‘Baja Ha Ha’ rallies hundreds of sailboats

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SAN DIEGO — More than a hundred sailboats took off from Shelter Island Monday morning to take part in the “Baja–Ha –Ha” rally.

“It’s a really good way to set a deadline for your Winter Cruising season,” said Patrick Hughes, captain of the “Patricia Belle” one of at least 150 sailboats taking part in this year’s, 19th annual Baja Ha-Ha Rally.

Participants have been preparing for months, “getting provisions, everybody has to have their passports, their papers,” said Genie Hughes.

Sailboats came in from all over the American West Coast and elsewhere.

“Some boats have come in from Europe, to kick off the season,” said Baja Ha Ha event organizer John Arndt.

Captains and their crews dressed in Halloween costumes to kick off the 750 mile journey that started in San Diego and will have stops in Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria before reaching the finish line in Cabo San Lucas.

The focus is of course to have lots of fun and while the event has had a pretty clean record on safety.  The US Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy are making sure everyone stays on track and out of harm’s way.

“In 19 years, we’ve had one incident in which a sailboat was hit by a whale,” said Arndt.

There are no winners in this rally since it is not a race but some do come off with a nice prize.

“Businesses on both sides benefit and if things are good on one side, they are good on the other,” said Remedios Gomez with the Mexican Consulate in San Diego.