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November 5, 2010

Baja Ha-Ha Comes to a Close

Bathed in early morning light, the getaway from Bahia Santa Maria was one to remember.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Just as the bulk of the Baja Ha-Ha 17 fleet approached the finish line of Leg Three, they were greeted by 25-knot headwinds — a final trial for the 600 sailors in this 155-boat fleet on their 750-mile ‘cruise to the Cape’.

As we write this, we’re about to head off to the annual Cabo San Lucas beach party, but here’s a quick update of recent events.

Beach parties are an integral part of the Ha-Ha, giving fleet members a chance to swap tales and cement relationships.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As reported earlier, more than 50 members of the fleet pitched in to help Mark Cholewinski of Vallejo strip everything of value from his Downeast 38, Tachyon, which had been beached four miles north of Bahia Santa Maria just before dawn, Monday, November 1. The solo sailor had simply fallen asleep with his autopilot on. Sadly, a massive effort to refloat the stout hull by local fishing charter operator Bob Hoyt of Mag Bay Outfitters and a team of fishermen was unsuccessful.

“Well, I guess I’ll finally get my picture in Latitude,” said Mark. Although shell-shocked by his tragic mistake, he dealt with the ordeal stoically.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Desite that sad affair, the fleet’s stay in beautiful, unspoiled Bahia Santa Maria was joyous. The high points were long walks on the pristine, 10-mile-long beach, dinghy expeditions into the mangrove-lined estuary, a day-long volleyball competition, and a rip-roaring party ashore put on by local fishermen that featured a sizzling rock ‘n’ roll band from La Paz.

Even the normally stuffy Rally Committee got down and funky at the Bahia Santa Maria cliff-top fiesta.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 7 a.m. start of Leg Three was memorable for its ample breeze — a rarity in recent years — which allowed many boats to carry assymetrical chutes for several hours before it fizzled out later in the day.

Dolphin and whale sightings were highlights of Leg Three’s light-air sailing.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Upon arrival at Cabo the next day, an extremely uncommon easterly blow made the anchorage rough and rowdy for several hours. So much so, in fact, that the port captain refused to let pangas go out to taxi sailors ashore. As a result, the annual ‘We Cheated Death Again’ celebration at the notorious dance bar Squid Roe was a bit less crazy than usual. But those who did attend did their best to uphold the Ha-Ha dance-crazy reputation. 

Baja Ha-Ha XVII ends tomorrow with the Awards Ceremony, hosted by longtime sponsor Cabo Marina, which was able to accommodate all 75 boats that requested slips this year. For a full recap of this year’s event see the December edition of Latitude 38.

Socrates Nearing San Francisco

Jeanne enjoys tea at anchor in Hanalei Bay this summer. No doubt she’s been consuming mass quantities of the stuff on the trip down the coast just to stay warm.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Eleven agonizing days after leaving Victoria, B.C. on her second attempt at a nonstop solo circumnavigation aboard her Najad 380 Nereida, 68-year-old Jeanne Socrates is finally getting close to the Bay Area. "I can’t believe how slow this passage south is," she wrote on her blog. "Previously, it’s taken from five to seven days maximum from Neah Bay to San Francisco."

As of last night, Nereida was about 200 miles off Eureka.

© 2010 Google Earth

Over the first three days, Jeanne battled light winds and strong tides as she slowly — ever so slowly — made her way out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. She was then greeted by unfavorable currents and southerly breeze, which not only made for slow going, but occasionally forced her to sail in the wrong direction! "I always hate having to go north when I want to head south," she groused a few days ago. But happily, the wind direction has settled into a more northerly pattern so Nereida‘s finally making some progress.

Stay tuned to ‘Lectronic for periodic updates from Jeanne, or keep up with her blogs at

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I’m Ready for My Close-up, Mr. DeMille

We fielded an interesting call from 47-year-old filmmaker Cory Wolfe yesterday asking if we knew any liveaboards who would be willing to be interviewed for a documentary project. "I moved to San Diego from Alaska a couple months ago, and became fascinated with people who live aboard their boats," Cory said. "As a new liveaboard myself, I want to explore why others chose the lifestyle." 

Cory — who lives aboard his Ericson 27, Cutlass in San Diego — recording video at Catalina last weekend.

© 2010 Cory Wolfe

It was clear from our conversation that Cory is sincere about his project — he’s willing to travel as far south as Mexico and as far north as the Bay in the coming months to interview liveaboards — but we don’t know him personally so all the normal caveats about meeting strangers apply. If you’re in the Bay Area, Cory says he’ll be in town through tomorrow for interviews, or you can contact him via email or at (907) 744-2128 to schedule a visit. Hopefully he’ll send us a review copy when the film is finished — sounds like a cool project!

Cammas, Van Liew Still Lead

Franck Cammas’ Groupama 3 (in red) has the rhumbline well-protected against his closest competition, Thomas Coville’s Sodeb’O, to the north. The orange line represents Lionel Lemonchois’s record-setting 2006 run, and the final zag is roughly indicative of the final course to the finish. Francis Joyon (in Cammas’ track) is well within striking range.

© 2010 Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale

Although Franck Cammas and his monstrous Groupama 3 continue to lead the Ultimate division in the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale, unsettled weather in the North Atlantic has allowed Thomas Coville’s Sodeb’O and Francis Joyon’s Idec II to make significant gains. Despite having reeled off a 490-mile day, Cammas’ lead against Sodeb’O — well north of G3 at this point — has shrunk some 86 miles over the last 24 hours to 260 miles, although Cammas has the rhumbline well defended. Joyon clawed back 60 miles to sit about 310 miles astern. Since Wednesday’s report, Sidney Gavignet has been successfully rescued from his seriously damaged Air Oman Majan. Roland ‘Bilou’ Jourdain is currently holding the lead in the IMOCA 60 class, but perhaps the biggest news is that Michel Desjoyeaux is . . . flushed! ‘Le Prof’, as he’s known, made a bold move south early in the race that doesn’t look like it’ll pay off anytime soon. Franck-Yves Escoffier is clinging to a narrow lead in the Multi50 division aboard Crêpes Whaou, while Thomas Ruyant aboard Destination Dunkerque is now the Class 40 leader as early frontrunner Bernard Stamm has suffered damage to his steering system aboard Cheminées Poujoulat. In the Rhum division, the lone American in the race, Etienne Giroire aboard currently lies in seventh place, only 174 miles behind leader Pierre-Yves Chatelin’s Destination Calais.

Brad Van Liew (in yellow) and Gutek Gutkowski (blue) are lined up for a drag race to the finish in Race 1 of the Velux 5 Oceans.

© 2010 Velux 5 Oceans

On the opposite side of the Equator, Brad Van Liew’s Le Pingouin and Gutek Gutkowski’s Operon Racing are technically tied in the rankings for the first leg of the Velux 5 Oceans, with both sitting some 2,600 miles from the finish. However, Van Liew is about 200 miles farther south than the Polish skipper with the race tracker showing both headed for Cape Town. As long as Van Liew hasn’t overcooked his angles, he should pull ahead in the next 24 hours or so. Canadian Derek Hatfield is still in third, 440 miles back.

Girls just wanna have . . . a shower! Tim Dick reaped the benefits of an outdoor shower aboard his Beneteau First 42s7.
The Baja Ha-Ha Grand Poobah, clearly on ‘manaña time’, called in the briefest of reports as Profligate was leaving Bahia Santa Maria this morning: "We had a great party at Santa Maria last night, and we have light winds this morning as we’re heading out.
After exiting the Bay of Biscay, Franck Cammas took a hard left and headed South, a strategy that’s paying off in the ’10 Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale.