2014 OCT – BAJA HAHA

And away they go!!

 

Baja Haha stops

Baja HaHa

FastAlley has a tiny refrigerator – basically it holds a few cheeses, a bottle of milk, and some butter, and that is all. And the only cooler boxes I had on board was a $20 Walmart special and an old broken box that someone abandoned on my boat. Kevin, my son, tossed both of them in the trash and bought me 2 huge Igloo boxes instead. We then went shopping for dry ice and food – lots of it (enough to feed 2 hungry crew for 10 days) and stacked it in my beautiful, new massive coolers.

Kevin also helped me do the final stowing of the various jerrycans on deck (water, gasoline, diesel) and then I was ready to leave for the HaHa. On Friday 10/24 Kevin, Genesus and I left Long Beach dock around 5pm heading for San Diego. Kevin was wide awake and took the 9-midnight shift, while Genesus curled up in the beanbag and slept the whole way. It took 18 hours from LB to SD and we anchored near the historic Coronado Hotel.

Skippers meeting

Skippers meeting

On Sunday 10/26 I attended the Skippers meeting at West Marine and collected all the instructions for the Haha rally. By that evening my 2 crew, Gary and Ken, had arrived so Kevin and family bade me a lingering farewell. Gary and Ken have a host of stories starting with “I don’t want to scare you but…” followed by some hair raising tale.

Monday morning early the Haha parade of 178 boats took place down the main channel for CNN and I was way at the back of the pack. I don’t know how FastAlley sails loaded down so I didn’t want to get into that melee.

Parade for CNN

Parade for CNN

We set out to sea with no wind. Profligate was 20 miles out and had no wind either so we all motored all night. I don’t have enough fuel to motor all the way to Turtle Bay, our first stop, so I was relieved when a gentle breeze of only a 6-8 knot blew in so FastAlley could sail at 3-4 knots. At least we weren’t motoring.

I love the night shift. It’s so quiet and dark and you feel such a insignificant speck under the vastness of the heavens. FastAlley seems to get into her groove and sail along sedately. Then when I move to check the chart or do a 360 visual, FastAlley shows her displeasure by flapping her sails, and clanking and groaning. It’s like she is throwing a tantrum! Once I settle down again, she settles down again, and all is right with the world.

I have noticed that when I start my midnight watch the Big Dipper is on my port side. Over the next 4 hours it moves over to starboard. Those priests of ancient times had to be some serious insomniacs to make such a detailed study of the heavens!

One night a large cruise ship showed up on our port. Ken called the captain and asked if he sees all of us on his AIS plotter. It was NOT very reassuring when he answered – “oh yes, I see you all now”. Now?! He didn’t see our AIS blips before??

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 1.37.42 PMBy Thursday 10/03 the light wind died 50 miles from Turtle Bay so we went onto the engine. About 5 miles outside TB the engine stalled. We had run out of diesel on my starboard tank. I bolted for the back to flip from the starboard to port tanks but didn’t make it fast enough. The engine died with air in the fuel system. Ken pulled out the sails and Gary and I lifted the engine cover. I explained how Pierre had bled the fuel system and Gary did the honors. Pretty soon we had the engine up and running on the port tank. And Gary had a large blister on his thumb from pumping the hot fuel primer!

Afterwards I realized that the starboard tank had run dry because when I switched from port to starboard I had forgotten to also switch the overflow to starboard. So the stbd tank had been bleeding into the port tank all day. Silly oversight but luckily it only cost us about 40 minutes.

Finally around 6pm we anchored in Turtle Bay! It took 4 days and 3 nights in light air. 500+ people swarmed off the Haha fleet and swamped the tiny village. I suspect that the Haha is 90% of their GDP!

Down time! And Party on the Beach time. I saw a table of all girls and walked over to introduce myself and amazingly Sherry recognized me. She was the yacht broker that sold me FastAlley 6 years ago in La Paz. Small world. I have such a bad memory for faces that I am always impressed when someone else exhibits such recall.

We were supposed to leave TB on Saturday 11/01, but Hurricane Vance is coming up the coast heading for Mexico. The Grand Poobah decided we will not move but stay anchored. On Sunday Vance was still heading north, so we stayed yet another day. I think when we finally sailed off very early on Monday 11/03 the tiny village heaved a collective sigh of relief.

It has been 7 days since we left San Diego.

Beach party!!!

Beach party!!!

The weather for the next leg to Bahia Maria is being impacted by Hurricane Vance. The Forecast is for Winds of 25-30 knots from NW with gusts to 30 knots. Waves are expected to be 6-8 ft. We sailed all day at a good clip and hit speeds of 9+ knots surfing some waves. But the blade is taking a beating so around 5pm I furled the jib. We lost 2 knots and are now sailing at 6-7 knots. Slower but easier on the rigging. The sea is sloppy from Vance and we are being hit by swells from both the NE and the NW and FastAlley is caught in the middle. The racket below from the loud slapping of the waves on the hull, and the extreme rollicking of the boat, makes sleep almost impossible.

<<<<I had sailed on the San Francisco Bay for a number of years and heard the same smug comment over and over – “if you can sail the SFBay then you can sail anywhere in the world”. Not knowing any better I assumed that to be correct. But what absolute crap that is!! The truth is that if you can sail the SFBay then you are eminently qualified to sail any protected bay or lake in the world. But you certainly are NOT equipped to sail offshore. On a daysail around the bay, when the boom vang suddenly snaps loose, you simply lower the sails, motor back to your marina, and call a boat handyman. When the same thing happens 80 miles offshore, in 8 foot swells, and gusts to 30 knots, then you have a whole ‘nother problem on your hands!! If ever I hear that smug SFBay comment again, I will bitch slap the speaker!!!!! >>>>

We finally sailed into Bahia Maria Bay on Wednesday 11/05 – quite sleep deprived!

Hurricane Vance slowing down

Hurricane Vance slowing down

The Bahia Maria beach party was a blast. A local guy drives his truck(s) with a real live band, tons of food, and lots of beers, all the way to BM. Richard says the man has to leave his local town, drive across sand dunes at low tide, take 2 ferries across rivers/lagoons, and then drive across the bush to reach the BH bay. He recommends BIG tips. The band was the cutest. None of them looked older than 18 yet – for the benefit of us old folks — they played all the music from the 60’s! Too cute to see such young kids singing Let It Be with such gusto.

Richard, the Grand Poobah, has a helicopter thing to which he attaches a GoPro and flies it around getting awesome aerial shots of the boats at anchor and the large crowds at the beach parties. It’s an incredible little machine and seems relatively easy to control. Plus while its flying it relays back the pics it is taking so you can immediately see it on the hand control screen/board. Nifty!

Thursday and we are on the road again. Hurricane Vance was downgraded to a tropical storm and turned right and hit Mazatlan and the weather result is NO wind at all so it’s back to motoring.

During the “drive” to Cabo I heard one of the sailboats behind me call a cruise ship heading south. He informed the captain that between him and Cabo were approximately 120 slow sailboats so please be careful. The captain said he would keep a watch for us all.

There is a boat that has been closing on me the last 3 hours. It is finally on starboard about a 1/4 mile away. The thing is when on a freeway we pass within inches of other cars at 65mph, and we think that is normal. Out here when a boat passes within a 1/4 mile doing 5 knots you think – Good Grief don’t crowd me, there is a whole ocean out there!!

It took 2 days to motor all the way to Cabo San Lucas,…. after all we don’t want to miss the grand finale party by sitting out there waiting for wind.

Then trip from Long Beach to San Diego, to Turtle Beach, to Bahia Maria, to Cabo is 780 nautical miles as the crow flies. Since I can’t sail as the crow flies, we probably did closer to 1,100 nm.

It’s now been 12 days since leaving San Diego and I am slowly losing that manic air associated with big cities.

I could get used to this…..!

Gary and Ken - my expert crew

Gary and Ken – my expert crew

The famous rocks marking the entrance to Cabo bay

The famous rocks marking the entrance to Cabo bay

 

Cabo - the beach party at MangoDeck

Cabo – the beach party at MangoDeck with the Haha fleet at anchor

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