Without any prompting, and much to the surprise of the Grand Poobah, Jorge Gamboa of the Mexico Tourism Board in Los Angeles has announced a special welcome to Mexico to all members of the 24th Annual Baja Ha-Ha fleet.
On Monday it’s expected that 140 boats and nearly 500 sailors will start the 750-mile cruising rally, with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. The event will begin with a waterfront parade past Shelter Island, with the fleet passing between numerous American and Mexican dignitaries on a viewing boat, and a Port of San Diego fireboat giving a watery salute (see separate story above).
“We have a special gift exclusively for all Ha-Ha participants,” said Gamboa, “a beautiful burgee with a Mexico logo. A burgee will be placed in the swag bag that all Ha-Ha entries will get at the Ha-Ha Costume Kick-Off Party at the West Marine Super Store in San Diego on Sunday.
“In addition, we are currently preparing a special official release we’ll give to Ha-Ha participants, informing the Mexican navy of the importance of the Ha-Ha to Mexico.”
Not that the Mexican navy has ever been anything but friendly and helpful to members of the Ha-Ha fleets. And the same goes for Immigration and Customs folks at Cabo San Lucas. The bottom line is that if you’re a Ha-Ha boat and have had trouble getting a TIP or visas online, the Mexican government wants you to come on down and not stress about it.
We also had a great conversation with SAR Specialist Layne P. Carter of the Coast Guard Search and Rescue Center in Alameda. Had Layne not been new to his position, he says he would have come down to San Diego for the kick-off party, as he wants to meet all the Ha-Ha participants. It’s something he plans on doing for next year’s 25th annual Baja Ha-Ha.
The Ha-Ha is providing the Coast Guard with contact information for all boats — except one owner who opted out — to make things easier in the event anyone has a life-threatening emergency.
This year’s Ha-Ha marks the 20th time that the Grand Poobah’s Surfin’ 63 catamaran Profligate will be the mothership of the event. The boat is based on a Kurt Hughes 60-ft charter cat, extensively modified by the Poobah.
The Poobah particularly likes the compromise Hughes made between speed potential and load-carrying capacity. For even when loaded down with all cruising gear and provisions, Profligate has hit just over 25 knots with a chute and 23 knots with white sails.
Not that the Poobah is very interested in going that fast any more. Twenty knots during the day and 15 knots at night is as fast as he wants to go these days. That rule was briefly broken again last year, so we had to get the chute down.
It looks as if the 360-mile first leg will be in light air, which is just fine with the Poobah. As far as he’s concerned, the longer the sail takes, the better. Well, within certain limits.
Baseball anyone? Mike and Leslie Chase, Ha-Ha vets with the Peterson 55 Whistle Wing V, have donated a pitching machine and about 60 baseballs to the Cruisers vs. Turtle Bay Kids strictly amateur baseball game in Turtle Bay. After the game, all the equipment is donated to the local players and teams. The Cruisers vs. Turtle Bay Kids — they are terrific players — is one of the highlights of the Ha-Ha. Their stadium is the nicest thing in Turtle Bay, too.
There will be three official Ha-Ha seminars at Driscoll Boat Works on Shelter Island this afternoon starting at 4 p.m. The Poobah will talk on ‘Cruising Mexico, the Big Picture’ starting about 4. Jimmy Drake will talk about Emergency Diesel Fixes While at Sea, starting about 4:30. Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ Verhoeven will speak on ‘Learning to Love Your InReach’ at 5 p.m. The event is free and there will be free hot dogs until the 200 or so are gone.
As you can probably tell, we’re jacked about the start of the 24th Baja Ha-Ha, and hoping you’ll be one of the 500 or so folks about to sail south with us.