As November 1 approaches, so does the start of the 27th Baja Ha-Ha. Bay Area sailor Monique Selvester was part of the delivery crew taking Shenanigans south for the start of this year’s rally.
Friday afternoon’s weather window was quickly closing as we hightailed it through the Gate — San Diego bound. Shenanigans, a J/120, was a racing boat, until now, marking the beginning of a cruising journey for owner Mike Clarke. Mike and the delivery crew were on a tight schedule between avoiding fighting the headwinds from the weekend’s storm and making it down south for the start of the Baja Ha-Ha.
Heading offshore we rode a 20-ft swell breaking off the sandbar, while I was at the helm. Beginning our journey I white-knuckled the wheel, taking us out past the shipping channel. With light southerly winds we furled the headsail in order to duck the storm and began to motorsail down the coast. While the San Francisco Bay Area was pounded by high winds and rain we were peacefully puttering along under clear, moonlit skies.
A dead zone followed us down the coast for the next two days, forcing us to make our way to shore to refuel. We took shelter overnight at the guest dock at Santa Barbara Bay, while the tail end of the storm that had been following us blew over. As we closely watched the weather report, a joint decision was made to continue on, despite the forecast high winds.
“That’s the difference between cruisers and cruisers who race,” the skipper laughed as we geared up for a bumpy ride. With sails reefed and gusts of 32 knots, we topped out moving at 14.8 knots, surfing the tumultuous seas that towered around the boat.
Through the night, we made our way around the west side of Santa Catalina Island, weaving our way through a maze of cargo ships drifting offshore waiting to be offloaded. The bottleneck at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports has become a chronic issue since COVID hit.
Nearing San Diego we could faintly see the small rocky islands off the shore of Mexico. The temperature quickly warmed, and the wind became merely a breeze. Entering the bay at Shelter Island, we saw Baja Ha-Ha burgees waving among the masts at the marinas. Friendly dock neighbors greeted us with excitement, inquiring where we were from and if we were Baja-bound. Last-minute preparations are underway before the rest of the crew arrive and Mike embarks on a lifelong dream of cruising.
Great food and wine were shared as we recalled the different moments of our trip. The Shenanigans Ha-Ha crew will arrive before the Kick-Off party and parade/departure out of the bay. The rest of the delivery crew will go home, but for me, I will be waiting and ready at the dock with a thumb out, hoping to hitch a ride on a boat to Mexico!
You can find Monique dressed as Mrs. Claus, working at the Latitude 38 booth at Sunday’s Baja Ha-Ha Kick-Off party.
You may have read a little while ago that we were looking for new drivers to help distribute Latitude 38 magazines each month. It was our good fortune to receive responses from Dale Land and Robert Boynton. Both are active sailors in the Bay Area and, as it turns out, they also know each other. We got in touch with Dale and Robert to learn a little about their sailing lives.
Dale Land looks after the Peninsula delivery route.
After many years of owning fishing and power boats, Dale bought his first sailboat, an Ericson 26, in 2009, and quickly learned the ropes. “I have been interested since sailing on Lake Tahoe with a friend 30+ years ago.”
Dale’s current boat is a 2000 Beneteau 361 named 3rd Encore. And it’s just as well that it’s a little larger than the Ericson, as here is what he does with it:
“I typically sail on San Francisco Bay for daysails with friends and business associates, overnights at various marinas when attending SF Giants games and other social and entertainment interests, coastal trips south and north of the Golden Gate, lunch sails on SF Bay at various dining venues with fellow sailors in our ‘Geezers Lunch Club,’ and annual trips up the Petaluma River to Petaluma for the annual Veterans Day parade and celebrations.”
Dale also enjoys chartering sailboats in the San Juan Islands, WA, and Mediterranean and Greek islands.
“When not sailing I’m enjoying the company of our ‘Marina Neighbors’ and upgrading and maintaining our boat; it’s a great retirement hobby!”
“I have found after the few years I have enjoyed sailing that it’s always a new experience each time I am on the water, especially on S.F. Bay! I enjoy sharing my boat and sailing days with friends and family and look forward to sailing into my 80s.”
Robert Boynton takes care of the East Bay, Richmond to Oakland.
“My first sailing experience was when I was very young in the late ’50s, sailing with my dad on his small Acorn class sailboat out of the old Richmond Yacht Club. I was really just a little kid but I guess sailing first got into my blood then. In the ’60s and ’70s I hitched berths on some family and friends’ boats, mostly racing, some cruising.
“My most memorable times were spent on the old schooner Brigadoon, which still plies the Bay to this day. All I did on Brigadoon was wipe down brightwork after a sail, but it was still great!
“In the ’80s I guess I ran out of friends with boats and bought a S&S-designed Yankee 30, SeaWitch, which I still have to this day (40+ years). This has been a great boat for me and my family, doing lots of near-coastal cruising — Stillwater to Bodega, Delta and Bay cruising — along with doing a fair amount of single- and shorthanded ocean and Bay racing.”
“I really enjoy the culture, history, adventure and comradeship of sailing; I’m currently a member of Point San Pablo Yacht Club, so stop on by for some ‘fellowship.’ And of course Latitude 38 has just about always been there for me, bringing entertainment, education, and thoughtful controversy. It’s a great magazine for our sport.”
If you see Dale or Robert out and about as they deliver the November issue next Monday, be sure to say “Hi,” and maybe also take a ‘fan-photo’ with them.
In an announcement issued this week, NOAA advised that its Pacific Basin gridded forecasts are good to go. That’s just in time for the start of the 27th Baja Ha-Ha and the ‘heading south’ cruising season.
NOAA’s offshore and high seas gridded forecasts for the Pacific Basin transitioned from experimental to operational on October 28 — yesterday!
The forecasts originate from the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC).
There are five elements making the transition: 10-meter (33-ft) wind speed; 10-meter wind direction; 10-meter wind gusts; significant wave heights (or “seas”); and marine hazards. Transitioning these forecasts to operational status is another milestone for the NWS National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) and follows a similar move in December 2017 with the Atlantic offshore grids. Users do not need to take any action when the experimental forecasts transition to operational status.
An example of the wind and wave grids from NHC/TAFB is shown below for a forecast valid at 1200 GMT Tuesday, October 26, 2021:
Graphics depicting the gridded winds, seas, and hazards are available through NHC/TAFB’s Marine Graphical Composite Forecast Map at: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/marine/forecast/enhanced_epacfull.php .
The second leg of the Mini Transat race has begun in La Palma in the Canary Islands. After an action-packed first leg that included no shortage of drama and crazy plot twists, this second leg should be a bit more straightforward, with a long and slightly more predictable downwinder across the Atlantic. Having departed La Palma on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. local time, the 87-strong fleet will sail 2,700 miles downwind in the northeast trades before arriving at the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Today’s start has proven to be a light-air affair, as forecast. This second leg also proposes a healthy challenge in dealing with shifty breeze that could include some big soft spots on the course.
The biggest headline in the race thus far is the controversy that has developed, primarily in the Series division. A time credit of up to 24 hours has been awarded to 80 boats that stopped to avoid severe conditions during the first leg. The issuance of the time credit effectively wipes out any cushion that Leg 1 winner Melwin Fink had built up, and it moves second-place Series finisher Christian Kargl down to third place. It also makes it much more likely that a French skipper will win the race in both divisions. This decision has proven to be pretty universally unpopular, based on social media comments and forum posts. Several renowned sailors, including Loïck Peyron, posted their disapproval for the decision.
The American Entry
American Jay Thompson sits in a respectable eighth place in the Prototype division, though with no realistic shot to land on the podium. (The top four prototypes are absolutely launched in the rankings, with a nearly three-day cushion.) The California native had a rough leg that included being one of a handful of boats damaged by an orca! After destroying one of his T-foil rudders in the incident, the highly skilled boat preparateur Thompson rebuilt the rudder in La Palma. He started the second leg back at 100%.
Unfortunately for Thompson, the second leg looks to offer no advantage to the foiling boats, and perhaps even a disadvantage. Light and fluky conditions could see their foils be as much of a hindrance as an advantage.
With 2,700 miles of sailing to the finish in the Caribbean, it’s still all to play for in this 23rd edition of the Mini Transat! Follow the race and stay up to date at www.minitransat.fr/en.