Baja Ha-Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

 

You might be reading this blog because you are interested in doing the Baja Ha-Ha and you googled, and here you are. Welcome.

The Baja Ha-Ha is a cruiser rally primarily for sailboats (but powerboats are welcome). It begins in San Diego, USA and ends in Cabo San Luis, Mexico about 750 miles away. It happens in October/November, and you can find the official site for the Baja Ha-Ha here.

I crewed on my friend Greg’s 49 foot Jeanneau for the Baja Ha-Ha October – November 2015. In addition to Greg and myself, there were four additional crew members. Because the boat had three cabins and three heads (bathrooms), we had some space—sorta.

After saying yes to Greg and signing a waiver in which I acknowledge that I could die (we all will eventually), I hauled my gear and myself onto the boat in Marina del Rey. We cut the dock lines and off we went. We first sailed to Catalina Island, then we did an overnight run to Ensenada, Mexico.

Greg started the Baja Ha-Ha in Ensenada and not San Diego along with about a dozen other boats. As an experienced Baja Ha-Ha-er, he felt it was easier to make Ensenada his first port of call and clear customs and immigration there instead of in Cabo with a hundred other boats. With the help of the marina staff, we were able to get that business done quickly. Then, we could have fun on the Baja Ha-Ha.

The first run of the Baja Ha-Ha to Turtle Bay took two days and two nights with the crew taking watch shifts. We sailed a bit and motored a bit. We arrived in the morning then spent three nights in Turtle Bay. There was a softball game one day and a beach party.

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Anchoring in Turtle Bay

The second run was from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria, then we were in the anchorage for three nights for a raft up party and a music party.

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Anchorage at Bahia Santa Maria

The third and final run was from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo. Again, Greg’s experience came into play. He had a reservation not in Cabo, but in the marina at San Jose del Cabo just down the road. We hired a car to go to a party at Squid Roe (a bar), a beach party, and an awards party. Yep, there are a lot of parties in the Baja Ha-Ha.

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Lots of boats on near Cabo

If you do the Baja Ha-Ha, you will go to a lot of parties. You will also sail a lot. You could spend days without internet and a shower. There’s also the potential for sea sickness, boats breaking, and the beer supply running out. Just remember, you must eat and drink, you must sleep, and you must pee.

So is the Baja Ha-Ha worth doing? The last night on the run into Cabo, there were big rollers and the wind was shifty. I was tired and several hours from my pillow. I was in yesterday’s clothes. I looked at the waves and the stars and I thought, yeah, this is good, I love this. I sailed 900 miles (140 from Marina del Rey plus the 750 plus the extra to San Jose del Cabo), and I still love it.

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The First Step Is The Hardest

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It is approximately thirty nautical miles from Marina del Rey in Los Angeles to Avalon, the town on Catalina Island just off the coast of Southern California. Recently I sailed there for the first time on a hot May afternoon. During the seven hour motor sail, I could see the smoke from fires down in San Diego, and I was glad to be surrounded by water.

Even though I spent only one night in Avalon, I did have time to Zipline. My Aunt had ziplined two years ago and raved about it. There was even a photo of her flying through the air and waving at the camera. I could do it. Yes, maybe?

There was just small snafu.

I have a problem with heights.

I discovered this twelve years ago while doing the Bridge Climb on the Sydney Harbor bridge. I was okay on the simulation, but when I was up on the bridge, I looked out at air, air, air, air, and froze. Everyone on the bridge learned my name that day. I remember actually embracing the ground once I got off the bridge.

So I have heights issues. Why would I want to zipline?

I have raced on dinghy sailboats and hiked out over the side of the boat with a harness on. I am comfortable in a harness. I know I won’t fall out. I trust that it will hold me.

However, all trust fell away when I stood on the first platform to zipline on the first of five lines. Sure, it was perfectly safe. Jake the brakeman had just gone a very long way across the line. Then the woman who had ziplined all over the world and said that the Catalina zipline was the safest she had ever been on flew across and actually took a hand off a handlebar.

Then it was my turn. Scott, the zipline guy, asked how I was doing. I had nothing except truth.

 I’m really really scared.

I wondered if there was a really really scared clause in the zipline release I had signed with my finger on an ipad down (way far down) by the beach.

That’s okay. Scott said and continued to talk to me about how it was totally rational to be scared while standing on the brink of oblivion. As he talked, we walked to the edge of the platform.

I looked down down down down at hillside and scrub and dirt and little rocks which will really really hurt when I hit them because even though I was in a harness, I knew without doubt that I was going down.

And my hands were sweaty on the handles.

I really didn’t want to do this. So much for trying new things and embracing life with a sense of adventure. So much for my action heroine self-image. I was a big chicken and I was holding everyone up. In fact, I was probably holding up the whole ziplining schedule. Why? Why did I decide that this would be fun?

Then I heard Scott’s voice in the clutter of my anxiety.

Just try one line. If you hate it, you can quit after one, but I think you will love it.

I looked down. I still couldn’t make that step. I took a deep breath. I took another deep breath. Deep breaths are bullshit.

Then I stepped. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. I just stepped.

And the harness held me.

And I didn’t have to do anything.

And I was flying. And the air felt so cool. And I was moving. And I was fine. And I was fine. And I was actually enjoying it.

And the handle mechanism slammed into the brake block. Whoah.

And I was on the other side.

Oh-my-God-that-was-awesome-I-want-to-do-it-again. I said to Jake the brake dude. I was bubbly and ecstatic.

She hated it, and she’s cursing your name. Jake said into his radio.

And I let out the biggest laugh.

I did all five ziplines down the canyon. I took a hand off on my second zipline. I still had nerves leaving the platform, but once I was off, I was flying.

I ended up with no picture to show my Aunt. When I did the photo zipline, I was overly confident and tried to do too much. In the photo, I was blocked by my derriere. Eeek. Then again, I don’t need the picture when I have the thousand (or rather 747) words.