Thursday, November 12, 2015

Here We Go Again!

Somehow the moments between sitting on a mooring at our beloved Howland's Landing in Catalina and our last view of San Diego from the deck of Moonshadow were separated by four weeks. We were so busy with last minute preparations, it seemed like a day or two.  

Photo by Fin Beven

Looking back through the Baja Ha-Ha fleet at our beloved home town San Diego, we realized the start of this rally also meant the end of living aboard our floating home at good ole San Diego Yacht Club; listening to music coming from Humphreys concerts just across the bay; paddle boarding with friends for a swim at Kellogg's Beach; seeing friends around the Yacht Club; and being just a phone call away from dinner with family.  It was a bit like our first farewell three and a half years ago when we left San Diego in a pick-up towing a U-Haul trailer full of "important stuff" bound for Florida for a sea trial with Moonshadow and her owners.  But different.

Photo by Fin Beven

But when you want the view through the overhead hatch to be of the spinnaker pulling you south into the tropics, you have to expect a few farewells.

The Baja Ha-Ha is a cruiser's rally which leaves San Diego each fall with over a hundred boats ranging from (this year) 19 feet to 70 feet.  Some of those who sign up have thousands of miles logged all over the world and others are setting out on their first adventure.  For some it's a few weeks off with a quick return to California. For others, the Ha-Ha is the beginning of a season of cruising to the Sea of Cortez and mainland Mexico.  For still others, it is the first step into an unpredictable future of adventure sailing to distant shores.  All benefit from the fun of meeting the sailors in the fleet, morning roll calls on the radio and stops along the way to rest, have fun and fix broken stuff (the whole reason people become sailing cruisers is to fix broken stuff).  This year was the 22nd time our friend Richard Spindler aka The Grand Poobah, has organized and lead this mob south to Cabo, the third for Moonshadow, and the second for us.  

Though Deb and John usually make passages alone, the Ha-Ha is one of those times we like to have friends along, so this year our crew included Ric and Monika Sanders, long time friends from Los Angeles Yacht Club.  While Ric has thousands of racing and yacht delivery miles in his logbook, Monika was looking forward to her first overnight passage.  We figured with a name like Sanders, they could help with some interior varnish, but that didn't exactly work out.

But what did work out with our crew was the ability to carry our spinnaker all day and into the night.  With just two of us, flying the 'chute at night is out of the question.

Like last year, we stopped in Turtle bay where the modern, lighted, astroturf baseball field stands out in stark contrast to the rest of this dusty Baja town.  Each year when the Ha-Ha fleet arrives, it's like this:  thirty fielders and a lineup of batters waiting their turn to knock it into the outfield and run the bases.  The town kids participate and, from the look on their faces, it's tons of fun.  The fleet of sailors from the US and Canada bring all sorts of baseball stuff and leave it behind when they leave.

The other Ha-Ha event in Turtle Bay is a beach party on a nearby piece of deserted sand at the northeast corner of this immense bay.  

Here, the fleet can unwind after three days of sailing by playing volley ball, boogie boarding in the surf or climbing the nearby foothills for a view of all the fun below.

Photo by Fin Beven
One of the fun activities below was a women vs. men tug of war utilizing someone's 300 foot anchor rode.  The Grand Poobah, rigs the event each year so the women outnumber the men 2 or 3 to one.  Guess who won!

Another fun activity is posing with friends and Moonshadow for a group shot.

Again, like last year, the second stop was Bahia Santa Maria, a place so remote if you find any other yachts here, that would be really something.  How about 110 boats?!! It was fun to be the first here, select the best anchorage location and watch the fleet filter in throughout the day.

By night time there was a new constellation of anchor lights from all the new arrivals.

The Ha-Ha is well organized with events at every stop, like this huge dinghy raft up behind Profligate, the Grand Poobah's 63 foot catamaran...
(Moonshadow top right with her crew arriving by dinghy - extreme right)
Photo by Richard Spindler - shamelessly stolen from his FaceBook page.

...but sometimes the best things can't be planned.  Like an impromptu paddle board outing...

Or an equally impromptu cocktail party in Moonshadow's endless cockpit!

But the one thing that set this Ha-Ha apart from last year was the sailing.  Unlike last year's light wind event where we motored two of the three legs, we sailed with the spinnaker up all three legs and had some spectacular days, like the last day when we dueled with Sea Level, a 49 foot catamaran owned by friends Jim and Kent Milski.  They've already circumnavigated aboard Sea Level and now their only purpose in life is to beat Moonshadow in an all out speed run for Cabo.

Photo by Fin Beven
They tried several times to pass us to leeward...

But the sheer beauty of Moonshadow scooting along hitting 11 and 12 knots was too much.  We think they just lost all concentration.

 But we were wrong.  They were sneaky and they had a plan.  When we weren't looking, they sneaked up to windward, which is pretty sneaky for a rally.

Then it was the Moonshadow crew that was awestruck as they rocketed past until...

...their view of Moonshadow was of our bow.  Well done Jim, you bastard!

Nobody who has ever sailed doesn't love passing another boat, nor do we particularly love getting passed, but none of that compares to winning the green shirt you get in the Baja Ha-Ha by... well, we don't know exactly... but only one boat in each division gets one, and we now have a matching set, one for 2014 and one for 2015.  

Now a familiar sight for Moonshadow, Land's End at Cabo San Lucas marks the end of the Ha-Ha Rally, but the beginning of a whole new chapter for Moonshadow and crew.

We'll now spend the winter on Mexico's mainland Pacific Coast taking a bit more time to visit some of the places we've seen before.  Along the way, we'll be studying the dozens of charts we bought in San Diego that cover the South Pacific....

 ... and doing some reading about the places that lie ahead for Moonshadow.

1 comment:


Ahoy, Deb and John !

Beautiful Moonshadow cought our attention this afternoon
at La Cruz Marina.

We, that is Vic and Simone, are a mature couple from Europe.
We love being on the ocean, especially crewing on sailboats.

We would like to invite you to contact us when next you need reliable, pleasant crew with a positive attitude.

We have some experience helping to sail boats in the
Sea of Cortez and can consider voyages both short and long,
coastal and/or puddle jumping.

Presently traveling in Mexico, we are available to answer questions by phone, via Email or Skype... and/or in person where convenient. sb.anliker[at]

And of course, if you don't need crew, you are welcome to share our info with other skippers you feel can benefit from it.


Vic and Simone

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