October 27th – Let the Voyage Begin
It was hard to believe that this day had finally arrived. Breezy whipped up some awesome breakfast burritos con papas, avocado, queso, y huevos to make sure we got started with competitive advantage. We were determined to win first prize in the Enchilada division at all costs. Meanwhile, I turned in our keycards to Cabrillo Isle Marina and made a final inspection of the boat. Umphrey settled in the cockpit – not knowing whether we would be gone for a day sail or a one-way offshore voyage.
Breezy does some last minute organizing to prepare for the rally.
The rally started in San Diego Bay at 9AM with the fleet taking part in a parade through the harbor. 140+ boats hailing from virtually every harbor the Pacific coast converged together seeking an epic adventure in Mexico. Little did we know that many of souls aboard these boats would become close friends in the coming weeks. In that moment an unexpected realization set in… the preceding years of hard work we put into our boat had finally reached its apex and we could expect nothing but the unknown ahead. ‘The starting line of of the Haha was really the finish line of of our previous life.”
The 2014 Baja Haha fleets leaves San Diego in light winds.
With almost no wind in San Diego, the rally committee called a rolling start, which allowed the fleet to motor past the starting line without any penalties. We charted a rhumb line course starting on the outside of the Coronado Islands. This course adds about 3 miles to the 340 mile trip, but there was a better chance of catching wind on the outside of the Coronados. Unfortunately, the wind never panned out and we continued to motor at an average speed of 5 Knots. The map below shows our actual course for leg one from our InReach Satellite Tracker – a gadget well worth the $300 expense for this trip.
We chose to take a course on the outside of the San Bonitas Islands to avoid passing near land at night. The blue line shows our tracking points every 10 minutes during the 3 day sail.
As one of the slower boats, we watched the majority of the fleet slowly inch away on the horizon. Nightfall brought on spectacular stars, a sliver of a crescent moon, and the dim glow of Ensenada in the distance. A handful of boats made radio calls in the night with problems (engine problems, family emergencies, etc.) and were forced to divert to Ensenada. As seasickness set in, cutting the trip short in Ensenada seemed like an attractive option, but we pushed on…
October 28th – Barf
By morning we were south of Ensenada, a.k.a. the point of no return. A full 24 hours of motoring with a 4 to 6 foot swell on the beam was taking its toll on the both of us. Diesel fumes, rolly seas, and beating sunlight caused me to get seasick for the first time in my life. Breezy had already thrown up the evening before while I was off watch, so I had to be strong. I tired to eat an oatmeal backpacker’s meal, took one bite, and not 5 seconds later proceeded to ralph over the port side. After fouling up my foul weather bibs, I chose to redirect the heaving over the stern. Needless to say, our Helio pressurized solar shower came in handy for cleaning up the mess. I was extremely impressed by my wife’s ability to hold things together durning this low point in the voyage. Why are we doing this again?
After this ordeal, we had to figure out how to relay our position to to the Baja Ha-Ha rally committee. Since we only have a VHF radio, we have to relay our position to another boat in our line of sight that is equipped with a Single Sideband (SSB) radio. Although we were a couple hours late, we managed to relay our position to the catamaran mothership Profligate. Communicating on the radio can be a tricky task for newbies like us, but it becomes very easy (and fun) after you do it a couple times.
From this point onward, things started to improve. The wind picked up to about 8 knots and seas subsided to around 3 feet. We were able to sail for much of the day on a broad reach. Seasickness faded we were at about the halfway point by the evening. Only 170 miles to go…
October 29th – Umphrey’s Great Relief
We were able to sail intermittently for most of the day. I was extremely impressed at the fuel efficiency of our 20 HP Beta Marine engine. The boat was burning about 1/3 gallon of diesel per hour to push our loaded-down 12,000 pound boat through the Pacific at a respectable 5 knots.
By the afternoon, we could see Cedros Island and the San Bonitas Islands off the port bow. Seeing these islands is an important milestone because it means Turtle Bay is right around the corner.
By this point, the biggest concern was that Umphrey was still holding back from doing his business. Breezy and I took turns taking him on the Starboard deck to use his potty pad. We put pumpkin in his food, “scented” certain spots, and provided enthusiastic encouragement, but he stuck to his guns.
Umphrey sits atop the spinnaker during leg 1, not knowing how long he’s going to be stuck on the boat. We tried to tell him, but he just tilted his head in confusion.
Finally, at 18:32 on the 29th day of October, a small, yet glorious poop was evacuated by the pug. There was a massive celebration among the crew and Umphrey almost instantly got the clue that it was OK to go potty on the boat. The night followed with several more poops on the deck and about a gallon of pee in the cabin (during which Breezy stood in the puddle cheering him on). We were just glad to see him get some relief after 61 hours of keeping his pride.
October 30th – Buenas Dias Bahia de Tortugas
Another spectacular night sail trying to identify celestial bodies using Sky Guide on the iPad (perhaps the best $1.99 I’ve ever spent), we were closing in on the halfway point of the Ha-Ha. We were finally within view of land again and looking forward to a calm and comfortable anchorage.
Sunrise on approach to Turtle Bay
We entered the nearly circular shaped Bahia de Tortugas at first light around 0600 in the morning. We counted approximately 80 other boats in the anchorage and were able to get the hook set easily in the massive bay. My first order of business at 0800 was to launch the dinghy and haul ass around the rest of the fleet. I was too excited to get any rest. Breezy’s first order of business was to jump in the warm water and take a relaxing solar shower.
We “had” to spend a few extra days in the Turtle Bay Anchorage due the the threat of Hurricane Vance, but we welcomed the extra rest. The next few days included a “Conga-Only” potluck, paddle board races, and some exploring of the friendly dust-covered village of Turtle Bay. For most sailors this is just small stop on the road, but for us it seems like a pretty big accomplishment.
Enjoying the view at the potluck in Turtle Bay
To be continued…