|We departed Long Beach, California on October 30 at 1900 hours, a full 8 hours after the Baja Haha Fleet departed San Diego
(which is 12 hours south of Long Beach). This year the Haha Fleet consists of over 180 entries, and we are looking forward to
catching up and meeting some of these fine folks. Southern Belle's crew consists of the regulars: George, Melinda, and Joshua; and
our friends Brian Dair and Angela Goodwin. Brian is a sail maker by trade and one of southern California's best racing sailors.
Angela works for West Marine and has many sea miles under her belt.
Our start was a bit auspicious. We were stowing gear and finalizing equipment installations right up to the last minute. We
finally decided to just throw everything aboard and sort it out underway. This, of course, is not the best way to proceed but all of
the good friends helping us to get underway said that if we didn't leave they were going to cut our dock lines! I think they had a
going away party after we left.
We figured that in our attempt to catch the fleet we would have to motor most of the way. We were wrong. During our second day
at sea the wind piped up to 18 to 20 knots and we flew the spinnaker for hours reaching top speeds of 11.5 knots. That night under
reefed main and full jib we were seeing as much as 27 knots of wind! We carried sail throughout the night chewing up the sea miles
at sustained speeds of 8 to 9 knots, occasionally surfing 6 foot waves at speeds of 11 to 12 knots! I was tempted to go forward and
hang ten! We had lovely sunsets each day and a nice bright moon to keep us company each night. So those are the things that went
right. Now let's get to the things that went wrong. On November 1, 2006 we blew a high pressure hose fitting on our newly
installed reverse osmosis water maker, forcing us to ration water until we could make a repair. So much for daily showers.
Bummer! We also blew out one of our batten cars on the main sail, but with Brian aboard this was a small problem that was easily
On the morning of November 2nd we were within sight of Isla Cedros approximately 29 miles north of Turtle Bay which is the HaHa
fleets first destination. We rigged a makeshift fishing line to tow behind the boat and immediately caught a mackerel, which we
tossed back into the ocean. But that still counts as having caught a fish! We made Turtle Bay at 1500 hours and were surprised to
learn that even starting 18 to 20 hours behind the fleet we were not the last boat to arrive. Gotta love those multihulls! Turtle
Bay is described as being Coyote Ugly, but oh what a beautiful sight it was to us. It held the promise of a good nights sleep,
possibly a repair to the watermaker, and a much needed shower. We anchored among the huge fleet of sailboats and hunkered down
for the evening.
The first thing we did on November 3rd was deal with the broken watermaker. We met a local gentleman named Reuben of Annabel's
Fuel Service who was selling fuel via his panga. He looked at the broken fitting and asked if he could take it. He did not speak
English and we have very limited Spanish so we hoped he didn't think it was a gift. Later that afternoon Reuben showed up with the
high pressure hose and a brand new fitting all ready to go! He wasn't even going to charge us, so we gave him a generous tip. Giant
props to Reuben!! That afternoon the HaHa fleet held a pot luck beach party and Joshua was finally able to go ashore and run with
some of the other HaHa kids. A great time was had by all!
At 0800 on the 4th the entire fleet got under way for Bahia Santa Maria, approximately 225 miles south. The breeze was fresh at
the start so just about every sailboat was flying a spinnaker. What a sight! We had a great sail with a full moon to keep us
company at night. On our second day at sea the fleet started reporting fish they had caught. One guy landed an 80 pound Wahoo,
another a 50 pound Yellowtail and so on and so forth. We on Southern Belle had been diligently towing our makeshift meat hook with
a purple squid jig given to us by Jamie and Alpha back in Long Beach. We were becoming despondent at our lack of fishing prowess
when BAM, we landed a 34 inch, 10 pound Dorado. We all feasted on grilled Mahi Mahi that night. Yeah you right!
We made Bahia Santa Maria at 0200 on the 6th, set our hook, and passed out cold. We woke the next morning to a beautiful calm
anchorage full of HaHa boats. The water temperature was 79 degrees so we all jumped in for a swim. Upon diving under the boat I
came to the horrible realization that our port side rudder was gone! Auggggghhhhh! It had sheared off right at the hull. You can
see where corrosion had worked its way into the rudder shaft from two sides, leaving only a small bit of good metal in the middle.
We had noticed somewhat poorer steering characteristics, but had thought that it was due to overloading the boat with too much
junk. Oh well, I guess our cruising plans now include going into a boatyard for this much needed repair. Bummer! Melinda, Joshua ,
and I spent the day visiting other boats while Brian and Angela swam and lounged about. That afternoon we braved the shore landing
through the surf so that Joshua could do some boogie boarding. There is no town in this anchorage. Just a small fishing camp used
by the locals, and this place is drop dead gorgeous. I fear our pictures don't do it justice.
On the 7th the HaHa fleet hosted another beach party. And what a party it was! The locals provided the food and we all feasted on
lobster, fresh fish, and shrimp. There were ice cold beers for purchase at a very reasonable price, and they even hired a rock and
roll band that travelled all the way from La Paz to play for us (heaven knows how they got there because there are no roads).
Joshua found three other boys in his age group and they played and ran until they virtually dropped from exhaustion! The beach
landing on our dinghy was exciting to say the least, but we made it safely ashore. Brian and Angela paddled the two person kayak to
the party and had a blast surfing the waves near the shoreline.
On the 8th the HaHa fleet got underway for the last leg of the journey to Cabo San Lucas. At least a dozen boats opted to stay on
in Bahia Santa Maria. It was just too beautiful to leave. We would have liked another day in this paradise, but since we are down
to one rudder we decided to stay with the large group in case we ran into problems. About two hours into our southerly sojourn, we
spotted a pod of whales. We think they were either Finback or Mink whales.
On the morning of the 9th we made lands end at Cabo San Lucas. Yipppeeeeee!! This is a major milestone because we are leaving the
potentially treacherous west coast of the Baja Peninsula behind. The rock formations at lands end are beautiful. We will spend a
few days here in Cabo refueling, re provisioning, and of course partying with the HaHa Fleet. We will also get on the horn to
research a new rudder, and maybe even a spare or two! Be sure to check out the photos on the link above.
Finally, I would like to give a special thanks to those who helped us prepare for our departure from the rat race. To Dave Katz for
loaning us his truck after we sold our vehicles. Dave also stocked us with boat bottom cleaning supplies to last at least a year.
Thanks Dave! To Jim Wasti for helping us get our vehicles in perfect shape thereby facilitating a quick and easy sale. Thanks for
that Jim, and for all the pickled eggs and cervezas from Joe Josts! To Tim Carlson for his ingenious fabrication ideas. Thanks Tim,
the anchor windlass works like a dream! To the combined efforts of Carter Miller from Riley Marine and Dan Loggins from Harbor
Custom Canvas for designing and building our awesome cockpit enclosure. Thanks guys, you drastically expanded our usable living
space aboard. To Bill Scholz of Ham Radio Outlet for coming to the boat on his own time and programming our SSB radio. Thanks
Bill, we were able to participate in every one of the HaHa nets no matter how far in front of the fleet we were. And last but
certainly not least, to Tony Stuart of Pro Marine Systems for all of the fine work he did installing systems aboard Southern Belle.
Thanks Tony, there is absolutely no way we could have made this journey without your help and hard work!
George, Melinda, and Joshua
The Crew of Southern Belle
|Long Beach , California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico