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April 7, 2021

Ha-Ha XXVII — We’re Putting the Baja Ha-Ha Band Back Together!

While details are being finalized for Ha-Ha XXVII, the world-famous 750-mile cruiser’s rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, the Grand Poobah can report that registration will open at noon on May 6, 2021.

As always, the earlier you sign up for the event, the higher up you will be on the list for the chance of getting a slip in Cabo.

Ha-Ha XXVII will start on November 1 with a parade out of San Diego Bay. Local and Mexican officials, as well as the mariachi band, will be aboard the Dolphin to fire the America’s Cup cannon and launch the fleet. Fireboats will be on hand for the traditional artificial rain send-off.

Although it’s not yet confirmed, the Poobah is confident there will be the traditional Ha-Ha Kick-Off Halloween Costume Party at West Marine the day before, with representatives on hand from many marine-related businesses from Mexico.

During the Ha-Ha there will be the usual R&R stops at fun and funky Turtle Bay and pristine Bahia Santa Maria. Turtle Bay will be the site of the heralded ‘Cruisers versus Turtle Bay Kids’ ultra-fast-paced baseball game, where everybody gets a hit, and where women and children are always ‘safe’. The next day is the potluck beach party at the edge of the badlands.

Baja Ha-Ha
Baseball is popular with cruisers and locals alike in Turtle Bay, the small fishing village on the coast of Baja that warmly welcomes the Baja Ha-Ha fleet every year.
© 2021 Finn Beven

The stop at pristine Bahia Santa Maria is ideal for beachcombing, surfing, paddling in the mangroves, and hill climbing. But the highlight is always the live-band rock ’n’ roll party overlooking the anchored fleet. Dali never created anything as surreal.

As always, there will be daily roll calls with all boat positions recorded, and professional weather reports from Commanders’ Weather and other sources.

While at sea, those with SSB radios will be able to participate in the daily net. Those with just VHFs will be able to participate on the days the fleet is in port. The radio net is one of the most popular features of the Ha-Ha. Informative, too, as there is always a wealth of knowledge in the fleet.

You can also count on the infamous Ha-Ha dance party and popcorn throw at Squid Roe on the night of November 11, a beach party on November 12 with the ever-popular From Here To Eternity Kissing Contest in the surf, and an ‘every boat gets an award’ closing ceremony on Saturday the 13th. The Ha-Ha may take up just two weeks on the calendar, but you’ll feel as though you’ve been adventuring for a month or more.

Baja Ha-Ha
They say adventure is the greatest aphrodisiac. If that’s true, then the cruising lifestyle would logically lead to a healthy sex life. As seen here, there’s never a shortage of contestants in the Baja Ha-Ha’s annual From Here to Eternity kissing contest.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

Ha-Ha XXVII will be managed by the Grand Poobah, who has been in charge of all 26 Ha-Ha’s to date, and who has sailed in all but the second one. Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ Verhoeven, Assistant Poobah aboard her much-traveled Gulfstar 50 Talion, who put together last year’s COVID-inspired Nada Ha-Ha, will be Head of Communications for the 14th year in a row.

Head of Security Doña de Mallorca will be ready to crack heads for the 24th time. Fortunately, she’s never had to raise her billy club in anger.

Profligate, the Poobah’s Hughes 63 catamaran, will be the mothership for the 25th time. Her crew will cumulatively have done the Baja Coast well over 100 times.

More than 10,000 sailors aboard more than 3,000 boats have done the Ha-Ha in the first 26 years, and a number of them have counted the Ha-Ha among the highlights of their sailing careers — if not their lives. The Ha-Ha is a special experience that goes far beyond just sailing. Over the years it’s generated countless lifetime friendships and several marriages — the latter for which the Ha-Ha cannot be held responsible. It’s also been the first step in hundreds of South Pacific cruises and numerous circumnavigations.

Safety is the number-one goal of the Ha-Ha, and so far the safety record has been excellent. In well over 2,250,000 cumulative Ha-Ha ocean miles, one boat was sunk by a whale, with the entire crew being rescued; one boat was dismasted; and one boat was inexplicably driven ashore in calm weather and broken up with no injuries to the crew. And while there is a certain amount of additional safety in numbers, the Poobah emphasizes that the Ha-Ha is not an offshore babysitting service. Boat owners and crew are responsible for their own proper preparation and well-being. Looking for a wild and crazy alcohol-fueled reckless adventure? The Ha-Ha is not for you, it’s for those interested in responsible fun.

The Ha-Ha is open to boats 27-ft or longer that were designed, built, and have been maintained for offshore sailing. There must be at least two crew with overnight offshore experience. All boats are required to have the capability for two-way communication. Garmin inReach and Iridium GO! will do just fine, although SSB radio makes the event even more fun.

Ha-Ha weather is typically five to 15 knots from astern, although naturally all participants must be prepared for potentially stronger weather.

Notice of the event, with more details, was posted on April 6 at The registration form, pay site, and waivers will all go live at noon on May 6.

We hope you’ll join Ha-Ha XXVII and become a part of Baja sailing history.

Wet Wednesdays at Santa Barbara Yacht Club

During our trip north, we received as warm a welcome as possible during a pandemic from Santa Barbara Yacht Club. Dining at the club was understandably limited to members only, but we did order takeout from their kitchen to enjoy in our guest slip. We were also able to spectate from the breakwater for a sunny, warm Wet Wednesday race. There was no after-racing revelry, but there were plenty of good times for boats headed out of the harbor for a classic Santa Barbara evening.

Mike Papa Santa Barbara Yacht Club
Mike Papa grew up doing Wet Wednesdays at Santa Barbara YC and reading Latitude 38.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Santa Barbara Yacht Club
The breakwater in Santa Barbara is spectator-friendly.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Santa Barbara Yacht Club
The Melges 24 fleet jams it up at the pin.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Santa Barbara Yacht Club
The yellow Richel Pugh 70 Taxi Dancer takes up a safe leeward position against the J/111s and J/125s.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / john
Santa Barbara Yacht Club
Some fortunate clubs, like Santa Barbara YC, can conveniently run their racing right off their deck.
SBYC Wet Wednesdays
Like beer can racing everywhere, you bring what you have. Modern boats mix it up with classics.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The start line is right off the race deck of the club, with the windward mark typically to the west toward Point Conception. The challenging call is whether to head out toward the breeze or in toward the shore for current relief while avoiding the kelp. Courses and conditions vary, so racers scratch their heads as they consider covering their competitor, making a break for the beach, or just searching for clear air after the crowded start at the pin end. There were smiles in the harbor as they headed out to the start line and smiles when they all returned from the finish, so it must have gone well again.

We look forward to getting back to Santa Barbara when people can mix and mingle on land as well as on the water. Until then, it’s great to see people finding relief on the water and boats strutting their stuff off the sunny beach in Santa Barbara.

Latitude Nation Does it Again: We Found ‘Kate II’

Last Friday we put out a request to our readers to find a long-lost love. The missing love was a sailboat (of course) — the former flagship of St. Francis Yacht Club, Kate II. Kimball Livingston emailed us to ask us to help find Kate II, saying, “… made me a happy skipper.”

Kate II, seen here on New Year’s Day 2020 at Emery Cove, is a 1946 Seaborn 46 sloop.
© 2021 John Skoriak

While we didn’t get dozens of responses to our request, we did get the one that answered the question, “Have you seen Kate II, or do you know her current location?” Kimball wrote to us again and told us that Kate II is in the Delta …

“Am now in touch with Kevin Hinman, current owner of Kate II, who is presently re-caulking the decks and refinishing the brightwork.

“The boat is in the Delta now but will be returning to San Francisco Bay, and Kevin professes to be keen to take me sailing. We’ll see how that goes, but the immediate mission is fulfilled.

“I knew that Latitude could do it. Thanks.”

Meanwhile, Sausalito sailor John ‘Woody’ Skoriak has emailed us with some additional background information on Kate II.

Woody tells us the vessel was donated to Call of the Sea (COTS) about five years ago. She was hauled out to effect some repairs to leaky seams and was then sailed on the Bay over the next two to three years. Her last skipper bought the boat from COTS, but sold her in March 2020.

Getting a spruce-up at KKMI.
© 2021 John Skoriak

Kate II was a very pretty boat, well built. Had a very thorough refit years ago at KKMI Richmond. It was a Ben Seaborn design built in Seattle by Blanchard Boatworks, which was renowned for building beautiful classic motor yachts, especially fantail yachts.”

Kate II under sail
She was a beautiful sight during her time on the Bay.
© 2021 Peter Szasz

“The beautiful 1922 fantail motor yacht Wanda that has been around Sausalito and San Rafael for many years (since the 1980s) is a Blanchard. (Paul Stevenson [of Suisun fame] and I used to run Wanda for an insurance guy when it was in downtown Sausalito.)”

If we receive any current photos of Kate II, we’ll be sure to share those with you as well.

Orange You Glad You’re in Marina del Rey?

Brian Mullen brought his Bay Area-based J/70 Orange You Glad (#607) to California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey in March. The club will host the 2021 J/70 Worlds on August 7-15, rescheduled from 2020 at the same venue. “We brought our boat down for the season,” explains Brian. “The SoCal J/70 fleet will host a seven-event series leading up to Worlds.”

Brian grew up sailing Lasers in the St. Francis YC Junior Program in the early ’90s under coaches such as Pat Andreasen and Morgan Larson. “Our program had Krysia Pohl, Will Benedict, Pat Whitmarsh, Forest and Rowan Fennell — all in that same era.” In college, Brian raced at Cal in 1995-1999. He and his brother, Kevin Mullen, then campaigned the J/24 Blue J, and later the J/105 Cuchulainn. “From 2010 to 2017, I became one of those sailors who disappeared from the scene when we had kids. I miraculously showed up one day, like, five or six years later with two kids in elementary school and a bunch of free time on my hands.” Brian bought J/70 #607 in 2017. “It’s been lots of learning ever since, as we get ramped up in this class.

“Sailing with us on Orange You Glad are myself (Brian Mullen from San Francisco YC and St. Francis YC), Jessica Chase (St. Francis YC) and John Fracisco (California YC). Our fourth that weekend (March 20-21) was Chris Snow, longtime pro from North Sails, who recently went out on his own on a new venture with The Favored End, a coaching/training/program management business. We’ve known Chris from our days back in the J/24 fleet, where he was multiple-time US champion and a central figure in the J/24 and Etchells scenes for many years.”

Orange You Glad crew
The crew of Orange You Glad: Jessica Chase, John Facisco, Chris Snow and Brian Mullen.
© 2021 Jessica Chase

“We had 15 boats for this regatta at Cal YC. The J/70s originally planned to sail the San Diego NOOD. We even had our Airbnb and crew flights all booked and paid for. The 2020 SD NOOD was rescheduled several times during the pandemic, first from March to September 2020, then to late September a few weeks later, then canceled altogether and scrapped for the 2020 year. We were planning to be in SD for the 2021 NOOD.

“Then about two weeks prior to the NOOD, we got word that Long Beach Race Week 2021 was canceled. With that news, the SoCal J/70 fleet decided to pull out of SD NOOD (which would be void of all social activity, one of the big draws for teams). Bruce Cooper (Ullman Sails Newport) and Jim Murrell (Fleet 4 captain) rallied the fleet and created the ‘NORR’ (aka NOOD Replacement Regatta), an independently run event held at (but not hosted by) California YC. Owners tossed in a private entry fee to pay for an independent race committee, marks, lunches, etc. With that plan, Bruce and Jim got 15 boats on the line from up and down California.

“The weekend of racing was excellent, competitive and star-studded.” Beyond Chris Snow, other pros included Dave Ullman on Minor Threat; J/24 and 5O5 legend and two-time college sailor of the year Ryan Cox on 3 Big Dogs out of Santa Barbara; and match-racing star Ally Blecher.

Over the next few months, the J/70 fleet will sail in six more weekend events in Marina del Rey, culminating in the Pre-Worlds at Del Rey YC and the Worlds at Cal YC. “Several boats from across the US and around the world will begin arriving in L.A. in the coming weeks. These events should attract top sailors in the class, including some notable and big-time pros (multi-World champs Lucas Calabrese, Willem Van Waay and Victor Diaz, plus several other legends including the McKee brothers, Glenn Darden and Travis Odenbach).”

Among S.F. Bay Area teams planning to race in the J/70 Worlds are: Harrison Turner on 1FA (StFYC), Chris Kostanecki on Jennifer (SFYC), Peter Cameron on Kangaroo Jockey (StFYC), John Bridgen on Cool Story Bro (StFYC), Thomas Kassberg on Pickled Herring (SFYC), Terre Layton on Terreaway (SFYC), Shawn Bennett on USA 32 (StFYC), Wendi Vandermeer on Kismet (StFYC), and our correspondent, Brian Mullen, on Orange You Glad (SFYC/StFYC).

“It should be a pretty amazing event,” says Brian. “80+ boats (and counting). SoCal summer. Everyone vaccinated. Cannot ask for much more than that.”

It’s Official — We’ve Discovered ‘Freedom’s Photo-Shoot Location

Update April 12, 2021: Kirk Wagner wrote and said he had mixed up the photo location. “The photo was taken at Honeymoon Cove not Puerto Balandra. Sorry for the mix up.” – Kirk Wagner

When we wrote about the mystery surrounding Freedom‘s exact location at the time of the much-talked-about photo, we weren’t ready to commit to a location. But now …

Thanks, everyone, for playing; we have a winner!

We’ve since heard from Kirk Wagner, the sailor whose boat we’ve all been talking about, and Kirk told us where, and when, the photo was taken.

“The photo was taken on the beach in Puerto Balandra on Isla Carmen on Christmas Day, 2020.”

Of course, not every reader agrees — you can read about it in the comments — but we’re going to leave this question here and add it to the long list of disputed facts that make for interesting cocktail-hour conversation among talkative sailors.