About the Ha-Ha
If you’re new to the Baja Ha-Ha cruisers rally (from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas), you probably have a boatload of questions about it. We hope the following list of . . .
Frequenty Asked Questions
. . . will give you many of the answers you’ve been looking for.
Select a topic below or just scroll down for all the questions and answers.
Q) When is the Baja Ha-Ha?
A) The event begins every year at the end of October. The 2016 dates will be October 30-November 12.
Q) How long has the Baja Ha-Ha been running, and how many boats have done it?
A) 2016’s event will be the 23rd (the first was in ‘94). As of 2015, roughly 3,000 boats have done the event so far, with more than 10,000 participants aboard.
Q) What’s the total distance of the event?
A) Approximately 750 miles.
Q) Are there stops along the way?
A) Yes, two stops, at Turtle Bay (Bahia Tortugas) and Bahia Santa Maria. The event is timed so that even the slowest boats will get about a day and a half of rest at each stop.
Q) Why is is called a rally rather than a race?
A) Although some boats invariably do push hard to beat the rest of their class, most are just looking for a comfortable ride down the coast. Also, you can use your engine if and when you want, and, as long as you inform the Rally Committee, you can engage in any number of variations, such as starting a little early or a little late, or from Ensenada. You might even choose to anchor for a night at Isla Guadaloupe or Isla Cedros. All these variations are permitted, as long as you let the Rally Committee know where you are. The Ha-Ha organizers don’t see their role as making a lot of rules, but as facilitating everyone’s pleasure.
Q) What’s the primary goal of the Baja Ha-Ha?
A) The goals of the Ha-Ha are simple: for everyone to get to Cabo safely while enjoying some great sailing and making countless new friends.
Q) Does the event involve a lot of heavy partying?
A) Definitely not. If your plan is to get drunk, party into the wee hours, and shake your booty all the way down the Baja peninsula, then the Ha-Ha, which is all about responsible, G-rated fun, is not for you. Sure, most folks have a beer or two and might do a little dancing on the beach, but the Ha-Ha has never been about wild and crazy behavior.
Q) What sort of boats can enter the Ha-Ha?
A) The event is open to all boats over 27 feet that were designed, built and have been maintained for open ocean sailing. If you’re not sure your boat fits that criteria, get a trip survey from a marine surveyor.
Q) Can powerboats enter the event?
A) Yes, powerboats are also welcome.
Q) Are SSB radios required?
A) While most boats do carry an SSB radio, they are not required, as the VHF relay system for roll calls has worked very well over the years. But you’ll want to go over all your safety equipment and procedures carefully.
Q) What are the crew requirements? Is singlehanding allowed?
A) Singlehanding is not allowed. All Ha-Ha entries must have a minimum of two crew with overnight offshore experience. Everyone who participates needs to be in good health and physical condition. While a lot of couples doublehand, the Ha-Ha covers a pretty good distance in a relatively short period of time, so you’ll probably enjoy the sailing and the R&R stops more if you’ve got four or more competent crew on your boat. But such decisions are yours alone, not the Rally Committee’s.
Q) Does the Rally Committee inspect entered boats?
A) No. The Committee does not do inspections, nor does it publish a list of mandatory equipment. Decisions on boat safety are entirely up to each skipper. Only boats which would be capable of making the trip on their own should enter.
Q) What are the typical sailing conditions?
A) There are three legs in each Ha-Ha, so there have been 63 legs to date. Of those 63 legs, only two of them have been upwind. Indeed, the typical Ha-Ha conditions are light-to-moderate following winds with small-to-moderate seas. But the Pacific Ocean is not a controlled environment so, while conditions are generally benign, you nonetheless must be prepared for the very slight possibility of heavy weather. Commanders Weather, which does forecasting for many of the best racing boats in the world, will provide forecasts which will be passed along during the roll call each morning. But remember, a forecast is a prediction, not a guarantee.
Q) What sort of facilities and services can be found along the way?
A) The two stops along the way are Turtle Bay, a dusty but loveable fishing village far off the main road, and primitive Bahia Santa Maria, which is truly out in the middle of nowhere. The former has a couple of small tiendas, a few low-capacity restaurants, an Internet cafe, and usually some diesel. It does not have ATMs, banks, McDonalds, boatyards or spas. Bahia Santa Maria has nothing - except a restaurant that magically appears one day a year, along with a rock ‘n roll band, just for the Ha-Ha. You need to be self-sufficient from San Diego to Cabo. Many of the Ha-Ha's sponsors offer services in either California or Mexico.
Q) How much is the entry fee?
A) The entry fee is $375 per boat. (However, if you are under 35, or your boat is under 35 feet, we offer a discounted rate of $325.) These rates are only about 25% of the cost of similar two-week rallies elsewhere in the States and around the world.
Q) How do I sign up?
A) Registration for the 2015 rally opens on May 1, around noon. Entry packets will then be mailed out containing important rally information, special offers from the event’s sponsors, and your official Ha-Ha burgee. There is no in-person sign-up.
Q) Is there any reason to sign up early, rather than waiting until the last minute?
A) One very good reason to sign up early is that berths in Cabo are assigned based on the order that boats signed up for the event. This may not seem like much now, but when your key crewmembers have been without a luxurious shower for 10 days, and your boat needs a washing and her tanks filled, the demand for slips goes way up.
Q) What do I get for my entry fee?
A) By signing up for the Ha-Ha, fleet members get all kinds of benefits, such as ‘swag bags’ filled with hats, T-shirts, sunglasses, starting timers, frisbees, burgees, beach balls, an event program with mini-bios on all the entries — we can’t even remember it all. Captain and first mate get free entry, food and drink at the Costume Kick-Off Party in San Diego (co-sponsored by West Marine and Almar Marinas), and there are beach parties at Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria and Cabo. In addition, from the event’s sponsors you get all sorts of great offers and discounts on goods and services from California to southern Mexico. Looking for a berth for the winter? Many of the marina managers show up in San Diego for the kickoff party to take reservations.
Q) Will there be a Committee Boat within the fleet?
A) Yes, Latitude 38’s 63-ft catamaran Profligate will be the mothership once again, with the Wanderer serving as the Grand Poobah, Banjo Andy as the Assistant Poobah, and Doña de Mallorca as the Chief of Security. This trio has a total of 61 Ha-Has to their credit, and have never missed one since they started.
Q) Are there key dates I should be aware of?
Q) Where can I check for event updates?
A) Please look over the 2015 schedule of Important Dates. The dates for 2016 will be very similar.
A) Check the Sightings section of Latitude 38 magazine, and the ‘Lectronic Latitude postings at www.latitude38.com. The entire magazine can be downloaded each month for free from the site.