Monday, November 09, 2015

2015 Baja Haha Log

And so begins the 22nd annual Baja Haha.  I was able to find a crew position on a 42' cat with a couple and their 2.5 year old girl.  I met the skipper at the captain's meeting and we agreed to meet on Monday before the start of the rally to Cabo San Lucas.  There are 130 boats and 500 folks joining us for a 750 mile sail to the cape.  The rally begins outside San Diego Bay at Point Loma.  The gun sounds at 1100 hours and the wind is light at 10 -12 and we are sailing.   Shortly after the start, a whale breaches just 30 yards from the boat. Wow!  The wind increases and decreases throughout the day.  Just before sunset, I mention the green flash.  Sure enough a big one sparks right before our eyes. That night, we are motor sailing down the coast.  I have the 0300-0600 shift.  After dinner, I head to bed and am on deck at the appointed time.  The full moon is out and Mars and Jupiter are looming large to the east.  It's a beautiful night.  We cross several other boats from the rally.  The wind is 10-14 most of the night.  Next day the coast is clear and the boat is moving at 4.5 knots with the main and some engine.  I spend a good chunk of the day on the trampoline reading and enjoying some great tunes in the headphones.  The couple I am with are heading for the Bahamas.  They will have tough going in the winter thru the Caribbean. She is French and he is from Bulgaria.  My watch is coming up so time to get some rest.  One of the things I am really enjoying on this adventure is that the couple and there daughter are in one hull and I am in the starboard hull with my own head.  The state room is huge with headroom in the bed.  There is also a door for privacy and it allows me to sleep in late after an early morning watch.
The next two days are uneventful.  We are motor sailing mostly.  At night, Mars and Jupiter are on the eastern horizon.  Our first stop is Turtle Bay and we arrive at 0730.  We get the anchor down and hit the hay.  Up about 10:30 and go for a swim.  The wind is picking up and the others are off to the beach.  We are dragging and I turn on the engine to avoid hitting a boat behind us.  This 42' cat has a width of about 23 feet.  It's big!  The wind is about 20-25 and I an worried.  I keep us in place and finally the skipper shows up and we move the boat to a more open space and re-anchor.  I tell him it is very important to back down and set the anchor.  He waves me off.  Huh?  His wife also tells him to back down on the anchor and he agrees.   We do that and have no more problems.  We head to the beach for lunch at a restaurant.  After, we head to the annual cruisers softball game.  See a couple folks I know and we have a blast.  Back to the beach and I run into Chris.  He had heard all my stories and decided to give it a go.  He got a last minute ride at the police dock the morning of the rally.  He jumped on a cool boat named Que Sera.  We have a few beers and head to his boat.  We hang for a while and take about the first leg.  He is loving it.  Jumping back on the tender, we are heading against the wind and I am soaked.  We get to our boat and the rest of our crew shows up for some drinks.  I end the night on the trampoline in the bow and enjoy some music, wine and the moon.
Today is the beach party.  We re-anchor over at the beach for the event.  I bring the volleyball net and the fun begins.  There are about 300 folks at the beach.  I met many of them at the net and see some old friends too.  It's a perfect day and we love every minute.  One of the gentleman I meet recommends a Pearson 424 for my adventure to Australia in three years.  Good advice!  We head back and Orale prepares a French onion soup. We solve most of the world's problems at dinner.
After a good nights sleep, we are up at 0600 for departure.  The wind builds during the day and we are seeing 20-25 knots on the altimeter.  It is one of the best days of sailing of the five Haha's I have participated in.  I spend most of the day in the cockpit as the skipper tries to resolve a charging problem.  At 1500, I head down for a nice nap.  After a lentil soup dinner, I take the helm for a couple hours.  It's a magnificent evening and the stars and milky way shine brightly.  Jupiter and Mars are also on the eastern horizon again.   My crew mate asks me where is the moon?  I mention to her that the moon comes up about 55 minutes later each day.  She was not aware of that fact. I begin my 0300 watch by heading to the trampoline in about 20 knots of wind.  I can duck down and get out of the wind.  It is glorious.  "Southside of the Sky" by Yes comes on the headphones and I am loving it.  One of my favorite songs.  Being in the bow with the moon and stars is a great way to enjoy this amazing passage.  We have great wind, heading on the correct course for our next destination, a beautiful, strong boat surfing the waves and some awesome tunes.  This was my favorite of all my Haha days!!  I finish it by doing the dinner dishes and head to bed at 0630.  Up around 1030, we are about 90 miles from Santa Maria.  It's a beautiful day with little wind so far.  Around noon, we stop the boat and go for a swim in the middle of no where.  The water is so inviting and blue.  Oralee trys a pull behind the boat on her paddleboard.  More motoring and then in the late afternoon, the sails go up and we are doing 5 knots in abut 12 knots of wind.  It's the perfect magic carpet ride.  Dinner is served with some nice wine and we enjoy the sun set.  And another green flash.  After dinner, Barnabas takes the wheel and I am off to bed.  I watch Mr. Brooks and fall off to a deep sleep.  Up about 0200 and I can see the lights of the Haha boats in Santa Maria Bay.  We drop anchor and I am ready to hit the town...alas, there is no town, so I head to the bow hammock and enjoy the stars and moon show.  Welcome to Bahia Santa Maria.

Bahia Santa Maria is a beautiful stop along the Baja pemisula.  The entrance to the bay is 5 miles wide and the bay is huge.  On the south side of the beach, there is a river with mangroves.  We decide to take a tour.  Five of us and two paddlers entered the river on a dingy.  It was beautifully tranquil and quiet.  We went way back till we could go no further.  We had some laughs and headed back.   At 1800, we head over to the raft up.  There must have been 80 or more dingies all tied up on the leaders 63' cat.  They had some games and dance contests and I was able to meet a few more cruisers.  We ended up over at my cat with Chris and my crew.  We played an interesting variation on liars dice and then called it a night.  As I dropped Chris back to his boat, he reached over to shake my hand as he stepped aboard his boat and very nearly fell over board.  After a restful sleep, I headed in for the beach party the next day.  They had an awesome band with a great female vocalist.  Meet more friends and made some new ones.  At the end of the bash, I put on a dance mix of oldies and the dance floor filled for the next 30 minutes with some great old tunes.  Too much fun.  We ended up on another boat for an after party.    We get there and there and their dingy is missing.  Three of the crew headout into the night to search.  After and hour, they return with no luck.  I find out the next day, one of the other boats had taken it as a joke.  I would have been so pissed if someone had done that to me.  This skipper just shrugged his shoulders. Back to our boat for some hammock time in the bow.  My favorite place!

We were up early for the start of our last leg and the winds were in the 20's and we were cooking.  They kept building and hit 30 by the evening.  It was pretty exciting and I am a little nervous.  The boat was moving along in the 10-12 knot range most of the day (our highest speed of the trip was 15.6 down a big wave).  At around 0200, the wind started to settle down into the upper teens and it became very comfortable.  Made it thru two watches.  Once the moon came out around 0100, everything got better.  We made it into Cabo about 1330 and promptly headed to a restaurant for lunch and some margs.  All is right with the world.  I had a great time on this trip and alot was due to my skipper Barnabas and his wife Oralee.  This was my favorite Haha out of the five I have done!  A few more parties to go and I will head home on Saturday.  Adios amigos.

Here is a quick list of the highlights:
Great crew with awesome meals prepared by Oralee
Nice big boat with my own hull and stateroom
The trampoline and hammock in the bow
Awesome winds and weather
Great beach parties with the fleet (3)
Hanging with my buddy Chris
The stars, planets and full moon are always way better on the ocean and away from the city lights
The band at Santa Maria!
Swimming to the other boats for a morning hello in Santa Maria
Surfing the waves on A Volante (boat name)

Thanks to Richard and the folks at Latitude 38 for another fun run to Cabo!!!  See you in 2016!

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