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We Love the Pre-Ha-Ha Days

If you don’t know Jack — Jack van Ommen — you’re going to want to meet him at the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party on Sunday. He’s the epitome of how much cruising you can do with so little.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The days just before the start of a Baja Ha-Ha are among the Grand Poobah’s favorites of the year. Everywhere we turn in San Diego we see folks getting their boats ready for the Monday-morning parade and start. Everyone at the Police Dock, which is packed, is eager to chat and make new friends.

There’s one boat at the Police Dock, the Najad 30 Fleetwood, that will be leaving the day after the Ha-Ha start. That’s because her owner, Jack van Ommen, is singlehanding. Nonetheless, Jack will be the Poobah’s special guest at the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party at the West Marine Superstore on Sunday.

Van Ommen is a hero of Latitude’s, for after he went bankrupt at age 60, with nothing to his name but his 30-ft kit boat and a modest Social Security check, he’s managed to outfit his boat and sail over 50,000 miles and visit 50 countries. His second-favorite country will surprise you — Romania! You’ll have to ask him what his favorite country has been.

You’ll also want to ask Jack, who is on his way to cross an imaginary line between Trinidad and Miami by February, and thus complete his circumnavigation, how he keeps looking so young and fit. He’ll turn 80 in February and looks fabulous. It might have something to do with cruising on a small boat on a small budget for the last 16 years.

We stopped by Patsy ‘La Reina del Mar’ Verhoeven’s Gulfstar 50 Talion, but she wasn’t home. Then we remembered that she was going to Tijuana this morning to get a Mexican SIM card so her friends in Mexico can call her on her Mexican phone. How was Patsy getting to Mexico? She was riding her beloved mini-bike from Shelter Island to the trolley station in downtown San Diego, taking the trolley to the border, walking/riding across the bridge into Mexico, and finding the phone store. She’s done this before and wasn’t the least bit worried about getting kidnapped or anything bad happening to her.

Just before we left the Police Dock, we said hello to Brian Timpe of the Schionning 1100 that he’s mostly completed after 6.5 years of building. The cat, which has outboard propulsion, is so light that Brian and his wife Sheri didn’t need a Travelift to put her in the water. Each of them just lifted a hull, walked her to the water, and dropped her in. All right, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration.

Brian and Sheri of the Schionning Wilderness 1100 Epic, which he just sailed down from Seattle without an autopilot. And for a few minutes, without rudders. 

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Brian had an exciting trip down the coast. Part of the reason is that Sheri remembered she’d left the bath water running and thus had to return home after the first leg from Seattle. Sailing by himself and without an autopilot, Eric was impressed at how big the seas are off the Pacific Northwest. “It didn’t matter which direction they came from,” he says, “they were big.” He also got hit by winds of nearly 40 knots, but he hove to and the cat did just fine.

Brian’s most exciting moment came not far from San Diego, when the steering failed because of a line chafing on a fuel tank. But all’s well that ends well, and, now that he’s been rejoined by Sheri, they were trying out a new chute they’d purchased at Minney’s, eager for the Ha-Ha start.

Hey, we’re having a bit of bit of a flea market on Profligate. We’ve got four Harken 48 self-tailing winches. They need lubing. Make us an offer. We’ve got about 11 Spinlock sheet stoppers that have worked great for Santa Cruz 70 chutes but need cleaning up. Make us a ridiculous offer. We’ve also got two Raritan electric toilets that were working when they were taken off another boat. They aren’t right for Profligate, so we’re giving them away. Email Richard if you’re interested. But call quickly, because there are a bunch of new Ha-Ha folks the Poobah is eager to meet. 

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Qingdao China sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on Tuesday, October 18, bound for Shanghai, to begin a record attempt.
The International Masters Regatta is sailed in J/105s in a round-robin format on windward/leeward courses in view of spectators along the San Diego waterfront.