had the pleasure of living in balmy San Diego (sun! palm trees!) for the
entire month of October, except for a weeklong trip back home, but time is
running out. Raven will be part of the Baja
Ha-Ha rally fleet departing on
October 31st, so we, along with all the other cruisers, are
frantically preparing for the biggest adventure so far in our cruising
lives. Happily, Paul and Michelle arrived in San Diego yesterday and will
be with us for the entire rally. We’re three months and 1,500 miles from
home, and the fun is just beginning.
harbor is crammed to the gills with cruising sailboats, only a fraction of
which are among the 130-boat Ha-Ha fleet. All month, we’ve been watching
the boats stream in. Estimates are from 400 to 1,000 US boats heading
south to Mexico this winter! No marina slips to be found, no moorings
left, so the latecomers have to anchor out in the harbor. We are very
lucky to have scored a slip in the beautiful Kona Kai Marina, with full
access to the adjacent hotel’s facilities (restaurant, spa, internet
access). And, we’ve also
signed up to dock Raven here next summer while we’re back in Tacoma for
Paul & Michelle’s wedding.
Job list and provisioning
Signe is, of course, responsible for
provisioning, and she has taken on the boat's waterline as a personal
challenge. Sinking the red boot top (stripe at the waterline) is her
current goal. By the evidence, she is quite firm in her belief that they
don't actually sell food in Mexico. She’s even made me pull up the
floorboards to find a place for 60 liters of extra water! The latest rumor
running through the fleet is that canned tomatoes and soft toilet paper
can’t be found in Mexico. We expect tomorrow’s newspaper headline to
be: “Cruisers Raid Safeway, Clean Out Tomatoes & TP!”
The job lists are long, and everyone on a
boat is working at a frenzied pace. The major dilemma for all the boats
is: Should we bring it? ‘It’ could be TP or a spare water pump for the
engine or a vacuum food bagger. The morning cruiser net on the VHF radio
has check-ins of all the boats, then we pass along information for each
other (‘Where can I get a head gasket for my Honda outboard?’ ‘Who
can help me get my radio email working?’ ‘Where’s the cheapest
diesel fuel?’) Then “Buy-Sell-Trade” for an hour. ‘Anybody want to
buy a small Yamaha outboard? Needs work.’ I figure that each part we
carry (hundreds; I had to put them into a computer database to track them
all) is a good luck charm: if we carry the part, the original won’t go
Baja has lots of sport fishing for tuna,
mahi mahi, wahoo, and even marlin, so Raven is going to take a serious
crack at trolling for a few good fish. Signe says I outdid myself in the
fishing tackle department — big, beefy rods and reels, big lures, etc.,
etc. — and that each fish will be worth about $150. I say her estimate
is missing a zero! (And then what do we do after we’ve caught that 40
pound tuna? Sushi for 150? – S.)
a day spent getting Mexican visas and fishing licenses (yes, it took most
of the day!), we took one ‘day off’ and went to the wonderful San
Diego Zoo. Best we’ve ever seen. Spent five hours there and only saw a
quarter of it. Signe even found us a new crew member (see photo) who will
be especially good on those foredeck jobs. ‘Deck ape’ is a standard
crew position in sailboat racing, so now we have one, too!
day, we made the trek through the mess at the border into Tijuana to get
our Mexican ham radio licenses. It was unexpectedly easy with a good taxi
driver, and a pair of giggly Mexican ladies in the Secretaria
de Communicaciones y Transportes who spoke little Ingles but knew
exactly why we were there. Ten minutes and we were off to the gringo
shopping district on the Avenida de la Revolución. Big mistake. Touts for
everything from tacos to leather jackets accosting us all along the route.
The best pitch we heard: “Come and buy something you don’t need!”
buddy Mark Lindeman from Gig Harbor flew down to put on our new jib
halyard swivel, and handle some other technical problems. Mark is a
terrific rigger and fun to have aboard as a guest. So with a jib again for
the first time since mid-September, we took a test sail off Point Loma in
light breezes, bright sunlight, and a six-foot ocean swell. We were doing
6 knots in 8 knots of wind and feeling pretty good about our performance.
Can’t wait for the Ha-Ha!
an anti-theft technique, Signe painted garish red stripes on both our
outboard motors. I nearly had a heart attack watching my beautiful motors
being defaced, but now admit it doesn’t look as bad as I had feared (is
that called ‘damning with faint praise’?). One looks a bit like the
Princeton Tigers football helmet Paul used to wear!
Baja Ha-Ha cruiser rally
The big Baja Ha-Ha rally leaves from San
Diego at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, October 31st. We’ll reach Cabo
San Lucas, 750 miles away, on November 9th with two
rest-and-party stops along the way. At least 120 boats will be in the
fleet, so you’d think that the Ha-Ha’s departure would empty the
marinas of San Diego, but we’re only a small part of the total heading
south this year. You might also think Raven would be one of the largest
and fastest boats in the Ha-Ha fleet, but you’d be wrong. They start
with a 94-foot sloop(!), and there are two 60-to-70 foot catamarans, plus
a couple of monohull raceboats longer and faster than we are. We’ll be
doing well to be in the top twenty finishers, but hey, who cares?! We’re
To give you an idea of the ‘tone’ of
the Ha-Ha, the main pre-start event is a Halloween party, with
required. All four of us are going as the Raven Quidditch team, complete
with shirts, brooms (Signe’s is a Nimbus 2000, of course), and wizard
hats made by Signe and Michelle. Haven’t read
the Harry Potter books?
You’re missing a lot of fun.
For news on Raven and the Baja Ha-Ha,
check out the Latitude 38 sailing magazine — the main sponsor —
website at www.latitude38.com.
Either: 1) use the ‘Get your Ha-Ha here” chili pepper link; or 2) try
‘Lectronic Latitude’ (upper right corner) to see the latest news and
photos. Look for Raven’s blue, green, and red spinnaker.
While here, we met up again with our
Canadian friends from the well-organized Bluewater Cruising Association. A
few are in the Ha-Ha, but most are sailing south independently to avoid
the crush. We had dinner with a bunch of them at the San Diego Yacht Club
(yacht clubs have a nice custom of welcoming each other’s members). We
had a bit too much of a good time, so next time we’ll have to use a
Where is Raven now?
From now on, try http://winlink.findu.com/k7jt
on your web browser. K7JT is my amateur radio call sign, and that website
will give you some maps showing where Raven is located. Note how old the
position report is, though, before you start to worry; sometimes it takes
a long time for the computer to update our latitude and longitude.
Our next report will be from Cabo San
Wish us luck!
Warm regards . . . Jan