Day 1, October 31

Dear Friends—We are sorry about not sending updates more regularly. A reading of the next three emails will explain why.

We were all up early to take some of the last relaxing showers for the next 10 days. Quick breakfast, topped off the water tanks, other final tweaks and we left our slip at Sun Harbor Marina about 0930 to join the other Ha Ha boats for the parade. Incidentally, Harmony is classified in the Desparado Division for the race/rally reflecting what bad-ass sailors we are. 😉

Great day with mostly sunny skies and fairly warm. The female inmates aboard Harmony wore their orange prison garb for the start of the race in hopes of capturing a prize. Crews on other Ha Ha boats in San Diego Harbor also wore their costumes. The best were the Vikings. Their costumes looked like they were right out of a movie. An all-guy crew on one boat was dressed up in amazing iridescent green mermaid costumes complete with coconut halters.

The parade officially started with a gun at 1000 hours with all 138 boats starting from San Diego passing in review of the race/rally committee boat which contained Mexican and U.S. officials including the Mexican Consul for San Diego. Other boats will join the Ha Ha from Ensenada as we sail past. It was a thrilling sight to see all of the boats strung out in the Harbor and headed down the channel. The official starting line was at Coronado Roads which is south and a little east of the end of the harbor entrance channel. With a countdown by the Grand Poohbah over VHF radio, we all started sailing over the start line about 1100 hours. The Ha Ha had begun. The winds were fairly light out of the northwest and all of the boats stayed bunched up for many hours. Then the wind began to rise and the boats began to separate. The forecast was for light winds today and building tomorrow to 20 knots. Not so. We were all sailing downwind with gusts at 20-24 knots late in the evening and through the night. We grabbed a quick dinner of salmon burgers and other finger foods as we dealt with the rolly conditions. We reefed the genoa at 1900 hours when the wind was a steady 17 knots. We tucked in for the night and our watch schedule. Boat speed was about 7 knots.

Captain Melody, Barbara, Mike, Avghi and Jeannea

Prelude to the Baja Ha Ha

Dear Friends—you are among the lucky few to receive what we hope will be daily communications from the sailing vessel Harmony. Our C&C 40 sailboat is part of a fleet of 150 boats headed to Cabo San Lucas starting tomorrow, October 31. The intrepid crew consists of Skipper Melody Kanschat, Barbara Morris, Avghi Constantdinides, Jeannea Jordan and Mike McGuire. Harmony is an official Women’s Sailing Association—Santa Monica Bay entry to the rally/race/flotilla called the Baja Ha Ha.

We begin in San Diego and end after 11 days and 750 miles at Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico. In between there are two stops for rest, relaxation and parties. After a two-day layover (including the chance to top off fuel tanks), the fleet of about 150 boats will head to Bahia Santa Maria—another 230 miles. With no facilities, the leaders of the Baja Ha Ha import the makings of a party in the form of a rock band, taco shack and beer concession. A two-day layover ends and the shortest segment begins (about 24 hours) to Cabo. Parties and an awards ceremony cap the festivities. To say that this “race” is laid back is an understatement. Any complaints or challenges associated with the race can only be filed in a dive bar located in a sketchy neighborhood after the awards are handed out. A good time will be had by all.

We attended the Halloween party for all of the crews the afternoon of 10/30. The Harmony crew won second prize in the “miscellaneous” category for our costumes based on the series Orange is the New Black. Mike was Pornstache and the rest of the crew were various inmates. Melody’s portrayal of Pensatucky with appropriate blacked out meth teeth stole the show.

Captain Melody, Barbara, Mike, Avghi and Jeannea

Prelude to the Baja Ha Ha

Left to right: Jeannea Jordan, Barbara Morris, Mike McGuire, Avghi Constantinides, Melody Kanschat.

October Meeting Speaker – Marilyn Cassedy

racetoalaska-photoOn October 11 our speaker will be Marilyn Cassedy who captained a team for the second annual “Race to Alaska”.

The (no engine) regatta covers 750 miles of coastal British Columbia up the inside passage from Port Townsend, WA to Ketchikan, AK, and truly tested their team’s skills as sailors. Marilyn’s talk will cover their motivation for doing the race, the process of preparing for the race in an engine-less daysailer, and what it was like to sail in an event where the tidal currents can run at more than 10 knots and wildlife encounters could range from orcas to grizzlies. She’ll also share her thoughts on the upcoming third edition of the race to take place in 2017 and what the ideal boat, crew and weather conditions might look like next time around.

Marilyn is a San Diego native who recently relocated to Los Angeles for work. She grew up sailing at the San Diego Yacht Club, and raced in high school at The Bishop’s School and in college at Hobart and William Smith in New York. Fleeing the cold, Marilyn did a Master’s degree in Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, which gave her the opportunity to travel the world excavating, studying, and conserving artifacts from ancient shipwrecks. More recently, Marilyn has been active in the Martin 242 fleet on the Santa Monica Bay, but she’s been fortunate to sail in a variety of other fleets, including a recent trip as part of the CYC team at the International Women’s Keelboat Championships in Rye, New York.

September Meeting Speaker – Denise George

On September 13 our speaker will be Denise George from Denison Yacht Sales speaking on everything you need to know about buying or selling a boat.

Denise has been boating since she was 12, starting out on small runabouts and the family cabin cruiser on Lake St. Clair, Michigan. She relocated to MdR in the early 80s. In recent years, Denise has become an active sailboat racer both locally and internationally as well as the producer and builder of a 24′ club racer called a Martin 242. Today she is a leader in the boating community of Marina del Rey and enjoying every bit of her career as a yacht sales person.

Denise is a true equal opportunity boater: she loves all boats—small, big, power or sail—and prides herself on finding the right boat for her clients’ needs. Denise was recognized as the 2010 ASMBYC Yachtsman of the Year.

WOW/WAH This Weekend!


There is still time to participate! Click here for more information.

The WOW/WAH organizers would like to thank the following businesses for their generous donations to the WOW/WAH raffle:

Body Energizers
C&O Trattoria
California Yacht Club
Charlotte Tarantola
Del Rey Yacht Club
Fresh Brothers Pizza
Massage Envy
NAOS Yachts
Overland Cafe
Tony P’s Dockside Grill
Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club
South Bay Yacht Racing Club
WSA of Santa Monica Bay

August Meeting Speaker – Greg Himes & Jen Huszcza

Our speakers will be Greg Himes and Jen Huszcza. Greg is an ASA certified sailing instructor and USCG certified captain. He is a charter captain and sailing instructor at Blue Pacific Boating in Marina del Rey. He has done five Baja Ha-Has and has cruised in Mexico for nine seasons.

Jen Huszcza has been a member of WSA since 2010. She is also an ASA certified instructor and an avid racer. She is especially proud to be a part of the WSA LEMWOD team which came in third overall in 2015, two days before she left for the Baja Ha-Ha with Greg on Scout.

The Baja Ha-Ha is an annual cruiser’s rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas that has been happening for over twenty years. This October, the 23rd annual Baja Ha-Ha will take off with over a hundred boats on October 30th including at least two from WSA.

Greg and Jen will talk about all things Baja Ha Ha from prepping your boat and choosing your crew to parties in Cabo and Mexican beer. They will take you step-by-step down the coast of the Baja Peninsula on overnight passages with brilliant sunsets and sunrises while also talking about safety, provisioning, watch schedules, and boat handling. They will show slides and answer questions.

June Meeting Speaker – Colby Smith

For the June meeting, Colby Smith will speak to WSA about the history of navigation and his experience as a volunteer for the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s TopSail Youth Program. The TopSail Youth Program exposes at-risk and educationally challenged inner city youth to a world beyond their communities by teaching them to sail aboard the tall ships Exy Johnson and Irving Johnson, 110 foot twin brigantines. The Program provides an education and adventure experience that includes day sails and voyages.

Colby is a veteran of several Newport to Ensenada and Border Run races. Colby’s professional background includes Art Direction and Architectural Design. His longtime hobby in woodworking led him to create replicas of period navigational tools which he will bring to his presentation.

May Meeting Speaker – Bill McNeely

CruisingCatalina-McNeelyIn May, Bill McNeely will speak on sailing Catalina Island. Bill is a dynamic speaker, author of the standard Catalina Island cruising guide Cruising Catalina Island, and “star” of the DVD’s Cast Off for Catalina and Cast Off for Mexico. He will have you craving to sail all the islands, especially Catalina. In this talk, with dozens of photos and charts, he will visit the many anchorages in Catalina and suggest what to do when moorings are not available at Avalon or the Isthmus. Bill will also talk about cruising the five other less developed Channel Islands.
Books and DVDs will not be for sale at the meeting but you can order them using the links below. Check back if currently unavailable.
Cast Off for Catalina and Cast Off for Mexico DVDs are available on Amazon, at West Marine, and on Pay-Per-View at The Sailing Channel.
Amazon Links: Book, DVD.
The Sailing Channel links: Catalina, Ensenada.

April Meeting Speaker – Judy-Rae Karlson

Sea Gals LogoApril’s speaker will be Judy-Rae Karlsen, Program Director of the “Sea Gals” Women’s Sailing Program on the Catalina 37 fleet. Judy-Rae, who learned to sail in Chicago on Lake Michigan, has lived in Long Beach since 1999. She is an honorary member of LBYC and has served on the Board of Directors of the Long Beach Sailing Foundation for eight years. She received the Peggy Slater Award in 2014 for her outstanding contributions to the enhancement of women’s participation in sailing.
Judy-Rae has a series of dates planned for the 2016 Sea Gals Sailing Program. This is an opportunity to sail on the Long Beach Foundation’s Catalina 37’s. It is an event with all women sailors and all women coaches. These are non-competitive sailing events designed to introduce women to sailing as well as build confidence, increase knowledge and skills, in a safe and fun environment.
There are four tentative dates reserved on the Catalina 37 charter schedule for the LBSF Sea Gals Women’s Sailing program this year. Sunday, May 8, Saturday, June 11, Saturday, July 16, and Saturday, August 13. To learn more, email