A quick trip inside Mag Bay to Man O' War Cove turns into a longer stay to avoid T/S Raymond.

Man O’ War Cove,  inside Mag Bay, BCS Mexico isn’t much to look at when you pull into it.  After approx 5 hours of sailing/motoring from Bahia Santa Maria and dodging some fish traps….we encountered  a large mini-fly swarm at the Mag Bay entrance.  This meant we had about 200 flys inside the doghouse of the boat (for awhile) and brought hitchhikers to Man O’ War Cove with us, but the cove itself didn’t seem inherently buggy to us.  Earlier that morning, we had also gotten word of a possible Tropical Depression that MIGHT come close to Cabo and Baja but the Grand Poobah wasn’t too worried.  We were told that we would get more info later in the day when the Baja Ha-Ha weather router got off a plane…and we needed to stand-by for that info.  We anchored over 30 feet of sand with our usual 200 feet of chain and got a great hook.  Our crew took off by panga for the small fishing village on the beach while we took on fuel from a local diesel panga (the diesel panga man was also the local village port captain and owned the bar/restaurant in Man O’ War Cove).  The 1 pm weather update discussed the Tropical Depression in more detail, noting that the four different models of weather were starting to converge (show the same stuff)….that the Depression was not going back out to sea or heading straight west but instead was  still aimed at Cabo and La Paz.  At this point it’s worth noting that Mag Bay is simply the BEST hurricane/storm hole on the Pacific side of Baja…and we were sitting pretty inside it.  That afternoon we took on fuel and got out the generator to make power on deck for the first time.  After thinking through our options:  1. Shelter in place from the storm (hide),  2. Going to Cabo with no reserved slip (hope) or  3. Trying to Ironman the boat and crew around to La Paz before the storm hit (run); Michelle and I came up with the best case scenario for our boat and family and decided to discuss with our crew that evening.  For us, we thought staying put in Mag Bay was probably the best option, but wanted our crew’s opinion.  Our option would put our crew out…basically either they would have to sit out the storm with us on the boat in Mag Bay or they would have to find their way to Cabo San Lucas by panga, bus or shuttle.  We sat down over a glass of great wine in the early evening to discuss.  I thought this was the right thing to do, as with our background in risk management planning and worse-case scenario thinking…keeping the boat in Mag Bay was a no-brainer.  After discussing with our crew, we tabled further action till the morning update from the Baja Ha-Ha weather router.  The fleet was also supposed to depart the next day for Cabo San Lucas; many of the boats had opted for reserved slips which we didn’t have.  The next morning, there was no specific info from the Baja Ha-Ha weather router but the Grand Poobah did admit that the four weather models were looking more and more similar and it looked like there was a higher likelihood that the storm would be a direct hit on Cabo.  That morning he also told us it had been upgraded to a Tropical Storm (but we didn’t find out it’s name till the next day….we were hiding from Tropical Storm Raymond).  During the morning roll call, we decided we were going to stay in Mag Bay and hide from Raymond…while most of the rest of the Baja Ha-Ha fleet sailed out of the anchorage and departed for Cabo.  Along with us were approx 15 other boats who decided to stay put, including the 65-foot Jersey Girl.  Our crew decided they wanted to be in Cabo (as per their original plans) and packed and departed that morning by panga.  We have not heard from them since but we hope they had a great trip and have gotten home safely.  We then spent two full days in the sun and sand, exploring all the hidden treasures at Man O’ War Cove, Mag Bay.  There’s an entire 2 miles of pure beach made of shells, then another 2-3 miles of pure white sand beach with NO surf lines at all.  The small fishing village is clean and orderly, with a desalinization plant for fresh water, a small tienda with no veggies but eggs and milk and a nice bar/taco stand.  To the other side of the cove is an Eco resort that was off-season, but we got the use of the pizza oven, large palapa and beach for a beach party/pizza bash that WAS surreal; along with a great presentation by the Turtle Girls staying on the 65-ft Jersey Girl.  When Tropical Storm Raymond hit…it started in the middle of the night with lots of wind as an Easterly.  Starting around 1 am, we mounted an anchor watch in the cockpit through the next day.  Throughout that night and the next day, we were pounded by rain and wind squalls but nothing we couldn’t handle.  During a lull on Sunday morning, we upped anchor and found more swing room as I wanted to deploy more scope, setting the hook in 35 feet of water further out where I could deploy 250 feet of chain with no problems.  Our big main bower (110-pounds of GREAT INVESTMENT) dug in and the large scope of chain rode took care of us in everything that Tropical Storm Raymond could throw at us.  Sunday afternoon it started to peter out… but as a fleet we decided to let things calm down at sea and leave Tuesday, meaning Monday was another layday for cleaning and chores.  I used the portable Rainman watermaker for the first time, with no problems.  Tuesday we (the rest of the Ha-Ha Fleet) left for Cabo with great weather and a great sail down the coast.

Note:  There was A LOT of discussion about staying in Man O’ War Cove with a known easterly coming at us because of the fetch across Mag Bay from the east to west.  We had discussed moving to the south of Mag Bay where there’s a Mexican Navy Base that was supposed to welcome boats during heavy weather.  One boat actually did this but was asked to leave by the Mexican Navy.  They then had to go find a spot on the eastern shore of Mag Bay, where they probably experienced less fetch.  As it was, we did get some small wind-driven white caps (fetch) and lots of wind.  In approx 20-knts of wind, the fetch was enough to get some of the boats rocking to the point of their bows going underwater, but nothing the fleet didn’t handle with aplomb.  These hard-core wind driven swells (fetch) only lasted 8 hours or so.  My point is that it’s worthwhile to think though fetch and wind direction when planning for a known blow…along with rode, anchor set and swinging room in the anchorage.

YES, we’re conservative in our anchoring and will move as needed to ensure we have swing room and give others privacy they might need and crave.  Our challenge is when folks anchor close to us and we have our usual scope out.  YES, we have moved without saying anything to some folks…but we will also deploy the dog and screaming children as needed.

Most of this original post was written in late 2019 when the anchorage and our experiences with T/S Raymond were still fresh in my mind, but regardless, I would go back to Man O’ War Cove in a heartbeat.  I don’t think the Ha-Ha plans to go back but regardless, it’s a neat place that’s a bit off the beaten path but certainly worth exploring if you have time.  I’m putting it out because we’re trying to catch up on our “Places We’ve Been” Series and it might help anyone from Baha Ha-Ha 2021 or the Baha Bash who comes across it.


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