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September 11, 2020

The 2020 Baja Ha-Ha XXVII has Been Canceled. The Nada Ha-Ha Is On.

We received the following news from Richard Spindler, the Grand Poobah of the Baja Ha-Ha:

“Not being able to do the 750-mile downwind trip to the tropics that I’ve done for 25 out of the last 26 years absolutely breaks my heart. And maybe yours, too.

“But as the Grand Poobah, I’ve decided that the COVID-19 health risks will be too great to hold the event this November. So I have postponed the 27th running until November 1, 2021.

Baja Ha-Ha XXVII Canceled
Sadly, the 2020 Baja Ha-Ha XXVII has been canceled. Escaping to Mexico has not!
© 2020 Baja Ha-Ha

“A major part of every Ha-Ha has been the social events at San Diego, Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria, and Cabo San Lucas. Holding these events for 400-500 people simply isn’t feasible in the COVID environment that’s almost surely going to exist less than two months from now.

Isla San Francisco
Despite the lack of a Baja Ha-Ha, Isla San Francisco in the Sea of Cortez is still there.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Richard

“I also had to consider the effect of a very large group of cruisers descending on Baja at once, perhaps a couple of them unwittingly bringing COVID with them. There is no real medical care between Ensenada and Cabo, and transporting an even moderately sick person would be very difficult if not impossible.

“There were going to be logistical hurdles, too. Cabo officials are apparently now requiring health clearances, which could be very time-consuming for a group. In addition, ship’s agent Victor Berreda, our good friend who normally checks in about half the fleet, advises us that he would not be willing to do that this year for a typically large Ha-Ha fleet.

“I had intended to hold off a go/no-go decision for the Ha-Ha until October 2, but I decided to make the decision now to give people a little more certainty and time to make their plans.

“As many of you know, Patsy Verhoeven of the Gulfstar 50 Talion, a vet of 13 Ha-Ha’s and the Assistant Poobah for the last five years, is organizing the Nada Ha-Ha, a group buddy-boating south. I refer you to the Nada Ha-Ha site here for details. Forty boats have already signed up for the free event.” (You can keep up with the Nada Ha-Ha and other southbound cruising at Latitude 38‘s ‘Heading South’ page.)

Cirque Animas Slot
In the past, boats like Louis Kruk’s Beneteau 42.7 Cirque have found ideal places to isolate in the Sea of Cortez.
© 2020 Louis Kruk

“While the Grand Poobah has absolutely nothing whatsoever against the Nada Ha-Ha, I want it clear that the Nada Ha-Ha is a completely independent event that is in no way associated with the Baja Ha-Ha.

“If I had a boat on the West Coast, would I still cruise to and around Mexico? I would. To my knowledge, no active cruiser in Mexico has gotten COVID, and at last word, once-closed beaches and islands are opening up in the La Paz and other areas. The Nada Ha-Ha website has the latest information.

“Having been forced to spend much of the last six months in quarantine or semi-quarantine aboard ‘ti Profligate in a remote anchorage in the Caribbean, I can report that both Doña and I absolutely loved it! My kids in L.A. have repeatedly instructed me not to come home. And they love me. So we video chat for about 40 minutes each almost every night. It works for us.

“When I consider the Washington, Oregon, and California winter alternative to cruising to Mexico — cooler temperatures, less sunshine, normal life somewhat upended by COVID, the chance of post-election civil unrest — it would be a no-brainer for me to head south. Viva Mexico!

“But everyone is in a different situation and has to decide for themselves.

“No matter what you do, be safe, and always consider your health and that of others.

“And remember, Baja Ha-Ha XXVII on November 2, 2021.”

As Paul Martson of J/World in Puerto Vallarta wrote on our Facebook page, “Common sense will get you by down here as anywhere. Come see for yourself.”

No More Happy Days

Not all boats live forever. HAPPY, a unique, engineer-built 30-foot cement boat, was recently sent to her final resting place by a crew of dedicated sailors. Volker Corell sent us this story and photos of the old lady’s funeral.

A lot of people, especially those on E-dock at Cabrillo Landing Marina in San Pedro, which is managed by Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club (CBYC), will be happy that HAPPY, the old cement boat, is gone. Forever. Towed 30 miles out to sea and sunk. Her owner, Bob Stuart, died four years ago. He was well known in San Pedro — a true original character who was liked by all, and was a frequent visitor to Catalina Island.

HAPPY's owner, Bob Stuart
After the CBYC community heard about HAPPY‘s sinking, they shared lots of fond memories of the boat and its owner, Bob Stuart, on the club’s Facebook page.
© 2020 Volker Corell

A young man who had inherited the boat tried to restore it. It proved to be a fruitless and too-costly endeavor after he couldn’t get HAPPY‘s heart (her engine) restarted. So he walked away and left the boat in the marina. The marina management wanted to get rid of the old lady, who wasn’t paying her slip fees. But nobody wanted an old cement boat. Not even for free. It seemed no boatyard out there could even recycle a cement boat.

Happy at the dock
As HAPPY hadn’t moved out of her slip or paid her fees for more than five years, the marina management was eager to have her removed. Thus began the process by which she would be legally scuttled.
© 2020 Volker Corell

The only option was to give her a sea funeral. Easier said than done. The EPA and the US Coast Guard got involved. Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club’s marine experts Dave Shoemaker and Bill Schopp took care of that. Before they got the green light there was lots of paperwork to be done, and several environmental requirements had to be met. All the fuel had to be removed, along with anything that could float. Marina manager Dean Wyler prepped the boat for the funeral.

Happy being towed to her resting place
John Stapleton towed HAPPY behind his towboat, Tubarão.
© 2020 Volker Corell

On a Saturday morning at 3:00 a.m. sharp the crew went aboard John Stapleton’s 42 Chris Craft Tubarão (Shark in Portuguese) and slowly towed HAPPY out of the San Pedro Harbor. They had to cross two major shipping lanes and avoid an incoming tanker, while also monitoring two container ships. The Coast Guard had designated a very exact funeral place: thirty miles south of the San Pedro harbor, a five-hour boat ride, between Dana Point and the east end of Catalina Island.

At 8:00 a.m. Dave Shoemaker climbed into an inflatable and boarded HAPPY. He removed the tow light and opened the only seacock on board the vessel. The crew then started to pump water from the Chris Craft into the cement lady. Lots of water. An hour later, the bow of HAPPY dug into the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the boat gracefully followed into 2500 feet of the abyss.

Happy being filled with water then sinking
Bill Schopp and Dean Wyer fill HAPPY with water. She then takes a graceful, final bow as she heads to her resting place.
© 2020 Volker Corell

With a job well done, it was ‘Pacifico Time’ on Tubarão. The boat that nobody wanted was suddenly missed by many. On the CBYC Facebook site many people shared their fond memories of HAPPY (ex-Viking Child, ex-Mar Collenbec) and her last owner, Bob Stuart. Everybody was sure Bob would have liked the way she was put to rest.

HAPPY's happy funeral crew
HAPPY‘s happy funeral crew celebrate a job well done. Left to right: Bill Schopp, CBYC marina manager Dean Wyer, Dave Shoemaker, Captain John Stapleton, Hannah Stapleton, marine biologist Olivia Carmack.
© 2020 Volker Corell

Catamaran ‘Hokahey’ and Her Crew Come to the Rescue

It was 9 p.m. on Saturday, 15 August, and three of us were enjoying a physically distanced glass of wine in the main salon of Hokahey, our 33-ft Seawind catamaran — enjoying a free week at Delta Bay Marina, as part of the Delta Doo Dah (an annual event encouraging sailors to explore the Delta).

Hokahey at anchor
Hokahey anchored out during her Delta cruise.
© 2020 Jan Passion

We were Jason Fontanoz, first mate and fix-it man extraordinaire; Conan Moats, an old racquetball buddy; and yours truly. We heard a conversation on the VHF radio between the Coast Guard and a 28-ft powerboat (a Bayliner) without power on the San Joaquin River.

Hmmm — my rescue instincts had been aroused. (It’s been nearly 20 years since I was a volunteer EMT in rural Vermont.)

Normally, we only hear the Coast Guard side of these conversations as the person in distress is usually miles and miles from our location, but this time we were hearing both sides of the conversation.

It is also worth pointing out that the rural Delta town of Isleton, at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, is not especially near any ‘AAA for boats’ and the nearest Coast Guard station is quite some distance (by water) in Rio Vista.

An hour earlier I had told Conan that unless he was really keen, I wasn’t inclined to take Hokahey out in the dark for a spin (it was his first time seeing the boat), and thus we decided to just chill and enjoy some time at the dock.

Yet Vic and his wife were in distress, at night, on an old powerboat, on their first day of owning this Bayliner, and were, sadly, adrift (their fuel pump wasn’t working).

We did a quick review of where they were and where we were, and realized they were less than two miles away.

And we kicked it into gear.

Shorepower cord off, engines down, navigation lights on, locate the spotlight for the plethora of floating islands of hyacinth that we wished to avoid (as well as to help find the Bayliner), and away we went.

About 30 minutes later, we located the Bayliner. Jason was able to get from Hokahey to the Bayliner with only a small kiss of the boats. My hope was that Jason might be able to help get it running, but a busted fuel pump is a busted fuel pump. Next, we motored up to the Bayliner and Conan threw Jason a long towline while I rigged a bridle off the stern, and we towed our adrift friends to a fuel dock (Willow Berm Marina) about a mile to the north. Amazing what two little 9.9-horsepower Yamaha outboards can do.

Other than the unwanted kiss between the two boats, we pulled off the rescue without incident. It was a good thing, too, as the Bayliner was pretty near to going aground, which would have made rescue much more complicated. (I neglected to ask if they had an anchor — or knew how to use one — which would have been a ‘next-best’ option.)

Conan got his ride on Hokahey after all. And the new boatowners on the old boat didn’t end up stuck on the mud overnight on the San Joaquin River. Especially as less than 12 hours later the area was confronted with some freak weather system — thunder and lightning, rainbows, hailstorm, rain, wildfires and sunshine!

Vic did slip Jason a little cash appreciation, which covered a nice dinner the next evening in Pittsburg on the way back to Richmond.

Hokahey in Marina Bay
Jan Passion and Hokahey back at Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond.
© 2020 Hokahey

All’s well that ends well!

Fun Weekend Ahead for All Things Maritime

This weekend is full of opportunities for sailing enthusiasts who love tall ships, wooden boats and all things maritime. As is common in these COVID times, the events are being hosted online, but in some ways this makes it all the more engaging, as participants are joining in from locations all over the world, including Australia and the UK.

Virtual Maritime Festival

The Ocean Institute is hosting its first-ever Virtual Maritime Festival, “a multi-layered interactive and educational event featuring a three-day global stream marathon.” The event, which was designed to replace this year’s Tall Ships Festival, is entirely free, and runs from 10 a.m. today though September 13.

Tall ship, 'Spirit of Dans Point'
Instead of ‘no festival’, Ocean Institute’s virtual festival has a great lineup of fun interactive events.
© 2020 Ocean Institute

Maritime organizations from across the globe have created interactive virtual experiences ranging from maritime reenactments and cannon battles to mermaid encounters, sea chanteys, music, and a topsail cargo schooner transporting coffee through the Costa Rican jungle.

The full schedule of events and signups is available at

Here are some highlights:

  • Discover how a three-masted topsail cargo schooner is transporting coffee through the Costa Rican jungle
  • The Island Trust in the UK is exploring marine life
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is hosting a live chantey sing-along
  • Honolulu’s Polynesian Voyaging Society looks at the history of Polynesia and Hawaii and the associated maritime culture
  • Experience the debut of the “Buccaneers Video Game Challenge,” utilizing an icon representing the Pilgrim, Ocean Institute’s former full-sized replica of the 1830s merchant ship detailed in the classic novel Two Years Before the Mast.
  • Join Santa Monica’s The 5 Gyres Institute in a discussion about plastic pollution
Mermaids, sea chanteys and wooden boats — what more could a sailor want?
© 2020 Ocean Institute

Participating oceanic institutions include the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, the United Kingdom’s Island Trust, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the tall ship Lady Washington, Polynesian Voyaging Society of Hawaii, Mystic Seaport Museum of Connecticut, and many more.

According to Ocean Institute’s president and CEO Wendy Marshall, the new virtual event will most likely continue as an annual festival moving forward. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with maritime museums and vessels from around the world to present this exciting streaming event during such extraordinary times. As they say, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’”

The full schedule of free events and signups is available at

Virtual Wooden Boat Festival

On Saturday, September 12, the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival goes online with the first-ever Virtual Wooden Boat Festival.

The festival boasts a fantastic lineup of interactive events, starting at 8:00 a.m. with a Master Class conducted by the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building’s chief instructor, Sean Koomen.

Throughout the day you can enjoy hours of wooden boat and adventuring footage, including fascinating stories from the global wooden boat community, eight feature films created especially for the event, the live master class, and other exclusive, on-demand new and unique experiences.

Learn about the Viking Ship Draken; watch The Race to Alaska and participate in a live Q&A with the filmmakers; and engage with the experts in such topics as Japanese boatbuilding, marine heads, rigging, sailing in Mexico and the Caribbean — the topics are endless! See the full program of events here.

Experts from the wooden-boat world will host the presentations and Q&As throughout the day in Zoom rooms. This content will not be recorded and is only available on the day of the festival. So if you want to join in, put Saturday on your calendar and sign up now at

Ticket prices are $20 for Festival Pass, $15 for Movie Pass, or $30 for Combo Pass. Save $5 on your ticket price with this coupon code: FINEEDGE20

Next year’s Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival will hopefully once again be a live event on September 10 -12.

Check out the preview for this weekend’s event:

We had five days of 90-degree weather. Now day has turned to night and the apocalypse feels as if it's upon us.
Offshore Solo Regatta in Foiling Monohulls
After the first two stages of La Solitaire du Figaro, French sailor Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire has worked his way to the top of the leaderboard.