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24th Annual Baja Ha-Ha Departs

The 750-mile Baja Ha-Ha cruising rally kicked off on Sunday, October 29, under sunny skies in the parking lot of the San Diego West Marine store located near the heart of Shelter Island. One hundred and fifty-four boats are signed up to push off today for the 10-day rally to Cabo San Lucas.

When this San Diego-era America’s Cup starting gun fired this morning, the 24th annual Baja Ha-Ha rally began. Dukie Valderamma, the Chairman of the Board for the Port of San Diego, was one of several representatives to fire a (blank) shot. 

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The fleet gathered for the morning skippers’ meeting with Grand Poobah Richard Spindler entertaining the fleet with the details and bureaucratic logistics needed to smoothly start a rally with hundreds of new best friends.

Mexico harbormasters are ready to welcome all southbound cruisers for another magnificent season South of the Border. Left to right: Dick Markie, Paradise Village Marina; Mac and Neil Shroyer, Marina de la Paz; Secundino Alvarez, Puerto de la Navidad; Geronimo Cevallos, Marina El Cid; Fito Espinoza, Hotel Coral & Marina; Rafael Alcantara, Marina Riviera Nayarit.

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In attendance were a flotilla of sailors from all over the West Coast, with homeports ranging from Alaska to Southern California. Two couples already have circumnavigations under their belts. 

Being so close to Halloween, the Ha-Ha kick-off party is a fully costumed gala. There were plenty of pirates in attendance, as well as the recreated casts of Gilligan’s Island, Dodgeball and KC and the Sunshine Band. 

Steve and Connie Hill of the Beneteau 40 Soirée, from Richmond, joined the sea life with a full crew of jellyfish for their sail south.

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The two most common questions we heard: 1) Is the November issue out yet? 2) Are you sailing on the Ha-Ha? Both answers were a tragic no, but rest easy — the November issue will be out on Wednesday (and will be available in Cabo when the Ha-Ha arrives), and, well, somebody has to staff the office and pound the keyboard.

The Ha-Ha ralliers paraded past dignitaries and VIPs aboard the sportfishing boat Dolphin before exiting San Diego Bay en route to Baja.

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This morning — under a typically overcast sky — the Ha-Ha fleet began to congregate near the mouth of San Diego Bay. On board the Dolphin and organized by the Sport Fishing Association of California were the following organizations: the Port of San Diego, and the San Diego Port Tenants Association, both the Mexico Consulate General (Consulado General de México) and the Mexico Tourism Board, as well as representatives from the US Coast Guard and San Diego Harbor Police. 

Oh, and did we mention the mariachi band? Students from Sweetwater Union High School got to skip class this morning and play the fleet out, as police boats shot their fire hoses and sounded their sirens, while members of the various organizations on board the Dolphin sport fisher took turns firing of a historic America’s Cup starting gun.

A mariachi band from Sweetwater High School in National City (just south of downtown San Diego) entertained the fleet this morning.

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For those of us attending our first Ha-Ha send-off parade, we were thoroughly impressed as the departing fleet clogged the horizon. "Wow, that’s a lot of boats," said Dukie Valderamma Chairman of the Board for the Port of San Diego. "This was really something." The event showcases the friendly relationship between West Coast cruisers and the people of Mexico. We saw good will and open arms and sailors and fishermen from both countries enjoying the freedom of the open seas.

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The following is a dispatch from John Tysell.  It was June of 1979, and I had just completed my first long-distance race on my Cal 3-30 Soufriere, a 30-ft sloop I purchased in November 1975 to race on the Bay, and then, in the ocean.
November has California in its sights like a low-pressure system barreling down from the Aleutian Islands.