There is just a small outfitter there and a few fishing shacks along the mangroves no village at all.  The beach was stunning and if you walked along the trail  through the mangroves you could see Magdalena Bay on the other side.

Beach Party at Bahia Santa Maria.

We had our new friends Trish, Steve, Dennis and Nuno from Kayuma over for dinner and had so much fun.  We dinned on Fresh Tuna, Calamari, Wasabi Mashed Potatoes,
Salad and since it was Halloween night, Candy Corn!
Trish brought her famous Sangria, excuse me, Trishgria and before long we had the music turned up as loud as it would go and we were all singing along to Jimmy Buffet.
So typical.
One of the fleet boats was hosting a Halloween party so later we all dinghied over there to carry on into the night.  What a great time!
The next day was the official Ha Ha party on the beach with live band, great food, lots of fun people.
We left a daybreak toward Cabo San Lucas.  I sat outside drinking my coffee as the sky began to lighten, the anchor lights glowing, pelicans flying, fish jumping  I was just so happy.  One of the unexpected joys of this trip has been the night watch and early morning watch.  The peace and beauty that you experience is just magical.  I have surrendered my obsession with time.  I don’t even know what day of the week it is.  It does not mater if it is light or dark, when your cruising you schedule is dictated by the elements, the watch schedule, meal preparation and naps.  I have now become comfortable with waking up at 0300.  I in fact look forward to my night watches as the weather has warmed up, the stars are stunning and the time alone is welcomed.

Early morning departure.

A new Ha Ha tradition.  A bucket of water is poured over someone their first time passing
over the Tropic of Cancer.


and refreshing.

Cabo San Luca was a surprise.  We thought we would hate it but it was OK.  We had lots of fun at the last few parties and having lunch oceanfront with music and all of our new Ha Ha friends.

Jim being recognized as one of the senior participants.
Take it from us, he is fitter than many of the younger sailors.

Beach Party.

More Margaritas.

Jeff and I went scuba diving with one of our new friends, Dave from Canada, and had a great time.  Jeff and I bought some used dive equipment in San Diego and were anxious to give it a try.  Everything worked great and the diving was awesome.  

Lovers Beach
Tons for fish are under there.

Que Bonita.

Shrimp and Lobster dinner with Dave front right,
Steve, Trish, Jim, Julie, Jeff, Dennis, and Nuno

Feel the Love

After all the work preparing for this trip we are finally here and it is really kind of surreal. 
The Baja Ha Ha turned out to be a great vehicle for getting us to Mexico.  Lots of great sailors participate and offer support to the less experienced.  We were lucky to have made our way down without event but for the few who had trouble there was always someone ready to lend a hand.  We sailed at least two thirds of the way down and enjoyed some  of the best sailing of our lives.  When we motor sailed we averaged better then 1/2 a gallon of diesel per hour (5-6 knots) at the cost of about $ 120.00 in fuel.  We won't discuss the large sums of money getting the Buena Vida ready!

In Mexico Livin' La Buena Vida

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, your first blog post from Mexico!! Very exciting, and fantastic pics too. Can see you had an amazing time. "Get the vodka!" when a fish is on is something we'll never forget while cruising with you and so glad you are continuing in that tradition! xoxo