Baja Ha Ha 2016

Day #8, November 7, 2016, Monday

Dear Friends-It was a rolling start for everyone waking up. The tail-end-Charlie was Mike who somehow slept through all of the morning doings.

There was truly not a cloud in the sky. We know we are in the lower latitudes as the air temperature has risen to about 82 degrees F at 1300 hours and everyone is attired in swimsuits. The crew deployed the sunshade and everyone was “profligate” in their use of sunscreen.

The big job today is to take off the mainsail and dinghy it over to the Ullman Sails boat who offered to fix it for no labor, just materials. With help from Lawrence from De Vrijheid, the sail was removed with ease. We dropped it off at the Ullman Sails boat in hopes that it would be ready for our departure.

Activities for the day were modest. We blew up the dinghy and all of us took Joy showers off the stern washing away the accumulated salt, sweat and sunscreen. Much better. Afterwards, there was some visiting between boats and, generally, just hanging out and resting.

At dusk, many of the dinghies from the fleet (including us) rafted up behind the Grand Poobah’s boat, Profligate, for a concert, shared beverages and dinghy dancing (ask Barbara). It was challenging to find Harmony in the dark even with special Luci lights hung out. With the relatively high winds in the anchorage, all aboard the dinghy ended up with damp posteriors.

There was a medical emergency after dark. A man sustained a dislocated shoulder during some sort of accident. Over the Ha Ha Net, the Poohbah organized some immediate medical attention (pain management) with transport to a local clinic deferred until daylight.

Lights out at 2000 hours.

Captain Melody, Barbara, Mike, Avghi and Jeannea

Day 7, November 6, Sunday

Dear Friends—Your scribe (Mike) slept for about 4.5 hours and felt like a million bucks. Others got varying amounts of sleep during a mostly rough ride last night. This morning it is gorgeous—sunny with a few clouds—with winds of about 7 knots and seas down to about 3 feet. Glorious.

Barb treated us to a Breakfast Bowl consisting of scrambled eggs, sour cream, avocado, cheese and turkey bacon. Heaven. upon smelling the incredible odor, Mike offered to marry Barbara on the spot. However, he was reminded of the penalties for bigamy. Melody observed that we are eating all of our meals with bowls and spoons as if we were prisoners. Seems appropriate given our theme of Orange is the New Black. Even in these much-reduced seas, our sterling silver service with bone china and cut crystal glasses would not be appropriate.

The wind gods were kind to us in the afternoon: 12-15 kts following or quartering. Seas were about 2-3 feet. The whole trip we have had 6-8 foot long-period swells which are glorious when the wind is light. Our illustrious deck crew raised the Gennaker for about an hour and then tackled deploying the spinnaker. It has been quite some time since Harmony’s spinnaker was used. However, Avghi is a racer and an expert on deploying colorful, billowing sails. We enjoyed the extra speed and nice ride for a few hours. When they were up, the sails were gorgeous. With a lot of forethought and experience, Mel and Avghi did a fabulous job. Not one wrap or jam.

The sunset was the best of the trip. Barbara got lots of pictures as she has done throughout the trip for all of our adventures. She will post some of them on this blog when we get to a place with decent Wifi.

Winds at night were sufficient to maintain about 4-5 knots with just the double-reefed main and occasionally the genoa. As the wind abated, we contemplated the large number of hours to travel to the anchorage under these conditions. The iron jenny was engaged and we motored along at 6 knots or so the rest of the way. There was lots of traffic with Ha Ha sailboats all headed to the same destination. We did hear about one of the fleet who had lost all power, no engine and were sailing as if it was the 1800s—compass, charts and a chronometer. They made it to Bahia Santa Maria just fine. Two cruise ships passed far offshore lighting up the sky like small cities.

Dear readers, you need a star report for this trip. Most nights we have had clear skies and breathtaking stars. The Milky Way was so bright. Watching Orion and the Big Dipper rise along with our old friend, the seven sisters, was a thrilling occurrence every night. Venus is very bright in the western sky at sunset and we have had her company for about 3 hours each night. The new moon has morphed into the first quarter. When it is up, you can read a newspaper.

We spotted the lighthouse on Cabo Lazaro which was a welcome sight because it marked that we were near the end of Leg #2. The moon had set and we only had the stars for illumination. We crossed the imaginary finish line at 0110 hours on November 7 and motored into Bahia Santa Maria. We could see the Ha Ha fleet at anchor and as we got on the outside edge of the anchored boats we noticed a slight mist moving in from the east. Within 10 minutes we were socked in with a surface fog, we found a likely spot and dropped the hook about 0400 hours. Within another few minutes visibility was down to 20 yards or less. We heaved a sigh of relief and felt sorry for those still outside. We celebrated with hot chocolate and tea with a few cookies (ok, there was whiskey involved for a few). We collapsed in bed.

Captain Melody, Barbara, Mike, Avghi and Jeannea

Day 6, Nov 5, Saturday

Dear Friends—Another bright sunny morning. The crew was up about 0800 with Captain Melody logging 11.5 hours of sleep. She felt great and the rest of the crew were very glad that she could get some needed rest. The rest of the morning was devoted to breakfast of granola and yoghurt, plus other goodies, putting the boat in shape for the next leg. Yesterday afternoon, we transferred 5 gallons of diesel to the tank and we were able to hail a panga and get them to fill the empty fuel container. Our biggest connection to shore was whistling over a young Mexican guy in a kayak who was picking up our trash. We really needed to get rid of our bag as did, obviously, many others. The guy had artfully stacked many bags where only a few should have fit.

We started motoring to the start line at the mouth of Turtle Bay. The Poohbah called for a rolling start which means that we could use our engine without penalty for the initial sailing part of the race/rally. Once again we were all bunched up doing about 6 knots and headed out away from shore so that we can catch some wind. Winds were light and building. Our failed weather forecaster, Commander Weather, was able to forecast today’s weather about as well as he did Mon-Wed. We did have following winds about 15 knots for a while and we did deploy the Gennaker for about three hours. Our speed did get up to 7 knots with the chute. Then they it became clear that the winds were going beyond the mid-teens. The Gennaker came down and the
Genoa was furled. Winds were following as were the 8 foot long periods swells broken up by wind waves. Steering was challenging but not as terrifying as the previous passage. The wind changed radically twice and two hard jibes resulted in a broken traveller line and a torn mainsail on the foot near the clew. Mel rewove the traveler line and she and Avghi double reefed the mainsail in challenging sea and wind conditions in the dark.

At this point, we were only making about 4 knots, so Mel turned on the iron jenny and engaged the autopilot for an extended period. The seas and wind began to drop and all became much easier. We may be able to get a sail repair from the Ullman sail guy who is traveling with the fleet (he has a sewing machine on board) while we are anchored in Bahia Santa Maria. If not, we can make it to Cabo with the current rig.

Captain Melody, Barbara, Mike, Avghi and Jeannea

Day 5, November 4

Dear Friends—Today was another rest day. We slept in and did little chores around the boat. No Ha Ha radio net this morning. We were all prepping for the beach party. And what a party it was. We were there from about 1300 to 1700 hours. Packed into that was a full day of meeting boat friends, sampling tacos and beer from the vendors, watching not one but two video drones recording the party doings, listening to oldies from a blasting stereo, eating good food that we cooked ourselves over charcoal and watching the volleyball game. PLUS, we had the annual tug-of-war between the men and women. The women won for the twenty-third year in a row. Something was fishy about all of this and a cursory inspection of the teams revealed about three times as many women as men and the men’s team was packed with rather small boys. Hmm.

Part of the entertainment was watching the pangas deliver people to the beach and most hilarious, picking people up from the beach. The panga guys would overload the boat and then wait for a little wavelet to pick up the massively overloaded panga and float it out to the bay all the while pushing like crazy from the stern. This would go on for 5-10 minutes to our great amusement. Somehow it always worked out.

We caught a panga ride back to Harmony with our old buddy Hector. He is something of a big deal around here. The reason why we love to use him is that he has marked our boat on his handheld GPS. Even during daylight, it is a little confusing to find Harmony among all of the white-hulled monohulls. One dead giveaway is the cluster of yellow diesel fuel cans lashed to the stanchions, but you have to get close enough to see them.

Two of the crew took “Joy” showers off the back of the boat. For the uninitiated, this process involves dumping a bucket of seawater over your head while hanging onto the swim ladder on the stern, shampooing hair with special seawater shampoo, soaping up with Joy dishwashing detergent (or Dawn, in our case) then jumping into the ocean. The ocean water gives you a good rinse and then you go to the forward deck for a freshwater spritz using a bag of water that had been warming in the sun. Incidentally, all of this is accomplished while wearing a bathing suit so as not to horrify boaters nearby. Speaking for myself (Mike), being really clean never felt so good.

Tomorrow morning we are off on another adventure to Bahia Santa Maria, about 225 miles away.

Captain Melody, Barbara, Mike, Avghi and Jeannea