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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.

 

 

NHYC Race To Cabo San Lucas

One of the mantras of a cruiser is to write your schedule in sand because the weather dictates departure dates.  Not so for racing sailors.

The class before us jockeying around the start line.

We were scheduled to depart Newport Beach on Sunday, March 17th and regardless of the weather, the race would begin.  However, at the last minute our race start was moved up to Saturday and the only other boat in our class bowed out of the race.  We believe the forecasted lack of wind was the reason for their withdrawal.

We had “six souls” on board TTR for the race and we divided into two groups of three for watches.  Although most race boats seem to keep a four hours watch schedule, we asked our crew to take one 6 hour watch each night and two three hour watches during the day. 

I don’t know if everyone liked that rotation, but it has worked for Frank and me when we are passaging without others on board because we get one longer period of sleep which helps us feel rested.   

Gino looks on as Rogan goes up the mast.

Early in the race, Rogan went up the mast of TTR to make certain all the lines and sails looked good and that the hardware was nicely tightened.

Gino, James and I took the first night watch from 7 pm to 1 am and Frank, Rogan and Kristen took the 1am to 7 am shift.

Moonrise was beautiful at the start of my evening watches.

I’m not sure who had the bad mojo on our watch, but on several nights the wind dropped from reasonable to almost nothing. Our instruments actually read “0.0” for several minutes at a time before jumping all the way to 1knot.  You know the wind is light when you are excited to see 3 knots of true wind speed.

Though I would have enjoyed better winds during our watch, I learned a lot from Gino and James as they discussed tactics to optimize the conditions. 

Gino used a flash light to check sail trim at night and I was able to watch the path of his light and try to learn by observing the areas he checked and the changes he made based on his observations.

Wide open sunset at sea.

From my perspective it seemed like each night about 15 minutes before our watch ended, the wind would improve, we would set the sail trim, then Frank’s shift would take over the helm.

Once Frank’s group took over the watch, very few adjustments were made to the sails for the next few hours! That makes for an easy watch, if a little uninteresting.

Looking at the speeds and miles covered you would think Frank, Rogan and Kristen were the heroes on board, but my watch was really helpful for four reasons: 1. I had a lot of sail raising and trimming practice, 2. The watch went quickly because we were constantly changing sails and trim 3. I learned a lot by listening and observing Gino and 4. It was easier to sleep during our off watch time because Frank’s group hardly had to adjust the sails while we were sleeping!

Gino toasting sunset with a touch of merlot.

We managed to be very comfortable on TTR during the race and we all sat down to dinner each night.  I am pretty certain this is the first time Gino had a glass of wine while ‘racing’  and I know that was true for Rogan.

Thanks for this pic of Frank, Gino!

Most race boats don’t grill hamburgers during the race! But comfort and speed blend well on Ticket To Ride.

Happy birthday, Gino!

We had the added pleasure of celebrating Gino’s birthday during the race. Laura Morrelli snuck a tiramisu on board before we left and we all enjoyed the treat.

For those who are interested in the numbers here are a few and I am including our log so you can see just how light the wind was and our notes during the race.

Nautical Miles: About 900 (sorry forgot to note that)  Official Duration: 5 days 17 hours 47 minutes  Average speed: 6.5k  Max speed: 24.3k  Sea Conditions: very mild.

By far our most common sail configuration was the mainsail and reacher. 

Reacher, jib and mainsail at one time.

One night Gino, James and I added the staysail to try and maximize the tiny puffs of wind. That configuration lasted several hours.

We also had one day when the wind and waves piped up so we dropped the reacher and flew the jib; we had a great time at the helm as we practiced surfing TTR down the waves.

A bright moon reflecting off the water and boom.

We were really fortunate that the moon was waxing and the skies were clear so night time was well illuminated. 

As we sailed south, the water temperature increased slightly and we knew it was getting warmer when we began seeing flying fish.

One afternoon Kristen spotted something floating in the water and thought it might be a log.

In the pic, the seal’s flipper is down again.

It turned out to be a seal floating on its’ back with a flipper pointed up acting a bit like a sail.  The seal was totally chilled floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I really wished I could pass him an umbrella drink to rest on his tummy as he drifted along!

This pod of dolphins jumped a lot!

We also so dolphins several times jumping in the distance. Only once or twice did a dolphin play near our bow.  It seems like the Caribbean dolphins were more likely to swim with our boat, but we have seen a greater number of dolphins on the west coast.

We saw the blow of a whale once or twice and James saw one breach, but I didn’t see it.

Gratuitous sunset.

All in all the Race to Cabo was a great time. Everyone on board contributed so the work loads were shared.  Best of all, everyone meshed well, there was good input for decisions, the personalities complimented one another and no one on board dominated the discussions or decisions.

The whole race thing is a different mind set than Frank and I are accustomed to and I am not certain how I feel about it.  I like that races force you to be committed to sailing and making use of the environment and wind.  BUT I found it really frustrating to be at a complete standstill when we have two perfectly good engines ready to move us forward.

Though I have no experience, I think day races would be more interesting since the strategy of each boat is apparent much more quickly, thus the reward or penalty is more immediate.

We were on our way to Cabo with or without the race and I am glad we participated in it. Since we were racing what is actually our home, our team motto was “Party Not Podium.”

Ironically, we earned the podium but arrived too late for the party!

With only ourselves in the class we managed to take the award for first place!

Celebrating our finish of the NHYC Race to Cabo!

Frank and I are very impressed with how well TTR sails in light wind. The ability to sail in light air is one of the features that sold us on the HH55.

Yes, TTR can sail fast, but it is also exceedingly pleasant to sail well in lower wind speeds and calmer seas.

Several people had asked for details about our Race to Cabo experience. I hope this answers your questions. If not, ask and I’ll try to answer what I missed.

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