Getting there.

I’m still not sure what the BajaHaHa rally actually is. For some it’s group security. Or a clear path to the Sea of Cortez. Or an opportunity to break boat parts. Etc. etc.

We’re taking a break this morning still in Cabo San Jose marina because the engine is off at a repair shop.

seems it might have breathed some water as we neared Cabo. I watched the mechanic confirm via computer hookup that all the electrical components are fine. But he couldn’t tear in to fuel injection while hanging over the water. It’s not terrible to be mooching off the luxury hotel amenities next to our dock.

But how did get here, you ask? Roll it back to weeks to San Diego and the frenetic rush to get the boat and crew ready. The afternoon before the Monday departure parade we realized we had no paper backup charts of the route. We managed to find the excellent Pat Raines cruising guide. It covers all of the Mexican coastlines. Thank goodness because once we got over the border and passed Ensenada the chartplotter left our beautifully detailed NOAA charts and instead showed very gross level geometric blobs on screen. Ditto with the Navionics on the iPad. Crap, we literally have no acceptable charting aboard! And that’s when you appreciate being in a rally with 130 other boats. The start parade was a hoot, including the Navy destroyer charging through early in the proceedings.

We were the only tri in the fleet so we grew interested in pacing the Outremer (orange trim) Tumbleweed, the HH55 Ticket to Ride, and a builder-owner custom 50′ cat from Hawaii named Kalewa. The latter was the most fun to chase around for 800 miles. AIS was a big part of this crowded ocean trip. Looks funny on screen at the start. Anton getting in his groove. I’d say we hand steered maybe 40% of the trip? Sometimes for fun, but on leg 2 with too much sail up and a nasty sea state we felt better actively driving.

Leg 1 to Turtle Bay was about 410 miles. We drove full main and a big old asymmetric spinnaker for about 30 hours, but the spin decapitated itself a bit after sunset on the second evening. We were doing great, enjoying trimaran reaching angles for 300 miles. But the spinnaker head stayed aloft and fouled the reacher halyard too, so it was white sails downwind at 5-6 kts, giving us a 2am arrival to Turtle Bay anchorage. The panorama of anchor lights to weave through was amazing. Dropping that hook never felt so good.

The HaHa does beach parties at the two primary stops, and assorted entertainment ‘extras’. But the whole thing is too rushed to actually explore and get to know these amazing places. We took hikes, dinghy’d about and wandered the villages. Chris did heroic job of cleaning up the spinnaker debris. After the mast job I only took one photo, to remember the last night where we found Maria’s street kitchen and enjoyed the best ten buck dinner one could imagine.

Leg 2 was 250 miles to Bahia Santa Maria. This time I wanted to head offshore and just keep the boat at 90degrees apparent wind and max speed. We ended up sailing 295 miles that leg, and it was only one gybe. We got our 150 mile layline almost perfect, just had to put in a two mile hitch to cross the finish line. Chris and I hand drove day 1 of that leg as the wind built into the high teens and boat speed was hitting 14-15. I either didn’t read our satellite-phone-supplied PredictWind forecast right, or they totally missed the wind build upwards of 27 knots. Thank God for Ken in Jersey Girl putting out the word about 20 miles behind us as he was in that building breeze. We did a downwind reefing (first for RW) and it did not go well. Battens caught on lazyjacks and the new cheek block on the boom for turning the reefing clew lines to deck began to deform on the boom. We scrambled with makeshift snatch block works. That can’t happen again in case of squalls / storms. The call for the reef was actually because Anton noticed two bulges in the sail track at the top of the mainsail. There aren’t enough load spreading sliders up there, it turns out. This didn’t show itself in tough San Francisco sailing, but the repetitive hours of ocean passages is a whole new rig stress game for us.

Leg 2’s other big learning was caution. The morning of day two, after the very fast day one, Chris and I agreed the second reef should stay in all day and we kept the boat in the 9-11kt range. There was a lot of surfing in a confused wave pattern and gusty winds. We’d broken enough and the skipper was quickly learning the difference from day racing to being 130 miles out from land, which was desolate remote Baja mountains. Throttle back and take care of the boat and tired humans. We did get a spectacular sunset show out of the deal, and it was Jim’s birthday. It was another night arrival but at 8pm and less dramatic.

Chris and Anton did a monster hike overlooking the bay and Pacific, but I had to stay down because of a nasty stingray jab not long after getting ashore. Crap that hurt. A nurse on Profligate instructed me to soak the wound for an hour in as hot temp as one can stand. That (plus three drinks) hit the spot. Today it’s still an ugly wound in the poison area but not painful.

The BSM beach : music party was surreal. Of course it included a Hotel California sing along, as the HaHa crowd averages around early 60s.

I liked seeing how people live in these remote places.

On the final morning in BSM the rally radio net informed everyone about the tropical disturbance forming south of Cabo San Lucas. This changed the whole tone of the event. The HaHa folks were trying a new stop here in year 26, to visit Man o War Cove inside Magdelana Bay (Damian and Beth, go there!). We ended up loving this side trip but many boat skipped to head straight to Cabo. I must have been quite weather distracted- no photos taken. Best part was a beach bonfire with new friends on Jersey Girl. Got there via a long dinghy run in the dark. Next day realized how shallow we had been!

Leg 3 was 150 miles from Mag Bay to Cabo. Some hours in, the depression got a name from the weather service. We got quiet and serious about making the boat scoot to a safe harbor. That was also the best night sail of my life. Beam wind in the low teens. Big stars early then Full moon all night. Light jacket only. Lots of earlier-starting boats to chase and pass. Interesting was the 30kt closing speed with a Carnival cruise ship. Then sunrise, and a milestone on the odometer since departing SF in September. Also note the 5 knot boat speed. About an hour of that and we decided to forgoe 100% sailing the HaHa and fire up the engine. Crickets. Wind died down to the point we decided to launch the dinghy and side-tug Ravenswing. But during that prep along came DeekN’Blews and their agreement to tow us. It was a painful way to get to the big destination but I am so thankful to that crew.

I have no photos of the Cabo craziness. Hard to describe the harbor, except maybe the worst of the Las Vegas strip but with multimillion dollar boats instead of Euro cars? Pretty much hated the whole thing. We had a stressful anchoring night and at sunset were told to vacate by noon the next day as the port captain was clearing the anchorage and closing the harbor. Fine with me. We managed to get the immigration work done in five minutes via the $80 agent. That was the best move.

By contrast, I’m on day 5 now at Puerto Cabo San Jose, 16 miles northeast, and it’s lovely. The storm hit us here and found EVERY little leak in the boat. We spent sunday exploring in warm downpour.

The patrons in these multi-day-trip dive boats were holed up behind the closed harbor entrance. Monday the sun broke through and we enjoyed the beach. Got the boys’ old BoogieBoard out of mothballs :)

And at 5pm watched sea turtle hatchlings make their jailbreak.

Sadly the HaHa ended for us when the crew piled in to this red taxi and left Ravenswing to quieter times with the now-boat-fixer. Today was leaks solving, more rigging tweaks, lots of cleaning, dinghy motor care, etc. Come on Vetus, your hatch handle o-rings can’t last four years? You soaked Chris’ bed with this BS.

It’s the annual celebration day of the independence revolution so i went to town to watch festival stuff. Even had time to buy the first boat-travels local artist thing. In honor of this early morning’s paddle surf wipeouts.

So that’s the HaHa recap. I sit here trying not to get frustrated that motor guy said it would be tomorrow, but I think I got the stereotypical MX platitude. I will take a cab to his shop tomorrow if still no word. The boat is ready to rock the next phase, a singlehanded trip of 130 miles to La Paz up in the Sea of Cortez. Most all the other 20+ HaHa boats left by this morn so I’m chomping at the bit here. At least the rooftop pool is badass :)

1 thought on “Getting there.

  1. Greg, I’m really happy you’ve made it… and will now savor some private time bonding with your masterpiece. I’m sure she’ll now ease up on her demands, and dance with you. Regards, Goose.

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