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Baja Ha-Ha Mothership Does ‘Bash’ Best Amid Lightning Storm

The Baja Ha-Ha’s Grand Poobah and his crew have done the Baja Bash back to California in preparation for the rally’s November 1 Kick-Off party. Here’s his account of this and Profligate‘s other Bash bests.

It was nice of the gods to celebrate our super-fast Mexico Bash with a spectacular light show last night, but we really didn’t need the largest lightning storm in Southern California in seven years for recognition. It was a little over the top.

Lightning map
This graphic shows the strikes in a five-hour period just to the south of Ensenada.
© 2021 Richard Spindler

These were our personal Bash bests:

The 285 miles from Banderas Bay to Cabo San Lucas in 30 hours.

The 1,000-mile ‘Long Bash’ from Banderas Bay to San Diego in just over five days. (Actually, we had to stop in Ensenada to clear out of Mexico, but our average would have put us in San Diego in exactly five days.)

The most recent 750-odd-mile, classic Baja Bash in three and a half days. We could have done the latter two times faster were it not for four things:
1. We made an ill-advised stop at Cabo that blew a couple of hours. Originally it was going to be to get propane, as we thought we had two empty tanks. It turned out that we had a broken stove. We ended up taking on a ridiculous 27 gallons of diesel, although none of us can remember why.
2. We pulled into Bahia Santa Maria to transfer fuel into the tanks and check the oil in the engines. That detour probably cost us an hour.
3. We did a slalom around Natividad and Cedros, thinking we could get some decent internet from the village. It was terrible. That probably cost us two hours.
4. We snagged some kelp, which caused the starboard engine to overheat. So we shut it down for a couple of hours. So yes, we could have made it a little faster. ‘We’ means Doña, myself, and Steve, a Cal Fire battalion chief we met in our condo pool a couple of weeks ago. Great guy who will hopefully be able to do the Ha-Ha with us.

But still, our Bash times were not bad for a 25-year-old cat with two pretty badly corroded Yanmar 54-hp engines that have already done 24 Bashes, as well as one 19-day, 2,900-mile slam from the Panama Canal to San Francisco. In fact, four years ago our engine guy in San Diego said, “Time to re-power.” But we’ve had Javier at Sea Tek at Nayarit Riviera Shipyard in La Cruz keeping them alive.

Thank God those four things slowed us down, or we would have been caught right in the middle of last night’s epic lightning storm. As it was, the innumerable lightning strikes started about 10 to 15 miles to the west of us, and then slowly outpaced us to the northeast. So while we had front-row seats for the light show, we never got hit.

Baja bash sunset
Just one of the spectacular sunsets to be experienced while heading north on the Bash, or south with the Ha-Ha fleet.
© 2021 Richard Spindler

We’re sure delivery guys have probably done faster Bashes from PV to San Diego or Cabo to San Diego with sleds under power, but we’d love to know what they were. In addition to making the fast trip, we were able to do a lot of work on the boat, which we hadn’t seen in 20 months, and which was in shambles.

Too bad all Bashes aren’t this good. If they were, there would probably be five times as many boats in Mexico.

Peeking through the porthole aboard Profligate.
© 2021 Richard Spindler

Our quick trip gave us a great overview of Mexican weather north of Vallarta. Banderas Bay — hot, humid with frequent rain and lightning. Cabo — hot and clear, with at least 50 boats out on sunset cruises. Cedros — the cooling and damp begin. Ensenada — cool, marine layer, and damp as heck in the morning.

We’re already missing the warm Banderas Bay weather, so lucky for us, we’ll be headed to Cabo on the Ha-Ha on November 1, and shortly after that’s over on the 12th, press on to Vallarta. But all of Mexico is great, so take your pick.

2 Comments

  1. Ron Harben 1 year ago

    Well, it looks as if I’ll not be on another Baja HaHa again this year. I was planning on attending the crew party earlier this month but my belated 25th wedding anniversary charter to the Greek Cyclades preempted that. Now I’ve signed on to crew on the delivery of a 50-ft Beneteau from Panama (the Caribbean side) to San Diego. So, even though I’ll be sailing during the HaHa, it won’t be the HaHa. Something about the HaHa makes it one of the premiere sailing events of the year and not much can replace it – even a transit through the Panama Canal! I’ll wave as we pass going in opposite directions.

  2. Kurtis Nelson 1 year ago

    So any COVID requirements for entering the US at San Diego?

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Orcas, Wrecks and a Tempest
Leg 1 of the Mini Transat has been a wild one, with boats dismasted, wrecked onto the rocks, struck by angry orcas, and putting in to port to avoid a storm.