How Cruisers move in the Sea of Cortez.


There is the summer cruising group, the winter cruising group and a few that do both.

The summer cruisers spend the winter in San Carlos, Sonora, and by the end of March, move down to the Loreto area. Summer cruising routes.They will then work their way back north to the Bahia de Los Angles area for late summer. By November, they will be back to San Carlos. They really only cruise 7 to 8 months of the year. They use the rest of the year doing repairs and taking care of personal business.

The winter cruisers start in San Carlos (and other places) in November and quickly move south to do one of two things. They either stay in the La Paz to Loreto area or go on to the mainland. In this group, there are also the cruisers that come down the west coast of Baja. After getting to Cabo, they either go back north to La Paz or go on south to the mainland.

The reason for these patterns in cruising is the weather. There is a boating magazine that shows pictures of the Sea of Cortez and has captions that say "calm as usual in the Sea of Cortez". There are times of the year when this is true but winter is not one of them. In mid-November, the wind starts to blow from the north. In the Bahia de Los Angles area, the wind blows 20 to 30 knots most of the time. By that I mean day and night for weeks at a time. Even down as far as San Carlos and Santa Rosalia, it blows 20 plus most of the time. Winter cruising routes.We spent one winter in the middle Sea of Cortez. We were at Bahia Concepcion for three weeks or so and the wind would blow so hard at night that it would pick the dinghy up and throw it against the side of the boat. There is a 6 to 8 foot swell coming from the north in the deep water on the west side of the Sea. As you get farther south, this will dissipate. The wind is better once you get to Loreto. The wind around La Paz is good most of the time but you can still get 40 knots about once a month. This would come from a norther. The norther comes when a high pressure system is in the four corners area (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico). It can last one to five days. That means you need an anchor that can handle it. On our Orion I used a 35 pound CQR with 150 feet of chain. The water is not deep and you can anchor in sand most of the time.

There may be exceptions to this. I have not been to San Felipe or Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point). The only cruiser that I know of that went that far north went in the summer and they said it was windy and they got sand blasted. They did not think it was worth the trip. There is a resort and marina at Rocky Point and they have a web site that you can check out (www.rockypoint.com and the marina www.rpmarina.com).

The reason the boats go on south to the mainland is because the weather is calm there. Days are nice and the wind does not blow hard there in the winter. They spend the winter there and then move back to La Paz starting in April. From there, they will move north and be in San Carlos by June. The wind also starts to turn and come from the south about this time. Not all the winter cruisers go all the way to San Carlos. Some leave their boats in La Paz, Mazatlan, or Puerto Vallarta. The winter cruisers also only sail 7 to 8 months or so.

So just when is the best months to sail the Sea of Cortez? I would say April, May, and June. The winter is windy and the summer is hot. In summer the water is hot too and it is really hard to get cool. To get the best experience, you need to be off the cycle of the other cruisers. Anchorages can be very crowded as the cruisers move through.