Well, we've arrived to summer in the central Sea of Cortez, and the weather has become a major topic of conversation. Unlike the winter months that were spent down south on the mainland, where the weather couldn't have been more benign or pleasant, we've entered a bit of a new reality. (And with the temps in the mid/upper 90's, it's not even THAT hot, according to the veterans). All boats become nearly obsessed with devising ways to provide shade. Ranging from simple blue tarps hung over the boom, to elaborate canvas/zipper/snap/velcro contraptions, the goal is the same...provide shade from the intense desert sun. (Our system is a work in progress, and falls somewhere between these two categories). And we're constantly dripping wet. Fans are our new best friends, even portable ones outside in the cockpit. We have at least two of our 8 cabin fans running constantly 24/7 whenever we're aboard. And it's really hard to drink enough water to keep hydrated, a constant effort.
Refrigeration takes on a whole new dimension as well in the heat. The system is working very hard these days to keep us supplied with ice and cold beer. (as well as keep our freshly caught dorado ready for the pan!!) It's kind of a triple whammy: First, we typically have been self sustaining, energy wise, with our solar panels. They have been providing enough energy to run the boat day and night, whether under sail or at anchor. Unfortunately solar panels become less efficient as they get hotter. They turn out fewer amp/hours per day. That's whammy #1. Second is that the air temp is now typically in the upper 90's all day, cooling down to the mid 80's at night. So there's just a lot more cooling needed to keep the fridge and freezer at the proper temp. And whammy #3 is the water temp. Our system is cooled with sea water pumped into a loop to carry off the waste heat of the refrigeration cycle. The sea temp has now risen to the mid 80's, making for great swimming (even a bit too warm), and excellent dorado fishing. But it's much less efficient as a coolant for the refer system. We've installed a couple of additional fans in the equipment spaces to provide extra cooling to the refer system and the solar charger, which has been running it's internal fan constantly. All this means that the system is working very hard...so far so good, but we need to run our generator for an hour or so every morning to give a bit of extra boost to the batteries.
The good side to the heat, of course, is that we typically spend a couple of hours daily in the water. Although it's sort of like a warm bath, it nonetheless does provide some relief from the heat. And gives everyone time to play with their "floaty toys", ranging from simple "noodles" to fancy rafts, chairs with drink holders, and a huge assortment of inflatable critters. All good fun!!!
And it's not just the heat. Wind has become a much greater topic of concern as well. Naturally we all follow the tropical depressions as they develop down in southern Mexico, as they have the potential to develop into hurricanes as has happened twice already this season. Happily those two headed out toward Socorro Island before dissipating. But the convection cells born by the hot temperatures on land and warming water, as well as the heat and barometer pressures in the US southwest have dramatic effects on our winds on a more localized basis. Starting on July 1, a nightly Chubasco report is broadcast via email, giving us the likelihood of a Chubasco wind hitting us that night. The Chubasco's can be rather nasty, coming up very suddenly in the middle of the night and packing winds with potential speeds up to just shy of hurricanes. Thunder, lightening, and hard rain can also be part of this rascal's arsenal. We have not yet experienced any down here in the central Sea (we're anchored in the Bay of Conception in El Burro Cove, approx 14 miles south of Mulege). But a few nights ago one hit in the Bahia de Los Angeles, where we'll be heading soon, and it had reported winds of 57 knots, over 60 mph. You may have heard about a Mexican tour boat flipping near San Felipe in the northern Sea during a Chubasco event a few days ago. Several folks are still missing from this disaster, and this was a big, commercial vessel, who was apparently caught out where/when he shouldn't have been.
This means that part of our daily routine now is putting up all of our sun shading every morning when we wake, and taking it all down as the sun sets. To keep the tents and tarps up at night would be a sure invitation that we'd be visited by a Chubasco!!! And we're thrilled that we invested in a new, oversized 90 lb Rocna anchor before we left Seattle.
For the 4th of July we attended a tremendous gathering of yachties and others at the beach palapa of Geary, our local weather guru. A yearly event, Geary provides the tents and 300 hot dogs, while all of the 30 to 40 boats anchored out bring pot luck dishes. It was a great time to meet up with old friends and make new ones, as we all get prepared to weather the coming summer months, playing in the northern Sea of Cortez.
Sorry about the lack of pictures...access to internet service will become more and more sporadic throughout the summer in the Sea.