October 2007

Four Arizona Boats Ready To Baja Ha-Ha

Tom Van Loo, Phoenix, In Cahoots (Beneteau 49); Chuck VanderBoom, Lake Havasu City, Boomerang (Corsair 31UC); Dennis Cannon, Scottsdale, Pura Vida (Catalina 400), and Stuart Kaplan, Scottsdale, Duetto (Voyage Norseman 430) will join approximately 160 others (at press time) in the 2007 version of the Baja Ha-Ha.

Arizona Boating & Watersports wishes them all “fair winds and following seas.”

The 2007 cruisers’ rally from San Diego, Calif., to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, starts Leg One on Monday, Oct. 29 at 11 a.m. and ends with Leg Three on Thursday, Nov. 8.

Last year 650 sailors aboard 184 boats, most from the West Coast, sailed the 750-mile Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers’ Rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria.

Everyone’s reaching Cabo San Lucas safely (and having fun on the way) are the goals of the Ha-Ha.

To Qualify

To qualify for the Ha-Ha, a boat must be at least 27 feet in length and have been designed, built and maintained for open-ocean sailing. Experienced offshore sailors with smaller boats may apply for special dispensation.
Monohulls and multihulls are welcome, and each year four or five powerboats have joined in too. Last year's fleet ranged in size from 20 to 84 feet. The average boat length was 42 feet and the average boat age was 17 years.

Every entry must have a minimum of two crew who have overnight offshore and navigation experience. Last year's participants ranged in age from 15 months to 81 years.

While two crew are the minimum, the Ha-Ha recommends three or four, ideally with at least one who has done a Ha-Ha before.

While the typical Ha-Ha skipper has had more than 20 years of sailing experience, for more than half of them it was their first long-distance cruise. On the other hand, a few of the Ha-Ha skippers had been sailing less than a year, and several of them continued on to New Zealand.

Conditions To Consider

While weather conditions along the west coast of Baja have historically been relatively kind in late October and early November, nobody should count on that. By doing the Ha-Ha, they are potentially exposing themselves to the full fury of the Pacific Ocean.
As the Baja Ha-Ha Web site says, “If your goal is to get to Cabo with maximum comfort and minimum risk, you should buy a ticket on a cruise ship. But, if living an adventure is your goal, and you're prepared to assume the risks, you might consider the Ha-Ha.”

In the prior 13 rallies, there have been a total of 39 legs, and all but two of them have been downwind. There have only been two legs that felt wind more than 30 knots for more than a few minutes.

Typical Ha-Ha conditions are 5 to 18 knots of wind from aft, with small to moderate seas. Weather reports from Commander's Weather will be broadcast to the fleet each morning during the roll call.

The Ha-Ha is definitely not for those who expect hand holding or a handy rescuing service. Boats and crews that could have done the Cabo trip on their own and are self-sufficient are the ones ready for the Ha-Ha.

And, although there have been many instances of people helping others along the way, it is important to know that there are neither tow nor medical services nor marine stores between Ensenada and Cabo.

Too Late? How About 2008?

One of the coolest features of the Ha-Ha is that you're rarely, if ever, alone. With more than150 boats sailing a straight course of 360 miles or less, there are usually half a dozen or more boats in sight, and many more than that near the starts and finishes of each leg.

A second cool feature is that each day of the Ha-Ha the air and water get warmer. It's cool, if not cold, when the fleet leaves San Diego. Three days later in Turtle Bay, air temps are such that the water's often warm enough for swimming. From Turtle Bay south, weather has always been wonderfully warm.

Why do the Ha-Ha? You'll most likely have an extremely memorable, if not life-changing, two-week adventure. If you don't believe us, ask someone who has done one. And, if you’re too late this year, think about 2008; perhaps there’s a Ha-Ha in your future.

Ha-Ha Ahead

Oct. 3 - Mexico Only Crew List and Baja Ha-Ha Party, Encinal YC in Alameda, 6-9 p.m.

Oct. 21 - 'Ha-Ha Welcome to San Diego Party' hosted by Chris Frost of Downwind Marine.

Oct. 28, 11 a.m. - Skipper's meeting at Cabrillo Isle Marina, during which time final rally instructions will be handed out and questions answered. Skippers only, please.

Oct. 28, 1 p.m. - The Annual Ha-Ha Halloween Costume Party and BBQ at San Diego's Cabrillo Isle Marina parking lot, hosted by West Marine.

Oct. 29, 11 a.m. - Start of Leg One for all boats off Coronado Roads - about 90 minutes from Cabrillo Isle Marina.

Nov. 1 - No host party at Vera Cruz Restaurant in fabulous downtown Turtle Bay.

Nov. 2 - Famous Turtle Bay Beach Potluck Party from 10 a.m. until sundown.

Nov. 3, 8 a.m. - Start of Leg Two to Bahia Santa Maria.

Nov.  5 - Hiking, beach walking, sports and beach party - if surf permits - at Bahia Santa Maria.

Nov. 6 - 'Bahia Santa Maria Day' - a lazy lay day meant for relaxing and exploring the Bay.

Nov. 7, 7 a.m. - Start of Leg Three from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas.

Nov. 8 - 'Can't Believe We Cheated Death Again' dance and party madness for the young at heart at Squid Roe.

Nov. 9 - Cabo Beach Party all afternoon on the beach and perhaps with bonfire into the evening.

Nov. 10 - Awards presentations and party hosted by the Cabo Marina and Corona Beer at the fabulous launch ramp in Cabo.