Throughout the course of the next week, a contingent of local powerboaters will be sewing up their last-minute preparations for an expedition they will likely never forget. F.U.B.A.R., which stands for Fleet Underway to Baja Rally (in this case), is a group of 53 adventurous powerboaters who will be working their way down to the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula from San Diego through the month of November in the first-ever powerboat cruising rally from this area.
The rally was put together by members of the Del Rey Yacht Club and headed up by retired film director Bruce Kessler, who has circumnavigated the world in his 70-foot Delta trawler Zopilote, and is a veteran Baja traveler. Kessler spearheaded the West Coast rally after having a wonderful experience in a transatlantic rally where he says he forged deep friendships and enjoyed life-changing experiences along the way.
“I think people are going to bond with each other, like we saw in the Atlantic Rally,” said Kessler. “They’ll be people who will make friends for life and get together and cruise to different places — I think it’s going to have the same effect that we saw with the 18 boats in the North Atlantic rally.”
The F.U.B.A.R., which allows boaters the opportunity to take a long journey with the comfort of support boats and escorts, filled up in the first two weeks it was announced and the standby list shot up to 78 boats soon after. The original cutoff was 50 boats, but there are currently 53 as they enter the final stretch of preparations.
The only basic requirement for participating in the rally is that you must have a powerboat capable of going a minimum of 450 nautical miles at eight knots, which may seem slow, but as rally participant and distance cruiser Ken Williams explains, it can be deceiving.
“I’m always amazed by how quickly the allegedly ‘slow trawlers’ can move,” Williams says. “Although [our boat] Sans Souci’s maximum speed is only 10.6 knots (about 11.5 miles per hour), it is a relentless 24-hour-a-day pace, and at sea, there aren’t a lot of stop signs.”
The first stop for the fleet will be in Ensenada, Mexico where the Mexican government will be throwing them a party, on the house. They have partnered with the Mexico Tourism Board, San Diego Harbor Police and a number of other yacht clubs that have all been extremely supportive of the rally.
Not only are there boaters from the California area, but there will also be about ten cruisers from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest that will be joining the fleet to head for warmer climates.
“For some of them, this is a leg in their journey,” said Kessler. “They’re going into the Atlantic — down to the Virgins and places like that, and some to Florida.”
There will be many stops along the way, including Turtle Bay for refueling, Santa MarÌa, Magdalena Bay, Cabo San JosÈ, Muertos Bay, and ending in La Paz. The estimated elapsed time for the trip should be approximately 16 days (under way and in port), weather permitting, and parties will be planned at most stops.
On the F.U.B.A.R. Web site it’s explained that the fleet will be “escorted by vessels manned by experienced skippers with key support people aboard such as mechanics, doctors, boat manufacturers and by the makers of major marine engines, electronics and equipment, etc. Safe routes will be pre-planned, and a weather routing service has signed on to oversee the entire trip. The schedule will be flexible to accommodate days spent in port waiting for fair weather, etc. Fueling facilities and dockage for shore-side activities, parties, etc. will be pre-arranged at each stop along the way where such facilities exist.”
Kessler has been planning this trip for many months, and so far he says the planning has been going completely according to spec. He even confessed that it was going too well for his superstitious tendencies to process.
But when asked if he was personally looking forward to the trip, he smiled and said, “I’m like an expectant father. And I’ll be happy when I get all my ‘children’ home safely. I just want everyone to have a safe and happy trip — then you’ll see me smiling.”
For more information, www.fu barodyssey.com/.