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Baja Ha-Ha 2001

October 2001

A Bit of Distraction for our Friends

We realize that our adventures may seem a bit frivolous in times like these, but we hope that we can offer something else to occupy your mind other than the newspapers. Until you are away from the constant news access, you don’t realize the toll it takes. So take a deep breath and read about life in another world.

On the suggestion of a friend, from time to time we will mention good books we have read on the way. One that we are reading at the moment – King of the Moon by Gene Kira – describes life as a panga fisherman in the wilds of the Baja peninsula. You can really get an idea of the wonderful Mexican people we are encountering.

Prep in San Diego

We had about a month of preparation time in San Diego and had every good intention of doing at least one touristy thing each week. We did manage one day off in all that time and visited San Diego Wild Animal Park to recruit crew. We were very successful and very entertained. At least we won’t have to fight about who goes up the mast. The whole San Diego Zoo system, of which this is a part, is definitely worth seeing. After that one outing, the time started ticking down quickly with many items still on the list. When you know that the boat will probably not be back in range of a West Marine store for at least a year, there are certain preparations to be made. We had a lot of new electronics added this year, which should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows Jan. We found San Diego Tech Guru, Shea Weston, who practically lived aboard Raven and connected his last wire at 7 a.m. on the day we were to start the rally at 11 a.m.

Our Ha-Ha Crew

On the Thursday before departure, our crew began to arrive: Mark Lindeman (chief rigger, foredeck ape, and sushi chef, as well as head of the forepeak department), Mike Hudson (head of the fishing and twelve-string guitar departments), Roger Palmer (head of the radio and music departments). Mark is familiar to all our faithful readers, who know that Raven would never have made it this far without his skilled prep work. Mike has lots of offshore racing and bluewater passage miles under his belt, and always wants to turn the autopilot off so he can steer. Helm Hog, they call him, and he’s good at it. Roger has sailed at least four Victoria (B.C.) to Maui races in his own boats, and took his music responsibilities so seriously that he brought several thousand MP3 tracks along for our listening pleasure.

The Ha-Ha festivities always begin with a Pre-Halloween barbecue with costumes. These usually run the gamut from the outrageous to the predictable; some had to be seen to be believed. The Raven crew appeared with very understated Hawaiian shirts, flower leis, and bright red parrothead hats. Our favorite activity was nodding our heads in unison while our parrotheads took sips of beer. We met some kindred spirits, including the crews of two fast Santa Cruz 52s, Kiapa and Saperlipopette. The latter (the name roughly translates as ‘Holy Moly’) is the floating home of a French family of five, who handled her big chutes amazingly well in the rally.

There were the usual last-minute searches for parts, beer, and prime steaks from Fiddler’s Green restaurant. At least we didn’t fall prey to the “You can’t buy canned tomatoes in Mexico” syndrome. Jan filled every spare spot with Fresca, one of the few items we couldn’t find in Mexico. All in all, it was much easier preparing knowing what we could and could not find, but Signe still jammed every nook and cranny with food. When the washer/dryer was crammed full of chips and pretzels, we knew it must be time to go. The final crisis involved Jan scrambling to find a place for his private hoard: six cases of his favorite drink, Fresca, the last he’ll able to get until New Zealand. He finally managed to tuck it into a corner of the lazarette and was much relieved.

The guys kept talking about ‘the race’ and we kept trying to remind them that it’s just a rally. Didn’t seem to matter, as they set up to go as fast as possible. “But we’re not racing” was the usual suffix to each egregious bit of racing slang.


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This page was last updated on 04/13/04.


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