The inspiration to join the 2023 Ha-Ha started in November of 2022. I helped a friend sail his Catalina C445 from Nuevo Vallarta to Loreto. We only had one overnight passage and I had a blast.
So, upon returning home I set about getting Life is Short, cruise ready. I had no idea how much work I had in front of me. In short, I added Lithium batteries, an upgraded alternator and regulator, solar panels, a charger/inverter and had to rewire the boat for the larger current batteries. I also added a portable watermaker and finally, Starlink internet.
We got the boat ready just before our departure on 10/25. Mark, my brother-in-law, joined me for the voyage from Santa Barbara to San Diego. We enjoyed barbecued jalapeno burgers at Yellowbanks to end our first leg. Our next night was spent at Isthmus Harbor. We entered the Harbor at night and needed assistance finding our mooring. Our last night was spent at Oceanside harbor. We arrived in San Diego the following afternoon and took on fuel and hunkered down in our slip in South Bay.
The following morning, we started early as the trip from South Bay to Shelter Island is farther than one might expect. The parade of 100+ boats motored by Shelter Island and the first leg of the 2023 Baja Ha Ha was on. We had little wind, so the entire fleet was motoring for the first few hours. As the wind picked up a few of the larger boats started flying chutes and slowly the fleet was under sail alone. I don’t have a spinnaker, so we used a whisker pole to pole out the jib and a preventer on the main. At 35 feet, we were one of the smallest boats in the fleet, so we focused on a safe, comfortable ride.
We had a bit of excitement on the second evening at sea. We were enjoying dinner under sail as the wind started dying. After dinner we tried to start the motor and it would not start! We knew it must be lack of fuel so I grabbed a multimeter and went below. It appeared that the lift pump was not getting power, so I created a quick harness to power the pump from a 12v source. That did the trick, and we all sighed a breath of relief as the motor came to life.
During a calm interlude, Mike and Alan went forward and noticed a broken cotter key on deck and that a pin holding the mast toggle to the boom was working its way free. For the remainder of the voyage, each watch would inspect the pin and pound it back in to position if required.
After 3 days at sea on 11/2, we arrived in Turtle Bay at about 11 AM. That afternoon we all gathered at the baseball stadium and enjoyed the annual baseball game.
The following morning, we awoke to news that one of our boats in the fleet had sunk while entering Turtle Bay. All three aboard were rescued but we all had questions as to how this had happened. Speculation was rampant at the beach party the following day.
On 11/4 we started the second leg to Bahia Santa Maria (BSM). This leg is a bit shorter at 240nm. We enjoyed a bit of excitement on this leg as well. About 60nm from BSM we observed lightning in the distance. As I mentioned, we were one of the smallest boats in the fleet so nearly everyone was in front of us. We could tell from AIS that many vessels had slowed, stopped or turned around. We continued vowing to anchor next to the boat with the tallest mast in the anchorage. We didn’t have to outrun the bear!
We arrived at BSM on 11/6 around 8 PM. By then all of the lightning and rain was gone so we suspended our search for the tallest mast and enjoyed a toast of Kraken rum. This year the check in procedure was done in Bahia Santa Maria instead of Cabo San Lucas. The Mexican officials arrived rather late and we were asked to bring our documents to Profligate, a 63 foot catamaran. A hundred or so dinghies rafted up to Profligate was quite a sight! The following day we had the Rock and Roll beach party, which happens on a deserted beach only once a year.
Since we were far behind the fleet on leg two, we decided to get an early start and leave at 3 AM on 11/8 for leg three. By the time we got our anchor up, the wind increased from 10 to 20+ kts. Once out of the anchorage, the wind increased to 25 kts with gusts above 30 kts. The rather large following sea was very uncomfortable. As we passed Isla Santa Margarita, we enjoyed warm rain for several hours. Gradually the wind and sea state calmed, and we passed Land’s End early morning on 11/10.
On the morning net for 11/11, we learned that we needed to check out with the port captain. The trouble is, we didn’t check in. Apparently, we were not alone. The port captain opened the office from 9AM to 1PM and we checked in and checked out. Whew!
The following morning, we departed from Cabo San Lucas at 6AM with Nuevo Vallarta as our ultimate destination. This was the first leg of the journey where we were on our own. A highlight of this leg is
when we hove to in the middle of the Sea of Cortez and went swimming. The current was pretty strong so we created a life line of dock lines tied to a fender.
We arrived at Paradise Village Marina on 11/14 around 11AM. Once we got checked in, we all enjoyed a warm shower and late lunch.
We had a great time, a real bucket list experience for me. The boat remains in Mexico where I am fixing items we managed to break on the voyage down. Until she is cruise ready again, we will use her as our floating condo. While at the Paradise Village Marina we are technically guests of the Paradise Marina Resort so we enjoy afternoons under their palapas on the beach. We plan to leave her in Mexico for two seasons before making the bash home.