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November 3, 2023

News Just In: ‘Boat Bum Gal’ Sinks Entering Turtle Bay on Baja Ha-Ha

Shortly after posting today’s ‘Lectronic Latitude we discovered the news that Sandra Barnes’ Nicholson 38 Boat Bum Gal from Long Beach had sunk on the Baja Ha-Ha. Her track and final resting place entering Turtle Bay are shown below.

According to the Grand Poobah, they hit a rock last night and sank at the entrance to Turtle Bay. He reports that everyone on the crew is safe and found accommodations in a local hotel. He continued, “All that can be seen of the boat is the top few feet of the mast. The Poobah is short on details, but the vessel’s track shows an inexplicably dangerous path toward the safe harbor. The correct way to enter Turtle Bay is to stay well offshore until way past the point, then head northeast into the harbor. Day and night, over 3,000 boats have done it in the history of the Ha-Ha without a problem. Why Boat Bum Gal hugged the coast the last few miles, almost in the surf, is unknown at this time. We’ll have more details as they become available.”


According to Jerry Matzdorf* it happened around 2 a.m. while they were doing over six knots when they hit the rock. The crew was able to get into the dinghy and make it to shore.

*Update: Per Nilkolay’s comment below, this could have been explained better. Jerry was not aboard Boat Bum Gal but was observing her track on the tracker as the event unfolded. 

Fire Destroys Several Docked Boats in La Paz

As if Mexico hasn’t been through enough this year! We received a call yesterday from Latitude reader Tim Prouty from Sausalito, who told us about a fire that destroyed several boats at Marina Palmira early Thursday morning. Tim and his wife Wren Herring are spending a few months in Mexico aboard their Ron Holland 43, Wren, and were among the first to notice the blaze.

“I woke up around 3 a.m.,” Tim told us, “no idea why.” He got up and looked outside. “There was a boat on fire on the next finger. The fire was on the port side, aft quarter of the boat. No one seemed to be aware!”

Tim grabbed his air horn and started moving up and down his dock, creating as much noise as he could to wake everyone up. Fortunately there wasn’t a lot of wind, and what there was, was coming from the east. Tim and Wren were not in danger. But the breeze running parallel to the docks was enough to fan the flames and spread the fire to the neighboring boat, and the next, and the next, until it reached the end dock.

Palmira boats on fire
When Tim spotted the fire aboard the first boat, no one else appeared to have noticed.
© 2023 Tim Prouty

A boat that had been tied on the outside broke free when its lines burned though. It began drifting toward the 100-ft+ megayachts, but ended up on another dock, threatening a 120-ft wood boat — “like a floating tinderbox,” Tim described. “They got that one out of the way just in time.”

It took only a light wind for the flames to jump along the line of docked boats.
© 2023 Tim Prouty

Tim took this video in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Firefighters had arrived on the scene within 30 minutes and were “doing the best they could,” but by 4:30 many 35-55-ft boats had been totally engulfed, Tim told us, and by then the crews aboard docked charter boats had woken up and were moving their boats out of the way.

Mexico news sites are writing varying accounts, including that seven to 10 boats were affected. Local scuttlebutt suggests eight vessels have burned and seven have sunk on dock No. 5A.

Tim wrote this morning to say that five boats have been totally destroyed. Of those, four sank in their slips, and the fifth, the 100-ft+ Optimus, had drifted away from the dock and “burned to the waterline at the seawall.” Many other boats have suffered heat damage.

Daylight dawned beneath the thick, black smoke of burning boats.
© 2023 Tim Prouty

At this time there is no explanation for the outbreak. Tim said he had not heard an explosion or any other noise to alert him to the fire. To our knowledge no one was hurt.

Neil Shroyer from Marina de La Paz sent us this video he’d found on a What’s App chat group.

We hope this is the last time we report on boat fires for a long time. Wednesday we wrote about a fire in Oyster Cove, South San Francisco, involving three boats.

Baja Ha-Ha Arrives in Turtle Bay for Bazeball and Sunshine

After leaving San Diego on Monday, the 2023 Baja Ha-Ha fleet enjoyed smooth sailing for leg one. The fleet is now anchored in Turtle Bay, and yesterday battled it out in the annual Baja Ha-Ha bazeball game on the first-class, green-grass diamond. Everyone was a winner.

Turtle Bay Baja Ha-Ha
The 2023 fleet anchored in the sunny, protected harbor of Turtle Bay.
© 2023 Richard

The fleet will remain at anchor today for the famous Turtle Bay Beach Picnic. Everyone brings chairs, beach gear, toys, hiking shoes, bathing suits and anything wanted for a great day on the beach or a hike to the hills above. Hot dogs are sold, with proceeds going to a local charity. The locals generally show up to sell beer and other food to the cruisers on the beach. Pangas are usually on hand to provide Uber service to the beach for those who want to avoid the challenge of safely getting a dinghy ashore in the often-breaking, small surf on the beach. The beach waves don’t need to be big to cause havoc, and they always look smaller from a dinghy than from the beach.

Baja Ha-Ha Bazeball
The Baja Ha-Ha fleet challenges the locals in bazeball, with the fleet anchored in the background.
© 2023 Richard

The annual bazeball game in Turtle Bay has become a tradition that has also supplied the locals with an in-depth inventory of baseball gear donated by cruisers.

J. Mills (green hat) and his crew aboard his Jeanneau 44 DS Salty Dancer are now at anchor in Turtle Bay.
© 2023 Friends of Salty Dancer

J. Mills, aboard his Jeanneau 44 DS Salty Dancer, reported in from Turtle Bay through an intermittent Verizon phone connection to say, “The weather has been fantastic with light winds and fair, rolling seas. We spent 64 hours 58 minutes from San Diego to Turtle Bay and about 22 hours under sail. Waiting for the big beach bash to start today and then early start on leg two tomorrow a.m. Bonne Vie 😎” This is the kind of report that makes us green with envy, though it’s what we expected when we waved to them as they departed San Diego on Monday. It’s incredible to think that you can be in the thick of San Diego urban sailing one day, and less than three days later you’re a Mexico cruiser in a quiet, remote harbor along the coast of Baja.

Baja Ha-Ha bazeball
It’s a long line to get up to bat for bazeball on the green diamond in Turtle Bay. But it’s always worth the wait, because nobody strikes out.
© 2023 Richard

The town of Turtle Bay has grown over the years, but it’s still small and remote, meaning there are few marine supplies ashore and everyone here is sorting out any onboard issues with their crew or new friends and neighbors.

Baja Ha-Ha Turtle Bay
The Baja Ha-Ha fleet makes the harbor the busiest it is all year, but there’s plenty of room for all.
© 2023 Richard

They’ll be leaving tomorrow morning on the next leg, headed to Bahia Santa Maria, where the fleet will again chill out for a couple of days in the warmth of Mexico, while also rocking out to the music provided by locals for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Party on the bluff overlooking the bay. Panga drivers will again be on hand to run folks from the boats through the surf to the landing below the bluff.

Baja Ha-Ha leg one
It was a warm, sunny, pleasant ride on the first leg to Turtle Bay.
© 2023 Predict Wind

Hurricane season is quieting down, though far to the south, Tropical Storm Pilar has formed off  Guatemala and is currently tracking west.

As La Paz cleans up after Hurricane Norma, we have word from Neil Shroyer at Marina de La Paz that they will be ready to host cruisers on November 19 at 4 p.m. for the annual Baja Ha-Ha beach party. The storm caused damage to boats and infrastructure in La Paz, but didn’t dampen the spirits. They’ll be ready to welcome the Baja Ha-Ha fleet and all cruisers who have headed south this year, and look forward to their visit.

South Bay Sailor Gets New Sailing Hat

Adam Brosamer from Menlo Park recently won a new hat. “Super-stoked to get your free hat offer in the latest issue,” Adam wrote. You may have guessed — Adam is one of our latest Golden Ticket winners. It seems we’re in one of those phases or phenomena in which winners are turning up nearly every week! The answer doesn’t really matter, though you can read about it here. What matters most is, “Who is Adam Brosamer?”

Adam, a member of the Sierra Point Yacht Club, tells us he began sailing on S.F. Bay in the early 2000s as crew aboard a J/35, “with an avid racer and encouraging skipper.” His experiences included offshore racing, Bay racing, and beer cans in the Oakland Estuary. “Then I had a Laser for a while and did some lake sailing, then a West Wight Potter 15.” And just last year he bought Fiver, a Catalina 27.

sailor on boat
Adam aboard Fiver. Next time he takes this photo he’ll be wearing his new Latitude hat!
© 2023 Adam Brosamer

“Sailing relaxes me,” Adam tells us. “I love a good daysail, just eating sandwiches and seeing the Bay from the water. If you’re looking for excitement, you can usually find it. And sometimes it finds you.” He adds that one of his most memorable sailing moments was anchoring south of the Dumbarton Bridge with the Potter Yachters. “It gets pretty shallow down there, but we had a fun time in a rarely visited part of the Bay.”

Along with racing, Adam has sailed the California coast. He’s shown here passing Pacifica while delivering a friend’s boat, Spirit, back to the Bay.
© 2023 Adam Brosamer

We’re happy to say that Adam also shared his thoughts on our magazine, and it’s all good! “A big thanks for the wealth of local sailing knowledge and general boating information in your magazine. Every month, there is something cool to read in Latitude, usually in the Letters.” Thanks, Adam!

Adam requested a royal-blue Latitude hat and says he will “wear it with pride!”

This sailor found his Golden Ticket in the October issue, which he picked up from Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City.
© 2023 Adam Brosamer