The first opportunity to sign up for this fall’s Baja Ha-Ha, some of the most fun you can have with a boat, will be at noon on May 8 at the www.baja-haha.com website — exactly one week from today.
The actual event begins with a grand Kick-Off Party at the West Marine Store in San Diego on November 3, and ends with the awards ceremony in Cabo San Lucas on Saturday, November 16.
The value in signing up early for the Ha-Ha is that the earlier you sign up, the higher up you are on the list for coveted dock space in Cabo San Lucas. While many sailors are happy to anchor out in the bay, others really want a slip for a day or two at the conclusion of the Ha-Ha. As such, it’s not uncommon for 50 or more boats to sign up the first day. So mark your calendar.
The Baja Ha-Ha is, of course, the world-famous annual 750-mile cruisers’ rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, with R&R stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. In the first 25 years, over 10,000 sailors have done the event, which has almost always featured downwind sailing in light to moderate conditions. The Ha-Ha is open to boats 27 feet or longer that were designed, built, and have been maintained for offshore sailing. Singlehanding is not permitted.
There will be two significant changes in this year’s event. First, the starting date has been moved back one week from previous starts. This is for two reasons. First, it means that all the fishing tournaments in Cabo will have ended for the year, meaning there will be more slips open for Ha-Ha participants. Second, it gives a greater buffer with the end of tropical storm season, although even with the earlier starting date, no tropical storm has ever crossed the path of a Ha-Ha.
A second significant change is that we’ll be spending an extra day in spectacular Bahia Santa Maria. This means entrants can take a more leisurely approach to the second leg, and have another R&R day at what has always been the fleet’s favorite stop.
There are many excellent reasons for doing the Ha-Ha: There is safety in numbers and in the daily weather reports and roll calls; the near-sheer certainty of making dozens of new cruising friends you’ll see later in the season if not in the South Pacific; a fleet full of spare parts and knowledge about just about everything to do with sailing; a big welcome from the Mexican government; a definitive departure date; the fact that discounts on products and services can offset the entire cost of the entry fee; and much more.
The Ha-Ha will be managed by Richard Spindler, the Grand Poobah, for the 26th time. He’ll be greatly assisted by 12-time Ha-Ha vet Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ of the Gulfstar 50 Talion, who, following the Ha-Ha, does things like continue on to the South Pacific or cruise the Pacific Northwest. Head of Security will be Doña de Mallorca Spindler, armed with a water pistol, who has done 23 Ha-Ha’s and has been the captain on 19 Baja Bashes. The Surfin’ 63 Profligate will be the mothership for the 23rd time.
What kinds of sailors have enjoyed the Ha-Ha? Very experienced sailors, including those who have circumnavigated. Relatively new sailors, who recognize that there can be greater safety in numbers. Folks with slow cruising boats, who like to take it easy and use the engine when it suits them. Folks with fast cruising boats, who enjoy getting the most out of their boats. Folks who enjoy lots of social activities. Folks who prefer the solitude of being able to anchor alone at R&R stops that are capable of accommodating 1,000 boats. Cruisers with kids. Basically, everyone who enjoys sailing.
Unsure about whether to do the Ha-Ha? The Grand Poobah suggests you get the opinion of several folks who have actually done one, as opposed to opinions of those who haven’t done any. Hope to see you at the Kick-Off Party on November 3!