LETTERS ⇑⇓ WHY NOT START IN MID-NOVEMBER? As I write this on October 23, Category 5 Hurricane Patricia is bearing down on Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. On November 2 last year, there was concern that Hurricane Vance might threaten Cabo San Lucas. When I did the Ha-Ha in 2013, I recall that there was a tropical storm or depression threatening Baja Sur while the fleet was heading into Turtle Bay. I'm sure there will be some people who are about to start the Ha-Ha who are thinking like I'm thinking, so I'll bring it up. Might it not be a good idea to delay the start of next year's Ha-Ha until, say, mid-November? I know that Patricia will certainly be gone by the time the Ha-Ha reaches Cabo, but the warm water that fueled it probably won't. So the threat of another late-season hurricane remains. Mark Novak Betty Jane, Hans Christian 43 Ketch Santa Cruz
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• December, 2015
Mark — Excellent question. Having sailed our own boats to Cabo in late October/early November for 22 of the last 23 years, as well as five other times between 1981 and 1993, we've thought long and hard about the best time to head south. Our goal has been to find the right time between the last — hopefully — of the tropical storms and the increased likelihood of cold, crappy weather along the Ha-Ha course. Prior to choosing the Ha-Ha dates, we went to the Unisys hurricane website and studied the paths of all the tropical storms and hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific for the last 50 years. We made sure that none of them would have intersected or even come close to the Ha-Ha course during the dates of the Ha-Ha. We also took into consideration the fact that the Ha-Ha dates were similar to the starting dates of decades' worth of the first Mexican races of the season, and to our knowledge they never had a tropical storm issue. We were also aware that as early as mid-October, Cabo is packed with fishing boats for the Bisbee and other fishing tournaments — not that we would be there that early with our boat. Finally, we haven't heard of any insurance companies refusing to move the start of a boat's coverage up from the first week in November to the last week in October. It may be because the Ha-Ha doesn't get south of the Tropic of Taurus (ex-Cancer) until November anyway. In the years since we started the Ha-Ha in 1994, we've naturally been acutely aware of the weather from mid-October on. What we've found is that it's not at all unusual for there to be tropical storms — even monster hurricanes — in late October. But by November they all but stop for the last 150 or so miles south of Cabo. The late-October storms seem to run into a cooler water barrier between Puerto Vallarta and Cabo, and/or make a sharp turn east, something they don't usually do earlier in the year. The rare tropical storm/hurricane after November 1 has always been to the south of Cabo and fizzled by the time it got anywhere close. And to clear up a misconception, there have been hurricanes off Mexico in November and even December. But they've always been south of Baja. Indeed, as we write this on November 20, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting that Tropical Storm Rick will form off the coast of mainland Mexico on about November 25. You also may want to remember Hurricane Kenneth in 2011, a Category 4 hurricane, from November 19-25. Fortunately, it headed directly west and caused no damage. While we're clearing up misconceptions, warm water is not in itself enough to create tropical storms or hurricanes. There are many parts of the world with very warm water that never get hurricanes. It's also interesting to note that while the water
The December 2015 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.