“Ohhh. It’s HhhOT there.” With a distinct emphasis on the H. They look uncomfortably hot just thinking about it. “I hope you have air conditioning…?” That’s one of those statement/questions… meaning they expect us to have one, but await our answer to confirm their suspicions. No, we don’t have air conditioning.
Astounded, they stare at us wide-eyed with mouth open like we are idiots. Half-snickering, half-feeling sorry for us, they look knowingly at each other and say… “Oh my God! You’re gonna DIE!” Every single person.
So, we were forewarned, multiple times: “air-conditioning will be your best friend, you’ll see”. Got it. Thanks. Not gonna think about it right now. We do not have an inherent A/C system like some boats. So the only other option is a portable one, a window or floor unit. But we have no room. I mean NO ROOM. I would love a floor unit, but the liferaft is in the way as it is. Many people put theirs in the companionway, but how do they get in and out? That’s like sticking a refrigerator in the door of your house and having to move it every time you wish to go outside. Another option is a window unit sitting on top of the overhead hatch. But how do you enclose it? And where do we stow this huge box while we are sailing? Inconceivable, we decided. We just can’t do it.
Fast forward to NOW.
Now we are in San Carlos. It is only June. And we are, no kidding… DYING. They were right….we were just hoping we could hack it. Apparently not. The Baja Peninsula is like Arizona…’it’s a dry heat’ they always say. But it’s true. In Temecula, CA we lived and thrived in 100 degree summer weather, no problem. So the 100 degree “dry heat” that we left in Bahia Concepcion was not an issue. San Carlos? As soon as we arrived in the marina we felt the oppressive humidity. It’s not THAT far away from Baja but weather-wise it’s a world of difference.
It gets hot here at like 8:30am. I’m not even kidding. Begin a task outdoors, and you are sweating in 30 seconds, dripping in 1 minute. It sucks the life out of you. Literally. Our water intake tripled when we arrived in San Carlos: we started drinking gallons of water and are constantly thirsty. We don’t even DO anything!
There is often a breeze out in the cockpit, but mosquitoes like our feet… and it’s still hot; we can’t sit below…it’s hot AND stifling. We have a mid-sized, flat, 12V floor fan and other small 6” round fans scattered throughout the cabin, but it’s not enough. Living in perspiration all day long is now standard. Evening showers are a must prior to crawling into bed. But the marina showers here may as well be a sauna. No bathroom fan, no open window. “Cold” water is just slightly lower than room temperature, so probably 85 degrees. The minute you’re done scrubbing all the sweat off, you start sweating again. Fitful sweaty sleep; don’t want to cook; don’t want to move.
Now I understand why hundreds of cruisers leave their boats here and go back to the states (or Canada) for the summer – to get away from the heat. There are very few people here who live on their boats full time during the summer as a result. Typical temps right now are 95-98 with 40-50% humidity. That doesn’t sound horrible. But this is still spring technically; it’s not even summertime yet, according to the locals. Oh joy.
You have to understand… we are Southern Californian’s when it comes to weather – huge whimps. Our hearty, Midwestern bones have lived outside the rust belt for waayyy too long. And those several hot & sticky, Southern summers in Virginia and Maryland, Florida and Texas? How quickly one forgets… plus, well, you can’t NOT have AC in a house in the South. So, yes, we are accustomed to our perfect, Mediterranean-like temps in California. We whine when it’s hotter than 80 and again when it’s colder than 70. Air conditioning? What’s that? We didn’t remember what humidity can do to a person’s sanity. ‘Til now.
So then... Knowing it would just get worse, knowing we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and knowing we would probably go insane without it (already getting there)… we decided to bite the bullet and give in to the peer pressure.
Our first attempt at being frugal led us to try out a used one. Our friend knew a neighbor boat with one for sale and we went to take a look. It was as gigantic as a refrigerator; but we were desperate. “Maybe it’s not as big as it looks”, we thought. We lugged it to our slip, thankfully only a couple docks away, and hefted that monstrosity down into the boat where it stood on the floor, looking remarkably like our old 47” plasma TV. Wow, this is ridiculously big.
Remember though, we are desperate, so we plugged it in. Ooohhhh… relief. I don’t want to give it up. I feel better already. While it worked… it leaked. We’d have to fix the leak. And it was a monster. We could never go sailing with it and we it just took up SO much floor space; we’d have to junk it after 3 months before we left in November. There had to be something better. We kept it for the rest of the day. Hey, we had to REALLY make sure whether we wanted it or not. But after several hours, sadly, we lugged it back. Hot… again.
Home Depot Rocks
Our friends on Cuba Libre drove us to Home Depot…and Walmart… and Coppel… and back again to Home Depot to finally purchase the smallest window unit we could find. Our friend thankfully also spoke fluent Spanish, helping us get a 2x4 cut to size. The “carpenter” had to be ‘located’ (apparently the only employee with the authority to work the cut-off saw); fortunately, after a minor search, he was found to be working that day and we did not have to return mañana (or buy an 8ft piece and trail it out the car window).
We were just hoping for a tiny floor unit. No such luck. You get what you get down here, there aren’t many choices. Fortunately, they had a small 5000 BTU window unit…we brought our baby home and it fits perfectly on the edge of the top hatch. Brian set a short 2x4 across the hatch, and covered it with a tarp and a bungee cord to direct air downward into the boat. Where will this monster go when we leave...we're still working on that. It measures 11"H x 18"W. No, I can't measure the depth. Are you kidding me? I'd have to leave the air conditioning - you see my dilemma.
Yup. Best $200 we ever spent!
The air conditioner is only an option because we are in a marina and able to plug into shore power. If we were at anchor, the only way to run it is to also run our loud generator (and use a lot of gas in the process) to run the high amp A/C appliance. We have heard of people at anchor who occasionally do this at night if they are desperately trying to sleep. Marina San Carlos thankfully includes electricity in our slip payment. Bonus. This means we can leave the AC on all day; when we return from dinner, a movie, or shopping, even showers…we immediately feel like normal human beings again. Ahhhhhh.
There’s a single downside to having A/C: we have turned into moles. We stay down in the boat all day, venturing out of our cool 80 degree luxury only to go to the restroom. We can now sit comfortably ensconced below decks surfing/researching on the internet (when it works-which is intermittent and slow), reading, writing, I can cook and not sweat into the food, and ooohhhh such blessed sleep. We are indeed happy (and cool) campers!