By: Parimal M. Rohit
The 21st iteration of the Baja Ha-Ha cruiser rally came to a close Nov. 10 – two days later than originally scheduled – despite legal uncertainties, destroyed slips and uncooperative weather.
Richard Spindler, who has organized each Baja Ha-Ha event since its inception, said this year’s cruiser rally had many obstacles to overcome since sailors started headed from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas on Oct. 26.
In all, 140 boats and 525 people participated in Baja Ha-Ha XXI, with everyone unsure of how recent enforcement of immigration paperwork by Mexican officials would impact the rally.
“This was by far the most challenging [rally],” Spindler said.
Beyond paperwork concerns, Hurricane Vance proved to be a significant issue during the rally. The cluster of thunderstorms eventually came together to form Vance and was at full strength by Nov. 3. While advisories were all but gone by Nov. 5, Spindler said the threat of Vance caused participants to split up for Leg 2.
The threat of Vance also caused the rally to be delayed two days.
When the fleet arrived in Cabo San Lucas, they discovered 35 percent of the slips there were destroyed by a hurricane earlier this year. Spindler said his people were not notified of this in advance.
Though Vance was a potential threat during Leg 2, Spindler said legs 1 and 3 featured very little to no sailing wind.
Still, according to Spindler, the paperwork process did not present any real issues, Vance was not much more than a threat and, despite about 1/3 of the slips destroyed in Cabo San Lucas, all of the skippers who wanted to berth in the marina were able to do so.
Spindler said all of the challenges helped participating skippers and crews bond together.
Trekking from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas in her Deerfoot 2-62, Moonshadow, Deb Rogers said the entire rally “was an adventure” and vividly remembered the fleet sailing into Turtle Bay and playing a baseball game with the locals.
“We watched as the fleet sailed in, one by one, to Turtle Bay and then disembarked for an everybody plays baseball game. The local kids played right alongside us and we all made sure they had a great time,” Rogers said. “After a rollicking ride down the coast on the second leg of the HaHa, Bahia Santa Maria was Mother Nature at her finest. We were pleased when we pulled into Cabo San Lucas to see things relatively intact after the hurricane.”
Like Spindler, Rogers said the greatest experience of Baja Ha-Ha XXI was bonding with fellow skippers and crews.
“By far the very best part of the whole experience was the instant camaraderie that developed among all the boats. Everyone was eager to help other boats with tips for quick fixes of broken parts and advise on what type of lures were bringing in the best fish,” Rogers said.
Baja Ha-Ha is not a formal race but instead a cruiser rally. There are no winners or losers. Everyone who arrives in Cabo San Lucas is given prize of completion.