The Baja Ha-ha
Leg One: Turtle Bay
Greetings from Turtle Bay. We are overjoyed to report we have made it to our first anchorage after one of the most challenging legs the Ha-Ha has seen in their 11 years of doing this. We left our slip on Monday 10/25 at 9:00 am & dropped our anchor exactly 4 days later @ 9 am. Our initiation to cruising life felt like a true hazing for us. We encountered rain, 30 knot winds, & swells of at least 10-15 feet. It was quite a wild ride but it was nice to confirm right away that we have a very sound boat! Due to the conditions we were set back by one day. We traveled 392 nautical miles (nm). We saw an amazing moon rise last night and had a welcoming committee of dolphins guide us into the bay this morning. As an aside we had dolphins greet us 3 of the 4 mornings at dawn. The Ha-Ha party starts in an hour but Sam & I are first taking a nap! We leave tomorrow at 8 am for Bahia Santa Maria, the second leg of our 3 legs w/ the Ha-Ha. This leg should be approx 240 nm.
Leg Two: Bahia Santa Maria
After four overnights to Turtle Bay we were there for a day before heading out for a two day passage to Bahia Santa Maria. Some nationals traveled from La Paz by ferry and unpaved dirt roads to bring us a live band, fish tacos, lobster and beer. Our beach landings via dinghy were more like surf landings. Returning to our boat we remained dry until a group came by, pulled a guy out of our dinghy thus dunking us! Sam and I have a reputation now: if you let us in your dinghy you're gonna get wet! This reputation has held true so far. We're just glad we're heading further South when a spray or dunk is welcomed! Every stop we've made has been a blast and we've met a lot of fun people. We have decided to join another rally which is heading to Puerto Vallarta
next week. More than 70 of the 170+ boats from the Ha-Ha will be going. It's another long hop (300 nautical miles = 3 full days & nights at sea). After that we are looking forward to A LOT of R & R! We plan to stay in Southern Mainland Mexico through the winter and then head up the Sea of Cortez as things heat up. Some of our favorite parts of the cruise so far are the sunrises, sunsets, and frequently visiting dolphins. Cruisers in the Ha-Ha fleet have caught mahi-mahi and tuna. We look forward to catching some soon. We had a dinner party one night and one mahi-mahi fed 11 people, plus we all got to take some home with us! All for now.
Leg Three: Cabo San Lucas
The last leg of the Ha-Ha was 180 miles from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas. We decided to leave Bahia Santa Maria in the very early morning hours to ensure we reach Cabo by sunset the day after. It's good seamanship to avoid entering an unknown harbor in the middle of the night.
Leaving Bahia Santa Maria
We managed to roll out of bed around midnight and were under way around one in the morning. Several other of the smaller boats left about the same time as we did. The “official” start time of the last leg was 6am. The weather for this final leg was very benign and we ended up motoring most of the way. At about sunset that first day the faster boats started to roll right past us. We had boats passing us the rest of the way to Cabo. That night the watches for Sally and I were very active as there were easily 30 to 50 running lights within sight at all times. We passed with a hundred yards of another boat several times that night. We were used to not having any other boats in sight and much preferred it that way. Nonetheless, we were both excited about reaching Cabo and had a great night.
We had the gift of a beautiful sunrise over the tip of Baja the next morning and arrived in Cabo early afternoon. We decided to anchor out at Cabo as the free price was much better than the marina charge of $100 a night (yes that’s $100 American Dollars). We knew coming in that the anchorage was marginal, but were quite surprised how marginal.
As we've traveled down the Mexican mainland we've used the term “better than Cabo” to describe every other not so great anchorage. During the day time pangas, parasailors and jet skis would roar right through all of the boats at anchor sometimes at speeds in excess of 30 knots. At around 6 am the daily progression of 100’s of sportfishers would be exiting the marina creating a rolling wake up call. The rolling swell coming in each night seemed tame compared to the daily mess made by the powerboats.
At the surface Cabo is a very expensive place, but we managed to find deals in our walks through the non-tourist part of town. We discovered our first tortillarilla in Cabo. A tortillarilla is a tortilla factory. You can find these throughout Mexico and can usually buy 1kg (2.2lbs) of tortillas for $4 pesos (a little less than 40 cents).
The Water Taxi
Sometimes the best evenings can come out of some seemingly bad event. A few days after the closing festivities of the Ha-Ha Sally and I had taken the water taxi in one afternoon, as it was a long ways from our boat to the inner harbor in Cabo. We had a great day and evening. When heading back to the water taxi dock around seven, we ran into our friends on Megabyte and hung out on their boat in the marina for a few hours. We said goodbye about 9pm and proceeded onto the water taxi location. We waited for 15 minutes and found no water taxi. I made several calls for a water taxi on the VHF radio and received no response. After about a half hour I called the general channel asking about the water taxis. What we found out surprised us. The water taxis had worked late while the ha-ha was there because there was much money to be made. Their normal hours end when they feel like going home, which will usually be before sunset. Sally and I were worried that we’d either need to get a hotel, sleep on the docks or swim out to our boat. After waiting a while longer a man came down to get on his dinghy. Sally approached him and asked him if he was going out to the anchorage, and if so, could we pay him for a ride to our boat. She received an abrupt “No!” The no was followed with a “but I can take you out there for free.” He turned out to be the captain of a powerboat named “The Gambler” and was originally from Escondido, CA. We had a wonderful conversation on the way out to the anchorage and learned a little about Cabo in the process. We really appreciated his generosity.
We stayed in Cabo for 5 nights. We couldn't wait to head onto Puerto Vallarta (or at least to a calm anchorage).