Hazards to Navigation in San Diego Bay

Be on the Lookout!

In 2007, there were a number of boating accidents in San Diego…collisions with fixed “hazards to navigation.” As they say, “A collision at sea can ruin your whole day.” Those of you who are “old salts” are probably aware of all of these, but those of you newer to our harbor should take note. If you don’t already have one, get yourself a paper nautical chart of San Diego Bay, or find it in your “chart kit”. Even experienced boaters will find it wise to review the chart from time to time. Use a highlighter to mark an hazards that you find. Here are some prominent ones, starting at the harbor entrance:

Zuniga Jetty. A submerged jetty along the East side of the channel at the harbor entrance, usually visible at low tide. Marked by sign posts and lights every quarter mile. This jetty has claimed many boats!

Shoal area south of Ballast Point: This unmarked shoal, just outside the channel, near buoy 11, has mean depths of 4-6 feet. At a minus tide, the depth will be lower still.

Submerged Jetty off North Island: Opposite Ballast Point, do not sail or cruise inside the white/orange spar buoys. An unmarked, submerged jetty lurks inside!

Both Ends of Shelter Island: There are shoal areas on both ends. By the time you read the sign on the West end, you’re already into the shoal area. Don’t “shortcut” the entrance.

Piers and Jetties Along North Island Naval Air Station: Older charts will not show that the Navy added some pilings and visible short jetties off North Island, as you are curving around the bend toward downtown. A boat ran into one of the old piers at night recently, which are unlighted.

Mooring Buoy off Harbor Island: This large mooring buoy (FM19) is usually unlighted. It is located just East of Sunroad Marina’s buildings.

Shoals Near the Coronado Bridge: It is safest to pass through at the wide span, in the main channel. There is a large shoal area right in the middle of what would seem the logical “shortcut” into Glorietta Bay. The shoal extends to the red nun buoy on the South side. There is also a large shoal extending from the Naval Amphibious Base, All the way to green buoy #1!

South San Diego Bay: Lots of shoals, some submerged wrecks in the anchorages…Too many to list here. Stay in the marked channels!