Monday, October 21, 2013

Isla San Marcos

July 2013

Even after extending our stay in Bahia Conception after the Fourth of July Party, our northbound progress was still well ahead of schedule.  Other boats attending the Fourth of July party had quickly made their way up to the marina in Santa Rosalia and were taking their time moving on.  We needed somewhere to hang out for a week or so while we waited for space to free up.  Isla San Marcos was pretty much the only choice.

Isla San Marcos - not too shabby as the only choice
We had plenty of company.  Several boats were already anchored in Sweet Pea Cove, the popular anchorage on the northwest corner of Isla San Marcos nearest to the marina.  Rather than squeeze in there, we opted for an anchorage about a mile down the west side of the island that was noted in one of older cruising guides.  When we arrived we found big patch of sand in twenty-seven feet of water at the mouth of an arroyo (canyon) and dropped the hook.  This would be home for the next ten days.

Pangeros water skiing past our boat in the anchorage - this was a first!
Isla San Marcos soon became one of our favorite destinations.  One big attraction was the arroyos.  On the islands we visit in the Sea of Cortez the typical terrain is very rough, often crumbling, and covered with aggressive vegetation sporting sharp spines.  While most overland exploring can be challenging and frequently painful (a cactus spine can go right through the sole of your shoe), arroyos are the exception.  In these canyons, the occasional rain storm produces a torrent of water that washes away the vegetation and leaves a nice gravel path to walk on.  In addition to the easy passage, every turn offers something new to see.

Derrick "rock balancing" during an arroyo hike
One of the finished products
On the southern end of the island there is a gypsum mine and village.  Ships dock near the mine where they are loaded with gypsum.  This activity generates a giant plume of white dust that blows out over the water.  Fortunately, we are far enough away that we get no dust, but we can smell the gypsum when the wind shifts to the south.

Trisha posing on a hill of gypsum rock
A couple of fishing boats from the village drive by regularly.  One day one of the boats stops me as I am returning from a spear fishing outing.  The two fishermen speak no English, but they are obviously quite proud of this red fish they have caught.  I have never seen this sort of red fish before, but they assure me that it is “muy bueno” and would fetch 100 pesos per kilo in town.  I try to turn it down, but they really want me to have this red fish for 50 pesos (they estimate that the fish weighs half a kilo).  So I buy the fish.  When I get back to the boat, Trisha looks it up in our fish book.  Turns out they sold me a pacific snapper, edibility excellent.  And it was.

A delectable fish!
There were thousands of cicadas in the arroyo
Interesting rock formations

We left our mark!

1 comment:

  1. In the 70's I worked a couple of contracts on one of those gypsum ships. Most of the crew were Croatian, from fishing families, so someone would drop nets in the lagoon by the pier, and one of the locals who worked on the ship would dive for crabs and lobsters. The day after we left, we would clean the dust off the decks, and that evening we'd have a huge fish barbecue, so I've eaten a LOT of that snapper. I can attest to how good it is!