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The Two Captains


Volume 81
Isla San Marcos

On our way north from Bahia Concepcion to the town and marina of Santa Rosalia, we stopped for a few days at Isla San Marcos, about 31 miles north of Playa Domingo. After miles and miles of utterly desolate and untouched Baja coastline, it is almost startling to come upon San Marcos where the southern end is devoted to a huge and complex gypsum mining operation and the village that supports it. Although the open pits mines so far are only at the south end, the whole island appears to be made of the same stuff, giving it a kind of smooth, brown, felt-like look with little vegetation. Gypsum is a component of plaster of Paris and dry wall, and so this remote corner of the world sees huge bulk carriers coming to carry it away.

At the other end of the five-mile long island, however, are two small anchorages on the northwest face with protection to summer's usual southeasterlies. We chose the one behind Punta Piedra Blanca in a wide circle of sand. From the boat, there was nothing particularly pretty about this spot, which was surrounded by craggy dark brown rock, and if I hadn't gone for an early morning kayak tour, we might have blown it off with little more investigation. By kayak, though, the coast revealed itself to be an intriguing maze of submerged rocks and finger-like inlets begging to be snorkeled. There is, in my mind, a definite correlation between intriguing kayaking and good snorkeling. In both activities I like nooks and crannies. This shoreline was the kind that tempted me further and further along, and around the point I found myself in the next "anchorage" called Caleta de Los Arcos. As the name suggests, there are several arches and caves inset into the coastline big enough to paddle right into. The anchorage, however, seemed more exposed to a wraparound effect from the north point, and the circle of good sand bottom seemed cramped for more than one boat.

In the afternoon we returned to the nooks and crannies with snorkel gear and spearguns and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours tooling through the maze. The viz could have been better. It was maybe 15' from the surface, but, you know, sometimes a little murk enhances the mystery of a spot. When you dove down below that 15', there was suddenly revealed a very busy landscape of boulders with many good eating fish darting among them.

We really could have spent a long time poking along these shores, and we were keen to do some dinghy fishing off the northern point where yellowtail and dorado were reputed to be. Two factors, however, pushed us on. Most directly, the wind seemed to be shifting more northeasterly and the wraparound effect was beginning to reach us in even the more protected Piedra Blanca anchorage. Also, there was just one slip waiting for us at the tiny Santa Rosalia Marina, and our plan was to leave T2 there for a week while we adventured north by bus to San Diego and LA for some friends' wedding and to visit daughter Tiffany and her fiancé Derek. If we lost the slip, the whole plan would be screwed up, so we hastened on the ten more miles to Santa Rosalia.

Photos courtesy of Paul Marak, sv Ryokasha.

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