Isla San Marcos to Punta Cacareo, March 29th 2007.

Overnight the wind calmed down but did not completely go away. The waves calmed down a bit but did not get small enough to exit out through the big arch. We hoped for them to calm down some more so we packed up to leave Isla San Marcos. The smaller beach looked doable to most of us, but boats had to launch there one at a time. Because I was trying to keep my leg dry, I volunteered to get in my boat and get shoved off early. I showed how to get out to the open sea navigating between the narrow beach, rocks and waves. Then I came back in and sat in the surf out of the way to talk Kate DesLauriers and Andrea Wolf through the channel. Andrea Said afterwards that she could not believe that we would even consider launching under these conditions. But everyone made it without any trouble.

We started heading south with the wind and the waves helping us along. We found a sheltered beach to stop on for a break and then paddled past the gypsum mine that dominates the south end of this island. When we rounded the south tip of the island we saw a fleet of shrimp boats hanging out in the lee. Why are they not out fishing? Do they know something about the weather that we do not?

A little south of Isla San Marcos is a small rock of an island named Isla San Rafael. We paddled close to this but didn’t stop to land on it. Also due south of us there was supposed to be an estero that Andrea had tried to find the last time she was paddling in this area. I had a GPS way-point at the mouth of Estero San Marcos and we had plenty of time so we headed there. We arrived around lunchtime but had to land through the surf and launch through it afterwards, which makes some people nervous. The estero was emptying out into the sea, which often doesn’t happen with these bodies of water. Often big berms build up and block the water from directly connecting to the Sea of Cortez. Andrea thinks the only reason this one was open was because there had been a hurricane in the area last year and it filled all these esteros up to overflowing and re-opened their mouths. The tide was coming out the estero and we didn’t feel like dragging our heavy boats across to paddle here.

When we paddled south to the estero we had the wind at our backs. But after launching back out through the surf and turning towards our destination for the evening, we found the wind coming from our side. Contrary to our hopes that it would calm down, the wind rose up again in the afternoon. We had to paddle several hours across the wind and waves. The waves rose up into whitecaps that occasionally spilled across our boats. At one point in the day Doug Hamilton paddled up next to me with a big grin on his face and said “Great Paddle!”. He seemed surprised to hear that not everyone was enjoying themselves.

Eventually we made it around the first point in the Punta Chivato area and the waves calmed down. One of the little points here, Punta Cacareo, has an RV park behind it. It wasn’t the nicest place to camp but Herb Howe and Andrea warned us that the beaches south of here are lined with houses. At the extreme north end of the RV park we found a little arroyo behind the beach to get out of most of the wind and set up our tents.

In front of our arroyo there was a pit toilet that had a system I had never seen before. Every year of so they burry a 50 gallon drum in the sand and move the outhouse over it. When the drum fills up they burry a new drum and start over. You could see the lips of the last few drums sticking out of the sand and a new one that had just been buried but the outhouse had not been moved over it yet. Also sticking out of the side of our sandy arroyo was another older partially exposed drum giving mute archeological evidence that this practice went back in time to before the dunes and arroyo had existed where they were today.

When Andrea had paddled this coastline 7 years earlier she saw a hotel/restaurant/bar on the shore. She made eye contact with the bartender and shouted “Dos Margaritas Porfavor!” She wanted to find the bar and finally pick up those drinks that she ordered. A few of us went for a walk after dinner looking for the restaurant but found that it was closed.

Walking down to the main part of the RV park we used their showers. We never found the camp host and the next morning we left early. So we never paid for the toilet and shower services that we used!

All text and images Copyright © 2007 by Mike Higgins / contact