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Making Tracks & Making Friends

November 3, 2008 – Turtle Bay, Baja

Light Air Sailing
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Light fog accompanied last Monday's start off Coronado Roads, but the westerly breeze gave everyone a nice push toward the border. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Dang that internet!!! We apologize for Friday's report on the Baja Ha-Ha, as half the photos in the report never made it from the outpost at Turtle Bay to Latitude's offices in Mill Valley. So we've posted a few new photos.

Having done 14 of the last 15 Ha-Ha's we can report that it was possibly the warmest first leg of a Ha-Ha ever. Although there were Santa Ana conditions when the fleet left San Diego, it was warm and dry offshore the first night. Well, when it wasn't foggy. The fog came in thick and low for short period of time, then it was warm and dry again.

Better still, the wind held all through the first night. Alas, it frittered away on the second day, which resulted in many boats firing up their engines. Those who didn't enjoyed very light, but steady winds. With a bright blue sky and a flat blue sea, sailing all afternoon at three knots didn't seem that bad at all.

If it was a record first leg for being warm and dry, it was also a record year for catching fish. Everybody who dropped a hook in seemed to get multiple bites. Sashimi seemed to be on the menu for half the boats on that second day.

Fish on!
There may not have been much wind during the latter half of leg one, but the fleet seems to be pulling in fish in record numbers. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With the wind still light on the third morning, the crew of the mothership Profligate just had to hike to the summit of West Benitos and the famous lighthouse. Why is it famous? Because the architect and construction supervisor so antagonized his two workers that they murdered him!

Unfortunately, it was a motor trip the rest of the way to Turtle Bay. But things were looking up for the Saturday start of the 240-mile second leg to Bahia Santa Maria. Commanders Weather was calling for 18- to 28-knot winds, with much stronger gusts at the base of the canyons. That should result in some great photos . . . we just hope we can send them over the internet.

Mas Cervezas!
The La Palapa crew cools off with a few frosty Pacificos. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The highlight of every Ha-Ha visit to Turtle Bay is the annual beach party, staged the day before the start of Leg Two — and this year's bash had to be one of the best yet, thanks to uncommonly hot weather tempered by a gentle breeze.

Frisbee fun!
With 80 degree water temps, lots of Ha-Ha kids played in the surf for hours. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While some folks barbequed fresh-caught fish to share with the fleet, others tested their volleyball prowess, threw frisbees, hiked nearby peaks for an overlook of the bay and played in the surf — with water temps of 80°. Townspeople came out to share in the fun, and several local merchants provided chairs, tables, awnings, and a seemingly endless supply of cold beer. By all accounts, a good time was had by all. Look for further updates after the fleet reaches Cabo on November 6.

Party Time
Beach partygoers pose for the annual beach party photo. Behind them, the broad crescent of Turtle Bay stretches for miles. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / at

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Classy Deadline the 15th


Darla Jean Missing Again?

November 3, 2008 – The Big Blue

Just when you thought it was over, the saga of Darla Jean continues.

Jerry and Darla Merrow left the Bay last fall aboard a Rudy Cheoy catamaran dubbed Darla Jean. Just outside the Gate, the deck around the mast step "tore off," Jerry Merrow reported later. The couple pulled into Moss Landing where they esentially traded the cat for a 48-ft motorsailer. They transferred all their belongings from Darla Jean I to Darla Jean II, including a certain parrot named Gulliver and a new puppy named Snickers, and in a matter of days took off for Hawaii.

Darla Jean II
Jerry and Darla Merrow drifted across the Pacific for 94 days last year before washing up on Fanning Island. © 2017 Roland Klein

Ninety-four days later, they wrecked on Fanning Island, abandoning their boat and animals. We covered in detail the heroic efforts of complete strangers to rescue the two pets, both of whom are happily living in new and caring homes in the U.S. But what happened to the Merrows?

We'd heard rumors that they found another boat and were going to take off again but nothing beyond that. Last week, we received a call from the Coast Guard asking if we had any info on the couple. According to the Coast Guard, Darla's sister contacted them for help in locating Darla Jean III, as they were supposed to have left the Bay on June 17 and she hadn't heard from her sister since.

Unfortunately, no one seems to know what kind of boat Darla Jean III is, nor where they were heading. If you have any information about Jerry and Darla Merrow, the boat or their destination, please contact USCG Search and Rescue at (510) 437-3701.

- latitude / ld

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'Lectronic for Cruisers

November 3, 2008 – Cyberspace

What, no pretty pictures?

As much as we all enjoy a good sailing photo, if you're 2,000 miles from nowhere, you'll be glad to hear you can still get the text of 'Lectronic Latitude via Sail Docs on SailMail. Send an email with 'lat 38' in the subject line, and keep up with all the latest while you're at sea!

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Sailing Fills Glass Past Half-Full

November 3, 2008 – Everywhere There's Wind

Family fun
Some things are worth more than money - like family sailing vacations. Photo Latitude / John A.
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The last week or so reminded us once again how stepping off land and onto a sailboat can immediately put miles of psychic distance between oneself and the all the economic and political craziness of the day. The weekend before last, Latitude 38 Associate Publisher John Arndt sailed a soul-soothing Great Pumpkin Regatta at Richmond YC aboard a Beneteau 10R with some old friends in what he described as, "idyllic weather and perfect breeze." The following day and several hundred miles to the south, hundreds of sailors walked the rat race's plank, effectively telling their shoreside stress to take a break, as they joined the second largest ever fleet in the Baja Ha-Ha.

The New York Times even jumped on the bandwagon when Personal Finance Editor Ron Lieber penned, "Some Investments May Still Be Worth The Price." The piece profiles Great Lakes sailor Ron Stefanski, his family, their sailboat, and what it means to them — in the process reminding us that many discretionary investments have far more value than the money they require.

“If you value family and friendships and experiences, the things that you might
lose don’t mean quite as much,” Stefanski's wife Kay is quoted as saying. “It puts it all in perspective.”

We couldn't agree more — sailing is unrivaled in its ability to put it all in perspective. The November issue of Latitude 38 hit a magazine rack near you on Friday, and it's filled with stories about people all over the world who've spurned dire news to spend quality time on the water. So if you find yourself struggling to keep a smile on your face, spend some time on the water this week and take a moment to stretch out in your bunk with a copy of Latitude 38. The magazine is free, so it won't cut into your boat budget and you can find a copy at any place you'll find on our updated list of distributors here.

- latitude / rg

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