Journal 5 -San Diego to Cabo San Lucas
NOV 2, 2003.

FROM :Baja Peninsula,  MEXICO.

Lat: 24 o  46 ‘   Long:112 o   24’

San Diego came and went in a whirl of work.  Jobs ebbed and flowed… jobs
that weren’t on the list consumed planned time and we had little chance to
explore and have fun.  What a  pity, we didn’t give San Diego the time it
deserved.  But we did have a couple of enjoyable dinners at the Yacht Club and
with local friends and visitors from San Francico.    San Diego’s local cruising
community has its characters, as do most marinas.  They made themselves
evident on the morning cruisers radio net, with
”George” being the most prominent…….clearly there are characters in every
walk of life but dockside seems to amplify the fringe dwellers.  George seems
well-to-do… the modern day maritime version of yer Petticoat Lane peddler… !
”just happen to have a coupla dozen of those….fill in the blanks”  so we bought
some mini fishing kits, and an anchor drogue (essentially a boat brake in the
crudest form)
.. Seems George had been all over, done all things, and was the purveyor of just
about “you won’t get it cheaper than this…..” everything.
NOTE, from now on, all characters and characiatures will appear in contrast
colour… it’s worth noting some of the eccentric, interesting or otherwise
noteworthy people we’ll find along the way.

BOUQUET        And this one’s overdue:  NOAA.  National Oceanagraphic and
Atmospheric Administration, US Govenmeent.  (www.noaa.gov).   This
organization provides the most comprehensive and sophisticated, climatic and
meteorological information  we have ever seen.  Not only that, they love their
work and take total ownership for it.  We’ve used their “dial a bouy” and
weatherfax services down the coast, and during the past several years for Bay
and offshore sea-state and other maritime needs.  Each forecast is personally
signed by the meteorologist who generated it.  We had occasion  to clarify some
weather data, and I had left a voicemail message on the phone number listed on
that particular document.  10 minutes later, Chris rang… he answered my
question, but then started asking some of his own…where are you? What sort of
boat? Where are you going? What equipment do you have?...... mere interest?  
No.   Turns out Chris is the Chief Meteorologist, Ocean Prediction Center. US
Government.   He gave me his home phone number and the telephone number
of another top ranking forecaster with the instructions….You call me any time, 24
hours a day, whatever you need.!   Imagine that – a government employee with  
job passion!! (sorry, Bill).   Many of you know I’m tax averse (not avoidance, just
for the record) but if I could write my tax cheque out to just one government
department, NOAA would be the one.  

Graham (Pobjoy) joined us here for the passage down the Baja California
peninsula to Mexico.  It was great to see him though not the most positive
introduction to Southern California, with the fires burning and the skies raining
ash.  We learned (after we had left) what a large scale tragedy the Southern
California fires were.  We spent the last full day provisioning for fresh food and
fishing tackle in a grey smoky haze, with many people wearing mazks.  Fun in
the afternoon at the Baja Ha Ha rally kick-off party was muted by the smoky air,
but cruisers did take the time & trouble to outfit themselves in fancy costume and
there were some hilarious and outrageous gigs….. pics available on the website

The Baja Ha Ha is a cruising boat rally which launches every November out of
San Diego, California.  It’s goal is to get a flotilla of boats from Point A (San
Diego) to Point B (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico), in the shortest time, with the most
fun possible.  The 800 mile “jog” is divided into 3 legs punctuated by 4 parties  
and Graham (who has completed a circumnavigation with his wife, Susan) had
agreed to come with us.    I had done this rally with girlfriend Pat a few years
back so it wasn’t an entirely new experience, though in many ways much
different.  (Pat doesn’t snore).

The 120-strong fleet(450 sailors) motored out of San Diego on a windless
“rolling start” to the 350 mile leg , and that’s the way it stayed for 3 days.  No
wind. Nada, Zero.  We might have sailed 6 hours out of the  3 days. We did have
a chance to try  out the new spinnaker for a few hours. Sailing with a spinnaker is
a new experience. The boat behaves differently, and steering is counter intuitive.
The sail is very large,( 1100 sq. feet) and is used in downwind sailing. It acts like
a large sheet that catches the wind, and pushes the boat forward. It has its own
set of lines, blocks and other devices with which  it’s attached to the boat.. The
wind died, and  it was essentially a drive, the positive aspect being that it gave
us 3 nights in Turtle Bay, and plenty of time to get used to the idea that we were
in Mexico.   There is a marked contrast between San Diego USA, and Turtle
Bay, Mexico…… a distinct transition between the first and the third world.  The
streets are dusty, not paved , and there is no noticeable enterprise (except for
the one restaurant which was trying to serve 400 sailors with about 5 place
settings) and the petrol station.  Locals were quietly amused by “the gringo
touristas” but set about optimizing the invasion by setting up garbage collection
and dinghy watching services….. happy to pay a dollar to make their life a little
better.  But they seemed happy and certainly healthy.  When the whole cruising
fleet turned up on a local beach to party, the locals turned up too, to watch….it
was a little like being at a drive-in theatre…. We were on the screen playing out
our roles and dreams in salty shorts and crumpled t-shirts with expensive boats,
and they were the watchers of this whole whacky parade of “gringo’s” in search
of the simple life.    They already had that recipe.   The beach party was fun, we
shared heaps of food and the day ended with a monster tug-of-war…. Girls vs
Guys (naturally, the girls won, with a little fixin’ from the Grand Poobah!)   check
out the revelry on www.latitude38.com   (‘lectronic latitude)….. Nove

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