The what, you ask?
The Coho Ho Ho, to be held for the first time this year, is a rally scheduled to depart Seattle in late summer and travel down the coast to San Diego to connect with cruisers leaving on the annual Baja Ha-Ha rally to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
The idea is to provide support, camaraderie — and a party or two along the way — for cruisers as they make the notoriously difficult passage between Seattle and San Francisco, noted for its high winds, waves and fog.
“The Washington and Oregon coast can be challenging and dangerous,” said sailor Doug Lombard. “People need the support to get down there.”
Lombard and fellow boater Karl Christopher came up with the idea for the rally after crewing on a 47-foot Cheoy Lee sailboat that left Seattle and headed for the Baja Ha-Ha last summer. During conversations with the boat’s owners during the trip, they realized there was a need to provide support for other cruisers sailing from Seattle to San Francisco.
They returned to Seattle and recruited sailor Gary Peterson to start organizing the inaugural Ho Ho, as it’s likely to become known. The trio held its first meeting last week to discuss possible dates and itineraries for the trip. They decided that Seattle should be the official kick-off point, then boaters will meet in Port Angeles to connect with cruisers coming from points north.
The rally would then make its way down the coast, with numerous rest/provisioning stops and one or more party stops. The itinerary and details are still in the planning stages, but likely stopping points include Grays Harbor; Newport, Oregon; and Eureka and Bodega Bay in California before reaching San Francisco.
Additional time would be built in at each stopping point to allow slower boats to catch up, and there would be daily radio check-ins to keep tabs on the boats. From San Francisco, the boats may continue on to San Diego together or split off, depending on interest.
But the priority would be ensuring that all boats make it safely to San Diego. Peterson has been in contact with the Ha-Ha organizers in the hope of bringing the two rallies together in San Diego.
Registration for the Ho Ho would likely be around the same as the Ha-Ha, which costs $375 per boat, and organizers are hoping to organize a series of informational seminars on weather and other topics leading up to the rally. They’re looking for sponsors and volunteers, and have set up a website and Facebook page to help get the word out.
Though the project is only a few weeks old, the group says they’re already starting to hear buzz about it. And if the Ha-Ha is any indication, the Ho Ho seems to have potential to become a popular annual event. Since its launch in 1994, the Ha-Ha has attracted close to 2,500 boats and around 9,000 participants. Last year’s fleet alone included 147 boats.
“If [the Ho Ho] has legs like the Baja Ha-Ha has had, it will be a real neat opportunity to help people get out and try bluewater sailing,” Lombard said. “Being at sea is an incredible experience.”