Huge Baja Ha-Ha Fleet Heads South

The crew of the New Mexico-based Catana 471 Footloose was in high spirits as they paraded out to the starting line. 

latitude/Andy
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At 10 a.m. today, the 23rd annual Baja Ha-Ha rally’s fleet of 136 boats paraded out of San Diego Harbor escorted by two local fireboats, while print, TV and radio reporters captured the scene from the deck of the sportfishing vessel Dolphin. Also aboard were an impressive collection of dignitaries including the consul general of Mexico, the deputy sector commander of the Coast Guard, and various staffers of the Port of San Diego — thanks to the organizational efforts of Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California.


Latitude / John

An hour later the disparate fleet — ranging in size from 27 to 92 feet — officially began Leg One of this 750-mile downwind cruise to Cabo San Lucas, which, for many fleet members, serves as the transitional step into a new lifestyle of open-ended cruising in Mexican waters and beyond. At least 535 sailors were aboard, with perhaps a dozen more Ensenada starters expected to join the Ha-Ha armada this afternoon.   

The two-week rally officially began Sunday with a spirited Pre-Halloween Kickoff Party at West Marine’s Shelter Island superstore, where elaborate costumes ranged from swashbuckling pirates and wenches to superheroes and sea creatures — including a seductive trio of mermaids. All in attendance enjoyed a ‘Mexican tune-up’ lunch complete with cool libations. Around the perimeter of the party venue, at least a dozen Ha-Ha sponsors were on hand to educate the newcomers about the facilities and services that await them south of the border.

There’s a theme here somewhere, but we admit we haven’t quite figured it out yet. We do know these southbound sailors were in the mood for fun. 

latitude/Andy
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although the breeze was very light at the start, according to the fleet’s official weather consultants at Commanders Weather, wind this afternoon should pick up to the mid-teens to low 20s later today and continue through the night — ideal conditions for a fast ride to the rally’s first rest stop, Bahia Tortugas, which lies roughly 360 miles south of San Diego. 

Complementing the usual assortment of pirates and wenches, a ‘pod’ of lovely mermaids turned up this year, by special invitation from West Marine. 

latitude/Andy
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Stay tuned for updates here throughout the two-week event.

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Jeanne Socrates in warmer climes. latitude/Richard
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC Having done more major things in his life during the past week than in any previous one-week period, the Wanderer/Grand Poobah was up at 3 a.m.
November is looming and thus so is the midwinter racing season. Blessed as we are on the West Coast, we just keep on sailing all year round, while boats in other parts of the country are already hauled out and shrink-wrapped for the winter.
The 1949 32-ft Winslow sloop Black Witch, lookin’ good sailing off Sausalito. © John Skoriak About this photo of Black Witch, Latitude contributor John ‘Woody’ Skoriak writes: "I took this photo from the deck of Seaward years ago.