Saturday, November 9, 2013


Raising the Spinnaker
November 2nd, we left at 8:00 in the morning to sail to Bahia Santa Maria.  Winds were light and we flew the spinnaker for the first time on Fool’s Castle.  It went fairly well, given crew who were novices with spinnakers.  The wind built as the day progressed, so we doused the kite and proceeded under sail with the mizzen and stay sail flying.  It got lumpier and lumpier, but the day was warm and even the evening was pleasant.  Joel completed his 10 PM to 3 AM watch in his swim trunks.
Fool's Castle's Spinnaker

Tension between Scott and the rest of the crew has been running high.  Charles left us at San Diego and the rest of us have been enduring constant outbursts from an owner stressed to the breaking point who takes every fault with his boat as a personal affront.  He wants to be informed of anything that doesn’t work, but is inclined to wound the messengers.  It is difficult to stay out of his way in 43’ of space.

Ingemar had charted a course that roughly followed the coast, instead of cutting across open water to Bahia Santa Maria.  This course became more and more difficult to steer as the wind continued to build.  On the morning of the 3rd, we could no longer continue on that course and had to stand out to sea, back to the rhumb line we would have sailed if we had gone straight across.  This concerned Ingemar, since we were off the paper charts (we still had two GPS chart plotters operating), but I felt better when we began to see other Ha-Ha boats for the first time since the prior afternoon.

Our plan was to sail west until 4:00 and then drop the main and jib and motor under mizzen and stay sail straight towards Bahia Santa Maria through the night.  Shortly after 3:00, the wind had built to a steady 25 knots and Michelle was having difficulty keeping the boat from rounding up.  I decided to take in sail earlier than planned.  We rolled up the jib without incident, but things got more interesting when I went forward to roll up the main.  The stay sail halyard was lead to the winch I needed to furl the main and the stay sail was flying and full of wind.  As I was attempting to clear the winch without losing too much halyard height, the shackle on the clew of the stay sail gave way and the big metal fitting on the clew seemed bent on my destruction.  At least it no longer mattered that I maintain good sail shape on the stay sail.  I directed Joel to fall off so that the sail wouldn’t rip my nose off and furled the main.  Then, I was faced with the task of venturing out on the bow to pull down and secure the stay sail and rescue what was left of the self- tacking gear.

Boat under control, we laid a course straight for Bahia Santa Maria.  Soon, we were encouraged to see the lights of other boats in the distance.  We pulled into Bahia Santa Maria early the morning of the fourth.  Bahia Santa Maria is a large bay on the outside of the barrier island that forms Bahia Magdalena.  It is usually a lonely place, with only a few boats and a handful of fishermen’s cabins, but that morning it was full of Ha-Ha boats and looked quite welcoming.  It must have rained recently, because the hills were green and covered with pink wildflowers and fluttering yellow butterflies.

Bahia Santa Maria
Having played Cinderella in Turtle Bay, I was desperate to get off the boat.  As soon as we had recovered from our night of sailing, Michelle, Joel and I took the dinghy to go ashore.  At first we headed for the inviting beach near the estuary, but the surf was breaking offshore and we didn’t want to chance a landing there.  We turned around and motored laboriously against the wind and current (the motor on Scott’s dinghy is a one speed, 1968 2.5 hp Evinrude) back to a small beach near our anchorage.  This was our first attempt at landing a dinghy in the surf and my first experience with using dinghy wheels.  It would have been easier if we had lowered the dinghy wheels sooner, but we managed to land without breaking a shear pin or flipping over, so I counted it a success.  The dinghy wheels were fantastic for hauling the boat up onto the beach.  I was able to haul a rib well up onto the shore single handed.

There wasn’t really much of a beach there, but we had a good time exploring up a little wash, drinking beer in the sun and playing in the tide pools.  We met many other Ha-Ha participants there, including one gentleman who paddled ashore on an air mattress, looking very relaxed.  The water was clear and warm and the temperature was ideal.  After a couple of weeks on tension on the boat, it was wonderful to have an afternoon free in what felt like paradise.

We had a bit of a time getting off the shore due to Joel’s insistence on raising the wheels as soon as they cleared the bottom.  He got caught between the dinghy and a rock and had a tough time dodging the propeller.  Lesson learned: Leave your wheels down.  We did manage to leave the shore with some dignity intact and made it safely back to the boat.  Scott had also elected to take the day off and had spent the day reading.  He was in a much better humor when we returned.

We spent a peaceful late afternoon on the boat and then rigged up the barbecue and grilled steaks for dinner.  I baked some sweet potatoes and made a salad and we washed it all down with some nice red wine.  It was nice for all of us to be able to eat together, instead of shifts as we had to do when we were on watches.  We were all ready to go to bed right after dinner.  We didn’t even make it to cruiser midnight (9 PM.)

Bahia Santa Maria with Party Tents in Background
November 5th was another relaxing day in Bahia Santa Maria.  Boats continued to arrive all day and night after we got in, but pretty much everyone had arrived in time for the beach party that afternoon.  The residents of Bahia Santa Maria conspire with the Ha-Ha organizers to throw a big bash every year.  There was a lunch of grilled marlin and seafood stew, lots of cold beer and a really great rock and roll band that came all the way from La Paz to play for our tips.  We talked to a lot of people and did some crew recruitment for later in the trip.  There was a lot of dancing and people hiked up the hill to look over towards Mag Bay.  A couple of guys floated down the estuary, drinking beers, as the tide went out.  There was beach volleyball after the tide went out and revealed the beach.  We were delivered to and from the party by the world’s fastest panga.  I’ve never gone so fast in a boat.

After the exertions of the party, I made a simple dinner of beef fajitas and we crashed early because we wanted to get an early start in order to get to Cabo in time to meet Ingemar’s wife who was flying in on the 7th.

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