Like all good trips do, the 24th running of the Baja Ha-Ha had to come to an end sometime, but not before the assembled crews gathered for a last party or two in the Mexican port of Cabo San Lucas.
Though we began the final leg of this southbound odyssey early on Nov. 8 with high hopes and a spinnaker flying, before we were even out of Bahia Santa Maria, the morning’s breeze went soft and the chute was back in its sock, coiled on the deck. One by one around us, engines were fired up and soon nearly the entire fleet of 140-plus sailboats were powering their way along. After all, we had 170 or so miles to cover and just 37 hours until the start of the “Can’t Believe We Cheated Death Again” dance-‘til-you-drop party at Cabo’s famed Skid Roe.
The final leg of our voyage aboard the Seawind 1190 Meriwether was not all throbbing outboard engine though. Around noon a decent breeze sprang up, and with it, we raised the spinnaker and enjoyed some fine downwind sailing until nearly dinnertime, when the wind died once more.
Overnight, the chartplotter’s screen was crowded with AIS targets, each pointed in the same direction: Cabo Falso, where early the following morning we made the final turn eastward. In no time, the hundreds of miles of desolate coastline disappeared and resorts as far as the eye could see crowded the hills. By the time we reached the famed arch and spiral rocks at Cabo San Lucas, we found ourselves surrounded by buzzing tourist and fishing boats of every description.
Space in Cabo’s inner harbor was at a premium, so available slips were doled out according to when a boat registered for the Ha-Ha. No matter where we fell on the list, though, our plan was to anchor out off the beach, where we could enjoy a cooling breeze and clean water for swimming. We dropped the hook shortly after lunch, enjoyed a refreshing dip, and then headed to shore to process our ship’s paperwork.
For the record, we were right on time that evening to join the festivities at Skid Roe, where tequila flowed freely and Jello shots undoubtedly encouraged dancing on tables and numerous bars well into the wee hours.
Friday morning was perfect for recouping and wandering around town. After days of pristine vistas, the lights and sounds of bustling Cabo were a shock to the senses. That shock, though, was mitigated by margaritas and Pacificas at the beach party that afternoon, where Grand Poobah Richard Spindler once again played emcee at the From Here to Eternity Kissing Contest. In the pounding surf, a few hardy (and presumably previously introduced) couples locked arms and let the sea take them as they rolled in the breakers with lips locked. As with most other Ha-Ha events, it was all quite entertaining.
The afore mentioned end, for me at least, came at 0800 Nov. 11, when I headed ashore to catch a flight back to the windy and cold Northeast. Most, though, had the final awards party to look forward to that evening.
And then? Good question. A few crews reported they’d soon begin the dreaded Baja Bash back north. But many others would sail to mainland Mexico or into the Sea of Cortez for the winter. And then there were the Puddle Jumpers who were just warming up for a voyage westward into the Pacific.
For some, the Baja Ha-Ha was the main event, for others it was the jumping off point for bigger endeavors. For all, though, it was a chance to cross several hundred miles of ocean, knowing that at each stop along the way there would be good times and camaraderie by the boatload.