Officially in the tropics
08 November 2009 | Cabo San Lucas
The 16th edition of the Baja Haha was the biggest, and possibly one of the more eventful in the cruising rally's history. Gale warnings on the first day came with recommendations to seek shelter, a J120 was sunk by a whale attack (but don't know all the details - will need to read the next edition of Latitude 38), and the wind was anything but consistent (as were the professional weather guesses).
The boys adapted well to being under sail after several weeks at a dock. Max and Sam barely emerged topsides for the first few days, and when they did it was to marvel at the height of the waves. They were quite happy entertaining themselves below with their guys and lego. Jack stayed topsides nearly all the time as he took somewhat longer to adapt to the open sea. Our friend, Cyrus, enjoyed the challenge of stepping up from Wednesday night racing (in the "social division") to full-on off shore cruising.
Mulan enjoyed the conditions, and Susan and I have become more comfortable in handling her in many different sail configurations and conditions. We had everything from the gale warning to flat calm iron genny weather, but the biggest challenge was the day that the forecast called for 10 knots, and we found ourselves double reefed with no head sail surfing at 10 knots in 12 foot seas. In their defence, maybe the forecasters were talking about boat speed.
We didn't adhere too closely to the scheduled stops, instead detouring from 50 miles offshore to seek shelter from the expected gale. That night saw us out of the wind, but in a very rolly anchorage at Punta Colonet. The next day, our intention was to head to Turtle Bay, but the 20 knots and swells were a tad disconcerting, so we stopped at San Quitin, where many other Haha boats had been the previous night. This "shelter" was a gem. The wind actually increased in velocity as we entered the bay, and found ourselves dropping the hook in 25 knots. Not sure I've ever been in an anchorage subject to a small craft advisory! In the end we didn't even stop in Turtle Bay - rather than do a night entry into a crowded anchorage, we kept sailing through the night, enjoying perhaps the best sailing of the whole Haha.
Eventually we rejoined the fleet at Bahia Santa Maria - a massive bay that could likely accommodate 190 warships, rather than 190 sailboats. Actually we counted 148 on a morning hike up the adjacent mountain. Having missed the Turtle Bay stop, we made the most of this one, with surfing, boogie boarding, and attending the evening event put on by the local fishermen. They even brought in a band - no mean feat as there are no roads on the island. Access is to San Carlos, then by barge onto the island.
The final leg to Cabo was suitably uneventful - the lack of wind saw us motoring around Cabo Falso in a beautiful sunset, with a night entry into the busy bay at Cabo San Lucas. We are definitely looking forward to some normalized anchoring at future stops.
We did suffer a couple of casualties enroute. We lost a mainsail batten in the big seas - or we assume this is when we lost it, as no-one saw it go. We also blew out our masthead spinnaker block, necessitating a trip up the mast to replace it in Bahia Santa Maria. More interesting, however, was a routing check of our masthead lights while I was aloft. While staring at our tri-colour from the side, I was somewhat alarmed to be looking at red and green, with white on the far side. Having been at sea for many nights already, I wonder how many ships have been confused about our actual direction. To avoid any further situations, I removed the bulbs until I can figure out the issue. My best guess is that the fixture has been put on incorrectly, and has only become an issue since I installed an LED light fixture, which only go in one way, and are less forgiving than the plain white bulbs.
We plan to split from Cabo tomorrow, and head for somewhere less noisy and bumpy. Many Haha boats have already gone - either north towards La Paz, or across to mainland Mexico. The Haha was fun, even if we did miss one of the formal stops. The daily 'net' was helpful and informative, but some of the questions were so inane that you wonder how the boats made it this far. There were several boats that would not normally be considered offshore boats (a Catalina 27, or a sistership to our previous Islander Bahama 30 for example). Not sure how nice the ride would have been in "Tahi Too" in 25 knots and 10 foot swells. Few boats had wind vanes, and about the same number had radar reflectors. Even less appeared to be carrying spare fuel, although there was plenty of motoring happening. Not sure if it is naivety, or faith in the safety of numbers.
We are looking forward to a tiki tour of some hopefully less crowded anchorages between Cabo and La Paz. There won't even be internet, so our blog will be rant free for another 10 days.