Family Magazine

What’s Your Favorite Cruising Destination?

By Behan Gifford @sailingtotem

dolphins sea of cortez

With 71% of our planet covered by oceans, there is no shortage of places to explore by boat. So when I landed recently on a page for the latest campaign from LOOK, which aims to identify the world’s most exotic sailing location, well, I had two reactions. What’s their pick? And how could we possibly choose just one from among our favorites? I asked the question on Totem’s facebook page and had a slew of interesting suggestions… so we started thinking more about ours.

As we’ve done a interviews for podcasts or print, the question of a favorite place typically comes up. I’m not sure we’ve referenced the same place twice, because not only is it hard to pick one, but we don’t all agree: should it be Papua New Guinea’s Ninigo island, Suwarrow atoll in the Cook Islands, the glorious Tuamotus in French Polynesia, or Banda Neira in Indonesia? Pushed to name a selection of favorites there’s one place that all five of us bring up, especially as it falls father into hindsight. Mexico, and in particular the Sea of Cortez, is a stunning place to go cruising. By one measure after another, it is simply an epic destination. We spent about a year and a half in Mexico, and more than four months in the Sea of Cortez, between 2009 and 2010. Why do we love it? Why should you go?

Soak up the larger-than-life landscapes. I expected to dislike the desert; I expected to dislike it quite a bit, in fact. In truth, it is spectacular. I found it impossible to resist the lure of this stunning, majestic landscape. Anchorages in the Sea of Cortez offer these one after the other.

Simply spectacular landscapes of the desert

Simply spectacular landscapes of the desert

Dive into unforgettable snorkeling. In Agua Verde, we spent many hours taking in the beautiful clear water of the bay. There aren’t corals here to speak of, it’s too far north, but the diversity of fish and other marine life exceeded anything else we saw underwater in Mexico, especially out at the pinnacle ‘Roca Solitaria.’

Enjoying the view

That’s Roca Solitaria on the right, distant

Be utterly and completely alone. Crown yourself regent at one uninhabited island after another. Some might want to turn up the speakers, but what’s truly special is the ability to luxuriate in the glorious silence of a night uncluttered with a single other man-made sound, just the occasional howl of a coyote.

What’s your favorite cruising destination?

no neighbors here

Surround yourself with vibrant Mexican culture. When you’re finished with the solitude, communities sprinkled along the Baja side of the Sea are vital counterpoints to the desert space.

dia de los muertos

The same gravesite, before and after Dia de los Muertos

Lose yourself in the food. On one hand, there is the incredible food to be found in towns: from the classic fish taco with queso fresco, to one with succulent fresh shrimp, grilled and tucked into a warm corn tortilla. Should I mention the bacon-wrapped hot dogs of Santa Rosalia? The flip side of the awesome food is the utter and total lack of anyplace to buy groceries for some very long stretches. That might be a downside for some, but we loved the lessons it gave us in planning, self sufficiency, and foraging.

fish fishing

catching sand bass for dinner in the northern Sea

The beachcombing is insane. Byproduct of so many miles of coastline and so little of… well, anything. Fish, whale bones, agates, glorious shells, ancient artifacts, desiccated starfish, rusted industrial remnants. It’s all here and more.

we attempted to cull the collection at one point

we attempted to cull the collection at one point

You can go sailing! OK, that’s a bit tongue in cheek- this is about a favorite sailing destination, after all.  And yes, we did our fair share of motorsailing and motoring there, too, but the sails on Totem had a LOT more use during a few months in the Sea of Cortez then they have in a year and a half in Southeast Asia.

sailing sailboat sails

She sails! thanks to Jesse Stephens for this photo of Totem.

History lives here. From an anchorage you can spot the middens that are hallmarks of ancient settlements, long lost to memory. Walk around them and you can find arrowheads, heat-cracked stones, and more.

Petroglyphs near El Burro

Mexico didn’t show up as one of LOOK’s picks, and I think it deserves a spot. But check out their favorites: the list started out feeling a little predictable, then took a left turn with an entirely unexpected destination that grabbed my interest. No spoilers, you have to find out for yourself! And then, write back and tell me your favorite.

 If you read this on the Sailfeed website, you’re surely confident in the location of your own favorite sailing destination.


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