Spending a summer anywhere tropical is a continuous fight to stay cool, hydrate and seek out shade. Many people told us we were brave to stay in Baja over the summer. Temperatures frequent the upper 90’s F (32C) and are even seen breaking the 100F (37C) degree mark on a regular basis. Our diver Luis put it bluntly, “You WILL need an air conditioner.” So we acquired what I like to call an R2D2 Unit from another cruiser who listed it on the morning net to trade for coconuts. But, it’s not the straight temperature that makes us so hot in Baja. It happens to be the humidity.
The humidity in Baja can range from 30% (comfortable) to 100% (very humid). August and September are the most humid as it typically exceeds 85% humidity and rocks out a dew point of 77F (25C). The dew point is what determines how much we will be sweating. When the dew point is high, and the humidity is high, it is harder for your body to cool down. Take away any sort of breeze and minimal activity produces the kind of sweat that rolls off your brow and pools into unattractive areas. Even the act of sitting too long on the wrong type of chair while wearing the wrong type of clothing might make it look like you have a problem with incontinence.
As crazy as this all sounds I can recall many times during the peak of the summer in Iowa when humidity and the “feels like” temperatures were equally as challenging. Even though it’s not a coastal state, there is plenty of water flowing through the Midwestern part of the country. Add in a few thousands of acres of farmland, thunderstorms, the transpiration plus evaporation of water from soil, plants, lakes and rivers, as well as a high pressure system relatively constant during summer months, and we find a perfect mix for high humidity. In these conditions the dew point temperature in Iowa can easily reach into the 80’s F (26.6C) on a typical 90F (32.2C) day.
In both cases you would think welcoming the rain would provide some much needed relief, and it does. . . but it tends to be short lived. After it rains, more water is added back into the ground which increases the moisture that is evaporated into the air causing the whole process to repeat itself! In Iowa you have the option of not even breaking a sweat if you don’t want to, by strategically jumping from one air conditioned room to the next, your home, car, work, and back home again. But, when living on a boat near the desert area of Baja California Sur, air conditioned rooms aren’t as easy to come by.
So, how does one stay cool in Baja during the summer while living on a boat?
- Buy an air conditioner. Our portable unit stands about 3 feet tall by 1 foot wide and only cost us 250 coconuts acquired from another boat over the morning swaps and trades radio net. We can only run the air conditioner while we are plugged in at the dock. R2D2 cools well enough to keep the temperature inside our boat a cool 78F (25.5C).
- Boat Fans. We have 3 little boat fans that help circulate the air but the more fans the better. We keep those running nonstop.
- Boat Shade. We have a section of Sunbrella boat shade and an additional tarp that helps Maluhia cope.
- Seek out shade and air conditioned establishments. We spend some of our time in the air conditioned cruisers lounge, at the local convince store, or inside various business establishments we know have air conditioning, even if it’s just a quick stop during a longer walk to get out of the heat for a few minutes to cool down. We deliberately walk in the shade and where hats, and sunglasses everywhere we go.
- We do what the locals do. We wait until sunset to do major outside activities like going for a stroll, exercise, boat projects, and even dinner.
- Hydrate. We drink everything we can that is cold. Water, Gatorade, juice, beer, margaritas, mojitos they all taste the same, cold and good! No matter where we go we always travel with a small bottle of water. We hydrate even if we think we’re not thirsty.
- Go to the pool or the beach. We switched marinas for added hurricane protection. Our new marina is located next to a beach club which includes both pool and beach access. They don’t mind if cruisers stop over for a dip now and then. (They also serve very good Mojitos!)
- Take a mini vacation and go back North. We headed North to California for a few weeks. After acclimating ourselves to the Baja heat, Southern California was freezing! We toured around Southern California with our brother and sister-in-law and even made a stop back in Ventura to visit old friends.
- If a short trip North isn’t in the cards you simply sail to the islands! The islands have their own weather. Temperatures at the islands are slightly less than those inside a marina surrounded by concrete.
- Pool Noodles. At the islands you jump off the boat and float around all day on your pool noodles. Other floating pool toys work well too! The water is only slightly cooler than bathwater warm, but feels good when you splash around for a bit, then let yourself dry off with any small breeze.
- Get Naked. If all else fails, just get naked.