sharply during the two days when the fleet was snugly anchored at Bahia Santa Maria, but Rich was still out in it, sailing solo and taking a beating. Having never come into BSM before — and perhaps being less than clear-headed due to sleep deprivation — he elected not to brave the entrance and pull in to get some sleep. As he learned later, of course, few places along the West Coast have a more forgiving entrance (unobstructed and seven miles wide), and a more wide-open anchorage (four miles across and relatively shallow) where he could easily have sailed both on and off the hook. In any case, by the time the fleet was nearing Cabo on the second morning of Leg Three, Rich sounded thoroughly exhausted and dispirited. Nevertheless, his solar panels were still providing him battery power, and the wind was no longer threatening, but instead maddening light. Rich's friends in the fleet, as well as Rally Committee members, were concerned, but he was in no immediate danger.
LATITUDE / RICHARD
t would be hard to exaggerate the contrast between the unspoiled beaches of Bahia Santa Maria and the raucous streets of Cabo San Lucas. A longtime mecca for party-hearty tourists and serious fishermen, the frenetic, high-energy vibe of its countless bars, restaurants and nightclubs is the polar opposite of Santa Maria's natural serenity. But when you've been out at sea for the better part of 10 days, that first long marina shower and well-blended margarita are welcomed manifestations of civilization. And after being cramped up in the confinement of a sailboat interior, it's downright therapeutic to cut loose on the dance floor of the notorious Squid Roe bar with a couple hundred of your closest Ha-Ha fleet mates. As rally veterans know, this is an unofficial yet well-established Ha-Ha tradition. Although for decades Marina Cabo San Lucas has catered primarily to sportfishing boats, its current director, Darren Carey, is determined to make
his facility equally welcoming to sailors. To that end, rates were lowered dramatically this year and, as always, his staff worked closely with the Rally Committee to shoehorn in as many Ha-Ha boats as possible. By Friday morning, they'd found room for over 60 of them. That afternoon several hundred fleet members gathered under a cluster of sun umbrellas at the waterside Baja Cantina Beach Restaurant for the annual Ha-Ha beach party. With many sailors basking in the glow of personal satisfaction after successfully completing the trip — or was it the glow of happiness fueled by two-for-one margaritas? — new friends made plans to meet up again in distant anchorages, or buddy-boat together to La Paz, Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta. The highlight, as always, was the From Here to Eternity kissing contest, where lovers were meant to imitate the iconic, surf-splashed embrace of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr at the end of that classic black-and-white film. (See Sightings.) By that time Rich December, 2012 •
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The December 2012 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.