Skip to content
October 31, 2016

Huge Baja Ha-Ha Fleet Heads South

The crew of the New Mexico-based Catana 471 Footloose was in high spirits as they paraded out to the starting line. 

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At 10 a.m. today, the 23rd annual Baja Ha-Ha rally’s fleet of 136 boats paraded out of San Diego Harbor escorted by two local fireboats, while print, TV and radio reporters captured the scene from the deck of the sportfishing vessel Dolphin. Also aboard were an impressive collection of dignitaries including the consul general of Mexico, the deputy sector commander of the Coast Guard, and various staffers of the Port of San Diego — thanks to the organizational efforts of Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California.

Latitude / John

An hour later the disparate fleet — ranging in size from 27 to 92 feet — officially began Leg One of this 750-mile downwind cruise to Cabo San Lucas, which, for many fleet members, serves as the transitional step into a new lifestyle of open-ended cruising in Mexican waters and beyond. At least 535 sailors were aboard, with perhaps a dozen more Ensenada starters expected to join the Ha-Ha armada this afternoon.   

The two-week rally officially began Sunday with a spirited Pre-Halloween Kickoff Party at West Marine’s Shelter Island superstore, where elaborate costumes ranged from swashbuckling pirates and wenches to superheroes and sea creatures — including a seductive trio of mermaids. All in attendance enjoyed a ‘Mexican tune-up’ lunch complete with cool libations. Around the perimeter of the party venue, at least a dozen Ha-Ha sponsors were on hand to educate the newcomers about the facilities and services that await them south of the border.

There’s a theme here somewhere, but we admit we haven’t quite figured it out yet. We do know these southbound sailors were in the mood for fun. 

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although the breeze was very light at the start, according to the fleet’s official weather consultants at Commanders Weather, wind this afternoon should pick up to the mid-teens to low 20s later today and continue through the night — ideal conditions for a fast ride to the rally’s first rest stop, Bahia Tortugas, which lies roughly 360 miles south of San Diego. 

Complementing the usual assortment of pirates and wenches, a ‘pod’ of lovely mermaids turned up this year, by special invitation from West Marine. 

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Stay tuned for updates here throughout the two-week event.

No, What Are YOU Doing Up at 3 a.m.?

Jeanne Socrates in warmer climes.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Having done more major things in his life during the past week than in any previous one-week period, the Wanderer/Grand Poobah was up at 3 a.m. on Sunday using his iPad to keep up with the world.

He was most excited by a message from Jeanne Socrates of the Najad 36 Nereida in Victoria, British Columbia. Jeanne had taken off from Victoria about 10 days previously to start a proposed 280-day singlehanded circumnavigation via the Southern Ocean. At 74 years young, Jeanne is the oldest woman to have done it so far, but missed being the oldest person by a few months. So she’d taken off on yet another incredible record attempt to rectify things.

Almost as soon as she’d gotten out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, she ran into nasty weather. Real nasty weather. It was one big storm after another, and almost all on the nose. At one point the veteran of countless blows in the Southern Ocean thought about putting on her survival suit.

The weather was so bad that she had to deploy her Jordan series drogue. Something went wrong, and it was only connected to one side of the boat. As a result, when it came time to get it back in — an exhausting job for even the most fit 20-year-old — it was destroyed. As much as Socrates hates to lose ground, she decided to head back to Victoria for a new drogue and minor repairs to the boat.

As she was coming back to port, the Wander/Grand Poobah emailed Jeanne that it would be his “honor” to buy Jeanne a replacement drogue.

So it was that at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning he got a response from Jeanne saying she’d love to have it paid for — but did the Wanderer/Grand Poobah realize how expensive they were? Well, no. So on behalf of this year’s Baja Ha-Ha fleet, the Wanderer/Poobah decided to donate a flat $1,000.

“Wow!” replied Jeanne, who is beginning to run a little short of funds.

The Wanderer/Poobah also said he’d try to get the 25 or so kids in the Ha-Ha fleet to follow her voyage as an educational project. Jeanne said that she’d be happy to talk with them via satphone anytime during her voyage. Cool!

What was Socrates, who had to be exhausted, doing up so late?

“I’m catching up on loads of emails and on Facebook — first time since getting back — there’s a lot there and it’s Sunday tomorrow, so I can sleep in (before work on board later in the day!) But should get to bunk now — had’t realised how late it is… G’night!”

Jeanne is one of the coolest people the Poobah/Wanderer has ever met, and her yet another solo circumnavigation via the Southern Ocean is one of the most ambitious sails that can be undertaken. If you are as impressed and as inspired as the Wanderer/Poobah is by Socrates, you can also contribute to her adventure. Send a check to Jeanne Socrates, RVYC, 3475 Ripon Rd., Victoria, BC V8R 6H1 Canada. And follow her at

Midwinter Racing Preview

November is looming and thus so is the midwinter racing season. Blessed as we are on the West Coast, we just keep on sailing all year round, while boats in other parts of the country are already hauled out and shrink-wrapped for the winter. Many Tahoe-based boats, whose skippers are not content to miss out, have trailered down to sea level for the season. 

A start in last January’s Berkeley Yacht Club Midwinters.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You’ll find a long list of midwinter series in Calendar in the November issue of Latitude 38, which will hit the docks tomorrow, but here are just a few of the most popular: 

  • Golden Gate Yacht Club’s Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Regatta will begin this Saturday, with racing on the Cityfront.
  • Sausalito YC’s Chili Midwinters will kick off this Sunday.
  • Encinal YC’s Jack Frost Series will start on Saturday the 12th on the main Bay north of Treasure Island.
  • Berkeley YC has already been sailing Chowder Series races every Sunday; those will take a break on the second weekend of the month for the Midwinter Series. BYC actually offers two separate series — one on Saturdays and one on Sundays — with a discounted fee for entering both. For the third year in a row, shorthanded divisions will be offered on Sunday.
  • On Saturdays of the same weekends, RegattaPRO, with assistance from SYC, offers one-design racing in the deep water west of the BYC Midwinters.
  • Island YC’s Island Days on the Estuary will start on Sunday, November 13.
  • South Beach YC’s Island Fever Midwinters will kick off on Saturday, November 19.
  • Sequoia YC, in Redwood City, offers two series: the Winter Series will begin this Saturday, and the first Redwood Cup pursuit race will be held on the 19th.
  • Richmond YC’s Small Boat Midwinters will begin on the first weekend of December.
  • Corinthian YC’s two-weekend Midwinters will be held on January 21-22 and February 18-19, with big parties on both Saturday nights back at the historic clubhouse in downtown Tiburon.

As you can see, there’s something for everyone’s schedule in locations all over the Bay Area. Hoping to break into racing aboard someone else’s boat? We recommend signing up on Latitude 38’s free online Crew List. The summer winds are past, and conditions (at least between storms) are usually the most mellow of the year, a perfect time to learn the racing ropes.

Happy Halloween!

The 1949 32-ft Winslow sloop Black Witch, lookin’ good sailing off Sausalito.

© John Skoriak

About this photo of Black Witch, Latitude contributor John ‘Woody’ Skoriak writes: "I took this photo from the deck of Seaward years ago. My friend Rich Hastie owned Black Witch then; he completely restored her. We set up for this photo, for him to sail by me on Seaward, as we went out the channel with Hurricane Gulch in the background, later in the day when the light was best and it hit the sails just right."

Because Latitude 38’s office is located in a ‘Halloween neighborhood’, we’ll be closing at 4 p.m. today so that our staff can escape before the streets are haunted by diminutive zombies and ghouls.

As reported in ‘Lectronic Latitude on Wednesday, Chinese singlehander Guo Chuan went missing from his 97-ft trimaran Qingdao China west of Hawaii while attempting to set a San Francisco to Shanghai record.
After 10 days at sea, 74-year-old singlehander Jeanne Socrates was forced to suspend her latest nonstop circumnavigation attempt and return to her Victoria, BC, homeport yesterday after taking a beating from extreme weather.