If this place looks like an ideal place to cruise, it is. It’s tropical and has countless islands and uninhabited white sand beaches. What’s more, the people are friendly. Not only can you get almost anything you want here, the cost of living is very low. The mystery about this mystery spot is why more cruisers don’t visit. Can you identify it? If so, email us. But only if you haven’t yet read the August issue or Latitude 38 — you’ll find the answer there in Changes in Latitudes.
We’re somewhat surprised that with more than five weeks to go to the start of the 21st Baja Ha-Ha rally — which will start on October 27 from San Diego — the number of paid entries has, with the entry of John Enders’ Anacortes, WA-based Pacific Seacraft 34 Victoria, reached 100. And with the entry of Perry Peters’ Marina del Rey-based J/120 Felicita, entries have surpassed the century mark. This is certainly in line with previous years.
We’re surprised because in the ‘dark days’ earlier this year, a division of the Mexican IRS had all but gone stark raving self-destructive by impounding more than 300 foreign-owned boats. Most of the boats were impounded, some for up to four months, because of raw ignorance and incompetence on the part of the Mexican agents. It was an outrage that made front-page headlines in the best Mexican newspapers. But the Mexican government, like the U.S. government, refused to acknowledge it had made a mistake or apologize.
Most national and regional US sailing magazines either didn’t have a clue what was going on, or attempted to sugar-coat what was truly a monumental outrage, one that cost a few innocent foreign boat owners lots of money, if not their entire season in Mexico. The publisher of Latitude 38 is proud to say that we called it the way it really was, even though, as the organizers of the now 21-year-old Baja Ha-Ha, we had the most to lose financially, as our boat had been impounded and we weren’t holding back on the bad news. As we wrote at one time, we weren’t going to bullshit our readers, even if it meant there would only be four Ha-Ha entries this year.
We think three things have given this year’s entrants confidence: 1) The fact that as idiotic as the then Mexican IRS policy was, there was never any suggestion that it was motivated by seeking bribes or that it was extortion. It was just a monumentally screwed-up procedure, one that had actually been hatched with good intentions. 2) That a new Temporary Import Permit has been introduced, one that will eliminate the possibility of most of the previous errors that caused so many of the problems. Mexico is getting its Temporary Import Permit act together, and its IRS agents and harbormasters are much more aware of what’s going on and how to prevent future problems. And 3) Mexico is such a great cruising ground, how could you resist it?
So who is going this year? When it comes to occupations, engineers of one sort or another dominate the occupations of the skippers. It’s remarkable. There are also lots of firemen, nurses, doctors, small-business owners, and lawyers. There are at least two all-woman boats, and several others owned by women. There are a number of ‘kid’ boats. The sailing experience of the entries ranges from just a couple of years to, in some cases, more than 50 years. Many skippers or crew have done multiple Ha-Ha’s.
We recently listed all the entries to date, so we’ve decided to share some of the mini-profiles with you. If these stimulate your interest, you have until September 10 to enter online at www.baja-haha.com. As for the Grand Poobah, who is currently on the mothership in San Diego, this has been the greatest summer for weather in San Diego that we can remember, and we can’t wait to move on up to Santa Barbara for the start of the SoCal Ta-Ta September 7. That’s going to be a blast. But the highlight of our year is always the fabulous adventure we have with everyone else on the Ha-Ha, followed by all the great times in tropical Mexico. We hope you can join us.
If you sign up this year, here’s a sampling of the folks you’ll be sailing with:
• Talion, Gulfstar 50, Patsy Verhoeven, La Paz, BCS (entry #1)
Originally from Portland, Patsy has not only done more Ha-Ha’s than anyone else, she’s has sailed every leg of the course every year. No wonder she’s the celebrated Reina del Mar. Perhaps because of toilet seats being left up in past Ha-Ha’s, this year she’ll be sailing with an all-women crew.
• Arluck III, Cabot 36, Wayne Peters, Vancouver
Wayne, a 68-year-old retired executive, has owned the Arluck for 15 years. Both he and the boat, recently refit, have crossed the Atlantic and sailed from Vancouver to Hawaii and Vancouver to Alaska. When he gets his fill of Mexico, he will Puddle Jump to the South Pacific.
• Quest, Golden Wave 42, Michael Thirkill & Cybele Abbett, Brookings, Oregon
Michael, 58, a retired homebuilder, and Cybele, a symphony executive director, "have wanted to do something like this since we were kids, and now that we have each other and the boat, it’s time to go." If they have a good time on the Ha-Ha, they’ll continue. If not, they’ll Bash back home.
• Family Circus, Lagoon 470 cat, Chris & Heather Tzortzis, S.F.
Chris, 43, a retired sales associate, and Heather, a ‘domestic goddess’, are embarking on their "mid-life adventure". They will have five of their six kids -— ages 5 to 20 — along "as well as a chill attitude, roller furling headsails, a gigantic genset, a dive compressor, and books for 10 years of home-schooling." If all goes well, they will Puddle Jump in 2015.
• Champagne, Hunter 456, Tom Junod & Kim Hysni, Newport Beach
Tom, 64, still active in sales, and his wife Kim, a still-practicing lawyer, have sailed 5,000 miles locally over the last five years in anticipation of a 3+ year cruise. After starting with the Ha-Ha and cruising Mexico, during which time they expect to make lots of new friends, they plan to take their time sailing across the Caribbean and up the East Coast of the US to Nova Scotia.
• Cavale, Cheoy Lee 44, Michael and Mary Tutty, Seattle
"The Ha-Ha is the beginning of our new life!" say the couple, both of whom are mortgage brokers. "We’ve owned Cavale for 20 years, but nobody would recognize her as we’ve redone her from bow to stern." The couple has sailed from Seattle to San Francisco, but this time they plan to "stay gone."
• Long Winded, Jeanneau 42 CC, Daniel & Marla Slattery, Chula Vista
Daniel, a just-retired furniture manufacturer and designer, and Marla, a retired administrative director, have been sailing Southern California waters for more than 50 years. Now they want to enjoy all that Mexico has to offer.
• Wind Dancer, Hunter 466, Phil Helman & Desley Oliphant, Pleasanton
Phil, 65, owns a business, while his wife Desley is a retired international marketer. "We’ve put this off long enough," they say. They plan to sail south until the water is warm enough for swimming — that will be Cabo — and then decide what to do next. Previously, their longest trip was to San Diego.
• Abby Normal, Island Packet 41, Brad & Gay Gibson, Seattle
Brad, 55, an attorney, and his wife Gay, a computer programmer, have both been sailing for almost 20 years, and have owned their current boat for six years. Brad has sailed from New Caledonia to New Zealand and Seattle to Skagway. They will probably sail home via Hawaii.
• Third Wish, Norseman 447, Jeff Goldfarb & Carolyn Lambert, Long Beach
Jeff, 54, a lawyer, and Carolyn, a teacher, admit to owning "the prettiest Norseman 447." She’d been built for the Annapolis Boat Show. "We’re stoked about starting our cruising life with the Ha-Ha, because we wanted to do it in the company of others." If they like cruising, they’ll Puddle Jump in 2016.
This item is a bit off our normal beat, but it was so amusingly bizarre that we had to share it with you: As reported in the San Francisco Bay sailing blog www.pressure-drop.us, kiteboarder Erin Losocco was ripping across the Sacramento River near Sherman Island recently doing roughly 30 knots, when his foil hit an unknown object, and he was launched into the drink. As he organized his gear afterward, he discovered the culprit: a 19.5-lb, 36-inch-long salmon!
Although Losocco is obviously an accomplished kiter, he’d never before attempted to carry a slimy 20-lb fish in his arms while foiling back to the beach. Needless to say, it was quite a challenge: "It was so slippery," said Losocco, "that the only way to hold it was to put my hand thru the gills while grabbing onto my kite bar. The teeth were tearing into my skin and I was starting to bleed also."
Due to the awkwardness of his load, he wiped out a few times on his way back to the Sherman Island launch spot, but finally made it ashore with his prize catch, much to the amazement of fellow kiters. Talk about making efficient use of your time. Losocco got his jollies on the water, brought home dinner, and may have inadvertently launched a new hybrid sport: foil-fishing.