The Baja Ha-Ha is the 750-mile cruisers’ rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with R&R stops at fun and funky Turtle Bay and spectacularly surreal Bahia Santa Maria. It is a cruising rally, so using engines is allowed for safety and or comfort.
There are eight major social events, starting with a Halloween Costume Kick-Off Party, to the world-famous Turtle Bay Baseball Game, to the live band rock ‘n’ roll party at remote Bahia Santa Maria, to the rolling-in-the-surf From Here to Eternity Kissing Contest. The fun rarely stops.
More than 12,000 sailors have done the event, so this could be your year to become part of Ha-Ha history. This year’s honorary Entry #1 goes to Scott Stephens and his Catana 47 catamaran. Scott did the first of several Ha-Ha’s as crew in 2009, and now, after producing 125 television episodes and several series and films, he’s saying goodbye to Hollywood and hello to cruising.
There are two good reasons to sign up for the Ha-Ha as soon as possible. First, it commits you to a specific deadline for casting off. Numerous past participants have said that had they not committed to the specific Ha-Ha departure date, they wouldn’t have left for months, years — or even at all.
Second, what berths are available in Cabo San Lucas are assigned largely on the order in which boats have signed up. There is, of course, no guarantee of getting a berth in Cabo at all. If the US economy is cranking, berths are very hard to come by. But you never can tell, as last year berths went begging.
Currently, the Ha-Ha is in the process of setting up a system whereby boats can, for the first time, check into Mexico at Bahia Santa Maria. If you’ve worked with the Mexican government, you can appreciate the fact we’re still hammering out details. We’ll keep everyone posted.
This year’s Ha-Ha will depart San Diego on October 30, two days after the Hunter’s Full Moon. It’s nice to have a lot of light on the first leg, so we ordered that just for you.
For the Notice of the Rally and other Ha-Ha information, visit www.baja-haha.com.
As a reminder to everyone that the cruising life doesn’t end in Cabo, we have a couple more installments from the Grand Poobah on “Where Are they Now,” with vets of the 2018 Ha-Ha letting us know where they are now, five years later.
Allan and Rina Alexopulos, Follow You, Hunter 466, San Diego:
“We are looking forward to Ha-Ha XXIX on our new-to-us 2016 Lagoon 450S. After our 2018 Ha-Ha we bashed back from Puerto Vallarta in March 2020, as COVID looked like it was going to close down ports and prevent cruisers from moving around Mexico. We went back to work, got a great job as managing director of a consulting company, and lived aboard at Pier 32 in San Diego.
“As the market was hot for used boats, we decided to sell our boat in 2021 and started looking for a catamaran. We found ‘iliohale in San Francisco in late 2021, then put her in a charter fleet for a year while we planned a 2023 Ha-Ha. We had been looking for a slip for over a year in San Diego, and as luck would have it, we walked into Chula Vista Marina the very day a boat gave notice for their end tie. We were already #1 on the waiting list.
“Rina and I just double-handed ‘iliohale from San Francisco and have purchased a Cruise RO watermaker and life raft. We are shopping for a downwind sail and are otherwise counting the days to sign up for the Ha-Ha. At some point in the future I’ll retire, we’ll sail to Mexico for a season or two, then cross the Pacific and join our Ha-Ha vet daughter in New Zealand. She sailed there years ago and has become a permanent resident and thus can sponsor us into the country.”
Chris Killian, Derive, Lagoon 410 S2, Newport Beach:
“I continued cruising with the hopes of making Australia, where I was going to sell my boat in 2022. We did the Puddle Jump in 2019, then hauled the cat out in August 2019 for cyclone season. The next steps in the plan didn’t happen because of COVID. We had paid for a haulout in Tonga in 2020, and our 2021 goal had been Fiji, New Caledonia and Australia. But I didn’t get to see my boat for 22 months.
“While extensions were being given to foreign boats in French Polynesia, I ended up on the first plane back into the country in 2021, and decided to sail up to Hawaii because all the other borders were still closed. I spent six months in Hawaii, and sold the boat on December 31, 2021, to close out the original plan.
“My wife had continued to work at home and was a fly-in cruising wife. But as this was always a five-year plan, I was very lucky she let me live out my dream.
“The biggest suggestion I have for people doing the Ha-Ha is to make sure all the big stuff is in working order and don’t sweat the small stuff. In addition, do shakedown cruises with crew members before taking them on long term.”
As we come up to the start of registrations for this year’s Baja Ha-Ha on May 9, we’ll share some more installments from the class of 2018.
Welcome to Good Jibes! This week’s host, John Arndt, is joined by Michael Moradzadeh to chat about Michael’s prolific career on and around boats and oceans. Michael has raced in several Pac Cups, Transpacs, and other famous races, is a past commodore of Pacific Cup Yacht Club and past commodore of Corinthian Yacht Club, and has developed many sailing sites and applications.
Hear how to get over the fear of sailing offshore, why there’s nothing like it, how to navigate a busy racing schedule and a desire to cruise, what it’s like to be a PRO (Principal Race Officer), and about his role in saving Andy Schwenk’s life.
This episode covers everything from Oaxaca to the Coast Guard. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear:
- How did Michael get into sailing?
- What’s next for Oaxaca?
- How did Michael start including more women on his team?
- Why does he spend so much time as commodore?
- What type of cruising did he do before he got into racing?
- Why should you try offshore racing?
- What does Michael love about the sailing community?
- Short Tacks: Favorite race?
Learn more about Michael at https://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/michael-moradzadeh/
Sometimes, one of the greatest parts about being a sailor in the San Francisco Bay Area is the serendipity of it all — you never know whom you’ll meet and what kinds of adventures you can have. I am a charter boat deckhand who originally comes from Petaluma, but calls the East Bay my sailing home. Normally, I have to explain where Petaluma is located when talking with new friends. But this time, when I met Alice Watts at the 2023 Svendsen’s Spring Fling boat show, it was different. My hometown was her eagerly anticipated cruising destination!
Alice, known as a career, Bay Area tall-ship sailor and longtime advocate for women’s sailing, came over from the Island Yacht Club table to the Latitude 38 table and introduced herself. She was telling me about her upcoming sails when my ears perked up — she was headed to Petaluma for the annual Butter and Egg Days Parade and asked if I wanted to join the river cruise.
I had no hesitation — of course!
It was a delightful sail to this lesser-known cruising destination up the Petaluma River. We left Grand Marina in Alameda at 0700 and reached the turning basin in downtown Petaluma at 1705, docked and secured five minutes later. We had a favorable flood current to push us up the river, and warm, sunny weather. Perhaps too warm, because wind clocked 0 knots all day and turned our sail into a motor. But with beautiful views, plenty of snacks, good company, and a lovely sailboat, the time passed all too quickly.
We were five aboard the sailing vessel Lucy, an Ericson 34 in beautiful condition. Lucy belongs to Chris Candell, who hosted us onboard and had the boat prepped and ready for our 0630 muster. We were joined by Martin Spizman and Cindy McKee. Martin, Chris, and Alice anchored the group with their collective lifetime of experience working on tall ships and had steady hands at the helm. In some of the downtime, Alice gave some knot tutorials including the lineman’s rider, sheet bend and others.
The countryside as you exit San Pablo Bay and start up the Petaluma River is breathtaking at this time of year. The water was cool and clear, with lush green hills in the distance, vibrant marshes on the riverbanks, and lots of wildflowers. Quaint wooden boat ramps and private docks dot the river bank just past Black Point Bridge, and the grassy marshes along the river up to Lakeville are alive with flocks of ducks, blue herons, white egrets, hawks and Canada geese. Chris said it best when we reached the Lakeville waypoint and looked back at the Petaluma river twisting away behind us: “Looking back at the view is like looking back at another century!” No sight of highway 101 hidden behind the hills, no sound of the train until farther up, no modern buildings or cars to remind you that it’s 2023 and not Petaluma’s 1890 heyday as the Egg Basket of the World.
Turns out, many locals cruise to Petaluma for the Butter and Egg Days Parade! The turning basin dock at the Petaluma Yacht Club was crowded with sailboats of all sizes, power boats, and even the Petaluma Sea Scout vessel. Passing the D Street Drawbridge made the sixth bridge passage of the day: In order of appearance, we transited the Bay Bridge, Richmond Bridge, Black Point swing bridge, Highway 37 bridge, Haystack Landing bridge, and the D Street drawbridge in Petaluma. It’s seven bridges if you count the Highway 101 overpass.
All in all, Petaluma is a cruising destination not to be overlooked. Once docked, you are steps away from a vibrant downtown with cafés, shopping, grocery stores and a movie theater within a 10-minute walk. If you’re looking for a daysail destination, consider planning a Petaluma river cruise!
We were scanning the recent news releases from the Division of Boating and Waterways and came across a discussion about composting toilets. To us, composting toilets have always seemed like a great idea. No head hoses, pumps and holding tanks to worry about. No need to find and make the always-delightful visit to a pumpout facility, and no need to fix or repair broken head pump mechanisms. Composting heads are nothing if not simple. However, the thought of removing the holding tank plus fitting a composting toilet into a difficult space is an impediment. We’re curious to hear from folks who’ve installed one.
The thought of never visiting a pumpout station again sounds terrific, plus removing the holding tank to open up space to store something more pleasant than waste sounds ideal. It sounds as freeing as buying an electric car and never having to go to a gas station or get an oil change again.
Composting heads seem to make sense on boats and feel as if they’d be a really great idea in drought-prone states like California. Why do we use so much water to move waste to a sewage treatment plant before sending it all back to the ocean?
We’ve seen composting heads at boat shows and remain curious. Who has one aboard?
Come to the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show on Friday and stick around for libations from Latitude 38 and the exhibitors listed above.
Boat shows are all about the boats, the gear, seminars and seeing old friends. We’re looking forward to reconnecting at the boat show and celebrating Cinco de Mayo with friends old and new. See you there!