It’s hard to believe that we left San Diego just two weeks ago as we’ve already had what seems like a mini lifetime of cruising experiences on the Baja-HaHa. Before I tell you about the adventures and misadventures, we have to give major props to Latitude 38 for organizing the HaHa as it is surpassed our expectations from start to finish – from ease of sign-up to safety underway to assistance with entry to Mexico and, of course, all the parties along the way. If anyone out there is ever thinking of sailing from the West Coast to Mexico, we highly recommend it. There’s info at http://www.baja-haha.com if anyone wants more info.
Now back to our Baja-HaHa experience. There were 160 boats signed up but attrition was 30 boats so we ended up sailing in a group of 130. The start in San Diego was unexpectedly foggy and rainy with wind from the south, which is not good for sailing in that direction, but eventually it cleared and we were off. For the next 3 days AND nights we sailed or motor-sailed 350 miles to Turtle Bay where we anchored at 3:00 AM in pitch dark, which is not recommended but by then we just wanted to drop the hook and get some sleep.
After 2 “recovery” days in Turtle Bay we started the second leg which was 220 miles (as the crow flies) to Bahia Santa Maria. The wind and weather on this leg was a lot better than the first and, miracle of all miracles for sailors, we managed to sail ALL 220 miles. The downside was after sailing for 2 days AND nights we ended up arriving at our destination at 3:00 AM and once again had to anchor in pitch black then rested for 2 more days before the final push to Cabo.
The third and final leg was shorter (only 180 miles) and we planned to do it with just one overnight sail so we were very raring to go. The wind was light for most of the leg so we either sailed with our Chute (Gennaker) or motor-sailed and lo and behold got there during daylight hours, crossing the finish line at around 1:00 pm and breaking out the champagne. Our biggest surprise came at the awards ceremony where it turns out that we came second in our division. It was more rally than race but there were a couple of very competitive 47-foot race boats in our class so we’re just happy to have come ahead of one of them…:-)
Sounds easy right? Well there were are few incidents, including a run-in with a huge sport fishing boat in the middle of the night that nearly ran us over then proceeded to follow us for a few miles. I was on shift and didn’t know if they were pirates or idiots so I woke up Audrey and Alex (our super-crew from Toronto) just in case. The other incident was when we decided to break our cardinal rule and fly the chute at night. You know where this is going, right? Yes – as soon as the sun went down and it got dark, the wind piped up and when we tried to pull it down it got wrapped around our furling system. We tried for an hour or so to unravel the mess but it was too dark so we ended up having to harden (tighten) up as much as we could and motor-sail (or is it motor-chute) through the night. Fortunately the wind died in the morning and as soon as the sun came up we were able to unravel the rats nest that was at the top of the mast. We were also very lucky that it didn’t get torn or damage any other rigging. Mother nature was shining on us that day and the cardinal rule is back on — until the next time we have a glorious downwind sail.
Other HaHa highlights include meeting lots of new friends including Eric and Birgitta from Ariel IV, a Swedish couple that sailed through the Northwest Passage, and Jeff and Debbie on Sailor’s Run who have been cruising for 15 years. In fact, Jeff sailed 5600 miles solo from Lima, Peru to Buenos Aires — around Cape Horn. Damn man, I thought Audrey and I had some cool sailing experiences but we plan to learn lots from our new friends.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s a little novel of pictures for you to review.