Even more importantly, it’s two months until the start of the 23rd Baja Ha-Ha, the annual cruisers’ rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. More than 10,000 West Coast sailors have done the Ha-Ha over the years. If you never have, we hope this might be your year.
So far there are 143 paid entries, making it by far the largest long-distance sailing event on the West Coast. Based on past experience, we expect the entry list to top 170 boats. There were a couple of years with more than 200 entries, but we don’t expect that.
One of the neat things about the Ha-Ha is that the weather almost always gets better with every leg. While the days are generally warm, it can be cool if not cold at night during the 360-mile leg from San Diego to Turtle Bay. Once you get south of Cedros Island, everything seems to change. The 240-mile second leg to Bahia Santa Maria is like delightful Southern California sailing during the day, and just a little cool at night. The final 175-mile leg to Cabo is usually gloriously warm, even in the middle of the night. And the water is so blue and warm.
The first Ha-Ha R&R stop is at Bahia de Tortugas, which could easily accommodate 2,000 boats on the hook. If you’re expecting a Carlos’n Charlie’s, a Shrimp Bucket, lots of bright lights, and vendors selling trinkets on the beach, you’re going to be disappointed. They don’t even have a bank or ATM, let alone more than a few paved streets. But Bahia de Tortugas is cool. You can buy basic foods, and if you have the right cell phone provider, you can get Internet access.
By far the most upscale thing in Bahia de Tortugas is the baseball field/stadium, which is home to the annual Cruisers-versus-Turtle Bay Residents ‘baseball game’. This is unlike any other baseball game, as the batters range in age from three to 83, and while it’s ultra-slow-pitch, there are only seconds between pitches. Did we mention there are about 40 people in the field and that you can’t strike out. It’s how baseball should be played?
Bahia de Tortugas is also home to the Beach Party on the deserted beach on the east side of town. There will be music, ice-cold beer, volleyball, surfing, boogie boarding, men versus women tug-o-war, water balloon fights, and epic socializing.
The second stop is at Bahia Santa Maria, which makes Bahia de Tortugas seem like Manhattan by comparison. They not only don’t have dirt roads, they don’t have any roads at all. But if you hike a ways up a hill, it’s one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see in your life. This is nature at its finest. BSM could accommodate about 5,000 boats on the hook.
Despite being 150 miles from anywhere, each year a rock ’n roll band shows up to entertain the Ha-Ha fleet at Bahia Santa Maria. It’s something to experience. Oftentimes there is good surf, both at the bar and at the point. It’s also fun exploring up in the mangroves. The wives of the fishermen who live here in box-like shacks prepare food for Ha-Ha folks, and the men sell ice-cold beer.
After remote and rustic Bahia de Tortugas and Bahia Santa Maria, and being at sea for 10 days, the glitz and glitter of Cabo San Lucas comes as an almost overwhelming visual and cultural shock. But they’ve got showers, a Costco, and everything you could find in the States to ‘reload’. Plus, on Thursday night the Ha-Ha fleet takes over Squid Roe for silly dancing on the tables and other good fun. By the time the Beach Party and the famous ‘Here to Eternity Kissing Contest’ are over, you’ll have made dozens of new cruising friends.
This will be the Wanderer’s 22nd Ha-Ha, and the 21st for Andy ‘Mr. Puddle Jump’ Turpin and Doña ‘Chief of Security’ de Mallorca. None of us are the least bit tired of it, and can’t wait for the start of this year’s event.
The fishing? It’s fabulous, particularly on the second leg.
Like to get smashed and be wild and crazy? We’re so very sorry, but the Ha-Ha is absolutely the wrong event for you. Safety is the number one of goal.