After the HaHa, waiting to be repaired in Cabo

Posted by Admiral
Nov 15 2009

22 degrees 53’, 109 degrees 55’

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It has been over three weeks since I have posted, probably the most interesting and exciting three weeks yet, so here we go:

The Baja HaHa left San Diego as scheduled on Monday morning, Oct. 26.  We had four people on our boat – Larry and I, Joel Tuttle, and Harry Reppert.  Joel and Harry are both very fine and experienced sailors.  We were fortunate all along the way to have them.

A fireboat sprayed firehoses for our exit from the harbor, and I did my best to take pictures that showed the incredible HUGE fleet of nearly 190 boats leaving San Diego Harbor at the same time:

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It’s really impossible to take a picture from boat deck level that shows even a significant portion of this fleet!

So we were off, and many of the boats flew spinnakers at the start or soon after:

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Again, the picture doesn’t do the scene justice.

So off we went, but we kept our engine on as did many other boats because the wind was very light.  We had a weather prediction for some big winds and big seas in about 24-36 hours, and we didn’t want to be in that stuff more than necessary.  Speed was the answer (we thought.)  Muggs didn’t get seasick (thank heavens for small miracles), and she even managed to heat up the first meal we ate underway—thanks to Harry’s great cooking!  Crewmember Harry cooked about five LARGE meals for us and brought them to San Diego in his car in a cooler with dry ice.  We had to do no elaborate meal prep during the two week Haha – only sandwiches and cereal needed to be added to the mix.  Here’s Muggs using her propane stove underway for the first time.  You cannot appreciate what a big deal that is from this picture.  Please add the motion of a bobblehead doll in your imagination!

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The first portion of the HaHa travels from San Diego to Turtle Bay which is approximately 350 miles south.  It generally takes about 50-60 hours at boat speeds around 5-6 knots.  After the first night, we all checked in by radio with the Grand Poobah (Richard Spindler, founder and editor of the magazine Latitude 38 which originated and still partially sponsors the race/rally).  He suggested that boats that wanted to wait for better weather, thought to be coming in about 24 hours, could wait out the night in one of several large anchorages along the northern Baja coast.  Most boats pulled into Bahia San Quintin, including us.  Wrong!  When we went out the next day, we had as bad or worse for the rest of the distance to Turtle Bay.  Boats that didn’t wait had a better time of it.  At the time, I thought we had made a good decision anyway, because we were all tired and needed the rest.

We arrived at Turtle Bay, cooked one of Harry’s fabulous meals, shared a bottle of wine, and hit the sack.  The next day, there was a pot luck on the beach.  We inflated the dinghy and took in chocolate cookies and brownies which were a big hit!  (Baking on the boat – I’m getting pretty good at this stuff!)

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Turtle Bay is beautiful, and there is a small town here.  We were able to buy groceries and fuel.  The boat which sold us fuel had a good filter right there on his boat.  I found more shells like the large one Larry had found last year.  I wanted to stay longer, but the HaHa stayed only two nights, then moved on.

Next stop was Bahia Santa Maria, another beautiful anchorage.  Here, there are about a dozen very small fishermen’s shacks and a larger building (maybe 15’ x 20’) which is used as a schoolhouse for the fishermen’s children.  The fishermen and other people from La Paz (across the peninsula – check a map) brought a live rock and roll band and a great meal for our party here.  The meal was served cafeteria-style in the schoolhouse, and the band played just outside for tips.

Baja HaHa 2009 216 The Band!

Baja HaHa 2009 237 The crew!

Baja HaHa 2009 235 Harry and Larry!

Baja HaHa 2009 209 Sunset

The next day, the fleet was off to Cabo San Lucas on the final leg of the trip.  Now the weather would be truly Baja HaHa weather – gentle breezes from behind, small seas.  We left early the night before because we expected to sail a lot (finally!), and we wanted plenty of time.  Good choice! At around 11:30 pm (2330 in sailor talk), I was at the helm (the wheel) when the most gawdawful mechanical-parts-breaking-and-crashing sound came from below.  I shut down the engine, but the sound continued.  Larry was awake, Joel and Harry were awakened rather rudely by the noise, and all three went to investigate.  I don’t remember the complete sequence of events now, but eventually we set all the sails and the broken part (the flange connecting the prop to the transmission had sheared) was “repaired” by one of Boy Scout-Larry’s amazing knots:

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I apologize for the shaky photo, but it’s the only one I took.  This part has since been fixed, but Larry’s knots held everything in place for 8 days.  Amazing what ropes can do!

We sailed for approximately 36 hours.  During the first daylight, we raised our spinnaker and sailed with it for nearly 10 hours:

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On the morning of the second day, the wind died.  It was also terribly hot.  We knew that we would not get to Cabo by that evening without a tow, so we made the decision to request a tow after spending a couple of hours flogging our sails and making no progress.  This was a difficult decision because there are risks in towing, and most sailboats are not really designed to do this.  There was another boat in our fleet which had requested a tow earlier that day, and a boat not in our fleet had been towed by one of ours about two days earlier into Magdalena Bay.  We decided to call for help, and we had more than one offer.  The closest boat to us was a relatively small boat (32’ to our 45’), but they had towed before and were up to the challenge.  This boat, Joya, towed us for about three hours.  In that time, Hello World caught up with us and took over.  They were concerned about the mismatch in size.  Hello World is a 40’ Caliber, and they towed us uneventfully in the anchorage at Cabo San Lucas:

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The tow line was lengthened quickly:

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Hello World towed us into and through the anchorage (very scary for me as I was at the helm again).  They called for help from one of the anchored boats, and Lost Horizon came out in their dinghy to help us pull down on the anchor – something we could not do without an engine!

We were anchored right after sunset:

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We never did take any pictures of the boat at anchor, but we were there for nearly a week.  The yard was too busy to deal with us on Friday, our first full day.  Harry left us on Friday, and there was a beach party that day.  We had to go to immigration to get Harry his visa so he could leave, so I was fully dressed to impress (as much as a cruiser can).  At the beach party, they had the “From Here to Eternity” contest where couples re-enact the beach make-out scene complete with a roll in the surf.  Larry really wanted to do this very badly, so I was a good sport, and we did it in our street clothes!  I think the winners were Rod and Elizabeth of Proximity.  I mentioned them before when we met them first in Monterey (at least I hope I mentioned them!).  Anyway, they are a darling couple on their way to do the Puddle Jump (sailing to the South Pacific in March).  Here they are at the costume party in San Diego:

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We were at Cabrillo Isle Marina in San Diego together, and they celebrated their 7th anniversary there.  (Note to my sister:  on Oct. 22!)  Rod told the story of how they met – on a plane flying to or from Lithuania (I’m not sure which).  She was reading something about serious biological research – the sort of thing where laypeople don’t understand the title.  He asked her about it, she put the book down, and by the time they landed, he was completely in love and knew he would marry her!  What a great story!

The next day, Saturday, Larry and Joel and I took a ride on a Yellow Submarine glass sided boat.  You sit in the lower level, the boat lowers itself (sinks) about four to six feet, and you watch the fish through windows – like that old Disneyland ride.  Only the fish are real and completely amazing:

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As are the views above ground:

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A crew member took this picture of us.  It pretty much shows how we are feeling now – tired, but happy!

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Joel flew home on Sunday.  Monday morning, Larry got a case of La Turista.  We treated it with immediate dosing with Pepto Bismol, and it lasted only one day.  So we didn’t go to the boat yard until Tuesday.  We had our boat towed in to the boat work dock at their request.  They were able to find the part (on an old transmission somewhere in CSL), determine a slight mismatch, machine a correction, and install the part in about one day.  Pretty amazing, we thought.  But then the bad news – our two forward motor mounts were also broken!  To fix this, they really needed the boat to be hauled.  Since there are no OSHA-type safety regs in Mexico, Muggs and Larry rode in their boat while it was hauled!  Not on purpose, mind you – it just worked out that way!

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Baja HaHa 2009 282 Can you tell that the boat is up in the air in this picture?

In the yard, we were placed next to Blue Swan which was the other HaHa boat that had been towed.  His shaft had actually sheared!  Much scarier than our damage.  Robert, the boat’s owner, had planned to continue on to La Paz for more cruising, but he changed his mind after the repairs were done.  He is now headed back to San Diego all by himself!

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Now we are spending a three-day holiday weekend in Mexico (Revolution Day) on the hard, trying not to melt in the heat and humidity.  We have certainly learned that the people who live in the tropics have got it right – work hard in the morning and evening, siesta from 12 to 3!

We know that the boat took a beating during the first leg of the trip.  The motion was relentless, and there were several hard slams of water against hull and vice versa.  We surmise that the engine mounts broke during this action.  There was so much noise from the surf and the boat against it that we might not have heard this happening.

With two broken engine mounts, the engine was literally dangling from the rear engine mounts.  The connection at the transmission, which is undoubtedly original (35 years old) finally gave way.  This is our theory.

Last week we went to Telcel, the Mexican cellular phone company, and bought a gizmo that gives us internet connection from our own computer right here on the boat.  I don’t have to take the computer off the boat, which makes me very happy!  That is why you are just now getting this report.  Hopefully, in the future, our reports will be a little closer together.  There are places in the Sea of Cortez – our planned cruising ground – where cell phone coverage isn’t available, but coverage is mostly pretty good.  Hasta la vista!

Muggs and Larry

5 Responses

  1. Gilligan says:

    Wow! What a story. Didn’t you just get new motor mounts before shipping out?

    Best of luck on the repairs, and congrats on the internet connection. We’re all looking forward to keeping up with you.

    • Admiral Muggs says:

      Yes, we did just get four new motor mounts, but they were different parts of the motor mount. It’s a complicated part. I think Larry said that the port side mount is the same part we replaced after the first and second surveys (2005 and 2006). We are racking our brains trying to figure out why this part likes to break!

      I will let you know what we learned after the repairs are complete.

  2. Rick Cloninger says:

    Have fun / be careful. Looks like Larry needs a shave (the old salt).

  3. John & Lisa says:

    Hi & congrats on getting to Cabo in one piece! It all sounds like the most challenging Ha Ha so far. Now relax!

  4. Joel says:

    West Marine is still working on finding you a charger for the Uniden radio. This is a part that is discontinued so it is a challenge to say the least. Jeff is handling this at the Alameda store. Have fun on the hard.

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