We spent last summer in the Sea of Cortez and this summer in Mazatlan. Several people have told us we are crazy. The initial plan was to go it without an air conditioner, however we ended up getting one in San Carlos for the simple reason that there were a LOT of mosquitos and other bugs- way different from the Baja, so we could not open up the boat and screens cut air flow by at least 50%. If you stay on the Baja, this is doable if you have a high tolerance and allow yourself to acclimatize. The Sea of Cortez gets HOT in the summer. Like, melt-your-face-off-hot. Temperatures on average are in the high 30’s to mid 40’s and it never really cools below 28-30 degrees at night. The humidity is also really high, so you pretty much sweat constantly. So, unless you have a breeze, there is not a ton of relief. Here are some of the strategies we’ve adopted to help us survive the relentless heat of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez during the summer months!
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Keep the Heat Out Of Your Boat
Hatch covers will help protect your hatches from ‘crazing’ and extend their life, while also keeping the sun out of your boat. We have several rectangular hatches onboard Bloom, so we had several made and opted for store-bought hatch covers for our square-sized hatches that are more ‘generic’. Lots of people have portlight covers made also, although we have not gone this option yet as they do make it quite a bit darker in the boat, but we may add these in future. You can find pre-made hatch covers similar to the ones pictured on our boat here on Amazon.
Having a sunshade made for your boat is a fantastic way to keep the heat out of your boat and create shade on your deck. We had a sun shade made while here in Mexico and it provides a lot of shade and keeps the decks and the inside of the boat cooler. We also like that we can have our portlights open and not have the sun come blaring in, heating everything up. We opted for a 90% sun blockage phifertex material and attached ours under the boom so we wouldn’t have to deal with our lazyjacks, or chafe on our sunbrella stack pack.
We had dodger window covers and bimini window covers made to not only protect the clear vinyl windows, but also to create as much shade in the cockpit as we can. These made an immense difference! We also had ‘side panels’ made that zip onto our bimini top and not only create a lot more shade within the cockpit, they also add a huge amount of privacy as well. We had them made in La Paz from phifertex material, which blocks 70% of the sun’s rays. It allows you to see out very easily, but others cannot see in. (Although at night if you have lights on in the cockpit, the reverse is true- you cannot see out and others can see in!)
We tend to eat ‘cooler’ meals like salads when it is super-hot as not only do we not feel like cooking, we don’t want to heat the boat up further! A great strategy is to make pasta or cous cous in the morning and then let it cool during the day. You can turn it into a great pasta salad by adding some chopped veggies, nuts, herbs, etc. and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Boat Galley also has a great article on making rice in a thermos. Here is the Hydroflask thermos that we use! It is also a great option to make meals that require just a little bit of reheating- beans (can be easily scooped into tortillas with veg, cheese, etc.) or leftovers. A lot of times, we buy the envelopes of beans widely available in Mexico and just leave them to sit in the sun for several minutes- works a charm!
Ventilate Inside Your Boat
You’ll want to open as many opening hatches and portlights as you can if you have a bit of a breeze outside. We also have had great success with our ‘Breeze Bandit’ by Cruising Solutions (available for $49.95 here) which mounts in the v-berth hatch and pulls a breeze from any direction- which helps at anchor and while at the dock as well! A helpful tip if you do buy a Breeze Bandit- rather than screwing the snaps into the fiberglass inside of your boat that come with the Bandit, we stuck a command hook on each corner of the inside of the hatch and sewed shock cord loops into the fix points on the Bandit. This makes for easier installation, no holes in the boat and a little stretch to allow some natural movement in the wind scoop.
We have these Caframo DC-powered fans mounted in the boat and they work really well. We love that you can pivot them to direct the air flow where you need it. They are also very easy to install- it only took us a few minutes each and we are are by no means pros. These Caframo Bora 12V 3 Speed Fans can be bought on Amazon here. They also only draw a fraction of an amp- so when you are at anchor you don’t have to worry about draining your batteries down which is a major bonus. When we are in a marina at the dock, we also put another two AC powered fans out to push the air as much as we can!
We also LOVE this suction fan that we got on Amazon. We sleep in the aft cabin and Lisa’s side of the bed is under the cockpit- away from the portlight, hatch and fan so it can get really hot and stuffy. This little suction-on fan has been a God-send! You can stick it to any smooth surface and it runs for hours! It charges up from a micro-USB in about an hour. It can also be removed from the suction cup (it just slides out) and you can use it as a personal hand-held fan. It’s brilliant! Check these suction fans out on Amazon!
Keep Yourself Cool
These are one of our all-time faves! Each member onboard has 2 cooling towels so you always have one if one is in the wash. They are very thin, come in a multitude of fun colors and they WORK! All you do is soak the towel in water (preferrably cold water but any water will do), squeeze out the excess, snap the towel between your hands and drape it on. You can wear it around your shoulders (which also provides great sun protection if you are getting a little too much sun), a bandanna, under your hat to protect your neck, around your neck as a scarf, over your legs- the possibilities are endless. These can often help cool you down at night in bed as well if you drape it lengthwise down your body. Sometimes our dog gets one draped over her as well if she is panting a lot. These really cool the body down- it is really amazing! When you move the towel away and feel your skin, it is way cooler than before. We cannot recommend these enough! Check these cooling towels out on Amazon!
These personal misting fans are really great for keeping cool also. Just fill up with some water, spritz and fan yourself to your heart’s content! They take AA batteries and these particular ones come with a carabineer so that you can hang it from your backpack or somewhere in the cockpit. A great option for those hot summer days and you can even use them on your dog 🙂 Check these misting fans out on Amazon here!
When it is hot it is SO important to keep hydrated since you are sweating to much. We love our Hydroflasks! If you fill them up with water and some ice, they stay cold for HOURS. We have their personal sized (20 oz) water bottles and one of their 64 oz ones as well (to refill the smaller ones) and it also works great for thermos cooking (as mentioned in above ‘Cool Cooking’ section- think lentils, rice, pasta and more)!
They come in a TON of colors, sizes and lid-styles as well. They are on the pricey side, but from our experience with water bottles, you get what you pay for. These babies are BPA-free, stainless steel and are double-walled and vacuum-insulated.
Nobody likes warm beer…. Keep your drinks cold for hours with this Yeti soft cooler. We really like ours and use it daily throughout the summer! It makes grabbing an ice-cold drink really easy and saves having to open and close the fridge multiple times a day. (Which is really important in hot locations as every time your open your fridge you lose precious cold air!) The nice thing with this cooler as well is that unlike a hard-cooler, it squishes down really easily for storage when you aren’t using it. It is also easily portable and has handle straps as well as a long, adjustable shoulder strap. These coolers are not cheap, but with YETI, you really get what you pay for. The quality is unprecedented and YETI is a leader in marine coolers. TIP: We hung a bottle opener on ours! Check out the Yeti Hopper 30 on Amazon here! If you want a smaller size, they also have this one!