Up to this point, I can say that Isla Coronado has been my favorite anchorage. But with the allure of an abandoned salt mine over on the next island, which I had been looking forward to since before our accident, it was time for us to move on to new adventures.
First, we made a pit stop in Loreto for groceries, which involved anchoring in an area described as an ‘open road stead’, meaning it provides no protection from the wind and waves. This is best done in the mornings before the wind builds up, but even with that plan in place, it was not a pleasant experience getting on and off the dinghy. After dropping anchor, we dinghied in to the tiny panga dock, full of small fishing vessels in varying states of disrepair, where we locked Clementine up and walked to the grocery store. All along the wharf, local children offered their services as porters in exchange for tips; they must be familiar with the sight of American cruisers coming in for big provision runs.
Once stocked up, it was onwards to the far side of the T shaped island called Isla Carmen to look for salt evaporation ponds and ruins. Back in its heyday, workers from Loreto were ferried over by boat to this area called La Salina Bay. There is even the ruins of a small school that now crumbles back into the beach in the harsh Mexican sun. When the salt supply eventually ran out, the old faithful ferry boat returning for a final load of workers’ belongings sunk in the bay, where it remains to this day. Nowadays, La Salina hosts a hunting lodge, where during several months a year, visitors are allowed to hunt deer that have been introduced to the island. From this side of the island, it is possible to hike over to the other side, Puerto la Lancha , named for its historical use as the nearest ferry point to Loreto for the workers. On this hot day, we decided instead to take advantage of the increasingly intense afternoon sun to try our hand at drying vegetables in our solar dehydrator, another trick that we hope to add to our self sufficiency arsenal. Although labor intensive, it is an oddly satisfying process, and a much cheaper alternative to commercially sold dehydrated food that those of us fond of camping will be familiar with. When properly dried, food only weighs 1/5 of its original weight, and can be kept up to 6 months in an airtight container.
The next day, we decided to try sailing to Puerto la Lancha instead, but La Salina had a farewell surprise for us. On our way out of the bay, we spotted some local fishing boats surrounding a rocky outcrop. We are by no means competent fishermen, but we had fallen into the habit of dropping a hook into the water anytime we set sail, just to see if we would get lucky. Sailors love exchanging fishing tips, and one recommendation that we had heard several times was how effective a simple cedar plug is at catching fish, even better that all those realistic fish lures. Up to this point, we had not seen this theory proven, but we guessed that if local fishermen were in the area, they must know that this is a good fishing spot. Approaching the pangas, we suddenly felt our line go taut. We got a fish! Slowing Monsoon to a stop, we watched as our depth meter fluctuated wildly: 50 feet, 5, 45, -5; the fish was making an acrobatic bid for escape under our hull. After some amount of hauling on the fishing line, Travis pulled a 3 foot skipjack tuna on deck, the biggest fish we have caught so far. This is a species that most cruisers would rather throw back due to its unusually dark meat, very high in iron and strong tasting. But to us, this was a prize catch, and we were determined not to waste a single bit of it. By now, we had rehearsed in our mind how to properly dispatch a fish, and down its gills went a generous amount of alcohol. To our relief, the fish died quickly and gently. From there, we harvested 4 pounds of meat for canning, a carcass for fish stew, guts for future bait, with plenty of fresh fish left over to gorge on. At sunset, we pulled into Puerto la Lancha with our fish dinner, and dropped anchor in a pristine and private anchorage. After a hot day of sailing, and with seawater of comfortable temperature and nobody else around, I decided to go skinny dipping. After all, I only have so much time left to do so before Rowan grows up too much and such behavior becomes unacceptable for a parent to engage in. Visibility was excellent in the water, and I had a great time swimming circles around Monsoon with a triggerfish friend, when I suddenly heard Travis yelling for me from on deck. Here came a panga full of local guys zooming past our anchorage! Quickly, I swam around to hide behind the boat, as Travis dropped a towel into the water for me. So much for private moments, enjoy it when you can!