Baja Ha Ha: Turtle Times

It didn’t take long to figure out how the ‘Famous Turtle Bay Beach Party’ got its name. Rock on!

baja haha
Fun and games on dry land at the Baja Ha Ha.Mark Pillsbury

“Quite Everyone. Quiet on the volleyball court,” Richard, the Baja Ha-Ha Grand Poobah roared into the microphone, determined to get the attention of a few hundred partiers on the beach that stretches along the east shore of Turtle Bay.

“We need 100 women. Now!

Down by the water, where dozens of pangas sat side-by-side, ready to ferry anyone, anywhere, a women worked deligently to stretch out a long length of heavy line.

Tug-of-War time. Battle of the Sexes. In mere minutes, we’d learn if the women of the Ha-Ha would win this annual contest again, as they have every time over the past 24 years that the Ha-Ha has stopped here on the way to Cabo San Lucas.

All eyes focused on the gathering crowd, women on the left, men on the right. In the no-man’s land between, maybe 10 yards or so, a line was drawn in the sand. Then it was game on. The women started strong, and step by step, the men, their heels dug into the dirt, were pulled ahead. For a brief moment they held their own and even gained a foot or two, but the gals quickly rallied and tugged anew. With a final push, the boy at the front of the men’s brigade slipped over the mark. At once the women let out a cheer and dropped the rope, sending more than a few guys sprawling, all in good fun, of course.

It was a festive scene. The party kicked off at 1300, and all afternoon a steady parade of dinghies and pangas motored from the anchorage by town deeper into the bay and around the corner to the beach. Barbecues were lit, hotdogs were sold, and margaritas, and cold beers flowed from the cement-block huts that sat above the high tide line. A few hearty souls climbed atop the steep bluff at the north corner of the beach, while others batted balls or simply sat and chatted with friends.

Farther down the sand, locals pulled up in their pickup trucks and a few set up cocktail stands of their own and joined the fun. Had I asked, I’m pretty sure just about everyone would have said they were having a darn fine time.

The party raged until the setting and a chilly breeze conspired to send all but the hearty back to their boats. For the truly dedicated, a fire was lit and the festivities raged on.

Back on Meriweather, we cranked up the stainless steel grill and cooked a fine dinner of ground beef, potatoes and onions, all wrapped up in the fresh tortillas we’d bought that morning. It was our last meal in Turtle Bay. After a much appreciated uninterrupted night’s sleep, the crew was up at 0630 and ready to go.

After the morning radio net was completed, Profligate, the Ha-Ha’s flagship stood on station at the mouth of the bay and the fleet took off, most with spinnakers flying on the next leg of our watery exodus. Next stop: Bahia Santa Maria, 230 miles to the south. Time to get sailing.

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