Ha-Ha Fleet Approaches Turtle Bay

Tom Wurfl and Helen Downs’ Lagoon 42 Catatude and scores of other sailboats paraded out of San Diego Bay on their way to the start of the 22nd Baja Ha-Ha on Monday morning.

latitude/John A.
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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.

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