2/5/2013 – Isla San Marcos

It was so nice to wake up at anchor this morning. The water was perfectly flat, there was no wind, and the sun was just coming up when I dragged myself out of bed. I started the coffee water and then plugged in the earphone (so as not to wake Lulu) and listened to the beginning of the Sonrisa net on the HF radio. Couldn’t hear too many of the check-ins although I heard net control just fine. Geary from Burro Cove started his weather broadcast and he was also coming in pretty loud and pretty clear. However, I already get his daily weather summary via HF Radio e-mail (Sailmail), so I figured I’d just download it and read the report rather than trying to hear it over the static and then try to remember what he said.

When we’re hooked up to shore power and there is a strong wifi or banda ancha signal, I spend most of the morning before Lulu gets up surfing the web. At anchor, with neither wifi or cell service, that’s not an option. So, once my coffee was ready, I climbed out into the cockpit, where the sun was starting to make its presence known, fired up the Kindle and spent the morning reading Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men”. I get a lot more books read when we’re anchored than I do at the marina.

After breakfast we readied the dinghy and rowed ashore to do a little exploring. We’re just now starting to use our new Walker Bay 8 dinghy but so far we really like it. Yeah, it’s small, but it carries both of us as well as some cargo so what else do we need? The really sweet part of the new dink this morning was that it was so easy to launch. Untie it from the deck, attach two of the lifting slings I made for it, lift it with the jib halyard, lower it into the water, tie it off, and we’re ready to go. We loved the PortaBote but this is so much easier since no assembly is required.

Once we got ashore, we found the other really great thing about a small, lightweight dink with no motor. We wanted to park the boat up under a palapa on shore in order to be able to lock it up and keep it out of the water. We weren’t sure what state the tide was in. Anyway, we each got on one side, grabbed a gunwale, lifted and were amazed at how light 71 lbs. is when split in half. Carrying about 35 lbs. each, we easily moved the dinghy across the beach and parked it under the palapa. Didn’t even have to stop and rest along the way. Nice!

We followed the dirt road into the village on the SW side of the island. Along the way we passed a little tiny church up on a hill. Very picturesque. I’ll post photos when we get a good internet connection.

Walking in to the village was how I would picture walking into an old west town or, come to think of it, a town in old Mexico. Dirt streets, well-kept, although not fancy houses, a few dogs wandering around, the occasional resident that we bid “Buenos dias” to and always received a “Buenos dias” in return. We were happy to find that the dogs were more interested in barking at each other than hassling us. You just never know. We passed a couple of schools, the gymnasium, a baseball field, a community garden, and several small tiendas selling “regalos y noveldades” (gifts and novelties) or “abarrotes” (groceries). However, these did not appear to be walk-in stores. They were in peoples’ houses and it looked like the normal way of doing business was to walk up to the window (sometimes there were a few stairs to help)and do all your shopping through the window. Can’t swear that all the stores worked that way but that’s how it appeared.

Where the village met the water, the gypsum mine seemed to be in full operation. There was heavy equipment and a dusty haze hanging over everything. At the commercial pier a freighter was taking on a load of gypsum. As we turned to head back the way we came we saw a small hospital. This definitely looks like a company town but it also seems to be a more-or-less full-service town. When we were in Santa Rosalia we often saw the boats (usually a heavy tug) that came in to pick up supplies to take back to Isla San Marcos. I wonder, though, if the people ever get a reprieve and get to go to the mainland for a little R&R. I suspect they do.

Once we got back over to Bahia Puerto Viejo, we explored the beach some more. Lulu collected shells, then discarded some, then collected a few more and finally ended up with a few “keepers”. The rock formations along the shore are pretty amazing. Gypsum is mined here. I don’t have internet access right now so I can’t confirm any of this but I think that gypsum is basically powdered calcium chloride, the same stuff that stalactites and stalagmites are mostly made of (although they aren’t powdered). There was a lot of what looked like granite to me along the beach. There were also big chunks of something that I suspect is mica. If I remember right, mica, when split thin enough, yields sheets of almost transparent stone called isinglass. I once had a candle lantern for backpacking that had isinglass windows. Anyway, we found lots and lots of this stuff as we walked along. Is that where gypsum comes from? Or is the mica just a byproduct of the same geological process that created gypsum? Damn! Where’s my wikipedia when I need it? At any rate, there’re some really cool and interesting rocks on this island and I’d love to know more about them.

When we’d had enough, we rowed back out to Siempre Sabado, brought the dink aboard and secured it, and then hunkered in: Lulu crocheting stuff and me reading and, occasionally, dozing off. Tomorrow we’re headed for the anchorage at Punta Chivato. I think this is about a 12 mile trip. We’ll probably leave between 8 and 9 o’clock so we’ll probably get there before the wind comes up. The trip will be around 3 hours which will be just right to recommission the watermaker and replace the water we’ve used the last 2 days.

You cannot believe how dark it is outside right now. No moon yet, some stars, but no lights anywhere except our anchor light.

When we reach a good internet connection, watch for updates with photos.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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14 Responses to 2/5/2013 – Isla San Marcos

  1. Chuck says:

    Gee leaving early before the breeze comes up so you can motor?? Sounds like a power boat 🙂

    So what do you think with the new motor mount flange and alignment…. all ok now?

    Warm regards

    El Salvador

    • sryoder says:

      Ah, but better than a power boat since we can sail if we choose to. Or not if we choose not to. The new motor mount and engine alignment both seem to be working fine. Hopefully, writing that won’t jinx things.

  2. Kevin says:

    I always love to read about your adventures, but especially like it when you are “on the move”. I had been hoping to catch up with you in Santa Rosalia, but have not been able to leave yet. Safe Travels, my friends!

  3. Kit says:

    Gypsum is one of the more common minerals in sedimentary environments. It is a major rock forming mineral that produces massive beds, usually from precipitation out of highly saline waters. Since it forms easily from saline water, gypsum can have many inclusions of other minerals and even trapped bubbles of air and water.
    Gypsum has several variety names that are widely used in the mineral trade.
    •”Selenite” is the colorless and transparent variety that shows a pearl like luster and has been described as having a moon like glow. The word selenite comes from the greek for Moon and means moon rock.
    •Another variety is a compact fiberous aggregate called “satin spar” . This variety has a very satin like look that gives a play of light up and down the fiberous crystals.
    •A fine grained massive material is called “alabaster” and is an ornamental stone used in fine carvings for centuries, even eons.

    Crystals of gypsum can be extremely colorless and transparent, making a strong contrast to the most common usage in drywall. The crystals can also be quite large. Gypsum is a natural insulator, feeling warm to the touch when compared to a more ordinary rock or quartz crystal. Sheets of clear crystals can be easily peeled from a a larger specimen
    Gypsum crystals can be extremely large – among the largest on the entire planet. A cave in Naica, Mexico contains crystals that dwarf the people inside. Apparently, ideal conditions for the slow growth of gypsum were maintained for thousands of years, allowing a few crystals to grow to enormous sizes. Click on the photos for larger images, and see this abstract for an article in the April 2007 Geology magazine that describes how the growth of these gypsum megacrystals occurred.

    Plaster of Paris is made by heating gypsum to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, driving 75% of the water out of the mineral. This reaction absorbs energy, enabling a sheet of drywall to resist fire for a while. Heating further to about 350 degrees F drives out the remaining water and results in conversion to the mineral anhydrite

  4. Kit says:

    Hope this will hold you over until you get back internet!

  5. Joan/Raymond Yoder says:

    Dad said another word for wall board is gypsum board. Does that help? Love, Mom

  6. Joan/Raymond Yoder says:

    I don’t know if you ever saw the movie Long long trailer with Lucille Ball and desi Arnez, anyway on their honeymoon she wanted a rock from every place they were and she got the trailer so loaded it would hardly move. Don’t collect too many shell, Lulu, don’t want the boat to sink. Love, Joan

    • sryoder says:

      Fortunately, Lulu picks up a few shells that really appeal to her, carries them a few hundred yards and then tosses them away. Very few actually make it back to the boat and those that do are REALLY small.

  7. Nita says:

    Sounds wonderful, considering we are wet and gray and cold here on Bainbridge Island. Thanks for all of the details. Nita and Mike.

  8. Erica says:

    Hi! My boyfriend and I have been following your blog for awhile now. You guys are great! We have a Westsail 28 too and are considering getting a Walker Bay. About how high does yours come up from the foredeck? Our only issue is that we have a staysail boom so we aren’t sure if the WB will fit underneath it. We are curious for your thoughts on it. Thank you! 🙂

    • sryoder says:

      The WB8 won’t fit under the staysail boom. We’ve removed the boom and fly the jib boomless but use the self-tending approach that Bud Taplin explains in his Westsail Owner’s Manual. With the boom in place, a PortaBote might be a better choice. We’ve used both and switched to the WB only because we got too lazy to assemble and disassemble the folding dinghy.

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