Modeled after the long-running Baha Ha Ha rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, and designed in part to help ferry cruising boats down to the start of the Ha Ha from the Pacific Northwest, the Ho Ho kicked off this Aug. 12 with seven boats taking part, six of which made it successfully to San Francisco by Aug. 28 (the seventh elected to retire early and returned to Port Angeles two days in). One of the boats had an amazing run of 99 hours from Shilshole to the Golden Gate bridge.
The rally provides coordinating efforts and support to participating boats, including all-important en-route weather forecasts, communications nets, and 10 pre-departure training classes covering topics such as weather information, vessel preparedness, vessel tracking support assistance, how to handle challenges such as equipment failures on the water, bad weather, etc.
Each skipper, however, is responsible for setting his or her own course and time line. As the rally website says, “The Ho Ho organizers don’t see their role as making a lot of rules, but as facilitating everyone’s pleasure.”
Participants also received a bundle of discounts from local maritime suppliers and vendors, and one heck of a send-off party from Poulsbo. More than 100 boat loads of well-wishers joined in on the pirate-themed party last August when the rally launched.
The pre-departure classes included courses on vessel preparation, weather information, and guidance in how to handle breakdowns and other problems out on the water.
The rally is intended to be fun, but it’s designed for safety. There are minimum requirements for sea-worthiness for participating vessels. Single-handed sailing is not allowed, and at least two crew members aboard are required to have previous off-shore overnight sailing experience.
If this sounds like a tall order for some of the prospective entrants, then it’s important to realize that the rally structure is there exactly in order to provide options to qualify by making introductions and providing resources to southbound sailors who otherwise might be grasping around in the dark to find experienced assistance in such matters.
You might also notice that these criteria are basically identical to those for the Baha Ha Ha, so Ho Ho ralliers are well-positioned to join that older, larger, and much warmer event once they get into California waters.
The Ho Ho will be at January’s Boat Show, sharing a booth with Flagship Maritime. More information will be available there, or at the rally website.