Skip to content

Baja Ha-Ha’s COVID Policy: Seeking the Middle Ground

Last week we published a story about the Baja Ha-Ha and the COVID vaccination status of the hosts for the Ha-Ha party on Bahia Santa Maria, Mexico. This story prompted a reader to ask what, if any, the Baja Ha-Ha‘s COVID policy is for this year’s rally. We replied with a statement from the Ha-Ha organizers, which we now share with all our readers.

The official Ha-Ha policy, as of 09/16/2021, is that participants will not be required to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID test. However, the Poobah urges everyone, in the strongest possible terms, to be fully vaccinated before the November 1 start. Reason one is that the vaccines have proven to be safe and effective. Reason two is that there is no meaningful health care in the 700 miles between Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. Besides, who wants to be that irresponsible gringo who could have easily gotten vaccinated, but who ends up taking an ICU bed in a country where vaccines are difficult to come by and where there is a shortage of treatment facilities?

There is still time to get fully vaccinated, no matter if you want to use Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. The Poobah and Doña de Mallorca are both fully vaccinated, as are the 10 crew who will be aboard the mothership Profligate. The skipper and crew of Assistant Poobah Patsy Verhoeven’s Talion are all fully vaccinated. In both cases, being vaccinated was a non-negotiable condition of coming onto those boats. The Poobah is aware there have been cases where fully vaccinated people have gotten COVID. However, the number of cases is small, the effects are usually less severe, and mortality is primarily limited to people over 80 with some other medical condition. If you are over 80 and have a serious medical condition, the Poobah urges you not to do the Ha-Ha this year — and probably not any year.

If you are vaccinated, the Poobah believes there are several additional reasons that the Ha-Ha will be a low-risk event. This biggest reason is that experts believe that being outdoors is something like 20 times less risky than being indoors, and the Ha-Ha is an all-outdoor event — except for the unofficial ‘Cheated Death’ dance party and popcorn throw at Squid Roe in Cabo San Lucas. At this time the Poobah is unsure about continuing that admittedly very popular tradition.

There is, of course, a slightly elevated risk outdoors if you are in crowded conditions — such as at a football game with 100,000 other fans, a rock concert with 10,000 people yelling and shouting in each other’s faces, and to a lesser extent, with hundreds of people at the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Costume Party in the West Marine Superstore parking lot. In view of this, mirroring the current COVID protocol in Mexico, nobody will be allowed into the Kick-Off Party without having their temperature taken and getting a squirt of gel on their hands. Nurse Goodbody will be in charge and will offer to take entrants’ temperatures via an infrared, oral, or rectal thermometer. The Poobah recommends the infrared, as sometimes nurse Goodbody gets the other two devices mixed up. Sultry Nurse Goodbody will give males with elevated temperatures an opportunity to cool down before being retested. A fever doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID, of course; maybe it’s just indicative of a cold or the flu. No matter, it still might not be the best idea to do the Ha-Ha. Participants can additionally lower the risk to themselves by 1) Wearing a mask. 2) Maintaining a six-foot separation from others, and 3) Not standing next to the same person for more than 15 minutes. While none of the above are mandatory, the Poobah and Doña de Mallorca intend to adhere to these policies as much as possible.

By the way, for purposes of the entire Ha-Ha, the wearing of a mask is to be taken as a request by the wearer for others to keep the Mexican standard of six feet away. Please respect that.

For those who might still not feel safe, attendance at the Skippers’ Meeting and Kick-Off Party will be optional this year. If you are not in attendance, and you have completed all of your online waivers and offshore communication setup, you will be emailed the Rally Instructions and Fleet Breakdowns just after the Skippers’ Meeting. The R&R stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria allow for much greater social distancing than the Kick-Off Party in San Diego, and thus the risk should be even lower.

Doña just got off the phone with Victor, who hosts the famous rock ‘n’ roll party in Bahia Santa Maria each year. He reports that he and every single person in Lopez Mateo, where they all come from, has been vaccinated, that there are zero COVID cases in Lopez Mateo, and that Penguin, Benny, and all the other members of the rock ‘n’ roll band from La Paz have been vaccinated, too. Victor will be offering hand sanitizer along with ice-cold beer and lunch.

There are no guarantees, but the Poobah believes that these multiple layers of protection available can make the Ha-Ha no more dangerous to individuals than ‘normal’ life in the States. Possibly even less so. If you disagree or are even unsure, the Poobah encourages you not to do the Ha-Ha. No matter if you are a skipper or crew, the decision and responsibility are entirely up to you.

As the Poobah writes this, he is in both Jalisco, meaning Puerto Vallarta, and Nayarit, meaning La Cruz. Life continues very much as normal here, except that everyone is required to wear a mask upon entering any kind of business or professional establishment. Many stores, such as Mega, Soriano, and Costco, also take your temperature and make you use gel and wipe your feet on some kind of antiseptic mat before entering. They are taking this seriously, so there are no exceptions.

For those who will be continuing on their boats in Mexico, it’s our understanding that the impact of COVID on cruisers in Mexico has been almost nil in terms of cruisers getting very sick or dying.

À santé, and thank you for understanding. – The Grand Poobah.

Readers — This story originally had a long thread, the kind seen all too often on social media and other outlets. We have since removed the comments for any number of reasons. While we don’t have many formal “rules” about commenting on our website, we try to stay on topic as best we can, and try to avoid trolling as best we can. It’s an art, not a science. 

Leave a Comment

Your Ears Will Thank You
Hear about what to do if you wipe out or get thrown overboard, how to eat and sleep during the race, debunking sailing superstitions and more.