Cabo is hot. Stifling. That, plus our exhaustion after a twelve day trip did not make me want to jump up and wander around the town. We needed to deal with customs and get Nick and Michele to the airport Saturday morning.  There was another Ha-Ha party plus the awards ceremony Saturday night (Nov 5th).

We gave in and got a marina slip in Cabo for $65 USD for Friday night so we could charge up the boat batteries as well as our own body batteries with showers, laundry and a calm, non-rolling home for one night.  We cleaned up the boat and then eventually made ourselves head out into the town to shop, site-see and eat a little authentic food.  Nick and Michele treated us to a good-bye dinner at a nice place called “Mi Casa.” 

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Next morning we got more cleaning done, got the crew packed (and sadly said goodbye 😦 )and then went and got our filed paperwork from customs.  Dave and I decided to go to more flea markets in the area just to see what was around. Dave’s much better at bartering than I am. I tend to just keep walking when we’re approached by people with items to sell or timeshares to discuss. Sometimes I give a polite, yet, curt “No, gracias,” but then I keep walking. Dave doesn’t want to appear rude, so we got stopped a lot. Or I’ll keep walking and have to come back for him.  People here are very nice, but they’ll talk your ear off about what they have to sell you until they wear you down. I’m not so easily swayed.  I don’t care if they think I’m a bitchy tourist.  I’ll know what I want when I see it.  This is a pretty big tourist area, so I’m looking forward to heading up into the Sea of Cortez and finding smaller, more authentic Mexican towns.  Cabo has become Vegas, complete with huge resorts and strip malls boasting Cartier and Hermes neon signs.  Kind a a turn off for me.

Awards ceremony Saturday night was hosted by the Cabo Marina with free beer and soft drinks and some DJ-ed music.  Everyone in each division “wins” a hand-painted wooden fish and a free Latitude 38 magazine (they’re always free, but beside the point).  Each division has a first place and a second place winner and then everyone else in the division comes in third.  There are lots of thirds.

Although we sailed the entire trip, I figured, due to how slow we were on each leg, that we’d get a third place finish with a mention of our sailing all three legs.  And even when they announced that our friends (and direct competition) on s/v Charisma came in second place in our division, I assumed that they’d just skipped our names for third place, but then they announced Camanoe for FIRST PLACE.  Crazy, crazy! So excited!  Charisma gave us big hugs and congrats.  We won the painted fish with a first-place blue ribbon attached PLUS a winner’s green t-shirt.  But the bragging rights are really quite priceless.

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Baja Ha-Ha Survivor certificate (L) and Capt Dave with our 1st place, blue-ribbon fishy. (R)

We haven’t been able to call our crew or email them yet that we got first place, so if you guys are reading it here, CONGRATS! and THANK YOU!!! There’s absolutely no way we could have done it without you.  No other crew was as awesome as you and we can’t wait to hang out again when we’re back to normal life.

So….now what?  Well, Dave and I have rested, we’ve cleaned the boat, we’ve worked on small projects and we’re ready to hit the sea.  The high prices of Cabo are getting old fast, so we’re looking to head up to La Paz in the next couple of days.  We plan to be up there for Thanksgiving, but after that…we’ll just have to wait and see which way the winds blow.

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Ha-Ha: Leg 3

We were pretty anxious to get to Cabo by the time leg three started on Wednesday, November 2nd. Well, I’m speaking for myself.  The legs were getting shorter and I was still having a good time, but I was also just ready to get to civilization and rest.  We really needed one more day for each leg since we were so much slower than the rest of the fleet.  Slow and steady is great, until you just want to be there all ready.

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Another beautiful sunrise start.

Pretty uneventful leg for us. We had power, so we got Robbie the auto pilot back and the XM radio. 

The winds were much lighter this leg; sometimes not even able to keep the spinnaker full.  We wanted to stay as close to our course as possible (basically, trying to do the shortest line between points A and B as we could), but sometimes the wind would take us more east than south or more south than east. Figured we’d make it all up when the winds came back…if they came back.

We talked with fellow, back of the pack boat, s/v Panache late in the afternoon to see how they were doing just a couple miles in front of us. They said they were hoping to sail the whole leg just like us but that they were losing their resolve.  We promised each other that we’d keep trying to sail until midnight and then if the winds didn’t pick up that we’d all motor. OR, if one boat decided to motor before the other that the motoring boat would tow the sailing boat. 😉

We made up some dinner and decided to deal with the lack of wind by moving the TV into the cockpit and watching “Friends with Benefits.”  Halfway through the movie Dave realized that the winds had picked back up and that the spinnaker was filling up. Whoo!  We sailed until morning, passing the leg three and final finish line of the Baja Ha-Ha around 4am.  By 9am we’d pulled into the Cabo marina and tied up just in time to announce to the morning fleet report that Camanoe had sailed the entire trip!

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Camanoe rounding Cabo Falso and heading into the Cabo Marina near the famous Lover’s Arc

More to come about Cabo and the end of the Ha-Ha festivities in the next post!

Ha-Ha: Leg 2

Leg two started off with the most beautiful sunrise.  Everyone was sailing out of the anchorage under their spinnakers, so the warm glow of the sun was really making all the spinnakers shine out on the water. Really, really breathtaking.

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Right away all the other Ha-Ha-ers were reporting on the radio that they were catching squid and fish (dorados mostly) and seeing whales and dolphins.  We did not catch or see anything. I wasn’t bitter or anything.  :-p

This time we were able to keep up with most of the fleet for the first day, but by morning we were once again “alone” with hardly any other sails on the horizon.  We could hear everyone on the radio though, so we figured we weren’t too far behind.

Because of the generator issue that we discovered at the end of leg one, we had to conserve power much more on leg two.  We didn’t want to run the engine, so we hooked up our monitor wind vane steering (Windy) instead of using power to run the below-deck auto pilot (Robbie) and we turned off the chart plotter and depth sounder and anything else that we didn’t need for sailing.  No XM Radio either, so we broke out our solar-powered/wind-up generated radio, which worked well with my ipod.  Good thing I have all those playlists and party CDs from my work’s annual Tahoe trip.  They kept us pretty entertained and in a good mood while we sat with the monotony of the sea.  Not that we weren’t having a great time, but by leg two, the novelty of sailing on the ocean was wearing away and we were just trying to find whatever we could to entertain ourselves.  Multiple games of Uno and gin rummy ensued.

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A little birdie hitched a ride upon our wind vane during leg two. Gave us about 20 minutes of entertainment.

Michele and I had a joint night watch every night from 11pm to 3am.  Let’s just say, I think I may know Michele better than I know Dave now. LOL.  Good times, and again, feeling so lucky that we had such an awesome crew.

Just like at the end of Leg one, we pulled into Bahia Santa Maria anchorage after sundown. There wasn’t supposed to be anything at this anchorage…just land, no town, but all we could see as we rounded the point were hundreds of lights.  It ended up just being all the other boats in the fleet plus some Mexican fishing boats, but it definitely threw us for a loop while we were coming in to anchor. 

Once again, we sailed the whole way for Leg 2, which we found out only two other boats in our division had done, so we were pretty proud of ourselves.  We all passed out early again to get some much needed rest before the Leg two BBQ the next afternoon.

Bahia Santa Maria is a completely uninhabited bay along the Baja Sur coast.  It’s pretty rocky and desert-like on the shore, but the waters are so blue and clear and warm and calm.  I love calm water. I’m not a fan of waves and surf and breaking water, so this was my favorite spot along the trip.  We were heading up to the Ha-Ha BBQ party up on a the cliffside when we were tipped off by another Ha-Ha-er that the $15 USD plates weren’t all that great at the BBQ but there was a local taco stand set up on the beach with amazing tacos and tamales.  We didn’t need to be told twice.  For $4 each, we filled up on fish tacos and tamales and happily sat along the beach talking with other Ha-Ha-ers and watching the local dogs frolic in the water. 

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Dave and I attempted to take our dinghy along the shoreline towards the mangroves, but there were so many sand beds between the beach party and the mangroves that we eventually gave up and just beached the dinghy and walked for a little while along one of the larger sand beds.  It was pretty funny. Just imagine us taking off at full dinghy motoring speed only to hit sand just a few yards away. We’d get out, drag the dinghy over the bed to “deeper” water (only about two feet deep) and take off only to hit another bed a few feet away.  We couldn’t figure out HOW the pongas were doing it! (We eventually went up onto a cliff once we returned to the party and saw that there was one deep path that we’d totally missed from our viewpoint in the water. Oh well).

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Giving up on getting the dinghy anywhere (L) and trying to get my footing in the deep sand (R).

The sandbed was pretty interesting…like quicksand. Our feet would go down so far that it was pretty comical trying to walk. I tried walking in Dave’s footsteps, but he caught on and started talking huge steps on purpose so I’d have to jump.  The shells in this area were pretty amazing too…full sand dollars and clam shells.  I usually let nature be, but we couldn’t resist taking a couple of sand dollars and one clam shell. We hung the sand dollars in the cabin and I’ll have to figure out what to do with the clam shell. I think it would make a good jewelry box, but I need to find a way to keep the muscle from breaking that keeps the two shells together.  Crafty people…suggestions??

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We were able to get some help with our generator issue from Tim on s/v Talion who is a diesel mechanic.  The boys figured out how to bypass the relay on the generator so we could start it up and have more power on board.  Thanks Tim for being so awesome and helpful!!

With the generator issue fixed for now, we got a good nights rest to prepare for the next morning’s 7am departure of leg three! 

Ha-Ha: Leg 1

We set out from San Diego harbor Oct 24th looking out onto an overcast, gray sky. But it was hard to focus on the gray skies when you had boat after beautiful sailboat racing through the waters. All the Baja Ha-Ha participants were waving and cheering each other on; everyone was so excited to finally be on our way.

To earn extra “points,” the Camanoe crew donned our Team Zissou costumes that we wore the day before at the Costume/Ha-Ha kickoff party.  Since it was a bit chilly, we were actually pretty grateful for the warm, red beanies that were a part of the costume.

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Nick and Michele…proud Team Zissou.

The first leg started with a “rolling start.” Which means that everyone was allowed to motor because the winds were so light.  Our motor doesn’t take us very fast, so when we hit the Coronado Islands, we realized we’d be going just as fast with the spinnaker up as we would sitting, listening to the droning engine.  Thus, we ended up sailing, a good twelve hours or so before most of the other boats…which is supposed to give us a boost in our race time.  Not that we’re really racing. Camanoe is like a turtle…slow and steady.

We kept up for a while with most of the Ha-Ha fleet, but eventually we saw only a few masts on the horizon.  No moon on our first night watch, but we could talk with the other fleet members on our radio.  One of the boats had a problem with a line in their propeller about two hours into mine and Michele’s first night watch (so, probably around 1am or so).  Although we were sad for them and wished we could have offered them some helpful advice, we couldn’t help but feel better that we weren’t alone in the back of the pack.  Dave radioed to offer assistance, but there were already other Ha-Ha boats in route to help.

That was the best part about being on the Ha-Ha; knowing that so many others are around to help you should you need it. 

We caught a 20-25 lb Yellowfin tuna on the second day of the first leg.  It didn’t put up much of a fight, in fact, we thought we might have just caught some kelp.  We had a heck of a time filleting the sucker up on the slippery and rolling back deck, but the boys were eventually successful at getting us enough fish for two good-sized dinners.  We thanked the ocean and fish gods and sent the remains back overboard to feed the bigger fishies. 

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Our little catch. Yum

Day three of the first leg was more of the same. I was seasick the first day, but not the second and then felt pretty queasy the morning of the third day. Odd. I think I was dehydrated.  So I tried to rest and not do much on the third day. Luckily, our crew were absolute rockstars and pitched in to help cook and clean up, etc.

We passed the finish line of leg one on Thursday, Oct 27th in late afternoon, but we still had a ways to go before we got into the Turtle Bay anchorage.  With all crew on deck (looking out for lobster pots and kelp patches), we pulled into Bahia de Tortugas just as the sun slipped below the horizon and dropped our anchor. 

So happy to be semi-steady in the boat, we cooked up some good eats and were out like lightbulbs by 9pm.

The Turtle Bay Ha-Ha bbq and potluck was the next afternoon.  We took pongas ashore for a couple of bucks each so we wouldn’t have to put our dinghy into the water just to have to hoist it back up the next morning.  Dave realized as we were leaving that our batteries were low, which was odd because we ran our generator to top off the batteries a couple times a day during the leg (because we weren’t running the engine).  So Dave headed back to the boat to check it out further while the rest of us did some sunbathing, frisbee throwing and tug-o-warring with the rest of the fleet (another tug-o-war win for the women!!). 

Good times all around that afternoon, except for one catamaran that pulled A LITTLE too close to the shore and got stuck (it WAS low tide, but still, no reason to get that close). Lots of people tried to push and pull them back into deeper water, but in the end, all they could do was wait for higher tide.  Made for a pretty memorable end to leg one though!

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Next…Leg DOS!