BAJA HA HA
The week of 17 October 2011 begins the real preparation for the Ha Ha. A few parties thrown by the different marine stores, evening seminars, meet and greets of other ralliers, and final preparations.
21 OCTOBER 2011 – FRIDAY
My brother Walt arrives, good to see him. Start getting him used to some of the boat parts, pieces, equipment and the Ha Ha. Understand, that for years Walt has always kind of given me some crap about wanting to be on a sail boat. Well back in early July he had made a comment that he thought it might be different and fun to see what the Ha Ha rally was all about. Lisa offered to have him come along and be damned if he didn’t take her up on it. As we got closer to our departure from home we re-confirmed and he said he had his tickets to San Diego and home from Cabo San Lucas. He was confirmed and registered as crew for the Baja Ha Ha. He attends a couple of seminars with us, the main Baja Ha Ha rally party and some of the meet and greets. We are ready.
24 OCTOBER 2011 – MONDAY – RALLY START DAY
It is going to be a big parade departure from San Diego harbor. All 160 boat start the march from their respective berth or anchorages to the SD bouy. It was quite a site. We all paraded by the committee boat which had many officials from the San Diego area. The Grand Poobah, Richard (the owner of the magazine Latitude 38) on Profligate (a 58’ custom Catamaran) starts the roll call. There are 12 different divisions and although we were the first to sign up we are assigned to the last group which is all catamarans. There was no wind so he also makes the announcement that it will be a D sail start (the D sail is Diesel Engine). Off we go.
We make a decision to head off shore and drag some tuna lines. There were about 14 of us who headed off shore. The start was announced as a running start with a maximum speed of 6 knots. We motored all day and through the night. The first Radio Net was on Marine SSB channel 4a or 4146khz. Prior to the Net those who didn’t have an SSB called someone who did on the VHF so they could relay their positions. There were a few boats that did not have sufficient fuel capacity to motor all the way to the first stop so they had to sail almost all the way. With no wind it was pretty much a drift south. Only about 80% checked in on the net but the Poobah kept checking on his chicks. At 0700 on the 25th it was announced that the running start was over and sailing time began at that point.
We were about 100 miles off shore when the announcement came that the running start was over. The wind where we were was 8-10 knots out of the NNW. We raised the main full up and set the screecher. The wind was too far back on our starboard tack so we weren’t getting much push. We were sailing at about 3.5knots. As the day wore on we assumed the wind would be that light for at least another day which meant we wouldn’t make it into Bahai Tortuga (Turtle Bay) until late on the fourth day. Our mission wasn’t just to sail South and conserve on fuel but to get South in a timely manner. We added a little D sail and motor-sailed through the day and night. By the next afternoon the wind picked up to 15-20 knots out of the NW. The D sail was shut down and we moving along at 8 knots over water and 7.5 over ground. We were still 80 some miles off shore so we jibed to a easterly heading on a port tack. As night fell we should have taken in a reef but were now moving at 9-10 knots and making good time to our destination. We did furl and drop the screecher and opened the genoa. At 9pm local some 10 hours later we were merging in with several other Ha Ha boats near Cedras Island. The wind was up to 25G30 and we still had the full main up. We hadn’t reefed the furling boom in anything over 20knots and I was concerned that heading into the wind we might do some damage to the new main. I let the main all the way out to the shrouds and pointed up enough to just keep some pressure on the sail to let the stronger gusts blow on through. The winds on the grib files didn’t indicate anything stronger than 25 so we assumed the usual, weather predictions are always off by at least 5 knots.
As we approached Cedras, we saw the trail of running lights marching south and we were going to be crossing though the parade at a 90 degree angle. I made a Securate call giving them all a heads up we were coming into the pack from the West doing 13 knots. That was our top speed and we weren’t ready to slow down. Upon making the Securate call a Canadian came back with “and ORCINIUS just what do you want us to do with that information”. My reply was “Do with it what you want but be aware we are going to blow through the fleet at a 90 degree angle from the West”. The Securate call was an appropriate safety call. My crew decided they did not want to take a chance as we were on a port tack and they all had the right of way on starboard tacks so we jibbed early. We were still 20 miles West of Cedras so when we jibbed our tack would take us further to sea. By the time we Jibbed again back East we were 40 miles from Bahai Tortuga and the finish line. We jibbed eastbound around 0600 local. At 12 knots average we still had 3.5 hours to go. We no more than jibbed when the wind started backing off and within the hour it was down to 5-10 knots and eventually it went to zip. We pulled into Bahai Tortuga in the early afternoon under the D Sail. First leg was done.
We didn’t break anything but did have some problems with the Genoa furling system. We also put a little preliminary wear on the main at the battens where they rode against the shrouds but it is minor. The Genoa was a different problem. Since the furling system rides on the head stay, the top of the furling extrusion needs a means of twisting on the stay smoothly, like a bushing. The cap bushing is made of a PVC material. It appeared that during previous repairs or maintenance, a rigger needed to remove the top cap but didn’t want to take the stay off of its attachment point so proceeded to cut the cap so it could be spread apart to slide off the stay. After re-installing it they merely taped around the cap to hold it in place. Over time as the furling was rolled up it cut a goove in the cap. Under pressure with heavier wind the furling would stop twisting. That is what happened when we tried to furl in the Genoa to 50% during the heavier winds. I had to fabricate a repair which I did out of some 3/4th and ½ inch starboard. I actually built a new head piece with help from Walt and by the end of the day the Genoa furling was repaired. The new cap piece should last many years.
We got the repair completed just in time to clean up and head to the beach for the infamous Baja Beach Party. The grand poobah came on the radio at the net check-in in the morning and gave warning about dinghy landing in the surf. It was only a 3 foot surf! Thank goodness there were a couple of young Mexicans standing at the surf when we came in because we were being broached when one of them jumped up on the port bow and kept it from going all the way over. That didn’t stop it from knocking Walt underneath the surf nor me. Only one escaping the swamping was Lisa. As we rolled in over the surf to the sandy beach, our starboard dinghy wheel came off. Although I might claim that was the real cause for the broaching, I shall not. It was lack of experience. We were none the worse for wear so we managed to mingle, drink some beer and meet new yachties.
29 OCTOBER 2011 – FRIDAY – LEG TWO
This leg would take us from Bahia Tortuga to Bahia Santa Maria, a two night sail. One should always try something new each time out. Since we were anchored in fairly shallow water on a sandy bottom, I chose to start this leg from anchor’s away under sail. Although we did have the engines running they were strictly for back up. We deployed the genoa and caught the offshore breeze pushing us along a 1.5kts as the anchor came free of the bottom then into its hold on deck. Next we raised the main up full and as we cleared the bay we doused the genoa and deployed the spinnaker. Off we went. That worked pretty good. We sailed the second leg from hook up to crossing the line. There were times we were only doing about 3 knots but this leg was meant to be sailed all the way and we did. We ended up being somewhere about number 30 crossing the line. No major problems excepting our head and a continuing charging problem. Thank goodness for a third head. Lisa and I switched to the port side forward head because we couldn’t get anything to flush on our side. Once we set anchor, I worked on getting the head to flush. The water pump and mascerator worked but nothing would move. I took the seawater pressure hose to it and ran the pump, mascerator and seawater in it all together. It was a shitty job but someone had to do it and it worked for now. Our head was to be one of our nemeses.
We were anchored and settled in when Pura Vida came near to set anchor. We suggested they just side tie to us as they needed some water and the easiest way was to pump from us to them.
Got everything cleaned up and we prepared some of the fish we caught earlier in the day. Judy and Mike brought over some salad and hors d’oeuvres and we shared a meal together with their crewmember Jan.
The next day, 1 November 2011 was another beach party day. The party was to start around 1300 local so we got some chores done on the boat before we cleaned up to head to the party. Not wanting to make the same kind of mistake at an attempt to do a beach landing we opted to take a panga into the beach. Nice and easy ride. We mingled and met more sailors, drank some beer and margaritas and had a few tacos. Tacos here aren’t like you get in the states. A taco here is a soft cooked taco size tortilla about 5 inches in diameter with one thing… beef, pork, chicken or fish. The rest is what you put on from a selection of different salsas. As the sun was getting ready to set, we get a panga ride back to the boat where we relaxed.
2 NOVEMBER 2011 – WEDNESDAY – LEG 3 TO CABO SAN LUCAS
to be continued!