BAJA HA-HA XXII RECAP —
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• December, 2015
based Catalina 44 Tranquilo. What every crew had in common, of course, was a burning desire to replace their workaday routine with an offshore sailing adventure that would transport
"We're on a boat. . ." This posse of rappers was prepared to trade in their top hats for ﬂip-ﬂops as soon as the Kickoff Party ended.
them to the sunny latitudes of Mexico. For some, the rally provides merely a brief respite from work, nasty politics and the depressing droning of the nightly news. But for many others it serves as the inaugural step into the international cruising lifestyle — an avocation that might keep them away from the mainstream of modern urban living for years.
he Ha-Ha's annual Pre-Halloween Costume Kickoff Party on Sunday, October 25 — cohosted by West Marine at its Shelter Island superstore — was the perfect way to set a fun-loving tone for the rally, while peeling away some of that pre-rally anxiety we spoke of earlier. As
Thanks to El Niño, both sea and air temperatures were warmer than normal. always, there were plenty of pirates and wenches, and ghouls and goblins. One crew wore milk cow costumes, another dressed as Mexican banditos, and another dressed like killer bees. Popeye and Olive Oyl were in attendance, as were several Rastafarians, some exotic dancers, a few clowns, and a guy who was supposed to resemble a rain cloud (we think). But the guy who seemed to be hav-
ing the most fun of all was West Marine emcee 'Captain Ron' Maggi — the only pirate we know of who actually draws a company paycheck and pays taxes to the IRS. While the 436 ralliers mixed and mingled, he held a series of themed costume contests for masqueraders of all ages. Shortly after 9 a.m. the next morning, fleet members who were staged in the eastern part of San Diego Bay began casting off their docklines and slowly heading toward the western tip of Shelter Island, joining others along the way in a grand procession. Up ahead, fountains of water sprayed skyward from a local fireboat, marking the rendezvous point with the Rally Committee's mothership, the 63-ft catamaran Profligate. At 10 a.m. sharp San Diego's official America's Cup shotgun fired a salute to the fleet from the deck of the sportfishing boat Dolphin. Aboard her, members of the press recorded the scene, while both local and Mexican dignitaries waved buen viaje to the departing sailors, some of whom were still decked out in costumes. The rally's official weather gurus at Commanders' Weather had predicted light winds for that morning's 11 a.m. start, and that's precisely what we got: 8 to 10 knots from the NW which built gradually as the fleet moved south; ideal conditions for flying spinnakers, even for those with marginal experience. Skies were clear all afternoon as the breeze built to about 14 knots. Thanks
ALL PHOTOS LATITUDE / ANDY EXCEPT AS NOTED
uring the final days before the start of any Baja Ha-Ha cruisers' rally, there's always a predictable amount of anxiety among fleet members — especially first-timers struggling to complete the many boat-prep tasks that remain on their 'must-do' lists. This year, it didn't help that the most powerful hurricane ever recorded by the National Hurricane Center roared across the Mexican mainland only three days before the Ha-Ha's October 26 start. Nevertheless, within hours of leaving San Diego Bay, bound for Cabo San Lucas, the pre-departure stress and jitters melted away as a gentle breeze swept the 110-boat fleet south across the border. And shortly before the sun set over the western horizon that first evening out, a brilliant full moon rose up over the Baja Peninsula, spotlighting the fleet's southbound course. Those idyllic getaway conditions set the scene for what would follow, as wind and sea conditions were excellent throughout most of the 22nd Ha-Ha rally. So fine, in fact, that one veteran Mexico cruiser insisted this particular Baja run was "as good as it gets." As in years past, the 2015 entry roster was composed of a great variety of boats, whose differences were as varied as the backgrounds of their owners. Boat types ranged from John and Deb Rogers' San Diego-based Deerfoot 64 Moonshadow to Mark and Susan Hall's Stocktonbased one-off aluminum schooner Del Viento to the Santa Cruzbased Mirror 19 Bluebird — the smallLooking sultry in her frilly est boat ever to party dress, Erin crewed do the Ha-Ha, for her dad aboard 'Aerie'. whose skipper, Tom Carr, had to get special dispensation from the rally's Grand Poobah in order to enter. The professions of owners were equally diverse, from white-collar cubicle-dwellers to outdoorsy tradesmen, and everything in between. The age range varied wildly also. The youngest was five-month-old Johnny Pelicano from the Brazil-based Frers 41 Orion, while the oldest was 76-year-old Lloyd Clauss, a five-time Ha-Ha vet from the Ensenada-
The December 2015 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.