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May 2, 2011

Where Were You on Opening Day?

When the sun is shining and the breeze is up, it’s easy to make new converts to the sport of sailing.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Yee-hah, we’re having some fun now!"

On San Francisco Bay, it’s rare to have both breeze and sun-tanning weather on the same day. But Opening Day (yesterday) had it all — an ideal day to introduce new sailors to our sport. 

Hundreds of boats of all types plied Bay waters yesterday, in what we think of as an all-inclusive celebration of fun on the water. If you were out there, we’d love to hear about it. So email us a few lines about your experience, along with a few of your best photos. Who knows, your thoughts and/or photos might end up in the magazine. In any case, the spectacular day was a splendid start to the summer sailing season. We’ll see you out there!

Ha-Ha 18 Registration Begins Today!

And they’re off! On cue, the breeze kicked in just before the 11 a.m. start of last year’s rally off Point Loma.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It always amazes us how many sailors seem to be champing at the bit for May to roll around so they can sign up for the Baja Ha-Ha cruising rally. But we have to remind ourselves that some potential entrants have been working for years, if not decades, toward the goal of sailing south of the border with this world-renowned San Diego to Cabo rally. If you count yourself among those who will be ready to break away from the rat race in late October, we offer our heart-felt congratulations, and welcome you to the fleet.

How do you sign up? Just go to the Baja Ha-Ha site and click on the "Sign Me Up" button. The whole process, including payment on a secure server, takes only about 15 minutes. The entry fee is $375 per boat (regardless of the number of crew). If the owner’s age or his/her boat length is less than 35, the fee is discounted to $325. In either case, that’s merely a fraction of what other large cruising rallies and offshore races charge. 

Why sign up early? Some folks are always very concerned about getting a slip in Cabo. There aren’t always enough available, so we assign slips based on the order that boats entered in the rally. Also, of course, early entrants get the quiet thrill of seeing their boat’s name near the top of the list, That said, the Rally Committee urges all potential entrants not to sign up until they are certain they can make the trip, as there are no refunds. Registration ends September 10.

“Free at last, free at last!” Having done their stint as yacht brokers Roger and Diane Frizzelle and their crew showed their Ha-Ha spirit at last year’s send-off party.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’re in Southern California and are curious about the Ha-Ha, we encourage you to attend one of our free seminars this week, sponsored by Ullman Sails.

The first will be tomorrow, Tuesday, May 3, at the Santa Monica Windjammers YC in Marina del Rey (7 p.m.), and the second will be Wednesday, May 4 at the Dana Point YC (also 7 p.m.). Ullman Sails requests that you RSVP to (714) 432-1860 if you plan to attend.

When we created the Ha-Ha rally 18 years ago, we had no idea it would grow into one of the world’s largest sailing rallies, nor that it would be such a life-changing experience for those to participate. And perhaps most importantly, that the rally’s concrete starting date (October 24 this year) would force procrastinators to finally throw off the docklines and turn their cruising dreams into reality. Look for complete details on this year’s event at the site.

Looking for Bridge Doppler

Last week we reported on Laurie Chaikin’s successful trip under a 70-ft bridge on her Leopard 45 Charleette II, which sports a 71-ft mast. First Mate Ron Taillon wonders if there’s a way to confirm the clearance before you get to the point of no return.

Five feet of clearance can make your heart go thumpity-thump.

© Laurie Chaikin

"That was a hair raising experience," Ron says of the trip under the Hwy 37 bridge on the Petaluma River. "We measured the exact mast height above the water, then calculated low tide at the first bridge, checked predicted winds, etc. We figured we had a 5-ft margin, but it was still unnerving to slowly motor under the bridges and cable. There must be some type of doppler device to get a quick reading from the deck so you can have confidence in trusting the chart’s readings. Does anyone know of a device like this?"

We’ll leave it to our readers — does anything like that exist and is it feasible on a regular cruising boat? Send your thoughts — and photos, if appropriate — to LaDonna.

Henk de Velde, the only person to have ever circumnavigated nonstop on a catamaran, is visiting the Bay Area through the weekend.
Paul Sutchek and Richard vonEhrenkrook have taken home a lot of hardware over the last few years.
“Are those people stuck together? Do you think they need help? latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC If you happened to come across the human jumble above, you might be inspired to scream for a lifeguard — unless, of course, you were a veteran of the Baja Ha-Ha rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.