Winners Winners Chicken Dinners
Who’d have thought it, eh? We won first prize in our class in the Baja Haha rally, despite being a week late and having motored more time than we had sailed. In a typical sailing regatta, we would have been thrown out of the competition and given a DSQ award, But this is no normal sailing event.
The Baja Haha rally is nowhere near as formal as, say, the ARC. It doesn’t have rigorous entry requirements and formalised safety checks, for example. This is a rally for folks with sailing experience who want to travel to warmer climates in the company of others. Some people were doing it for the first time, but this was the 10th or more for many. The emphasis, as we eventually worked out after coming up for air (after fixing the poles and getting everything done that we wanted done), is on the fun. Yes, safety is imperative, and that is made clear to everyone, but it is left up to each boat to decide what that means for them.
Rather than awarding the prize in our class (Margarita) to those who sailed the most from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas (sorry folks), we received the award for persistence and determination in getting to Cabo San Lucas in time for the formal end of the rally on Saturday 13th November. Our motivation was that we didn’t want to miss out on the free beer at the party. Although we did sail for a while and used our new pole and fittings, evidenced by the photographs below:
More Winners Chicken Dinners
The prize-giving for all participants took place outside a bar near the IGY marina at Cabo San Lucas in an area prepared with seating for 300 or so people. Richard Spindler, the rally organiser and editor of Latitude 38 magazine played The Grand Poobah’s role in charge of proceedings.
Actually, everyone won a prize. Participants just needed to turn up and hand in a timesheet. The lowest attainable position, no matter how hard you try to fail, is 3rd place. So, no one left that event empty-handed and most left the event half off their face from the beer.
A skipful of beer was leftover at the end of the night, so Maria took the initiative to collect as many cans as she could to stuff into borrowed bags. Based on the cost of a beer at some restaurants ashore, that almost paid for the rally entry fee.
One morning, before the harbour took on the appearance of a bath full of hyperactive toddlers, we took a dinghy ride over to Lands End. That, according to the Lonely Planet guide, is the most impressive attraction in Cabo. They could be right. It is beautiful and acts as a great antidote to all the concrete structures in the port.
Lands End’s most unusual geological feature is El Archo (the arch), which almost disappears at high tide. And near to that is the Playa del Amor – Lover’s Beach – only accessible by sea. But don’t make the mistake of landing on the Pacific side – you’ll be setting foot on Divorce Beach, and you’ll have a lot of explaining to do.
Cabo San Lunacy
Cabo San Lucas is more bonkers than a box of frogs. We first noticed how busy it was before our dawn arrival when we saw the place lit up like Vegas, but with a cruise ship parked in the harbour. Of course, arriving somewhere new always delivers a jolt to the system after a few days at sea – but this was something else, especially when we had such a peaceful sail (and motor) down to Mexico.
There’s a certain rhythm to the day in Cabo’s harbour. The water is wonderfully still in the early morning until mid-morning when the jet ski operators, water taxis and tour operators spring to life. By afternoon it’s like being bounced around in a washing machine.
In the late afternoon, the party boats replace the tourist boats for the evening. Even that has a rhythm: The Caborey boat kicks off the proceedings close to sunset, blasting tracks from the Eagles. That’s followed by numerous smaller vessels, each with their particular take on what constitutes party music. The Eco Cat sometimes comes nearby with a live band on the deck. That boat anchored close enough for us to join in without having to buy tickets. Then the Pirate Ship usually showed up after dark, claiming that they are the greatest pirates through their PA system. And sometimes, they stayed around for a while so that we could watch their fire show.
High energy tracks blasting from one of the beach hotels, which owns only one CD, had me reaching for the noise-cancelling headphones. And that hotel competed with the one next door whose favourite track is Tell Me What You Want by the Spice Girls; they have two versions – one extended by a lot longer than should be considered normal.
In addition to that racket, there is a birthday every day announced by some bloke at one of the hotels who I’m sure used to be employed by Trinity House as a foghorn – he doesn’t shut up from late morning until midnight.
Then, most nights, there’s a fireworks display.
So, we haven’t been short of entertainment at anchor.
Cabo on land
If things are crazy at anchor, they are Rampton nuts on land. Think of a blend between Magaluf and Marmaris, and you might get the picture. The record for the number of steps I took without being approached to buy either a cigar, hat, jewellery, t-shirt, stuffed toy, tour, ride in a glass-bottom boat or taxi, was 42. And that was on a quiet evening.
Cabo is getting ready for the holidays, so there is festive stuff everywhere. The tree is up, snowmen are on display, and the shops are full of all the Christmas-related things you really should not be buying for the sake of the planet.
And the marina is a hive of activity. The glass bottom boats here are perspex and are see-through all over, which plays havoc with your senses if you see one approaching when in a dinghy. Just near to this is where the water taxis shuttle people around, and the tour boats herd people aboard.
Stimulating the local economy
We weren’t wholly immune to the tourist thing. We boosted the local economy by buying a ride on a pedal-powered taxi – and booked a ride on a side-by-side off-road vehicle for Maria’s birthday,
The folks operating side-by-side cars also operate ATVs and camels, which I thought was a strange juxtaposition. And they are masters at blunt-instrument upselling. So here’s how it went: After being ejected from the minibus containing a load of tourists who must believe there’s no such thing as Covid, we were herded into a processing centre and sorted into groups according to activity. Then, at the check-in counter, we were presented with choices such as a $750 deposit or $45 insurance if we wreck the car; $150 for a photo package or $50 if you want to take photos using your cell phone. It’s the old alternative close technique roughly implemented.
Frankly, we thought they were taking the piss, so we opted to leave our phones behind and take photos afterwards. After all, the actual memory is retained somewhere in our brains. But we guess that people pay that sort of money. And if that extortion attempt wasn’t enough, after being strapped into the cars, the driving guides told us that it’s customary to give around $20 – $25 per car as a tip. Err – we thought not. There was no way we were sticking that sort of cash into anyone’s helmet; thanks very much.
Ignoring the check-in shenanigans, the experience itself was good. Those cars are fun to drive; the route the company has created is imaginative enough for any speed merchant and anyone with a touch of masochism.
A stroll around town
There’s no shortage of pharmacies in town, so it’s an excellent place to stock up on the ship’s medical supplies. And because there’s plenty of competition, there’s a lot of overt advertising on the treats inside the shop. It’s curious – and a bit worrying – to see a window display listing Viagra, headache tablets, muscle relaxants and tramadol.
And some of the sights are also truly odd:
It seemed only appropriate to eat tacos while in Mexico, and we got a recommendation from our Aloha buddies for the Los Claros restaurant. Their tip was good: excellent food and inexpensive. But, unfortunately, after trying another taco restaurant a couple of days later, we contracted a stomach bug that put both of us out of action for a couple of days.
But, we were well enough to venture out for Maria’s birthday – to a steak place where they slowly cook the musicians over the barbecue pit:
Then, of course, there is always boat work to do. Maria wanted to include this photograph to prove that she doesn’t sit around drinking gin and tonics.
So, that’s it for Cabo San Lucas and us. We enjoyed it here despite the craziness, but it’s time for something a little quieter. We’ve heard that the Sea of Cortez isn’t so bad.