The 22nd annual Baja Ha-Ha Rally got off to a very mellow start on Monday, with light winds of 8-10 knots, flat seas and clear blue skies — a perfect introduction to offshore cruising for the many first-timers in the fleet.
As the sun set that evening, a brilliant full moon rose over the Baja coast. Veteran crew aboard the committee boat, Profligate, agreed that Monday night was the warmest and driest first night out ever.
This being a rally rather than a race, many crews kicked on their engines when the breeze dropped below 6 knots late Monday night, but, as always, a number of diehards were determined to sail the entire course, despite having to ghost along at 3 knots or less during the wee hours.
As predicted by the fleet’s weather router, Commodore Weather, the breeze piped up into the 12- to 14-knot range early Tuesday afternoon, providing absolutely awesome sailing conditions: a perfect combination of moderate breeze, gentle swells and clear skies. Abnormally warm water temperatures — roughly 75° — 150 miles south of San Diego helped the fishermen in the fleet find early success.
Most fleet members will arrive in Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay) today, the first R&R stop of the trip. The annual Ha-Ha baseball game is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, followed on Friday by a massive beach party. Leg 2, a 280-mile run to remote Bahia Santa Maria, will begin Saturday morning.
So far, despite light winds at times, at least three boats have sailed the entire course: the Lagoon 42s Catatude and Swell, and the Gulfstar 50 Talion — skippered by Patsy Verhoeven, one of two female skippers in the 110-boat fleet. Stay tuned for additional updates.