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October 20, 2023

Attention Baja Ha-Ha Sailors: UCSG SAR Event In San Diego

As sailors plot a course for the 29th Baja Ha-Ha kickoff party in San Diego, we’re reminded that the USCG is hosting a safety seminar in the lead-up to the cruise south. The seminar will be held on Saturday, October 28, at the West Marine Super Store in San Diego, from 5 to 6 p.m. The Grand Poobah encourages everyone to attend this helpful event.

Because the United States Coast Guard and the Baja Ha-Ha care about your safety at sea, the Ha-Ha is delighted to bring back Douglas Samp, Search and Rescue [SAR] specialist from Rescue Coordination Center, Alameda, for a Search and Rescue seminar.

The USCG’s Ha-Ha safety seminar is a boot locker-full of good information.
© 2023 /Facebook/Baja Ha-Ha

As the SAR specialist out of RCC Alameda, which is in charge of the Eastern Pacific, Samp knows his stuff. He also knows the Ha-Ha. He was the command duty officer in Alameda in 2009 when a Ha-Ha boat was hit by a whale and sank quickly. Thanks to the preparation and skill of Captain Eugenie Russell and crew, and the preparation and skill of the Coast Guard, everyone was rescued safely from their life raft.

“I remember that incident as though it were yesterday,” Samp says. The Coast Guard later described it as a “textbook rescue”.

Whom should you call for help if you have an emergency during the Ha-Ha? The Grand Poobah, the Mexican navy, or the Coast Guard? Samp has the answer.

What is the best device for calling for help when at sea? An EPIRB, Starlink, InReach, Iridium GO!, SSB, Satphone? Samp will discuss the pros and cons of each device.

How do the different international rescue systems work? Samp has the answer.

How long might it take you to be rescued halfway to the Marquesas? Douglas can give you a rough estimate.

Samp can also tell some SAR tales, such as the time when two specialists jumped out of a plane, along with a small boat, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the Pacific (!), to provide medical assistance to a former Ha-Ha participant who had a medical emergency. They saved his life.

The presentation, hosted by the Grand Poobah, will be a sit-on-the-floor/stand-up affair at West Marine. It was well attended last year, and we expect it to be well attended this year. If you plan to attend, please send an email to [email protected] stating your intention.

That’s Douglas in the lower right foreground.
© 2023 Baja Ha-Ha

While we can’t confirm it at this time, we believe Samp will also be available at the Last Cheeseburger in Paradise and Costume Kick-Off Party on Sunday, October 30.

Hurricane Norma Headed to Cabo San Lucas

Hurricane Norma has been gathering steam and is now heading slowly north toward Cabo at 7 mph. It’s currently a Category 3 storm, meaning 111- to 129-mph winds, though it may weaken as it approaches Cabo. Current projections show it moving east to strike the mainland somewhere near Culiacán. The storm is projected to start hitting Cabo this evening, bringing heavy rains and flooding. The weather system’s slow movement means it has a chance to drop more rain and create more flooding. If the storm center stays to the south and east of Cabo, the town could be spared the most damaging winds, but as of now, they are battening down the hatches and getting prepared.

Hurricane Nora Mexico
Hurricane Norma is headed to Cabo San Lucas before it veers east toward the mainland.
© 2023 NOAA

Norma is predicted to hang over Cabo through most of the weekend and slowly head to the mainland by sometime on Monday.

The last major hurricane to hit Cabo was Hurricane Odile in September 2014. It was the most costly hurricane to ever affect the region. After a direct hit on Cabo, Odile tore straight up the Baja peninsula with winds also ravaging La Paz and causing three deaths in the harbor. While wind and rain from Norma could be damaging in La Paz, a projected turn to the east will hopefully prevent severe damage.

The specific course of the eye of a hurricane can make all the difference.
© 2023 NOAA

The hurricane season is winding down, but it’s not over until it’s over. Hurricane Tammy is currently headed toward the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, though it too may veer north, sparing the islands of Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda a direct hit. While there have been a significant number of hurricanes in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, most have run their course over the ocean without making landfall.

Who Needs Their Own Boat? Golden Ticket Winner Sails the World

It must be a “lucky” time of year, as we’ve recently had a few Golden Ticket winners reach out to claim their prize. As you surely know by now, we love to share our winners’ sailing stories and photos, and sometimes they reward us with lots of fun details. In this case, it was Greg Mellberg from Menlo Park who pulled the ticket, and subsequently told us about his sailing life.

Golden Ticket winner
Greg with the Golden Ticket that he found in the September issue.
© 2023 Greg Mellberg

“My parents bought a little 14-ft Lido sailboat when I was 10 years old, for me and my three siblings. We learned to sail at the Palo Alto Yacht Club (now gone). I started sailing large boats in my late 20s when my friends and I would do day charters out of Sausalito. We did that dozens of times, going all over the Bay region. And my sailing continued when I moved to Southern California for 20 years — eight years in Newport Beach and 12 years in San Diego. My business partner was a member of a sailing club and we often did charters with family, friends, employees and business partners. That continued when I moved to San Diego and many of my consultants sailed. In fact, one was the commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club.”

Greg at the helm in Newport Beach.
© 2023 Greg Mellberg
Golden Ticket winner
And in San Diego.
© 2023 Greg Mellberg

Greg has never owned his own boat, but has managed to enjoy sailing regardless.

“Sadly, in my younger years I had hopes of sailing my own boat to exotic destinations when I retired. I lived that experience ‘vicariously’ when my friends did that. I joined them on some wonderful adventures in many places all around the world.”

Twelve years ago he moved back the Bay Area, but it’s been only recently that he found his way back into sailing. “My wife and I just joined the Sequoia Yacht Club. It has given me a chance to crew on members’ boats and enjoy my love of sailing again. [It’s] so nice to join SYC and the great and friendly group of sailing folks.”

Every sailor has at least one reason, if not many, for their interest in sailing. Greg’s reasons make sense to us.

“It may sound corny, but I do love the wind in my face and the smell of the sea. I love the action during a sailing race and water flying all over. And the sheer adventure of sailing — the freedom to literally chart your own course, go anywhere you want, set down anchor or tie up to a mooring buoy, and stay in a new place.”

And, as is typical of sailors, Greg finds it hard to nail down his favorite sailing moment.

“In addition to sailing in California, I sailed six times in other countries — Greece (twice), Croatia, the Caribbean (ABC Islands), Tahiti and New Zealand (Bay of Islands). One that was especially exotic was in Tahiti. I bought an 18-inch ‘machete’ at the market when we were provisioning our bare-boat charter with Moorings. When anchored, I’d swim ashore and chop the husk off coconuts and also cut off some bananas and bring them back to the boat, and we’d all enjoy the treats. My friend even made chicken with coconut curry sauce. The whole trip made me think it was a mix of Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson. Very fun and memorable!!! BTW … that was in the 1990s and I brought that machete, along with some of my scuba gear, in carry-on luggage — those were the days!”

Proof that you don’t need your own boat to enjoy sailing. Greg has sailed in Croatia (left) and Tahiti!
© 2023 Greg Mellberg

Greg picked up his Latitude 38 with its winning ticket at the Sequoia Yacht Club. He says he loves the articles, “especially the ones about overseas sailing adventures,” and looking at his “dream boats.”

“I began sailing large boats in the 1980s. My friends and I would charter boats for a daysail out of Sausalito,” he adds. “I would also get your magazine back then, from the rack near the docks.” He also made sure to get his Latitude 38 each month while living and sailing in Newport Beach and San Diego. “But I am now enjoying being back in the S.F. Bay Area and [being] able to crew on boats out of Redwood City with the Sequoia Yacht Club.”

Paul Cayard Takes on International Star Class Presidency

News of Bay Area sailor Paul Cayard has been quiet since his resignation from his role as US Olympic Sailing’s executive director earlier this year. But now he’s back in the sailing spotlight with the announcement of his new role as International Star Class president. We received the following news from the Star class:

“Cayard began sailing Stars in 1977 and has served as the International Vice President – Western Hemisphere since 2020. Well known to many in the Star Class, he competed in his first World Championship as crew, finishing 4th in 1978, then as skipper in 1984 finishing 3rd and winning the Star Worlds in 1988 in Buenos Aires. He’s a 10-time Silver Star winner, 2-time Olympian, 7-time America’s Cup sailor and winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup and Whitbread Round the World race. In addition, Paul is a member of the US Sailing Hall of Fame, and a Rolex Ambassador. He is a dual citizen of France and the United States and speaks three languages.” [We didn’t know that!]

Upon accepting his new role, Cayard delivered the following speech:

“It is my honor to accept the role of President of the International Star Class. My time spent in the Star has been the most influential, challenging, and satisfying in my 56 years in the sport of sailing.
“Six years ago, I began serving the Star Class as an officer, to give back to the class that has given me so much since 1977. The commitment, respect, and integrity I observed from our leaders contributed to my formation as a young man.
“Now, as I take the role as President of our beloved Star Class, I am committed to make those who served before me proud, by working hard, listening, and using all my ability to improve something that is already great.
“The Star class today is a wide and diverse community. We sail on five continents, in 35 countries with 1700 active members. We have three great boat builders in Europe with a fourth coming soon in South America. We have had a very loyal Italian mast builder for over 30 years and recently a new one in Canada. Sailmakers all over the world want to make sails for the Star. The best sailors in the world compete in our World and Continental Championships. Yet the heart and soul of the class lives on lakes in Germany and Austria and Michigan, in the small clubs and local fleets. Our future is in the hands of our growing U30 sailors. We must nurture and mentor them just like the previous generation mentored us.
“Sailing is a sport; it is for fun and friendship and camaraderie, which are the priceless trophies of life. Thanks to great leadership for over 100 years, Star sailors today have so much to be grateful for. Now we, the current custodians of the world’s greatest class of sailboat, have much to do. Like life, the Star class is a journey that is in constant evolution.
“I look forward to working with all of you to honor the past and build the future of the International Star Class”.

Paul Cayard is the new International Star Class president.
© 2023

Cayard has numerous sailing credits to his name, including competing in multiple ocean races, Olympic sailing, coaching professional sailors, and being the first in the sport to be recognized by the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF). Congratulations, Paul Cayard, on your new position!