Have you spent the weekend anchored in Mission Bay?

While San Diego is not known for destination sailing, we have a couple fantastic anchorages to take advantage of with Mariners Basin in Mission Bay being one of our favorites. Let’s go over some helpful tips when planning your weekend in Mission Bay.

For starters, the anchorage we are describing is Mariners Cove or Bonito Cove inside of Mariners Basin. The specific name of the anchorage is not all that important to this topic, but sailors often use the three names interchangeably since they are located within several hundred yards of each other…. more on that to come.

Harbor Island to Mission Bay is about a 20 minute drive with beach traffic and stop lights, but it’s a 2-3 hour sail due to Point Loma and the kelp beds. When setting course for Mission Bay, it’s imperative that you round SD 1 (San Diego Channel Safe Water Buoy) prior to turning north for Mission Bay in order to avoid the kelp. From here, it’s an enjoyable sail on a port tack beat or close reach until you are adjacent the Mission Bay entrance.

Skippers should line up the entrance at least 1-2 miles offshore and furl sails rather than cutting the corner from sea. Many boats (not from HS) have mistaken the San Diego River/Dog Beach for the channel and ended up hard ashore or against the jetty rocks, avoid this by making sure you see both the red and green markers at the end of the jetty and pass between them. Once safely in the channel, follow the bend to the left and make entrance into Mariners Basin.

Once inside the basin, skippers have a choice of two anchorages with Mariners Cove to the south and Bonito Cove to the north. It’s recommend that you take anchor in Mariners Cove due to it’s deeper water and space, but Bonito Cove is a suitable overflow anchorage.

You should now be in 15-20′ of water and planning on a 4:1 or 5:1 scope if room allows. Refresh your memory by reading our helpful anchoring topic here. Mission Bay does experience above average tide change so a good skipper should be aware of the tide table and plan accordingly. The north end of Bonito Cove will completely dry during big tides and it’s not uncommon to see an ill-prepared skipper “high and dry” waiting for the tide to come up. Additionally, Mission Bay also experiences an offshore breeze in the evening causing you to rotate 180 degrees around your anchor. Read our Wind Condition blog here to learn more on offshore and onshore wind patterns.

Fill the fridge with food and drinks and make a weekend trip to Mission Bay!

*Sailboats over 20′ cannot fit under the Mission Bay Drive Bridge, Mariners Basin is the only destination inside of Mission Bay.

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