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July 13, 2022

Will Keeping It Simple Get You on the Baja Ha-Ha This Year?

Participants in the 2022 Baja Ha-Ha should be receiving their 2022 Ha-Ha burgees in the mail, as well as the printed 2022 First Timer’s Guide to Mexico, digitally available for all on our Heading South page. While reading through the 2022 update we were again reminded of the wisdom of the Grand Poobah as he described the “Minimum Cruising Boat” with the story of Steve and Charlotte Baker aboard their Catalina 27 Willful Simplicity. It’s a reminder that it’s not necessary to wait until you have a “big boat” before you cruise Mexico. After all, you don’t want to save all your life for something you may never do, when you can something now that you will always savor.

Following is the story of Steve and Charlotte with some additional insights from the Grand Poobah in the 2022 First-Timer’s Guide to Cruising Mexico.

“Having become dissatisfied with our suburban lives in Santa Rosa, in 2009 we bought Willful Simplicity, a 1973 Catalina 27. Many people told us we couldn’t enjoy Mexico with our ‘mini-cruiser.’ The only person who encouraged us, and whom we used as a guiding light, was Richard Spindler, who founded both Latitude 38 magazine and the Baja Ha-Ha. Had we listened to the naysayers rather than Richard, we would have missed out on the nine best years of our lives.”

Willful Simplicity
It doesn’t take much to enjoy a season in Mexico.
© 2022 Willfull Simplicity

“We started our new life with 135 other boats in the 2009 Baja Ha-Ha, which is the 750-mile cruiser rally Richard runs each year from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. That Ha-Ha is generally considered to have been the windiest of the 24 Ha-Ha’s to date, but we and our Catalina 27 Willful Simplicity didn’t have any problems.

“We saw many beautiful places and enjoyed countless great anchorages on the way down to Cabo and up into the Sea of Cortez. But the absolute best part of our cruising was meeting the locals, especially the children, and coming to appreciate their natural way of life. We have become better people for what we’ve learned from the people of Baja.”

Catalina 27 Willful Simplicity
A Catalina 27 is nice at anchor or under sail.
© 2022 Willful Simplicity

“For nine years, our homeport was more or less the tiny fishing village of San Evaristo, a popular anchorage about 50 miles north of La Paz, by water. Over the years we tried to help this village as much as we could, and enjoyed the support of many cruisers in the Sea who donated supplies and equipment to the community.

“Fortunately, our Catalina 27 can carry far more supplies than anyone would imagine. Indeed, it’s so roomy that Charlotte and I were constantly thinking about what junk we wanted to get off the boat. Simplicity is the best!”

Catalina 27 Willfull Simplicity
The Bakers made friends wherever they sailed in Mexico.
© 2022 Willfull Simplicity

“Our Catalina 27 has been the perfect Sea of Cortez cruising boat for us and has absolutely been the biggest bang for the buck. Who would have ‘thunk it’ when we sailed under the Golden Gate at 4 a.m. in 2009 and turned left, heading toward an unknown future? We have no regrets about the decision we made and will continue to live our lives in the spirit of ‘willful simplicity,’ although, after nine years, it will now be on land at Evaristo.”

The Grand Poobah did a little research looking for some candidates he’d consider good boats for sailing to Mexico. Here’s what he found:

“Just for fun, in June a couple of years ago we looked around for very inexpensive boats that, if they passed inspection, we’d cruise to Mexico. Here are some examples we found in San Diego alone: Cal 27, $4,900; Pearson 28, $8,000; Catalina 27, $4,000; Cal 29, $5,000; Catalina 30, $9,999; Columbia 30, $8,000; Islander 30, $7,500; and a Newport 30 with autopilot, depthfinder, navigation aids, radio, fridge/freezer, kayak, roller furling and self-tailing winches, $10,000. Many of the previously listed boats had a lot of gear, too.”

We’re sure that a few of these boats were wrecks that might not be worth accepting even as a gift, and might even be dangerous without new rigging, new thru-hulls, and other expensive upgrades. But we’re also confident that given a little bit of knowledge and a lot of elbow grease, some of them would make fine little cruising boats for Mexico.

Smaller cruising boats remind us of Christian Lauducci, who sailed across the Pacific with his wife and three kids aboard their Sausalito-based Stevens 40 Shawnigan. We first met Christian about 20 years ago when he was cruising Mexico on his 26-footer, complete with girlfriend — and six surfboards.

The truth of the matter is that a lack of money is rarely a true obstacle that prevents people from going cruising. It might be more “boat camping” than luxurious cruising if you’re on a short budget, but if you’re young and in search of adventure, it shouldn’t matter to you.

This theme was also most ably demonstrated by renowned cruising couple Lin and Larry Pardey, who began their first circumnavigation aboard their 24-ft wooden, home-built Seraffyn, and suggested to others, “Go Simple, Go Small, Go Now.”

If you’re thinking this fall is a good time to go south with the Baja Ha-Ha and you don’t currently have a boat, keep an eye on our Classy Classifieds to find one that suits you.

Good Jibes #48: Nicki Bennett Chats With Ronnie Simpson

Welcome to Latitude 38‘s weekly sailing podcast, Good Jibes. This week, host Nicki Bennett talks with Ronnie Simpson about finding fulfillment in sailing and Ronnie’s coverage of this year’s Pacific Cup, which is running for the first time in four years.

Ronnie is an Iraq War veteran who discovered sailing after being wounded, and has since sailed well over 100,000 miles. He is a cruiser, racer, sailing journalist, media guy, delivery captain and charter captain who is pretty much always around a sailboat. Ronnie has contributed to Latitude 38 as a writer since 2010 and specializes in Hawaii and offshore racing coverage. After living on sailboats in San Francisco Bay for several years, he has spent most of the last decade based in Hawaii and Fiji, with no shortage of ocean crossings and cruising in between.

Ronnie Simpson on boat
At minute 24:17 Ronnie chats about his first race across the Pacific.
© 2022 Ronnie Simpson

Hear how to find community in sailing, how it can lead to so many great things in life, what viewers can expect from this year’s Pac Cup, about the perks racing has over cruising, and his favorite racing stories.

This episode covers everything from racing journalism to the best parts about sailing. Here’s a small sample:

  • How did Ronnie’s injury inspire him to get into sailing?
  • What is the Pacific Cup?
  • How does sailing help heal trauma?
  • Why race vs. cruise to Hawaii?
  • When did Ronnie race the Pac Cup?
  • What is the course record?
  • When does Ronnie set sail?
  • Short Tacks: What’s his bucket list sailing destination?

Learn more about Ronnie on Instagram @CaptainRon_Official and the Pac Cup at and social media.

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Gain Offshore Skills With Shearwater Sailing

Monterey to San Francisco

Atalanta sails again, from Monterey to San Francisco and back on July 30-31. Each leg takes 15-18 hours. Join us for one or both legs. Lunch is included and return transportation is available at either end. Prices are per person, maximum of six. $395 per person. 20% discount on the return leg for crew joining both legs.

Monterey to Santa Barbara

Join Shearwater on a trip south to the quintessential beach town of Santa Barbara, with a stop in Morro Bay on the way. For those looking for an upwind adventure, join us for the trip north — good for those curious to experience what it’s like to bring a boat north in the summer. $880 for the trip south, August 13-14. $595 for the trip north, August 16-17. $1295 for the full adventure, August 13-17.

Perfect for those looking to gain offshore experience. We will be teaching offshore sailing underway, from navigation to sail handling to helming to cooking at sea. Active participation is encouraged! Click here for more info and booking.

Delta Doo Dah Fun in the Summer Sun

Owl Harbor’s Roaring Day in the Delta

News flash: Due to a wave of COVID infections this event has been postponed. We’ll update you as soon as it has been rescheduled.

On Saturday, July 30, Owl Harbor Marina invites Delta Doo Dah fleet members to join the marina’s tenants for a Roaring Day in the Delta.

The afternoon’s activities will begin with a Dinghy Poker Run. Owl Harbor will award $100 for the best hand and $50 for worst hand. In the afternoon/evening, “We will have (free) gambling and a photo booth, along with delicious food,” says harbormaster Devery Stockon. Dress in your favorite Roaring 20s glam on Saturday night if you like.

Kathy Kennedy and Larry White at Owl Harbor
Delta Doo Dah regulars Kathy Kennedy and Larry White of the O’Day 37 Namaste, at last year’s Owl Harbor buffet. The food was amazing!
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Slips at the unique and desirable destination do book up, especially in the larger size ranges. “Reservations are required in advance to secure a spot,” advises Devery, “since we are still getting summer visitors who are securing slips. We currently have some 30-ft, 35-ft and a couple 40-ft slips available.”

Roaring Day on the Delta is open to those with boats in slips only, and party RSVPs are required. Call the marina office at (916) 777-6055 to request a slip as soon as possible, and RSVP for the party by July 23 to [email protected].

Owl Harbor is on Sevenmile Slough, just off the San Joaquin River.

Cruising Seminar Coming to the Delta in August

We’ve set up something special for sailors coming to the August 12-14 cruise-in at Delta Bay Marina: a Delta Doo Dah presentation of the popular cruising seminar, Things to Know Before You Go by Carole and Pat McIntosh.

Pat and Carole McIntosh
Authors and veteran cruisers Pat and Carole McIntosh have been regulars at the Delta Doo Dah’s Delta Bay event.
© 2022 Pat McIntosh

We recommend this event to this year’s Baja Ha-Ha fleet — those who will be heading down from the cold and wet Pacific Northwest, as well as San Francisco Bay Area sailors looking for a warm shakedown cruise before heading south.

For 10 years prior to COVID-19 and the resulting pause in the Sail America boat shows, Carole and Pat provided sailing seminars that helped literally thousands of sailors prepare to cast off the lines and head to the horizon. You can download a free e-copy of their book ahead of time and ask all the questions you want at the seminar.

Fun, Friends, Food and Info

Save the date for some fun in the Delta and join us at Delta Bay Marina along the San Joaquin River on August 13. Pat and Carole will present their seminar at 3 p.m. Also, on Saturday, we will have our annual BBQ lunch prepared by members of Peninsula Yacht Club. If you are cruising in, the marina has plenty of space. The first 20 Delta Doo Dah boats can reserve a slip for free for the weekend. (We emailed fleet members the link and code to get a slip.) Visitors can also arrive by car via the Delta Loop in Isleton.

The agenda for the weekend looks like this:

Friday, August 12: Optional cruise-in arrival date.

August 13:

  • 10:30 a.m.: Presentation on Clean Boating and the Pumpout App, by S.F. Estuary Partnership and Division of Boating and Waterways.
  • 11 a.m.-2 p.m.: BBQ lunch prepared by Peninsula Yacht Club.
  • 1 p.m.: Delta history talk by Commodore Bill Wells of the California Delta Chambers.
  • 2 p.m.: Harbormaster talk by Delta Bay’s own harbormaster, Eric Chiu.
  • 3 p.m.: Things to Know Before You Go talk by veteran cruisers and authors Pat and Carole McIntosh. Their talk may be of special interest to Delta Doo Dah sailors contemplating the Baja Ha-Ha — and vice versa!
  • All day: Demos on solar boats, propane outboards, free paddleboard lessons.

August 14:

  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Sunday Market. Fresh produce and farm products, arts and crafts and books for sale, live music, lunch available to purchase.

To participate, please register for the Delta Doo Dah at It’s still free to sign up!

Latitude 38 Readers Identify the “Blooper”

On Friday we left our readers with something to think about while they enjoyed the weekend (hopefully aboard a sailboat). We asked: What is a blooper, within the sailing world? Many readers responded, and all were correct in their answers.

The simplest and most informative response came from Peter Mirrasoul — “It is usually a relatively lightweight full-bellied sail flown on the opposite side to the spinnaker. It is deployed when sailing deep downwind with the spinnaker to lend stability to the boat, compensating for a downwind death roll.”

Of course Peter wasn’t the only sailor to describe the blooper in this way. Bill Andrew, for example, wrote, “It’s the banana-shaped sail that flies on the opposite side of the boat as the spinnaker when running dead downwind, or on a deep reach.” He also added, “They were popular in the ’70’s and ’80’s with IOR boats that tended to have narrow, pinched sterns, and as a result were prone to ‘death rolling’ when dead downwind (particularly when passing under the Golden Gate!).”

red blooper sail
We found this photo on a Sailing Anarchy Forum thread about bloopers. And while some bloopers are of the same pattern and colors as the rest of the sails, we think this red one above stands out beautifully.
© 2022 @Something else

Several readers referred to the IOR rules, with Patrick Broderick defining the blooper as an “Infernal, nearly uncontrollable flying sail designed to keep an IOR boat on its feet downwind.”

There was consensus about the blooper’s role in helping to stabilize the big IOR racing boats, as well as adding speed, while still conforming to the rules of the day. A boat could only fly one spinnaker at a time, David J. Gruver wrote, adding that the blooper was “measured as a genoa.” He added, “Sail designers adapted to the rule by creating a significantly curved luff, thus giving the sail its unique shape.”

This image found on Pinterest demonstrates the beauty of a full blooper — and a matching one at that!
© 2022 Shared by @Haldimand Bay

Not everyone agreed that the blooper added speed, with Patrick Broderick commenting that he used one in the Vallejo races. “It didn’t help things much — usually ended up shrimping in San Pablo Bay.”

In February 2014, Sailing Magazine published a “not so complimentary” article about the blooper, in which Bill Schanen wrote, “I eventually figured out how to get more boatspeed out of a blooper — by leaving it in the garage.”

While some readers were of a similar mind set as Bill Schanen — “Two mistakes in search of a solution,” Mike F. wrote — others remembered the bloopers with a nostalgic air. Bill Nork commented, “No pole, free flying. Made things real interesting when jibing, as it had to be doused and then re-hoisted.” And Jim Q., who flew a blooper in the 1980s on an Esprit 37, added, “Fun fact … one had a person ‘trimming’ the blooper halyard because if it collapsed, the blooper’s foot was in the water. It was quite effective stopping the rock and roll … but boy, did it make jibes complicated.”

Thanks for all the great, blooper memories. You can read the rest of the comments here.

World Famous L38
Welcome to the July Caption Contest(!). We love innovation, and this month's photo takes us to new heights.
Sailors Getting Together
There are over 100 yacht clubs in Northern California. Each one is unique. The one we visited this weekend had a unique refrigerator that might only be known to its club members. Where is it?