The Baja Ha Ha

Looking west out the channel
Well our trek south began yesterday, October 10, with a very tearful good bye to our kids and grandchildren.  We arrived in San Diego to a very warm evening.  With just 2 weeks to get everything organized for the Baha Ha Ha to Mexico which leaves on the 24th of October.  There is  a full week of sessions and get togethers organized for the participants, and  starting tonight is the use of the Single Side Band radio.  Does that mean I cannot say my "Breaker, breaker, any takers"? 
The weather is a balmy 71 today - foggy this morning but that was burned off by 10, in fact this was to be the weather scenario for the next few days.

Can you ever get ahead of the varnish?

We made the latest Latitude 38! A West Coast sail magazine.

Our great rental car
Good morning, it is Oct. 12, only 12 days to go, no panic yet, but it is building.
Well it is a beautiful day here in San Diego.  Yesterday it got to  80, which is about 10 degrees higher than usual this time of year. We will take it, almost thawed out from the trip down.
Vintage wine a la Watson
Since arriving on Monday we have been busy getting all the jobs done and attending the classes provided for all the sailors going on the Baha.  Hats off to Latitude 38, the merchants in San Diego and all those involved in the Ha Ha, they did a great job.  Tuesday was a 2 hour class on the use of the SSB (single side band radio) and then an all day Weds. class using Sailmail - the donuts were good and what I learned was that I have a lot to learn yet.  I will trust Leif with this one and bother him when I need to use it or just find a connection on shore.

Yesterday we got busy on the boat (missed my yoga class) and did some sanding in the cockpit as the varnish needed to be redone so with that task completed -  today is a varnish day.  Last evening we attended a class on packing a ditch bag (a bag of supplies in case you have to abandon ship that you need before they rescue you), this is besides our life raft.  We did have a ditch bag made up many years ago when we crossed the Atlantic but now we have an EPERB packed -  a device that will give our position within 5 minutes if a rescue is needed.  Classes continue all next week and several pot luck get togethers planned  for us.  It's all about eating!!!

Arrgh, fetch me rum wench
One more job added to the list - our fridge packed up yesterday morning - guess better here than Mexico now the only good thing about that is we had to buy ice and I have ice for my gin:) So a new one is arriving on Monday for Leif to fit.  Today the watermaker is on the job list, you just can't trust Mexican drinking water:)  I can hear those all inclusive hotels in Mexico are calling.  Can you imagine standing in a huge shower with unending hot water cascading over your pampered body?
Yo ho ho, and you know the rest

West Marine had their Baja Ha Ha parking lot party, and it was a blast.  Many people dressed up for the occasion, and so did we, there were many prizes for the costumes. 

Anyone for a Brazilian?

October 24
This is it, the start of the Baja Ha Ha 2011.  Is this when we find out that the world is in fact flat, will we sail off the edge?  You would think so from some of the comments from our land based friends.  Heck even we are beginning to think it might be flat!
We are up early, like real early, getting the final things stowed, making food in advance, getting the charts out and a million other things, well it seemed like a million, okay maybe only a thousand, well would you believe a hundred?

Leg 1  San Diego to Turtle Bay  360 miles  October 24, 2011
The start
We cast off the mooring warps and motored out into the channel to be greeted by about 150 others at the starting line.  What a sight!  It was terrific and the butterflies quickly abated as we settled down for the first leg.  But wait, why are we putting out steam from the exhaust, what is that alarm doing going off, why is the heat gauge shadowing overheating?  OMG we have not even crossed the start line and we have a problem.  The front of the raw water pump is pulled off and the impeller is inspected, looks fine to me.  Open up the seacock and only a trickle, ah, the intake is blocked.  Just then I had a flash of genius (humble aren't I) and disconnected the hose from the inlet side of the pump and with an almighty whoosh blew down the hose.  It worked!  Who said that being full of hot air is useless, at least I found a good use for it.

 We were not the only boat to succumb to the infamous California kelp and it's intake clogging properties.  At least one other boat turned back because of problems with the kelp.

With that little problem behind us we continued to motor to the start line.  But wait, this is meant to be a sailboat race, where was the wind?  It seemed to have deserted us and we all putt putted across the line.  We continued to motor past the Coronado Islands and it was some time before there was enough wind to sail.  Ah, what a treat to turn off the motor and finally hoist the sails.  The wind was behind us, not much of a sea and even though it was not brilliant sunshine at least it was a bit warm.
Viva Mexico

The rest of the trip down to Turtle Bay was pretty uneventful with light winds, sometimes too light so we motored more than we would have liked.  It appeared that we were going to arrive at Turtle Bay in the dark so we tried to slow down, and as luck would have it the wind picked up, why does it do that, or blow from the direction you want to go?   We crossed the finish line just north of the bay at 21:30, pitch black with tiny pin pricks of light around us, the other boats,  We radioed and asked about the entrance, the consensus was if you had not been there before best to stay out and come in in the daylight.  We had a very uncomfortable night with trying to slow down so as not to be swept past the entrance. Some said that the motion was like a washing machine, we agree and it was with a great deal of relief that we greeted the sunrise and made our way into the bay.
Found this on deck in the morning
Sunrise found us about 10 miles west of the entrance and there was the most beautiful and welcome  sunrise.  The mountains were bathed in the warm morning light and it wasn't long before the extra clothing began to come off.  The entrance was very wide, with plenty of room to come in and no off laying dangers, there was no real reason to stand off all night I guess people were just being cautious.  Oh well, live and learn.

Turtle Bay consisted of a small fishing village and was our first taste of Mexico on our boat.  Instead of blowing up the dinghy we caught the panga/water taxi in, cost was 20 pesos, not horrific and it helped the local economy.

The town was really just a dusty collection of half finished houses with a few shops and restaurants thrown in for good measure.  Apparently the arrival of the Ha Ha is the highlight of the year and the restaurants went all out for the cruisers business.  We had the first ice cold Corona minutes after stepping on the beach, ah that tasted sooo good.

There was a baseball game between the cruisers and the locals.  It was really fun watching the little guys playing as hard as they could.  Everyone got a hit and it was a great time.  After the game many retired up the hill for more cervezas and a lunch before taking the panga back to the boat.
Jackie and the Grand Poobah

The next day was the pot luck spread at the beach, everyone pitched in with their favorite dish, some which were really delicious.  The locals had tacos and other Mexican dishes for sale and of course the every present and much appreciated ice cold beer.  There were a couple of dunkings when people got the surf landings wrong, we cheated again and took the panga, faster, easier and safer, all which made Jackie happy.

One of the boats, a large catamaran, got a bit close to the beach and when the tide went out found himself on the bottom.  Everyone pitched in to try to push him off but in the end nature came through and he floated off.  Luckily without any damage.

Gordo's mobile filling station
We fueled up from Gordo`s mobile filling station, sounds impressive does it not.  Actually a boat consisting of a tank and a gas powered pump.  We had been warned about taking on fuel from such places, so out came the Baja filter and we slowly put in 30 liters of fuel, while all the time Gordo was shouting for us to hurry up as it was costing him money in lost sales.  Too bad so sad, but I wasn't prepared to fill the tank up with gunk, as it was when we examined the filter after fueling it was clean.

We hit the sack early as the start was at 0800 hrs the next day.  It was so nice to have a couple of days rest,  We found the 3 nights at sea and the lack of sound sleep very tiring, luckily the next leg was shorter and hopefully 1 less night at sea.

Town quay
Whale bones

Dos cervezas, por favor!

Leg 2  Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria  240 miles  October 29

The spi
It was a great sunrise and a good start with just enough wind to raise the sails.  We even got the cruising chute up, and down, with a minimum of fuss.  It had been 20 years since it had seen the light of day as Jackie was terrified of the thing - ghosts of spinnakers past still haunted her.

Start of leg 2

The seas thankfully were calm with only the swell running, so it was a bit more restful than the first leg.  We even got the fishing line out and the first thing we caught was about a 3 foot shark, who had a lot of small, ugly and sharp, teeth.  We were afraid to get too close to it to try to retrieve the hook.  The gaff came out and after a couple of good wacks managed to subdue the fish and get the hook out.  Back into the water went the hook and our hopes of a fish dinner increased, after all we did catch something didn't we? 

We were listening to the radio and it seemed that nearly every one was catching something edible, how could we fail?  Suddenly the Cuban yoyo was running out again - another fish!  Quick slow the boat down, and wind it in.  In it comes, closer and closer, it is red and funny looking.  What is it, nothing but a Humbolt squid that must be at least 3 feet overall.  Great, something else I don't know how to eat.  I haul the thing up to the stern when suddenly a stream, a big stream, gushes forth from the thing.  I got drenched, how could a thing such as this shoot so much water is a big mystery.
Now we didn't know whether to be depressed because of our catches or should we be encouraged because at least we were catching something. 

Anyway one more try with the hootchie, third time lucky?  It wasn't long before the yoyo was going again, same drill, slow the boat, grab the yoyo and wind in like mad.  What would it be this time?  Gold, I see a flash of gold, could it be the much desired dorado, aka mahi mahi,?  We pull the fish up to the side and it is a dorado, there will be fresh fish on the menu tonight!

We pull into Santa Maria just after daybreak and find a spot amongst the anchored boats to drop the hook.  Again there is a big sigh of relief, even though this leg was much easier and of course 1 day shorter.  This is a huge bay and almost totally uninhabited, only a few fishermen`s shacks.  We have a 2 day layover her, the first day to stretch our legs and the second the not yet famous Santa Maria beach party. 

OK, everyone say cheese
Jenn and Erlin off Ventured
The band was great
It was amazing to see what can be accomplished way out here in the wilderness.  The local people hauled in a great band all the way from La Paz, clear across the Baja peninsula, and they played for tips, and only tips. 

Lunch at Santa Maria
The wives of the fishermen put on terrific spread for the cruisers, and did so under the most primitive conditions.  And of course there was the beer, did I mention the beer before?  It is ice cold and delicious, goes down great on a hot day.

Airy ain't it

There was a tug of war on the beach, men vs the women, and the ladies won!  We had a great hike around the area and with the much warmer weather it was most enjoyable.  Alas, it was soon time to head back to the boat and get ready for the next and final leg to Cabo.

Leg 3   Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas  180 miles    Nov 2

Another start at sunrise, again with just enough wind to fill the sails, we ghost over the starting line and begin the final leg.  The day is plagued by fitful winds, first just enough to sail then it falls off and then comes back again.  Frustrating in a way, but I am not complaining, it is better than the with us and we keep a sharp watch out, not wishing a collision.  The morning dawns with a nice wind coming off the land and we are able to get close to hull speed for awhile before it drops off again.  We try our best to keep moving but it is just too light so it is on with the engine.  Also it looks like we just might make Cabo in the light, with luck.  The sun is just dropping as we come to the famous arches at Cabo but it is fully dark by the time we have the anchor down.  But what a great feeling.  Unfortunately we are just a bit late for the "I Cheated Death Again" party at Squid Row and besides we are more than a bit tired. 

November 3
Well after 2100 miles since leaving Bellingham we have arrived safely in Cabo. Sitting having an iced coffee in an outdoor cafe thinking of all of you. The high today will be 93 with a slight breeze. We are anchored out in the harbor next to the Cabo Arches.

From Here to Eternity best kiss
We are off to another beach party this afternoon. and now we wait for all our paper work to be completed by the Mexican officials before making any plans to head else where.

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