Las Cuevas

The weather can't outweigh the wonder of the Sea of Cortez.

November 4, 2014


Frances silhouetted on the dinghy bow as we motor out of another cave. Michael Robertson

This past May, sitting in a Guaymas boat yard with the mercury showing 111 degrees Fahrenheit and with blast furnace-like winds filling the air and the inside of the boat with dust and with mosquitos toughing it out just to suck us dry, we wondered aloud how we were going to survive a summer in the Sea of Cortez. I mean, this was still springtime and Guaymas wasn’t even as far north as we planned to sail. All the superlatives we’d read and heard people use to describe the summer Sea suddenly carried great weight. We were doomed.

Yet for all the dire warnings and our own apprehensions, we also knew people who’d intentionally spent multiple summers in the Sea and they didn’t seem totally nuts.

We remained steadfast to our plans, we would subject ourselves to a summer in the Sea and judge it for ourselves.


Back in September, on a still-hot day in the northern Sea of Cortez, Windy said how she wished we had time to spend at least next summer in the Sea too. We all agreed. Every summer day seemed better than the last. And it wasn’t just a matter of acclimating and good preparation.

This was our favorite cave, a big, cool cavern in the Sea that few seem to visit or know about. It’s on the eastern side of Islas Espiritu Santos, just south of Caleta Partida. Michael Robertson

The fact is, nearly everyone eagerly warned us of the heat and of the lack of services in the northern Sea, but few said anything about the positives, the things that overwhelmingly make a summer in the Sea something especially wonderful. Following are four of those positives:

Especially up north, summertime is a paradise for solitude lovers. We saw increasingly fewer boats north of each big milestone (Loreto, Bahia Concepcion, Santa Rosalia, Bahia de Los Angeles). Take the Refugio anchorage at the top of Isla Angel La Guarda. The water was clear and warm. Rock spires jutted out of the water, their cragged faces glowing warm reds and browns and oranges. We swam with members of a small, nearby sea lion colony. We dropped the hook anyplace we wanted and spent a few days snorkeling, eating, and reading without seeing another boat.

Snorkeling paradises are along every shoreline. Michael Robertson
Natural playgrounds, see Eleanor? Michael Robertson

We lived with the critical, ever-present threat of hurricanes, but using the shortwave radio nets, they were easy to track from anyplace we were—so that we could be in a protected place when they threatened (and as evidenced this year, the northern Sea is statistically safer). And threaten and strike they did this year, but even storms that never reached the Sea tended to generate unsettled conditions that brought welcome relief from the relentless, clear, blue skies and the penetrating sun. We spent whole days under the cover of high clouds. Some days thunderstorms brought wind and rain. The clouds provided shade and the rain could drop temperatures by fifteen degrees.

The water is exceptionally nice. People told us the Sea would get so hot that jumping in would offer no relief. This just ain’t true. This year, water temps in the Sea were hotter than normal, and yet we all enjoyed every cooling minute we spent bathing, swimming, and snorkeling.

And there are caves. The pictures say it all. What a great place to spend a day, either exploring them or hanging out inside of them with a cooler of snacks and cold drinks—beautiful, primitive, cool respites.

The crew in our dinghy.

If you’re looking down the road at your Mexico cruising itinerary and you have a summertime window you could spend in the Sea, reconsider fleeing to Banderas Bay or booking it back north to the States. Steel yourself for the heat, prepare for the bees, make lots of shade, pay strict attention to the weather, and have the time of your life in one of the world’s best cruising destinations.


In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at


More Destinations