Tips for Cruising Mexico – Part 1 – Navigation, Weather, Gear & more

Mexico Cruising Guide: tips for a cruise of Mexico in a sailboat

Primary Mexico cruising landmarks.

More info on Mexico Maps.

Mexico Cruising and living on a sailboat

Groovy's solar panels on their arch support.

Mexico cruising in your own boat

A few of the watermaker parts, not including the

high pressure pump, 75' of 3 different kinds of

hoses & two 4' membranes.

Tips for Cruising Mexico - Part 1

(This guide was adapted by the Baja-Haha Cruiser's Rally for their First-Timer's Guide to Mexico)

This page is a guide for cruisers that contains a huge collection of tips for Mexico cruising in your own boat.  These are things we

wish we had known before we cast off the docklines.  See our Tips for Cruising Mexico - Part 2 and Mexico Maps too.

If you are planning a cruise to Mexico, I hope this page will inspire you with new ideas for your preparations.  They include:

• Mexican Culture

Adapting to living in a very foreign country

• Learning Spanish

The best course you can take before you go

• Navigation:

Related equipment and cruising guides

• Weather Prediction:

Methods and websites

• Tides and Lunar Calendar:


• Sailing in Mexico

Where the wind is -- and isn't -- and the best places to sail

• Boat Preparation:

Major upgrades for marina-based versus anchor-based living

• Goodies:

Oddball items we have found very useful


All it takes is one provisioning run to realize that you're not in Kansas any more, and it can be quite a culture shock.  Mexicans

are a wonderful, outgoing, friendly and exuberant people, and their warmth is infectious.  But their traditions, ways of doing

things, history and ethnicity are very different than in the US and Canada.

We spent six months living on Groovy at Hotel Coral and Marina in Ensenada, and it was an awesome way to adapt to living

in Mexico while we still had wheels to drive back to San Diego.  If you are planning to cruise to Mexico, I highly recommend

spending a few months in Ensenada as you outfit the boat, perhaps split your time between Hotel Coral and Cruiesport

Marina.  Boatyard Baja Naval does outstanding work, and you be over your culture shock before heading south.

Ensenada is a terrific university town filled with activities and festivals of all kinds.  From classical music concerts to art

exhibits to the Baja 500 and 1000 car and motorcycle races to the Newport-Ensenada sailboat race to tours of the

surrounding wine country to the Rosarito-Ensenada bike ride, to the very active running community, there are all kinds of

things to do.  The bay is fantastic for daysailing -- the wind comes up most afternoons -- and you will be the only boat out there.

Some people have the misconception that Ensenada is not a "real" Mexican town.  In our experience it is as Mexican as any

other, but is more varied, less touristy and has fewer gringos than most of the other coastal cities.

If you can't spend a few months living in Ensenada, a long weekend can help give you a feel for what to expect.  There is a bus

line, ABC Bus (Spanish language website, prices in pesos) which runs between the Tijuana border and downtown Ensenada.

Take the trolley from San Diego to the border, walk over the border and catch the ABC bus to Ensenada and a cab from the bus

depot to your hotel.  For a high-end treat weekend getaway, stay at Hotel Coral and Marina.


One of the best things I did to prepare for cruising in Mexico was to take some conversational Spanish classes at my local

community college.  I took three semesters and have found it has not only made it easier to get around and find things, but it

has enriched my time in Mexico.  I have gradually reached a point where I can listen to the thoughts of these fine people in their

own language.  Although three semesters taught me almost all the verb tenses and lots of vocabulary, learning to actually hold

a meaningful conversation is still an ongoing process for me.  However, the conversation in which the pizza store guy in Loreto

explained the Mexican presidential election process to me, the day the canvas lady in San Carlos told me all the ups and downs

she has faced as a professional boat service person in a man's industry, and the time the fuel dock guy in Manzanillo told me

about the keys to enjoying a long marriage all stand out as true highlights of this crazy cruising experience.  If you won't be

starting your cruise for a few years, sign up for a Spanish course today, and keep taking it until the day you leave.

Ensenada and La Paz both have immersion Spanish schools where four weeks of four-hour-a-day classes gives you a

semester's worth of conversational Spanish.  (Se Habla...La Paz) is one of the schools).  I'm sure there are others in the

mainland coastal cities as well. Click here for our Spanish Learning Tools page

I have met many cruisers trying to learn Spanish from courses on CD like Rosetta Stone.  I haven't met anyone who learned

Spanish this way.  Get serious, make the time, invest the money, and take some classes!

To see the funny things that happen to gringos living on sailboats in Mexico, see: What's it like to cruise Mexico?


Navigation in Mexico with a modern electronic chartplotter and radar overlay is a cinch.  All the cruising guides give GPS

waypoints for major obstacles and anchorages.  Sean Breeding and Heather Bansmer, authors of the popular Sea of Cortez: A

Cruising Guide and Pacific Mexico: A Cruising Guide, include a table at the end of each book that lists the suggested waypoints

with logically named labels and descriptions.  Entering these waypoints into your chart plotter turns Mexico cruising into an easy

paint-by-numbers affair.

The survey data used to create the chartplotter charts (Navionics and others) is something like a century or more old, and

although the contours are usually correct, the data is often offset from the real GPS coordinates by as much as a mile or so.

Whenever we approach an unknown anchorage we turn on the radar to see how accurate the chartplotter is.  50% of the time it

is right on.  The rest of the time it is usually just offset to one side or the other and it is easy to see where you should go and

what to avoid.

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Before setting out, we purchased Pat Rains' Mexico Boating Guide and Charlie's Charts of Mexico by Charles and Margo Wood

as well as the two books by Bansmer/Breeding.  All four were useful, and we were glad to have each one on board, as they offer

different perspectives.  Charlie's Charts reflects an earlier age of cruising but is completely up to date.  Pat Rains gives down-

and-dirty practical advice.  Bansmer/Breeding paints a vivid picture of what you will find in each anchorage.  We relied on Rains

and Wood for the San Diego to Cabo passage.  We used Rains, Wood and Bansmer/Breeding on the Pacific coast and used

Rains and Bansmer/Breeding in the Sea of Cortez.


We have found the weather in Mexico to be generally benign and the bad weather predictable well in advance.  The worst

weather we have experienced has been while we were at anchor.

Our preferred method for weather prediction is the internet.  We have had internet access from the boat at most locations,

relying primarily on our USB modem from TelCel (more on acquiring one of at Mexico Tips (2)).  On the trip south the only

place without internet via TelCel is Cedros Island.  Once south, the only place where there is no internet access (and you really

could use it for weather forecasting) is from Islas Espiritu Santos north to just south of Ensenada Blanca (Bahía Candeleros) in

the Sea of Cortez and from north of Isla Coronado further north to Bahía Concepción also in the Sea of Cortez.  These are both

long stretches of excellent cruising grounds, so after a few days at anchor when your downloaded weather data is out of date, it

becomes necessary to rely on SSB radio broadcast forecasts from amateur meteorologists (more about that below) or some

other method of obtaining weather information.  If you can understand rapid-fire Spanish full of wave heights and wind speeds,

the port captains periodically broadcast weather forecasts on the VHF radio on channel 12 or 14 (they are announced first on

Channel 16 and come mid-morning and mid-afternoon).

The key to all the internet weather websites is to add 5 knots to the wind speeds and a few feet to the wave heights, especially

in the Sea of Cortez where predicted, pleasant sounding 15 knot winds may be 20 with gusts to 25, accompanied with short

steep waves -- not fun.

San Diego to Cabo San Lucas Passage Websites:  - Gives high resolution graphic images of the Pacific side of Baja that are are accurate if you

add 5 knots to the wind speed for good measure. - There is a page for Baja California that shows the conditions on the Pacific side

of the Baja peninsula.  The time is given in UTC (Greenwich Mean Time).  Rather than worrying about time zones and

being exact, I simply subtract 6 hours to try to keep it simple and easy reading these charts, as the forecasts are given

for 3, 6, 9 and 12 am and pm.  You really need to study each time-stamped chart carefully to figure out what conditions

to expect. - From amateur SSB weather broadcaster Geary (see below),

this site gives 3-day forecasts for each major anchorage on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula.  The posts are

not always up to date.

Mainland Mexico weather websites: - There is a page for California to Mexico that offer wind and wave forecasts.

Subtract 6 hours from UTC to get approximate local time. - The California to Mexico forecasts are available for download

if you have a slow internet connection.  These are also useful to download if you are going to lose internet

access in the next few days. - Offers wind and swell forecasts similar to Santiago Weather.html - Posted by amateur meteorologist

Stan from Manzanillo Bay, there are separate links for each region of Mexico including the Tehuantepec.  The posts are not

always up to date. - Gives high resolution graphic images for the Sea of Cortez that are accurate if you

add 5 knots to the wind speed for good measure.

Sea of Cortez weather websites: - This gives a nice synopsis, including sea

temperature (SST tab), and there is a ton of other information about Baja elsewhere on the website. - There is a page for California to Mexico that offer wind and wave forecasts.

Subtract 6 hours from UTC to get approximate local time.

Sea of Cortez to Mainland Crossing Websites to Banderas Bay Forecast.html

- From Stan in Manzanillo Bay, forecast for crossing the Sea at different points. - From amateaur SSB weather broadcaster Geary (see below),

this site gives 3-day forecasts for the northern and southern crossings including the wind conditions on each side and in

the middle.  The posts are not always up to date.

SSB Broadcasts

There are several amateur weather forecasters who give their predictions on various SSB radio nets.  The two most popular

forecasters are Geary who is located in Bahía Concepción in the Sea of Cortez and broadcasts on the Sea of Cortez focused

Sonrisa Net, and Don Anderson who (used to) broadcast from Ventura California on the Mexico and Central America focused

Southbound Net and Amigo Net.  Their volunteer work is extremely generous and they take their self-assigned jobs very


Geary's 3-day forecasts for the passages down the outside of the Baja peninsuala (San Diego to Cabo) and the two Sea of

Cortez crossings (north and south crossing) are all excellent.  However, he does not offer a prediction beyond today for any of

the areas inside the Sea of Cortez. 

He posts the broadcast on the internet as well (see above website listings). and he takes questions from listeners

about specific areas.

Due to time constraints on the air, there's necessarily a lot of generalizing, lumping many miles over many hours into a single

"15 knots NNW" kind of statement.  When I have internet available, I find it much easier to look at pictures of the Sea of Cortez

or of Mainland Mexico showing wind speeds and directions in a graphical form to get an idea of what will be happening in my

particular little spot.  Especially in the Sea of Cortez where the wind wraps around the towering mountains, changing its direction

and intensity with every mile it traverses, a single wind speed and direction forecast can't tell the whole story.

We also like to get a general weather prediction for the air temperature, humidity, sunshine and rain.  We use:

Other websites that can be useful: - a free downloadable application that allows you to manipulate GRIB files.  Windows only. - a subscription-based marine weather predictor. - a subscription-based marine weather predictor - a general weather forecasting website - Gives a radar overview of the most recent conditions - Gives a radar overview of the most recent conditions


Tides generally run less than 6 feet in most of Pacific Mexico except in the far northern Sea of Cortez where they can be a lot

more (few cruisers venture to that area). - Has a good graphic layout that shows where in the tide sequence you are right now. - An alternative tide forecasting site that includes solar/lunar and other info too.

It is nice to know how much moon you will have on an overnight crossing.  This website detects where you are from your IP

address and generates a lunar calendar for the month.  It also lets you put a red pinpoint on any location in the world and then

create a lunar calendar for the month:


The best sailing in Mexico is north of Cabo Corrientes: in the Sea of Cortez, in Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta area), and in the

"crossing zone" between Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.  South of Cabo Corrientes -- the Gold Coast

(Costa Alegre) and south to Zihuatanejo -- has very light wind and it tends to run parallel to the coast, making it either right on

the nose or dead astern as you sail between those anchorages. See our MAPS OF MEXICO page to get your bearings

We have sailed about half of the time that we have been in transit north of Cabo Corrientes and 10% of the time south of there.

This translates to somewhere around 5-10% of all the miles we have covered as the crow flies.  In order to sail in Mexico you

have to be willing to tack, to sail dead downwind and to sail at 2 or 3 knots.  Romping sailboat rides in 15 knot winds on flat seas

are not common, but they can be found.  One of the best ways to do that kind of sailing is to daysail.  Our favorite places for

daysailing have been Manzanillo Bay (south end of the Costa Alegre (Gold Coast)), Loreto Bay between Isla Carmen and the

Baja peninsula north of La Paz in the Sea of Cortez, Acapulco Bay, and the Bahías de Huatulco.  Banderas Bay (Puerto

Vallarta) is reportedly another good spot.  In any of these places you will likely be the only boat out daysailing.

Fishermen's "long lines," or nets, crop up in certain places.  We have seen one in the Sea of Cortez, five or six in the Isla

Isabel / Mazatlan area, one south of the penal colony islands Islas Marias outside Banderas Bay, and one on the Gold Coast

south of Cabo Corrientes.  They are marked by some kind of bouy at each end, and these end bouys are a few hundred yards

or a few miles apart.  The two end bouys may have a flag on them and may have a second smaller bouy floating nearby.

Reports from people who have sailed into them are that you can cut them fairly easily with a knife.

The VHF radio is an experience unto itself in Mexican waters.  The fishermen go crazy on channel 16, especially out at sea late

at night.  They whoop and holler and whistle at each other.  They hold the mic way too close and yell into it in very fast and

excited sounding Spanish.  I asked a Bolivian cruiser what the heck they were saying, and he said he couldn't understand them

either and that they have their own jargon.  Sometimes they hold the mic to their radio speakers and play songs on Channel 16.

Sometimes they make animal sounds and other weird noises.  In between, the cruisers hail each other and the freighters and

cruise ships hail the port captains, all sounding very formal.  The other day I heard a Mexican voice say in Spanish, "This

channel is for serious mariners, not animals."  To which the reply was a loud chicken squawk and then silence.  Channel 22 is

the channel cruisers use to hail each other when not underway, and many busy anchorages host morning nets on Channel 22.


If you are outfitting a boat for cruising, I hope this section offers some food for thought and sparks some ideas.  We have found

that it is easy to get caught up in a mindset of never-ending boat projects to the point where the projects overshadow the

cruising.  Starting north of the border with a slew of upgrades., it is really tempting to continue taking on huge boat upgrade

projects in Mexico.  In addition, things break, and suddenly The Boat turns into a 50-hour-a-week job with no time left for

sightseeing and enjoying Mexico itself.  Soon frustration sets in.  "When do the boat projects end and the cruising begin?" one

friend asked in me in jest, but not really joking.  Here are some thoughts I've had about some of the most popular upgrades:

Solar Power and Watermaker -- Marina-based Living

If you are going to be in Mexico for just a season or two, and you have the budget to spend 50% or more of your time in

marinas, you may be best off skipping the watermaker and solar panels.  These are two huge, complicated, expensive projects

that will only help you when you are anchored out, and in reality, how many nights will that be?  For a lot of people the time

spent anchoring out is just a few weeks in the Sea of Cortez, a few days here and there between La Paz, Mazatlan and Puerto

Vallarta, and a few weeks on the Gold Coast.  The $10-15K outlay for a watermaker and solar power/arch setup might be much

better spent at the swank resort marinas and on trips inland to Mexico's famous landmarks.  Doesn't sitting in a hot tub or

visiting the extensive but distant Mayan ruins and dramatic landscapes sound better than overseeing a worker installing your

upgrades, or worse, doing it yourself?

If you stay at a marina for a few weeks and are then in transit for a week or two before settling into the next marina, a Yamaha

or Honda 2000 generator will keep the batteries happy on days you don't use your engine, and a large alternator will top them

off when you motor between anchorages.  If you have good sized water tanks you can manage with onboard water from the last

marina stop.

Some of the happiest cruisers we've met are people who didn't install these expensive items.  The water at the marinas is good.

If in doubt, you can always filter the water at the dock with a 1 micron filter and a carbon filter in series, or you can add a carbon

filter at a sink onboard.  If you are fussy about drinking water it is easy to stock up with bottled water in gallon containers, as it is

carried in even the tiniest one-room stores.

US camping stores sell collapsible water jugs in 2.5 and 5 gallon sizes.  Grab a few of these before you set out and you can

increase your on-board water supply without having to store the bottles on deck when they're empty.

Solar Power and Watermaker - Living on the Hook! For more on solar visit our SOLAR POWER pages.

On the other hand, if you are going to anchor out most of the time or are planning a longer cruise to places beyond Mexico that

don't have so many marinas, solar power and a watermaker are two awesome upgrades.  For us it made sense to get the

biggest ones we could.

Our DC fridge and freezer eat up about 100-120 amp hours every 24 hours.  Our 555 watts of solar panels tied to a 60 amp

MPPT charge controller is just barely sufficient in the winter if we keep the freezer running. If we run just the fridge but

keep the freezer turned off, we can live on solar power indefinitely.

On good sunny days we get anywhere from 150 amps in December/January to 230 amps in June/July.  We need to run the

engine (with its 100 amp alternator) for a few hours every third or fourth day in the wintertime.  This works out fine because that

is generally about the time we are ready to move on anyways.

We have met a lot of boats in Mexico that found they did not installed enough solar power before starting out and decided to

add more in Mexico.  This isn't easy to do.  So if you are considering putting solar power on your boat before starting your

cruise, get at least 500 watts, and more if possible.

The panels need to be installed so they are not shadowed and they need to be

wired in parallel.  Ours are aft of the boom, but they often get a little shade when

the sun is on the beam or foreword of the beam.  Lashing the boom off to one

side often helps.  Unfortunately, if as little as 5% of a solar panel is shaded, it

quits working all together.  If the panels are wired in series this knocks out the

whole solar panel array.  I have seen this on our fifth wheel where our 490 watts

of solar (wired in series) went from producing 10 amps on an early winter

morning to producing 0.1 amp when I used my body to shade a corner of just

one of the four panels.  Placing panels near or under radomes, wind generators

or the boom will make it very easy for shadows to creep onto one of the panels

and severely impair the system.  Of course while sailing they often end up tilted

away from the sun as well as shaded by the sails.

Our engine-driven water maker is rated to produce 38 gallons per hour, but it

actually makes as much as 60 gallons per hour.  In our research we discovered

that most DC watermakers require running the engine to keep the batteries at a

high enough voltage for the watermaker to operate well, so getting an engine driven unit that produces five times more water

made sense to us.  It was the same price as the more popular DC

watermakers that produce 6-12 gallons per hour.

In our fifth wheel we use only 8 gallons of water per day, because obtaining

water when boondocking can be tricky.  On the boat we use much more.

The salty, grubby marine environment requires lots of fresh water to keep

things clean.  Mark attaches a hose to the watermaker's sample tube so we

can wash the decks while making water (although the water pressure

is light).  Snorkeling gear and kayaking gear needs rinsing after use, and it

is nice to rinse off salty feet and salty bodies after swimming.  We also have

fresh water flush toilets.  We use about 20 to 30 gallons of water a day.

Because we are used to keeping our drinking water in gallon bottles in the

trailer rather than drinking from our holding tanks, we always make the last

bit of water into gallon jugs.  This allows us to add minerals to the water,

since desalinated water doesn't have any minerals in it.

Anchor & Rode

In Mexico we have been able to anchor in 15 to 25 feet of water almost everywhere, and we put out 120' of chain regardless of

the depth because there is usually plenty of swinging room.  When a Sea of Cortez Norther or Corumuel or Westerly blows in

we let out more chain, often as much as 250'.  We thought it was a little crazy when we followed the advice of seasoned cruisers

and installed 300' of chain, but we're sure glad we have it now, as we have never dragged.  Snorkeling over our 60 lb. Ultra

anchor (and Ultra flip swivel) we have seen a case where the boat pulled the chain in a 360 degree circle around the anchor,

and the anchor neatly cork-screwed into the sand.  The chain's pattern on the sand was very pretty.  I wish I'd had an

underwater camera to capture it!


These are some goodies we found extremely useful that are not usually on the list for outfitting cruising boats.

Shower Bags

Our hot water heater holds 11 gallons and relies on the engine to heat the water.  After two days at anchor it's not hot any more.

If we run the engine to make water in the anchorage then the water gets heated up again and the batteries get topped off.

However, if we don't want to run the engine another option is to fill a camping solar shower bag with water, set it in the sun for a

few hours and then use it to take a shower.  We tie the shower bag outside the bathroom window and run the nozzle through

the window to the shower.  It's not quite as nice as the real shower nozzle, but it does the trick.  The 2.5 gallon shower bags are

an easy size to deal with, and we can both get a shower from one bag.  The 4 gallon bags are ungainly.

SSB Radio (portable)

The SSB radio is great for socializing on the SSB nets and, if your radio can transmit, the addition of a

Pactor modem also gives you email access while out of reach of Wifi or TelCel cell towers.  However,

installing one is an expensive and complicated project, so we decided to forego it.  Instead, we use a

portable, battery operated SSB receiver.  Clipping a lead between the radio and a steel rod that comes

into the cabin from one of the inner shrouds is all we need to do to listen to the SSB cruiser nets.  It took

us quite while to figure out which buttons to push to get the various frequencies, and the nets often change

frequencies slightly up or down if the official frequency is in use when the net is supposed to begin.  SSB

broadcasts are full of beeps and blips and weird outerspace noises that make our fellow cruisers sound

like Martians.  Ours is a Sangean ATS 909, but others are made by Grundig, Eton and Sony.

WiFi Booster

There are a lot of places in Mexico where you can get a free wifi signal on the boat, but you need a booster.  We have a

Bitstorm BadBoy wifi antenna which has an RJ45 ethernet jack at the end that goes to the computer.  This makes the wifi

signal onshore available to one computer on the boat.  The manufacturer, Bitstorm, also sells their Unleashed product, a small

antenna which connects to this ethernet jack and then broadcasts wifi within the boat.  This effectively makes the external wifi

signal onshore available to multiple computers on board via local wifi.  When you turn on the BadBoy antenna it turns on the

Unleashed antenna at the same time, and all of it runs off DC power so there is no need to turn on an inverter.

GMRS Radios

One of the best things on our boat is two little GMRS walkie-talkie radios.  These are rated for 36 miles, but they require line of

sight to achieve that distance.  We have found they work over several miles with buildings in between.  For instance, from West

Marine's parking lot on Shelter Island Drive all the way down to the Police Dock.  We use them when anchoring, which makes

the whole process much less stressful and a lot more polite as we can discuss what's going on while Mark scopes out the

anchorage at the bow and I stand at the wheel.  Hand signals are great but you can't really converse about whether this or that

spot might be better and why.

They are also very handy when one person goes to shore and the other stays on the boat.  Most cruisers use a handheld VHF

for that purpose, but all VHF radio conversations are public, and I prefer our conversations not to be broadcast all over the


Shade Screen & Fans

If you will be cruising in the Sea of Cortez between May and October you will need a lot of shade in the

cockpit.  There are many fancy ways to create shade screens, and lots of people use a mesh that keeps

out 75% to 90% of the UV rays.  We chose screens that keep out 90% of the rays, and that was not

enough from June to early October.  You need true shade at those times.  A fancy solution is a sunbrella

flap that can connects to the bimini and comes down past the lifelines.  A cheaper option is just to buy

some bedsheets and use clamps to clamp them onto the bimini and lifelines.  These are easy to fold out of

the way and to wash.  The biggest problem with shade screens is that the boat rotates, so you need

coverage around the entire cockpit or you will go nuts constantly moving the shade screens from one

place to another.

Some portable DC fans that can be taken into the cockpit or pointed at yourself wherever you are sitting really help too.

Caframo makes high quality DC fans, and they have a small 2-blade model that rotates.  Perfect.

Super Siphon Hose

These plastic hoses have a check valve at one end, and they are ideal for transferring diesel or water from

jerry jugs into the boat's tanks.  You put the open end of the hose into the tank and put the check valve

end into the jerry jug.  Shake the check valve end of the hose up and down to coax the water into the

hose.   Once the siphon starts, keep the open end of the hose at the bottom of the jug until it is empty.  We

have one Super Siphon hose for water and another for diesel.

Electronic Spanish-English Dictionary

A small book dictionary will work too.  The idea is to have something small that you can whip out at the

grocery store when you are staring at a label and have no idea what is inside the container -- is it whole

wheat or oats?  Is it whole milk or skim?  Is that price for the carrots or the zucchini?  Etc., etc.  Also, it is

handy for deciphering signs, billboards and newspaper headlines.

Swimmer's Towels (and boat cleaning towels)

These are highly absorbent towels that you rinse out after use and store damp in a plastic container.  We

found swimmer's towels online, but they seem no different than the similar towels sold in auto parts stores and

the Walmart auto parts department for wiping down cars and boats.  We have a few of each.  We use the

swimmer's towels after swimming or after showering in the cockpit.  This significantly reduces the number of

salty, wet terry cloth towels we have lying around.  The boat cleaning towels are perfect for giving the boat a

sponge bath wipedown on dewey mornings.

Battery Operated LED Candles

We got four 3" candles at Bed Bath and Beyond, and they make the cabin very homey, especially since our

cabin lighting is fluorescent and LED.  On overnight passages they make the cabin feel warm and secure.

LED Lights

We replaced all of our incandescent lamp bulbs with LED bulbs, and we replaced two overhead halogen

bulbs with LED bulbs.  A good inexpensive source for LED bulbs is

We got extra bulbs and we got a few in red so that on overnight passages we can switch a few of our lights

to red (although we don't generally bother to do that).  Our overhead cockpit light has a red LED bulb, and

this is very handy for identifying our boat in a crowded anchorage when we come back to it in the dark.

We replaced our anchor and running lights with LED bulbs too, but those are specialty items we got

through the traditional marine stores.

We also installed two LED reading lights that have turned out to be really great.  They cast a nice light that

is excellent for reading, and they don't have the harsh glare of most LED interior lights.  We also put

several $4 battery operated stick-on LED lights in hanging lockers, under the sinks and in other poorly lit


Dive Tank Handles

Getting dive tanks refilled usually involves at least a long walk if not a dinghy ride, and the easiest way to haul around the

ungainly tanks is with a webbing and velcro strap handle.  We found these simple handles make all the difference in the world.

Just make sure the dive shop knows the handles belong to you, or remove them before you leave the tanks if you have to leave

the tanks for a few hours or overnight, just so they don't disappear while at the shop.

This Tips for Mexico Cruisers guide is continued here: Tips for Cruising Mexico - Part 2
























































































































































































To help you plan your cruise and get you inspired, we created the video series, "Cruising Mexico Off the Beaten Path - Volumes 1-3," shown below. This is a fun-to-watch and easy-to-digest introduction to Mexico from a cruiser's perspective, giving you lots of valuable information that isn't covered by the cruising guides. Each video is available individually at Amazon, either as a DVD or as a download. For discount package pricing on the whole series, visit our page Cruising Mexico Video Series.

Volume 1 (left) reviews the geography, weather and seasons in Mexico and shows you what the best anchorages between Ensenada and Manzanillo are like.

Volume 2 (middle) gives detailed info that can't be found in any of the guidebooks about the glorious cruising ground between Manzanillo and the Guatemala border.

Volume 3 (right) provides all the info you need to get off the boat for an adventure-filled trip to Oaxaca.

Our Gear Store also has a boatload of ideas for your cruise!


Curious about the price or specs for something similar to an item mentioned on this page?  You might find it here:

New to this site? Visit our Home Page to learn more about us, and see our Intro for Cruisers to find out where we keep all the good stuff, including tips for planning your cruise to Mexico, our Solar Power pages, and our ideas for outfitting your boat.