• Captain Steve

Baja Haha without us.

Start of the 2019 Baja Haha parade

Today, November 4, 2019, is the start of the 26th annual Baja Haha, a 750 mile cruisers rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas on the tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. Approximately 130 boats start each year right at the end of hurricane season. It is less formal than some rallies as there is no inspections and few rules. The rally has three legs. The first down to Turtle Bay, approximately 350 miles, takes most boats three days and nights. Bigger boats, like our Beneteau, complete it in three days and two nights. The winds for the first half tend to be quite light with lots of motoring. Morning roll call by InReach or equivalent is the only formal daily action. Fishing generally really picks up after the first day. Nights are quite chilly. For many, this is their first offshore experience. My biggest fear is being run into by a boat at night. Two boats have sunk over the years and one person died.

Turtle Bay is a huge well protected bay with room for all in about 25 feet of water. The down is a dirty, dusty Mexican fishing village with a population of about 2,500. Once a much larger village due to a cannery now shuttered, it extends inland from a large, rickety pier. The nearest paved road is more than 100 miles away. The people are friendly, but for most of us, our Spanish is not really good enough to have any meaningful conversation. There is a softball game with the locals in a large baseball stadium, a picnic for the cruisers and plenty of time to recoup and explore. The first time we were there we never left the boat the first 36 hours we were at anchor. Not exhausted really, but rather totally satisfied.

The second leg to Bahia Santa Maria, some 220 miles further down the Baja peninsula, starts early and typically takes two days and two nights. Again, being larger we reach the anchorage just after dark the second day. Like Turtle Bay, it is huge and well protected. Unlike Turtle Bay there is no town. A quiet, restful place except for the big party with a band that comes over from La Paz. Here, the air and water temperature are what we come for.

The third leg of some 180 miles is an overnight sail to Cabo San Lucas. We generally arrive quite early and take a slip at the marina. Cabo is a busy tourist town, more California than Mexico. Partying alongside the marina till 4 am followed by the sports fishermen firing up their engines around five make sleep difficult. It is wonderfully hot! A few parties and a trophy presentation and the fleet departs for destinations unknown.

We have done the Haha three times. Once on our Jeanneau 42ds and twice on our Sense 50. The first Haha convinced me we needed a bigger boat with watermaker and air conditioner. After the third, we needed a catamaran. We aren’t doing it this year as we need to keep the Beneteau in San Diego to sell. We will do it again in a year or two when Coyote gets home. I get excited the weeks leading to the start. The marina gets busy as several boats from our dock are involved. A couple parties and seminars add to the excitement. I love meeting the other skippers and crew. It is neither a booze cruise nor a serious race, but rather an opportunity to explore with like minded people. The landscape and ocean are much different than those of us who cruise Southern California experience. The beauty is breath taking. At the end, boats head up to the Sea of Cortez (done that, love that), to the more tropical Mexican “Riviera” (done that, love that), off to the South Pacific, or some even head back up the coast to home.

Today the start was 10-12 knots, beam reach, flat seas, warm and under sunny skies. We went out to the start and I was a tad sad returning to the harbor as the boats headed south.


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