TALES FROM BAJA HA-HA XXIV — A
s the Grand Poobah, we might be a bit prejudiced, but we think the argument can be made that the Baja Ha-Ha — the 750-mile cruisers' rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, with
The Kick-Off Party costumes were often ghoulish — and so effective it was hard to tell who was behind the facepaint and below the wigs.
R&R stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria — is about the most fun you can have with a boat in a two-week period. There is just so much to the event, and so many great people to make friends with, that it's not ruined if the sailing conditions aren't as good as everyone would like. In the case of this year's 24th annual Baja Ha-Ha, the wind wasn't as good as it has been in years past. While the 240mile second leg from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria was near perfect, with lots of wind from 12 to 18 knots, the 360-mile first leg from San Diego to Turtle Bay, and the 175-mile third leg from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas, were on the very light side. True, some boats got in many hours of gentle sailing on the first and third legs, even though the Grand Poobah called for a 'rolling start', during which
It was damp for the Ha-Ha Parade off Shelter Island. But the moisture came from nozzles of three ﬁreboats, not the gray skies.
time boats could motor without penalty. Robert Day, a two-time Ha-Ha vet of the Laguna Beach-based J/122 Day Dream, reported "seven hours of a glorious spinnaker run on the third leg." No wonder he's coming back for a third Ha-Ha next year. Among the boats that sailed the most on this Ha-Ha, and even during much of the rolling starts, was Ian and Pat Meikle's Seattle-based Island Packet 380 Tuamotu. Although theirs isn't a performance boat, they sailed 13.9% of the first leg, averaging 5.26 knots; 85% of the second leg, averaging 5.1 knots; and 28% of the last leg, averaging 4.79 knots. Underway for a total of 142 hours, they sailed 48% of the time, averaging 5.17 knots. Well done!
t's probably the broad variety of Ha-Ha activities that attracts such a broad variety of Ha-Ha entrants. This year's event had participants as young as 18-month-old Leo Munding of the Alameda-based Catalina 42 Mele Kai. There were nine boats with a total of 15 kids under the age of 18, particularly a lot of girls 13-14. "Our daughters Lucy and Emmy quickly developed great friendships with Morgan, 6, and Olivia Ellie, 4, on the Kirkland, Washington-based Jeanneau 45 Mobert," reported Vikki Fennell of the Tiburon-based Bavaria 46E Taliesin Rose. "While the girls, who are the same age, had fun, we adults were able to enjoy evening cocktails and good conversation. We're already making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas together, as well as longer-term adventures, which wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been on the Ha-Ha. My husband Rowan and I absolutely recommend the Ha-Ha to everyone, especially families." On the other end of the age spectrum were some male sailors in their 80s. Lloyd Clauss of the Ensenada-based Catalina 445 Tranquilo, on his eighth Ha-Ha, is 80, and reportedly worked the bow during jibes! And he's four years younger than Darrell Sauser of the Long Beachbased Downeaster 38 Mar y Sol, who at 84 was the oldest sailor in the fleet. Entries came with all levels of experience. The biggest group were longtime sailors who, now in
their 50s and 60s, have the time and money to finally enjoy a longer sailing adventure — if not an upcoming cruise to the South Pacific or around the world. Others, such as Jeff and Gail Casher of the Marina del Rey-based Liberty 458 Sea Witch, had already sailed around the world and more. Charlie and Cathy Simon of the Seattle-based Taswell 58 Celebrate had already gone around, too, and for good measure had just completed a Northwest Passage. They were nice enough to bring the Grand Poobah a bag of ice from the Arctic for his tropical cocktails. Delicious! Crews on some of the other boats also had circumnavigations to their credit, and many had raced to Hawaii or even in events such as the Volvo Ocean Race. The Grand Poobah was tickled by the mild international flavor of this year's fleet. Foreign boats included Inspirity, Olivier and Brenda Hendrikx's Lagoon 470 from Basel, Switzerland. A Canadian who was born in Casablanca, Morocco, Olivier has been out about eight years,
The December 2017 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.