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November 20, 2023

Baja Ha-Ha XXIX Sailors Kiss Their Way to Eternity

The 2023 Baja Ha-Ha fleet may have reached its destination, but not before a long stop in eternity with the annual From Here to Eternity Kissing Contest in Cabo. This fun contest usually draws fierce competition, with partners lining up on the sand for their turn to roll in the surf and get wet and sweaty, and of course, pick up tons of sand in the “in-betweens.”

Over the years we’ve shared many photos of the Ha-Ha sailors in action. It looks like fun!

Kissing in the surf
While some get it right, others look as if they’re in danger of drowning. To our knowledge, all contestants have survived.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Archives

This year, we’ve got hold of some bonus footage of the action, as it unfolded!

Sally-Christine Rodgers and her husband Randy Repass (West Marine founder) participated in this year’s Baja Ha-Ha aboard their Wylie 65 Convergence. And while we don’t have video of the couple taking a roll in the surf, we do have a video of their son Kent-Harris and his partner Emily Brouwer giving a great performance in an effort to take home this year’s first place.

We think they did a great job. Want to see what they were up against?

Here’s a sample of the competition that we found on the 2023 Baja Ha-Ha Facebook group. Video credit goes to Jay Prince.

Name This Yacht Club

Every yacht club has its own unique, distinguishing features. We expect at least some of our readers are able to guess which yacht club boasts this framed classic.

Submit your answer in the comments section below.

Name this yacht club
A human operating manual.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Do you have photo of a unique feature of a yacht club that some of us might recognize? Please send it to [email protected].

Racers: have you entered to win the Wosser Trophies this year

The Simple Pleasures of Sailing — Maintenance

There are many pleasures in sailing, with the simplicity of working with your boat and sails to move in the appropriate direction under just the power of the wind being one of the most appealing. Another pleasure is lifelong learning. Learning may include where to set your jib leads, how quickly to turn in a tack, memorizing the constellations in the sky, or understanding the Coriolis effect.

Finistere Boat Maintenance
The locker where we hide the bodies and other mysteries.
© 2023 John

Then there’s the opportunity to look inward, not just into your soul, but into the guts of your boat. When we upgraded from our 1974 Ranger 33 to a “new” 1989 Sabre 38 MkII we opened a whole new realm of learning. We moved from having our only instrument being yarns on shrouds to chartplotters and apparent-wind indicators and more. Our foot pump was upgraded to pressure water, including a water heater. Now we have so much more to learn.

Boat Maintenance
We found a small leak in what we guess is the original pressure water pump. Replacement is on the project list.
© 2023 John

While sailing is the ultimate reward, learning continues to fascinate us as we dig through the bowels of the boat. Despite being almost 24 years old and having done several Hawaii races, she’s in amazingly good shape thanks to her pedigree and the care and upgrades of previous owners. In fact, the Hawaii races have probably helped her be in good shape, since preparing to go offshore has the same effect as inviting people over to your house for dinner. You do a lot of work to clean it up, and, in the case of boats, make sure they’re safe.

We slowly knock off projects and then look for more trouble, so over time, we get to understand how things work just in case the inevitable happens. Some sailors exchange the words “just in case” with “when.”

Finistere Boat Maintenance
The site of more boat yoga — reaching into nearly inaccessible corners to find a stray leak.
© 2023 John

A couple of recent projects included removing the fixed backstay and replacing it with the Navtec hydraulic backstay, which appears to hold its pressure and be working just fine. There was the missing extra-large clevis pin that had to be found, but, once found, was relatively easy to attach and power up.

Finistere Boat Maintenance
Friday night race crew Randy Gridley has been indispensable on the water and at dockside.
© 2023 John

There was also the problem of the glitchy Simrad autopilot. We’ve sailed with many of them but have never had one on our own boat. It worked sporadically but often had to be recalibrated to get it running. Finally, pulling everything out of the locker and looking at all connections, our friend Randy discovered the easiest of fixes. There was a wire on the circuit board clearly labeled “Rudder” that was not secured tightly. It was just resting on the lead and didn’t have reliable contact. Presto! Once secured, she’s humming again. A lesson in troubleshooting as you sequentially chase down problems, while learning where the heck all the bits and pieces are.

Finistere Boat Maintenance
It’s nice when things are labeled. Here’s where the loose wire said “Rudder.” How nice is that?
© 2023 John

Lifelong learning is all about using your head, so we spent more time trying to understand the holding tank and related hoses. After crawling around the boat for a couple of years we have a pretty good feel for where most things are, but “lifelong learning” does take an entire lifetime. We’ve occasionally had unpleasant odors coming from the holding tank, and we’re told the secret is to flush with only freshwater. Flushing with salt water causes the growth of unwelcome forms of life that you’d rather not have on board.

So we spent more time tracing lines to see how it all works and discovered a convenient valve that lets you flush using water from the freshwater tanks. While looking at all the hoses, tanks, valves, thru-hulls, and all the rest, we were reminded why people like Barry Spanier put a composting toilet on his boat Rosie G. The space in the head of the Sabre looks a little daunting to fit a composting toilet, but it’s tempting to try to figure it out.

Finistere Boat Maintenance
What a waste! This is just some of the system and space required to handle waste.
© 2023 John

Because we’re slow learners, we figure we have at least two lifetimes of learning available in just this one boat. Knowing we’ll never know it all allows us to simply button it all up, leave a few mysteries behind, hoist the sails, and get out on the water to enjoy the simplicity of sailing. Though maybe we should move the jib leads forward one hole?

Max Ebb and Lee Helm Discuss Bugs

“Got him!” I said after swatting another mosquito.

“Got HER,” Lee corrected. “Only the female mosquitoes bite.”

My home waters are pretty much bug free, but friends at the local sailing school and adventure-travel club had talked me into tagging along on their latest bareboat charter expedition. The destination was a popular cruising area, thick with bareboat flotillas and, as we discovered, bugs with four engines. Lee Helm, coincidently, had been drafted to bring some sailing experience to one of the bareboats, the one chartered by a very novice crew.

As a starving college student, she can never turn down a free junket to a new sailing venue, especially if the timing falls during a break in her classes. She had inflated the boat’s SUP and paddled over to our flotilla flagship for a visit.

“How are things going with the newbies?” I asked as Lee settled into an easy chair in the cabin of our big cat.

“They’re getting it,” she said. “Although, like, sometimes the skipper starts to turn the wheel the wrong way when I suggest it’s time to tack. And the rest of the crew had to learn about ‘clockwise’ and figure-eight rope coils. But they’ll catch on by the end of the week.”

“It’s nice to be on the flagship,” opined the sailing school club member who had financed the extra cost of our big catamaran with a paid crew. “On the bareboats, there’s usually just one captain who fancies himself the next Jack Aubrey, and uses the trip to advance his sailing résumé. If the rest of the crew aren’t into it, it can be hard service.”

“I think most folks go the bareboat route for the privacy,” I added. “They don’t want to end up with Captain Ron on their boat.”

“Doesn’t answer,” he replied. “I’ve done a few of these crewed charters, and in every case the crew were fascinating sailors who added a lot of value to the trip. The sea stories alone are worth the extra cost. But the main thing is, they make the charter into a real vacation. They cook and they clean up! And give as much or as little sailing help as you prefer.”

“Privacy should never be the issue,” added our professional captain, a young sailor from France who had already sailed around the world one and a half times. (He had read Moitessier when he was 16.) “We are always happy to spend a late night ashore when you want the boat to yourselves,” he pointed out. “Also, if you want to have dinner ashore, we stay aboard and you don’t have to worry about who is watching the boat.”

“And with you in charge,” I said, “I imagine we don’t have to be limited by the restrictions they put on the bareboats.” I tried to swat another mosquito, but it was a swing and a miss. This just seemed to encourage the girl, and she pressed on with her attack.

How does Lee’s experimental extension to an omnidirectional wind scoop help with a bug problem?
© 2023 Max Ebb

Continue reading in the November issue of Latitude 38.