With Memorial Day’s behind, boaters can now look forward to another Southern California season of fishing, day-sailing, local cruising or just hanging around the boat sipping margaritas with friends as the boat sits peacefully tied to the cleats.

For most, there is a list of tasks to accomplish and stuff to buy to get the boat up to snuff so it can handle the day trips that lie ahead and tackle the weekend jaunts over to Catalina that have been tentatively planned.

But for a smaller contingent, the beginning of the summer denotes a testing and practice period where the aforementioned day trips and weekend crossings aren’t simply pleasure cruises, but are also mini-shakedowns for more potent adventures scheduled for the fall.

Come autumn, there are two major cruising rallies, one for powerboaters and one for sailors, that depart from the shores of San Diego and finish at the tip of the Baja California peninsula.

The power rally is called F.U.B.A.R — Fleet Underway toÝBaja Rally, organized by boaters at the Del Rey Yacht Club.

And local sailors can look forward to the Baja Ha-Ha, which is probably the most popular cruising event on the West Coast.

Both events provide a certain confidence and support for boaters new to long-distance cruising, but also an opportunity to share an experience with like-minded people and forge new friendships.

“I think people are going to bond with each other,” said F.U.B.A.R. organizer and circumnavigator Bruce Kessler, who also organized a transatlantic rally. “We saw this in the Atlantic Rally.

“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.”

While the Baja Ha-Ha is now over ten years old and an established annual event, the new F.U.B.A.R. has yet to complete its first trip. But judging by the response of participants and sponsors, the rally will be around for many more years.

Kessler hoped, when he started the process, that there would be enough interest from local powerboaters to fill the 50 spots available, but he was pleasantly surprised when the rally sold out six months in advance with an ever-growing standby list.

Since there are no other organized events of this kind in this area, many boaters were excited to sign up for their first long journey with the support that F.U.B.A.R offers.

With escort boats carrying mechanics, doctors and other experts, the daunting nature of an extended trip to a foreign country was diminished and the prospect of a fun, safe voyage to an exotic destination was dramatically increased.

“The concept was to support people who had a boat and could make the trip — to give them reassurance and little more confidence,” said Kessler.

This concept Kessler speaks of has been proved worthy by past rallies, and one of the most successful of any of them is the Baja Ha-Ha for cruising sailors.

Six-hundred-fifty sailors aboard 184 boats sailed the 750-mile trip last year and organizers are expecting about the same number, possibly more, this time around.

Sailors from all over the West Coast take part in the moving party, and organizers say much the same things as Kessler in their descriptions and assessments.

“The goals of the Ha-Ha are for everyone to reach Cabo San Lucas safely, and have a lot of fun along the way,” the Ha-Ha Web site explains. “If history is any indication, chances are good that you’ll meet scores of great people who will not just become friends for the event, but for the season — if not a lifetime. In fact, if you’re single and not careful, one of them may end up becoming your spouse.”

Most would agree that plans and arrangements should begin now for a November trip the size and scope of either of these rallies. From boat preparation to managing the time off, there is many a logistical challenge to consider, but for the boater who puts in the time and planning, a valuable experience awaits as a reward.

The F.U.B.A.R is scheduled to take place November 3rd through the 19th.

Information, www.fubar odyssey.com/.

The Baja Ha-Ha begins on October 28th, and finishes with an awards ceremony on November 10th.

Information on this event, www.baja-haha.com/.

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