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2019 Baja HaHa Rally ~ The Long, Stormy Conclusion

We departed Turtle Cove early in the morning for our sail to Bahia Santa Maria, a journey of slightly more than 220 nautical miles.  At the beginning of this leg we jibed several times because the wind was directly behind us, but a few hours into the sail, the wind shifted and we were able to take a tack about 15 degrees off of our rhumb line and slightly out to sea.  The result was a very comfortable and pretty quick run down to Bahia Santa Maria. 

Ravenswings/v Ravenswing flying her kite.

Three boats arrived in Santa Maria before TTR: a J122 named Day Dream, s/v Ravenswing which is a Farrier 36’ trimaran and s/v Kalewa, a 50’ custom catamaran that is light and built for racing. Kalewa was the fastest boat in the HaHa fleet and owners Kevin and Katie are as much fun is Kalewa was fast.

As soon as we dropped anchor, we hailed the crew on s/v Day Dream and invited them over for celebratory cocktails.  Day Dream had four gents aboard and no dinghy, so Frank picked them up in Day Tripper and brought them over.  Needless to say, the guys were very happy to see iced drinks because, though they were comfortable and fast on Day Dream, some of the luxuries aboard TTR were not available on their boat.

Several boats from the HaHa fleet spoke of a storm that brought rain and reports of wind up to 37 knots but none of the early boats, including TTR, saw any of that rain or wind.

Bahia Santa MariaThe HaHa Fleet anchored under a full moon in Bahia Santa Maria.

According to Charlie’s Charts, Bahia Santa Maria is four miles wide and 11 miles long, and this small anchorage offered us a range of fun activities.  Mindy, Ron, Frank and I spent a quiet morning exploring the sand dunes a few miles from where we were anchored. 

Bahia Santa MariaSand strewn with shells and dollars.

The shore is fine sand littered with sand dollars beyond which are mounds of wind swept dunes.

Santa Maria-2Quatro amigos.

The four of us spent a couple of hours looking at little creatures in the sand and climbing the sand dunes. 

Santa MariaFrank was a spec on a distant sand dune.

Santa Maria-1I like the sharp sand edges created by the wind.

Landing and launching the dinghy can be challenging in Santa Maria and on our way off the beach we managed to take a decent wave over the front of Day Tripper.  No injuries or problems occurred, but we did take on an unexpected guest. 

Santa Maria-3This little black bird was swept into our dinghy with the waves ~ notice his duck-like feet!

We gently captured “Nevermore” from the water sloshing in the dinghy and gave him time to dry out as we motored back toward TTR.  By the time we were ready to vacate the dinghy, Nevermore was also ready and he flew off to rejoin his friends.

One of the very first songs played at the Beach Party!

The HaHa Rock n Roll Beach Party at Santa Maria included plenty of food, beverages and live music.  It was fun to mix and mingle, dance in the sand and hang out on shore with the other boaters.

PB120091As usual, Mindy is having a terrible time.

Santa Maria-4HaHa-ers finding shade on the stoop of a local’s home.

Santa Maria has a long, shallow sandy bottom that becomes visible at low tide. In the two pictures below, the tide is already low and you can see how much of the sand is revealed as the tide continued to go out.

Bahia Santa Maria-2Notice the wave breaking midway out in this photo.

Bahia Santa Maria-1Now sand is revealed all the way to that wave break.

This shallow area also creates some fun, small waves before the tide gets really low. Frank, Ron and I took advantage of the smooth floor and soft waves for SUP surfing and body surfing.  We, along with a few other HaHa cruisers, delayed our departure from Santa Maria to spend some extra time playing in the waves.

We really didn’t want to leave Bahia Santa Maria, but the HaHa had a schedule and we were expected at the next stop, Man-o-War Cove, just 27 nm down the peninsula.

I’m pretty certain TTR was the last boat to leave Santa Maria, because you know, we couldn’t stop surfing just to arrive early at the next stop! Still, we arrived and anchored in Man-o-War just prior to sunset and in time for the Great Raft-Up held behind the Grand Poobah’s boat s/v Profligate.

We quickly dropped anchor, gathered beverages and a sharable appetizer, launched Day Tripper and motored over to the Raft-Up.  We tied up to the gaggle of about 40 dinghies and enjoyed the musicians and dancers showing their talents on Profligate’s beamy transom. 

We hung out until the raft-up ended about and hour later. By then we had met our neighboring dinghies, shared food and swapped stories about our travels thus far.

As is the case with sailing, we are captives of the weather and although the HaHa had a schedule, mother nature decided to make us stand up and pay attention.  A tropical depression was developing south of Cabo San Lucas and the Grand Poobah was concerned for the safety of his 153 boats.

Many of the HaHa boats had made marina reservations in Cabo, but since we prefer anchorages, we did not have a reservation in a marina. The storm was forecast to hit Cabo from the south and the Cabo anchorage does not have any protection. We decided to stay in Magdalena Bay and see how the storm developed rather than face an undetermined storm in an open anchorage.

The majority of the fleet left but about 20 boats decided to stay in Man-o-War and see how the storm developed before leaving Magdalena Bay.  In the end, the Tropical Storm Raymond moved much more slowly than originally forecast and mostly dissipated before arriving in Cabo. However, the port captain did close the Cabo anchorage and we would have had to quickly sail north toward La Paz had we moved to Cabo as planned.

man o war-3Our gathering spot in Man-o-War Cove.

The 20 HaHa boats who remained in Man-o-War dubbed themselves the HaHa Hijos (HaHa children) and made the best of the situation.  There is one restaurant in Man-o-War and we used it as a gathering spot.  Some folks took pangas (small local fishing boats) to the nearby city of San Carlos where they shopped or dropped off crew who had schedules to meet.

We explored Man-o-War on foot and quickly covered the town.

man o war-4Ye old lighthouse is a bit worse for the wear.

man o warA hike to the cross.

man o war-5Man-o-War from the anchorage ~ notice the lack of green vegetation. 

man o war-2The exterior of the church.

man o war-1The interior…

People often ask what we do all day on a boat.  Our time in Magdalena Bay is a great example of how we spend idle time since Tropical Storm Raymond delayed our departure by five days.  The account of our days while watching Raymond will give you an idea…

IMG_8941Chart from “Charlie’s Charts Mexico,” 13th Edition.

Unlike the other HaHa Hijos boats, we decided to move TTR out of the relatively open Man-o-War anchorage and seek shelter from the anticipated winds in another part of Magdalena Bay.  After consulting the weather forecasts and scanning the charts, we moved TTR south and east toward “Sector Navy” or the Navy Base. 

Alcatraz-2Motoring past Sector Navy before we were chased out of the basin.

We poked TTR into the basin just south of the Naval Base and very soon three men in a Navy inflatable came roaring out to us and made sure we weren’t planning on anchoring in the basin.  We had considered it, but the guns they were carrying convinced us we weren’t welcome. 

So we motored TTR to a secluded spot away from the Navy Base where we would be protected from both wind and waves.

The rain set in and we spent the days playing games, evaluating the weather, observing nature, exploring nearby points and wondering how our friends were fairing in Cabo.

We ended up spending four nights in the SE part of Magdalena Bay and changed anchor spots three times in response to the revised forecasts.  These moves weren’t strictly necessary, but they allowed us to see other parts of the Bay.  And let’s face it, we weren’t very busy.

We kept in VHF contact with the other HaHa Hijos boats in the bay and, as we expected, the long fetch into Man-o-War anchorage allowed a good bit of chop to build up. Those sailors had a couple of unpleasant days/nights at anchor so we were very happy we had moved and had such a calm place to wait out Tropical Storm Raymond.

Alcatraz-7Ron made the official toast to Neptune.

Adult beverages were a bit low on TTR so we created a rum punch concoction that left much to be desired.  Since it wasn’t going to be drunk, we made an event out of a sacrificial offering to Neptune and asked for protection and safe travels.  (But I also made sure God knew it was all in fun!)

Alcatraz-6Hoping our offering would bring fair winds.

One day we dropped Day Tripper to explore our surroundings and went to visit the fishing village of Alcatraz.  Fortunately we were not incarcerated but were allowed to freely walk the streets.

Alcatraz is one of the most primitive towns we have explored.  Mindy’s Spanish was the best of the bunch and she spoke with a local lady to determine there is not a restaurant in Alcatraz.  There was a small tienda, the size of the cockpit on TTR or maybe smaller. We didn’t buy anything because we didn’t want to take goods the locals might really need.  Having struck out on a restaurant and tienda, we asked about a place to buy cervesas. 

AlcatrazI’m not sure what Jose was running for, but he probably won.

“Oh yes, go down this road until you get to the horse. Turn left at the horse and follow that road. Soon you will see the blue house where you can buy a beer.”

I have to admit, that is the first time a horse has been my cue to make a turn!

Alcatraz-1A successful quest for cervesas.

We found the beer which was sold from a man’s home.  It wasn’t particularly cold, but it was a novel place to buy a beer!

DSC05568A pretty place to sit and swap stories and plans.

Other things we did to keep busy while on the boat with almost nowhere to go? Sat on the trampoline and enjoyed our surroundings, took care of a bit of laundry, cleaned a bit, made some soft shackles, baked bread and generally enjoyed the company of good friends and a safe, beautiful place to wait out a storm.

Alcatraz-4The Baja wears green after it rains!

Remember the picture of those dry brown hills from earlier? Well look how green things became after the rain! The landscape popped into a lush green almost overnight after the rain of TS Raymond!

Alcatraz-5Sunset after the rain.

TTR and the other HaHa Hijos boats left for Cabo five days after the main HaHa fleet. Tropical Storm Raymond turned out to be all thread and no punch; which is exactly how I like my storms!  Cabo had a lot of rain and some wind.  The ports in Cabo and La Paz ware closed and apparently there was some sewage spillover (yuck) in Cabo, but no damage to speak of. 

Magdalena Bay had even fewer effects from the storm.  However, I think we made the prudent decision based on the weather information we had.  Raymond moved much more slowly than originally predicted and caused us to remain in Magdalena longer than expected.  If we had known Raymond would fizzle out, we would have made a run for La Paz or Jose del Cabo so that Mindy and Ron would have had more time in the Sea of Cortez before they returned to Guatemala.

But those thoughts are based on hindsight. I believe our cautious decision was a smart choice.

We arrived in Cabo around 4:30 am and spent the day re-provisioning, getting a sense of the touristy areas as well as parts that felt more authentically Mexican.

Cabo-2We found some very authentic food in a back street of Cabo.

We met up with the Grand Poobah aboard Profligate where the stragglers were given awards form completing the HaHa.  This is the first time the HaHa has faced a tropical storm so I’m sure it will be a memorable one for Richard.

IMG_8890HaHa Hijos group aboard Profligate.

We celebrated with others from the Haha, then happily returned to Ticket to Ride, ready to get a good night of sleep after our 4:30 arrival.

IMG_8894HaHa members celebrating their arrival in Cabo.

The end of the 2019 Baja HaHa concluded our second ever sailing rally. Our first was the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally aboard our first sailboat, Let It Be.  The two Rallies were incredibly different! 

IMG_8895Baja HaHa completion… not sure what our 3rd place was for.

The Sail to the Sun Rally is an eight week journey down the Intracoastal Waterway in the company of 20 boats and every night we stopped in the same marina or anchorage with the other boats.  None of the sailors knew each other before beginning the 2016 STTS Rally. In two months we had plenty of time to cement friendships with every boater on the trip.  After the STTS Rally ended, we continued to travel with about seven of those rally boats for several weeks. We traveled with Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kia for six months before Mauna Kia was tragically lost in Hurricane Irma because she had engine trouble and couldn’t escape that terrible storm.

By comparison, the Baja HaHa is a quick event of less than two weeks and included 153 boats this year! There are a few events before the start of the HaHa, a concluding event or two at the end and three stops along the journey.  Although I do not have the numbers, it seemed that many of the boats hailed from the same marina or sailing club and knew each other before beginning the HaHa.  The number of boats, the fact that many folks knew each other already and the short duration of the HaHa made it difficult to get to know many people during the HaHa.

For us, the true value of the HaHa is meeting sailors whose travel plans are similar to ours.  We think the HaHa is actually more valuable after its conclusion because as we come across other sailors who were part of the Haha, we have an “excuse” to introduce ourselves to them.  In fact, in less than a month since the conclusion of the HaHa, we have met people from a dozen HaHa boats in anchorages along the Sea of Cortez.

This is not to say one Rally is better than the other. We had and excellent time on both rallies but they felt radically different.

Both the Sail to the Sun Rally and the Baja HaHa Rally can be seen as a safety net for folks who don’t have a lot of offshore experience and the rally give them confidence to cut the lines and go.  The rallies also act as deadlines for some sailors who might continue to put off departure unless they had a specific date they had to meet.

We have only good things to say about the HaHa and our experience. We are very glad we participated and having Mindy and Ron share the HaHa made it even better.

CaboAdios Cabo

Mindy and Ron had very little time left in Mexico, so we yanked up the anchor after only 24 hours in Cabo and headed into the Sea of Cortez to give them a glimpse of the wonders it holds.

Cabo-1Fin whale?!

An hour into our trip we spotted a few whales! So hopefully the SOC will share some of its unique beauty before Mindy and Ron have to fly away to Guatemala where s/v Follow Me is patiently awaiting their return.

As always, thank you for reading this (rather long) post! We would love to hear your thoughts if you want to share them in comments. If you want to hear from us more often, please find our FB page.

 

 

2019 Baja HaHa Rally ~ Part 1

Hola from Mexico! It has been forever since I have found time (and WiFi) to sit down and actually write about our travels.

Frank and I were quite busy the last few weeks before the start of the Baja HaHa. We spent our last weeks in Long Beach, CA preparing to leave the country for an extended period of time which means we tried to buy some things we will need/want for the next year or two.  That means we have ordered a LOT of spare parts for TTR and stocked up on some routine things that we like to have and may not be able to find in another country (think favorite spices, shampoos, lotions or potions).

For anyone who owns Amazon stock, don’t be surprised when their monthly earnings drop after our departure! 😉

Our departure date was a firm one of November 4th with the 2019 Baja HaHa. The HaHa is a casual rally of boats that departs from San Diego and makes two or three stops on the way to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We joined the HaHa to meet other cruisers and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow sailors.

IMG_8823

This is where we are going!

We left Long Beach and headed south to San Diego where our dear friends, Ron and Mindy of s/v Follow Me flew in to join us for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally.  Mindy and Ron left their boat in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala and joined us on TTR for the Rally.

The first official HaHa event for the four of us was the BBQ and Costume Party.  The parameters for our costume were: 1. it must be easy  2. it must be comfy  3. it must not take much time to assemble.

IMG_8769

Our costumes aren’t great, but they are met our criteria!

The result was our “Three sheets to the wind” attire. Happily, everyone knew what we were and assembly took less than 15 minutes.

IMG_8797

Perhaps our favorite costume was s/v Kalawa’s.  Kevin and Katie were Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.  I believe they were the funniest costume of the event.

IMG_8773

Another favorite was the buoy and anchor chain!

Big kudos to Richard Spindler, the HaHa Grand Poobah, who put on quite the start for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally.

HaHa stert

We trailed the HaHa pack and had a great view at the start.

As the 153 HaHa boats left San Diego, we had a Coast Guard escort, a mariachi band playing from a boat and a fire boat to celebrate the HaHa kick off; thus establishing a festive atmosphere for the Rally.

Baja HaHa start-2

Love this fire boat!

DSC05459

Serenaded as we motor sailed out of San Diego, CA.

The first leg of the Rally was the longest.  We had great conditions for sailing and immediately threw up the Doyle cable-less reacher and main sail.  The wind speed and direction were perfect for a spinnaker but we do not have one on TTR.  The spinnaker would be too large for Frank and me to handle along, so instead we use the Doyle cable-less reacher which we had cut deeper than usual. We can pull the reacher tack toward the windward bow and increase the wind angle range for this sail. 

IMG_8814 2

Pretty decent speeds for a cruiser boat and less than 11 knots of wind.

Also, Frank had a small stay sail made by Ulman Sails just before we left Long Beach. This sail helps funnel the wind between the main sail and the reacher.  It worked very well and added about a knot to our deeper angled sailing.

HaHa sailing-1

Pretty soon we were toward the head of the fleet and had a beautiful view of the kites.

HaHa leg 1

Neck and neck spinnakers.

Fishing on this first leg to Turtle Bay was excellent and the VHF was full of reports from HaHa fleet boats who were catching tuna, dorado, skip jack and more.

IMG_8832

Frank and Ron managed to land two tuna.

HaHa sunset to Turtle Bay

Sunset our first night out.

Mindy and I took the first watch and enjoyed seeing this colorful sunset. Ron and Frank took over at 1 a.m. so Mindy and I could sleep until 7 or so.

Our first HaHa stop at Turtle Bay was two nights. The first night we invited the four gentlemen from s/v Day Dream to join us for sundowners. Since they had no dinghy or ice, they eagerly accepted our offer for a ride and chilled drinks.

The next day we strolled around town admiring the unique flare the locals have for appointing their homes.

HaHa in Turtle Bay-1An interesting combination of beads and curios at this home.

After “walking up” and appetite, we found a local taco spot and indulged in lunch and cervezas. Frank was truly happy to reacquaint himself with food from the Baja!

HaHa in Turtle Bay-2

Cell towers trump pavement.

HaHa in Turtle Bay

Ambling toward the baseball field.

We also participated in the annual Baja HaHa Cruisers Against the Locals baseball game.  The baseball game was silly and fun without many rules.  I was amazed how often the cruiser first baseman “missed” a catch!  The game allowed the local kids to show off their prowess on the diamond and some of these kids were very talented!

HaHa baseball

Preparing to play ball!

Once the game was finished, the cruisers donated their baseball equipment and each of the kids was allowed to choose a piece of equipment to keep. I wonder if they agree to play just to get the new equipment? Not really though.  The kids were engaging and enthusiastic.  I think they had as much fun as the HaHa folks.

HaHa Turtle bay sunset

Sunset at Turtle Bay.

This was the extent of our brief first stop of the 2019 Baja HaHa.  I’ll share the remainder of the HaHa in our next blog.

In the mean time, thank you for stopping by. I am truly sorry for the lapse in posts, but travel plus preparations to leave California severely limited my opportunity to write. Hopefully things will settle a bit and I can catch up on some of the things I missed, like our hands-on safety at sea class in Rhode Island!

All the best from Mexico!

As always, thank you for stopping to read our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments so feel free to contact us here. Or look for us on FB where we post more often.

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