There’s no better day than today to sign up for Baja Ha-Ha XXVIII, the 750-mile cruisers’ rally between San Diego and Cabo San Lucas that starts on October 31. Over 10,000 sailors have done the Ha-Ha. If you’re not one of them, today is the day you might want to make that commitment to adventure and become one of them.
What’s in it for you? Sailing that gets better and warmer by the day. Two weeks of life immersed in nature that feels like two months. Escape from humdrum reality. Numerous unusual social events. And friends, tons of new sailing friends. Here’s what the Grand Poobah has to say about the cruise south:
“It’s often cool and overcast for the first 300 miles. But once boats pass Isla Cedros, the climatic border between northern and southern Baja, the skies tend to clear and it’s time for shorts and T-shirts.
“Usually it’s a close reach to the Coronado Islands to start the Ha-Ha, after which it’s possible to carry spinnakers. And who would want to sail upwind anyway? Sometimes the wind goes light, so it’s nice that the Ha-Ha is a rally and boats have the option of motoring as much as they want.
“After two or three days of sailing, the calm waters of Turtle Bay, with room for 1,000 anchored boats, are a welcome refuge. The locals, about 1,500 of them, are always eager for the arrival of the Ha-Ha fleet, as it’s sort of like their New Year’s Eve. Garbage, ice, fuel, rides to the beach … the locals will take care of you.”
Sign up today at www.baja-haha.com, where you’ll also find the Notice of the Rally.
As 10 out of the 11 Clipper Round the World Race boats sailed past San Francisco last week, the remaining boat, Qingdao, spent the weekend in Sausalito taking on eight new crew and preparing for Leg 7 to Panama. After Qingdao had spent two days in Japan effecting repairs to its running backstay, and then spent four days waiting for a typhoon to pass by (they had missed their weather window by a mere two hours), the race committee decided to have the boat pull into San Francisco Bay and carry out its port duties here instead of in Seattle.
Over the weekend we caught up with Qingdao at Schoonmaker Point Marina, where she was a brightly colored beacon in what was a very windy and sometimes gray afternoon.
Qingdao is currently the race leader based on points accumulated throughout the race. The next leg will include the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint off the coast of Baja California. Qingdao and her crew, which includes two Americans (one from Michigan and the other from Minnesota), and two of the oldest sailors in the Clipper fleet (74 and 72), spent the weekend cleaning, sorting gear, provisioning, and preparing for their Tuesday departure back out the Gate.
Down below was typical of a boat about to go offshore, including floorboards taken out to be scrubbed, bunks being used for temporary storage, and the galley getting a full spring cleaning.
If you’ve ever thought about joining the Clipper Race, you might be interested to know that people who join as crew come from all walks of life and all levels of sailing experience from zero to pro — you just have to want it enough. Everyone who signs up goes through four weeks of mandatory training, which can be taken all at once or spread out over multiple sessions. When you are ready to join a crew, you will be allocated a boat based on your background, skills and experience, the idea being to spread expertise evenly across all the boats.
Each boat has a captain and first mate who stay with the boat for the entire circumnavigation. Once aboard, you become part of the crew and are constantly racing. Watches are either four and four or six and six depending on the conditions, with half the crew in each. During each watch a couple of crew are relegated to the galley to bake bread and cakes (gotta have those carbs).
Two Bay Area sailors have signed up to join the next edition of the Clipper Round the World Race, which will set off from the UK in late 2023. Joseph Beck and Rachel Haight visited Qingdao to get a preview of what they might experience when they join their own boats next year.
Joseph, who learned to sail at Afterguard Sailing Academy in Oakland, said he applied to join “somewhat on a whim” after having seen the race advertised on social media. Rachel, who also learned the ropes at Afterguard, learned about the race through Joseph and said, “The adventure and teamwork of the Clipper Race excited me right away.” Joseph and Rachel are both ICU nurses, and will start their training later this summer in England.
We’ll follow up with more on Joseph and Rachel’s sailing story and Clipper plans in the near future, so stay tuned.
This week’s host, Moe Roddy, is joined by Dr. Philip Norris to chat about the role sailing has played throughout his successful medical career. Philip is the Director of Laboratory Science at Vitalant Research Institute (VRI) San Francisco and an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
His research focuses on how the human immune system responds to viral infections and transfusion. Hear about his summers sailing in Canada as a kid, how he became interested in being a doctor, the patients who’ve touched his heart, how to enjoy the journey, and his love for the San Francisco Yacht Club.
At minute 5:02 hear about Philip’s first time on a sailboat.
This episode covers everything from medical research to water sports. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:
- Where did Philip grow up and start sailing?
- Did he always know he wanted to be a doctor?
- What appealed to him about studying infectious diseases?
- Who’s a patient who’s touched his heart?
- What made him join the San Francisco Yacht Club?
- Who has inspired him in the sailing world?
- Have his daughters participated in a sailing program?
- Short Tacks: What’s the most beautiful place he’s ever been to?
Learn more about Philip at https://research.vitalant.org.
Check out the episode and show notes below for much more detail.
It takes a special kind of character to do this — and to want to do this again. “This” was just a short version of what’s possible.
What am I talking about? On Friday, May 6, at 11 a.m., team Ferox — Maggie Scheunert, Evan McNabb, Tina and Russ White, Stephen Stickels, Peter Weigt and I — set out for a 150-mile ocean race. Yes! It was seven of us on 36 feet for one+ day. The San Francisco Bluewater Bash inaugural race was dedicated to Jocelyn Nash, a true pioneer of women’s sailing.
Friday morning greeted us with dense fog and wind in the single digits. We slowly made our way out of the Bay, past the Farallon Islands and toward longitude 124, 75 miles offshore, our turnaround point. The only course restriction was to leave the Farallon Islands to the north. Aside from that, boats were pretty flexible in their own strategy of what latitude to pick when turning around on longitude 124.
Ferox, as a reaching machine, was hoping for our prevailing northwesterly wind direction, which would have made it possible to pick a reaching course out and a reaching course back. Needless to say, with our luck, we had a weather system coming in that started with winds straight from the west. That made any course ideas that included reaching out and back very expensive, so we settled in for the long upwind leg in low winds, bobbing in the waves, with the occasionally weeping mainsail as it collected drops of fog. We did see a ray or two of sunshine in between, but the true blue of the ocean only came into view the next day on the way back.
We ’rounded’ L124 at about 4 a.m. By then, the wind had shifted back around to a more northwesterly direction. It wasn’t quite downwind, but not a good code zero reach either. We decided to throw up our reaching kite to start our run back. Ferox finally started popping out on a plane, setting 10 knots of boatspeed as the new baseline and not a maximum to dream of.
A few changes of sails — reacher to code zero and staysail, main to first reef and back to full — and we’re passing the Farallon Islands on our way back, blue waters and a sighting of what the consensus said was a pod of orcas. Finally, in sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, Ferox is happily surfing the 15-ft waves with max speeds through the water of 19.3 knots — that was an actual observation. Now in 24 knots of wind with the occasional gust to the 30s and screaming along, we decided to reef the main back down to the first reef. Good choice, as moments later the wind settled into 29 knots consistent. Adrenaline and smiles were prevalent on all the faces. Ferox didn’t even think about popping off the plane.
The 29 knots of wind turned into a consistent 32 with gusts up to 36 knots close to Point Bonita. That’s when we decided to switch the code zero and staysail combo out with the jib. The surfing continued toward the finish line at Harding Rock. 26 hours, 4 minutes and 55 seconds after the start, it was suddenly over. It was still blowing in the high 20s in the Bay. Team Ferox got rid of all the sails except the reefed main. We put in a chicken jibe and set course toward home — Sequoia Yacht Club — in anticipation of margaritas and the Cinco… uhm, Floato de Mayo party there. (And most certainly a hot shower at the club first!)
If you’d like to replay the race, check out the tracker — https://yb.tl/SFBR2022.
What you can’t see in the race tracker: We lived well! Our food on board consisted of brownies, muffins, potato skins, hot lunch and breakfast burritos. Pre-made and wrapped in aluminum, they are sooo easy to heat up in the oven and hit the spot! For dinner, we had a freeze-dried selection of food pouches. They were pretty good as well. Overnight, the crew settled into a three-hour shift system. The back cabin starboard and port bunks as well as the salon ones — based on preference — saw good use by the occasional nappers.
One particular moment will probably stick with me for quite a while. Tina was just finishing her shift and I was getting ready for mine. At night, she was sitting in the salon looking at me and smiling. Exhausted, cold, wet, still dressed in all her gear — we called it marshmallow style — which I was just about to don. That basically means adding back the last layer (in my case the sixth layer: foulies, PFD and boots). I didn’t even try to take off any additional layers when falling into a bunk. Putting them back on is such an effort with the boat heeling, rocking, and rolling. Warm and dry was good enough for at least an hour before heading back up and out. It takes a special kind of character, and looking back a few days later, would I do it again? For sure!
We all hope “it” will never happen, but occasionally it does — in this case “it” was an explosion aboard a sailboat. The explosion occurred at San Diego’s Safe Harbor Marina last week.
San Diego’s Harbor Police Department representative, Corporal Spearel, told us the explosion may have been caused by a propane buildup inside the boat’s cabin. The owner, who does not live on the boat, had come aboard with his dog and lit the stove. Miraculously, both the owner and the dog were only singed — neither was hospitalized. Corp. Spearel said the hull appeared to be intact and the boat was towed to a yard later on the same day.
Images on social media show significant damage, with the deck separated from the hull and the mast and rigging dislodged.
We also found this video of the damaged boat, posted on Facebook by Nathan Grindle.
In February last year a boat exploded on Richardson Bay, Sausalito, allegedly due to a propane leak.
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