The start of the HaHa was absolutely spectacular. Bright sunny 80 degree day with about 8 knot of wind from the SW, low gentle swell. All 135 boats formed up a line in the harbor and paraded out to the start line. The mood was festive (for us anyway) as we came along side boats with our water cannon and Teri (our most cut throat crew) let them have it. Although it’s just a rally, there was a formal starting line. All 135 boats in one start but we nailed it and with “Old Whitey” our venerable 38 year old #1 head sail pulling like a champ we were pretty much the first boat out of the basin. Not that it matters much, it’s just a rally and the first leg to Turtle Bay is 350 miles sailed through the better part of 3 days–motoring if the wind dies. But still it was fun. Having 7 of us onboard, we were able to change sails quickly without too much effort. Plus, Bob and the Mikes know the boat pretty well so things went smoothly. By evening we had the spinnaker up and sailed until the wind died at night. We ended up motoring in the wee hours on both nights. Most of the fleet did. At 7:00am each day we had a high frequency radio check in. By the morning of the second day the fleet was really spread out. Some boats were ahead and some up to 50 miles behind. So, VHF would be ineffective. I was relieved that our Icom 802 performed really well. Each of the 135 boats checked in with their position and any problems they were experiencing.
We divided into 2 shifts of 3 people–3 hours on 3 off, 24 hours a day. I jumped in where needed. more of us than bunks, but underway, we used the “hot bunk” method. Those going off watch jump in the bunks of those going on watch. Worked pretty good except sometimes personal items of the bunk mates would be “misplaced”. In port when everyone sleeps at the same time it was a little more challenging. But Bob took the cockpit bench so everyone had a spot. Cozy. Very fortunate that everyone was super flexible. No place for whiners. Lucy had the biggest challenge with no shore leave for 3 days. In wavy seas, it was hard for her to feel comfortable on deck with her little grass mat—the only place she’s willing to “go”. But after 40 hours, she took advantage of a sail (old whitey) we had flaked on deck to use for traction. We had to rename it Old Yeller.
We were one of first boats into Turtle Bay at about 1:00 on the 3 day. Very cool place. The town is based around fishing and in the middle of nowhere. Fairly good sized community but dirt streets and rough buildings. They rolled out the carpet for us though. The fisherman provided “taxi service” and delivered necessities such as ice to the boats. Access to shore was either a surf landing or up a ladder on the end of the town pier. We had a beach party at the south end of the bay on our final day. Great fun.
Leg two from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria was only about 250 miles so we were thinking just one night at sea. And with the forecast for good winds, we thought we’d probably get to sail 100% of the trip. And we did have great wind all day and through the night. Actually my dream come true–20 knots of off shore wind on a beam reach barreling along at up to 10 knots. It looked good for getting there under sail before darkness on day two. But sure enough it died down to 4 knots in the late morning and we tried for several hours to eek along under spinnaker but in the end motored the last bit arriving in the dark which turned out to be not as dicey as we’d feared. It was cool to wake up in the morning to see the bay for the first time. Absolutely spectacular. Looking at pictures of BaHa, I always wondered if sailing into harbors here in the desert would be as cool as tropical destinations. I must say, you can’t tell by pictures. The scenery here is awe inspiring. If we were not part of the rally, we’d probably spend weeks here instead of days.
Water temp is up to 81 now. Donna, Morgan of Agamere, Sally of Wild Rumpus, and I took a long open water swim first thing in the morning. Got to make this a habit. It felt great. The ultimate swimming pool.
The beaches have surf so landings are always dicey but there are channels into the mangroves that only require a bar crossing to get you into protected inner waters. You need a high speed dinghy to pull it off though. Our inflatable with the 6 hp is only fast if I’m alone so I took the dinghy in and everyone else on carmanah rode in with fisherman and their high speed pangas. 4 people dumped their dingies in the surf while we were there.
We almost ran out of water so I went to fire up the water maker for the first time. It somehow knew we were a little desperate and refused to work properly. Yikes, in the middle of no-where with 7 crew and no water. But after a full day of trouble shooting we discovered a kink in the intake hose (inaccessible spot) that slowed the flow enough to mess up production of fresh water. Yayyy, now unkinked and we’re now making 6.5 gallons per hour of really good water–all is well.
The final leg to Cabo started in the early morning with the promise of not only “good” wind but actually strong wind. Only 175 miles so we figured arrival about 2:00 PM the next day, hopefully sailing the whole way. And as promised, we had wind into the high 20s through night. Lots of boats had problems. One boat actually lost steering about midnight. The steep waves caused most of the problems. On Carmanah, we shortened sail to jib only and were sill averaging 7-9 knots. Steering was a challenge but Carmanah handled it well. At dawn the wind suddenly died but we were within sight of the finish line and were finally able to finish a leg 100% under sail. This good because we need to save our fuel. It costs $200 docking fee to pull up to the fueling dock at Cabo. Ouch. That’s before you even buy the fuel.
Three big events here then we’re heading north toward La Paz.
Check Latitude 38″ electronic version of their magazine for details and pictures. Here are some we took.
Post trip. Some Crew Comments:
“Whoa!!!” I’ve adopted one of John Demeyer’s favorite expressions on this Baja Ha Ha trip. It most accurately descibes my first offshore experience. Surfing the seas with the chute, moonlit sail changes, fishing (and catching) a yellow fin. Sailing with John, Donna, Lucy and this wonderful crew will be a very special memory to look back on. It’s hard to believe its over. Or maybe it’s not. They are only a plane ride away and my new sailing gloves do need some more breaking in…
Baja Ha Ha crew 2015
With a great boat under us, attitudes of full engagement, whether under sail, at amazing Baja parties in Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria, or in the cockpit conversations when on watch or a competing in a game of dominoes, I complete this cruiser rally (synonym for “race” for several boats, including Carmanah) with an even deeper gratitude of our amazing natural world, and the bonds of friendship. A profound thanks to John and Donna, my crewmates, and the amazing indigineous peoples of the Mexican coast Evening sailing on an immense ocean can be an intimate experience of “one worldness.”. I will take this back home to the nothwest.
Mike (Mikey) Hubert
This was my second Ha Ha having done my first one in 2007 aboard another C&C, a 48 footer with a different crew. On that trip we were not really sailing to maximize the performance of the boat but rather to have the Baja Ha Ha experience. On Carmanah things were a bit different but not unlike what I expected. Having crewed for John and Donna on many Puget Sound sailboat races over the last 12 years I was hoping that we would be in “race mode” and I was not disapointed. We sailed hard and really worked worked as a team to lead the pack. Seven people on a 43 foot boat could be considered to be pretty crowded but with everyone aware of the needs of the rest of the crew everything went well. I am so greatful to John and Donna for letting us all have the opportunity to “live” with them on their floating home for the Rally. It was a memory that i will always treasure. I will be jealous of their future experiences but looking forward to hearing about their travels.
BaJa Ha Ha crew 2015