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Cruising Mexico: San Diego to Cabo San Lucas

Written by Cathy Siegismund
November 2000

The Baja Ha Ha is a cruisers rally/race that goes from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Its primary sponsor is Latitude 38, a sailing magazine in San Francisco. The rally covers 700 miles and makes two stops along the outside of Baja, the first at Turtle Bay and the second at Bahia Santa Maria. The rally is casual, but a good way to meet people who are heading to Mexico. This year there were 112 boats at the start. The rally's Grand Poobah is Richard from Latitude 38 and he and his crew sail on a 63 foot catamaran called Profligate. There is a Baja Ha Ha net each morning and organized parties at all the stops. The race is pretty casual too, there are those boats who take it very seriously. But for the fat little cruising boats, like ourselves, we aren't penalized too badly for motoring and no one places any lower than third. 

The week before we left we surprisingly had quite a bit of rain in San Diego, but the morning of the Ha Ha brought sunny skies.

Motoring out of San Diego channel with over 100 other sailboats and all of SD's usual traffic

Profligate - the Mother Ship of the Ha Ha

We jostled around outside of San Diego until the official 11am start.

Cath at the helm at the start of the Ha Ha

Start of the Ha Ha - Felicity, for a change, looking back at a great deal of the Ha Ha fleet.

Felicity sailing over the start of the Baja Ha Ha

The first leg of the Ha Ha is about 350 miles. We had some light wind but were able to sail all but 16 hours of a 3-night/4-day trip. A great deal better than our trip so far. Ken and I took our formal 4-on 4-off watch schedule. We've adjusted the times a bit, though Ken hated his 2am - 6am. We are both able to cope with it. We didn't have John locked for a formal schedule, as he was self-dubbed social crew. It was actually really nice having a third person on board to keep the watch person company and he was the designated fisherman and much appreciated dish washer.

Our second day out, John caught a small tuna - or as we called it a Tunito. It was a tiny little thing but our first fish so we did fillet the little fellow up. We didn't have anything in the way of high tech gear, but rather some clothesline, a bungee cord and a cedar plug.

John working on his fishing skills

Cath on bow watch coming into Turtle Bay

Millennium Falcon entering Turtle Bay

We had dinner on the boat before heading ashore for the festivities.

John doing some nocturnal barbequing of the Tunito on our stern

The first night in Turtle Bay we went to an organized party at a local cantina called the Vera Cruz. Turtle Bay is a small fishing village of a few thousand people. The second night there was a beach party, but we went on shore at the town to first drop off garbage. We were swarmed on the beach by the local kids for candy-- they postpone Halloween in Turtle Bay for the arrival of the Ha Ha fleet -- we then went to another local cantina overlooking the bay for dinner and beers. We happened to arrive on the proprietor's birthday, so we also got some cake. As we had an 0800 start of leg two, we headed back for an early evening of guitar practice and movie watching. If it isn't, it should be obvious we don't take this racing thing too seriously.

Ken practicing his Jimmy Buffett

The second leg of the Ha Ha from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria is about 215 miles, and was two nights at sea for us. The winds were the best in the nine-year Ha Ha history, averaging a very consistent 15 knots. We sailed the entire trip and got some good practice with our new spinnaker.

John takes a turn at the helm

John keeping Ken company on a night watch

Bahia Santa Maria is really just a strip of beach, about 35 miles around a spit of sand from San Carlos. However, every year, an enterprising fellow named Kojak trucks in tents where they sell fresh fish and lobster as well as beers, bottled water, fuel and entertain the cruisers with a band and a volley ball net. It's quite a sight to see a 400-person party dancing on the beach on a deserted strip of sand.

We couldn't get too rowdy as we were planning a night start to start the final 180 mile leg to Cabo and ensure a daylight arrival. We returned to the boat just after dark, and got a few hours of sleep. We got up at 0200 and left the harbor at 0300. We again had good wind and sailed most of the first day.

John catching a much more respectable tuna

We had a good trip with some motoring or good downwind sailing. Our last sunset at sea of the rally, our second night, was spectacular and looked like we were going to have mellow evening of motoring. We started dinner just after dark, when the wind and waves suddenly picked up. It remained clear, but we were experiencing an offshore breeze and short steep seas on the nose, slowly turning around to a beam reach. These winds of 15-25 knots continued all night and didn't ease until 0700 the following morning.

We are about six hours from Cabo and we're finally in hot weather. The t-shirts and shorts are on, the fleece is packed away. We rounded Land's End at about 1100 and dropped the hook not too far from Amy Kelleran's condo where last year we looked out at the Ha Ha boats and wondered when we'd make it here on our own boat.

Rounding Land's End at the end of the Baja Ha Ha rally

James and Lori Hawk and Amy K are in Cabo as well, and we have been hanging out with them and enjoying Ha Ha parties nearly every night. Sunday, November 12, John flies back to Seattle with the rest of the Seattle contingent and Ken and I will really begin our no-schedule cruising in earnest. We've got dinner plans with Jan and Signe on their Sundeer 64, Raven, on Monday. We also need to deal with our first Mexican paperwork, laundry and grocery shopping.

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