Punta Belcher
Looking north to Punta Belcher, a 19th century whaling station or the remains thereof is located
on the low sandy spit in the distant fore ground. Anchorage will be in somewhat shallow water,
about 10' or so in sand making good holding ground. In the afternoon the wind can increase to
around 20 kts but shelter is generally good. This anchorage is located in Magdalena Bay about 24
miles or so north of Tosca. If possible, it is advisable to avoid the passage to the village of San
Carlos as well as Man-o-War Cove since there is a Port Captain at each entailing check in and
check out along with the onerous fees. According to other cruisers, the Port Captain at
Man-o-War cove is most helpful and will arrange for fuel & water to be delivered to Man-o-War
cove in a panga, The author does not know of anyone who has arranged for fuel to be delivered
to Punta Belcher, possibly this could be done.


HUMAN GEOGRAPHY:  Named Bahia Santa Maria Magdalena by Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602,
Bahia Magdalena has been a center of intensive resource extraction since the nineteenth century
(Beltran del Rio 1989; Mathes 1979; Nelson 1921; North 1910; and Young and Dedina 1993).
Between 1845 and 1874, approximately 2,200 gray whales were killed in Bahia Magdalena by U.S.
whalers, more than any other single location along the Pacific Coast of the peninsula (Henderson
1984: 169). Whaling in the bay continued in the 1920s by Norwegians (Garcia M. 1931; Reeves
1984:191). At the turn of the century, the Flores Hale Company of the U.S. owned the entire bay
and an approximately 21 km wide section of the Pacific Coast from the tropic of Cancer to Punta
Cono (29 degrees) (Sangines 1908). From 1904 to 1910 Bahia Magdalena was used as a practice
gunnery and bombing range by the U.S. Navy, mainly during the winter months when gray
whales were present. In March 1908, the U.S. Navy's White Fleet arrived at Bahia Magdalena at
the end of a Latin American tour with 28 ships and more than 13,000 sailors. The White Fleet
bombed the bay day and night for two weeks (Carter 1971:66-70; Jefe de las Armas 1908). In
1912, rumors that the Japanese government was planning to purchase the bay for use as a naval
base resulted in controversy in the U.S., and the passage by the U.S. Senate of the Lodge
Resolution, which stated that the establishment of foreign naval bases in Latin America were a
threat to U.S. interests. The base was never constructed (Chamberlain 1939; Manno and
Bednarcick1988).  Many of the earliest residents of the region migrated from inland ranches,
particularly those in and around the Sierra de la Giganta east of Bahia Magdalena. The founding
family of Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, the Luceros, moved from a ranch in the Sierra de la
Giganta in the early 1920s to Matancitas, an arroyo ranching community approximately ten km
from where Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos stands today. A few years later the family moved to the
bay shoreline and made a living by fishing for sea turtles and sharks. Today at Matancitas, houses
made from the remains of shipwrecks found on the barrier islands are still in use, illustrating the
close ties ranching communities retain to the bay.  Bahia Magdalena entered the modern era with
the construction of a fish cannery at Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos in the late 1950s, and the
subsequent inauguration of port and cannery facilities at San Carlos in the 1960s (Chavez 1994).
Today, residents of the bay work in the fishing industry, with some working as independent
fishers, others employed by the numerous fishing cooperatives in the bay, and others working as
wage-laborers for seafood companies. Many bay residents still engage in subsistence fishing and
can be seen in the remote and narrow channels away from towns, pushing narrow boats with
poles or fishing with handlines from skiffs propelled by oars (Section 4.5.2 contains additional
discussion of economic activities in Bahia Magdalena).   Many of the residents of San Carlos and
Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos are migrants from the interior of Mexico who arrived in the Santo
Domingo Valley in the 1950s and 60s searching for work in agriculture, and moved to Bahia
Magdalena when the canneries opened. Whale tourism has only recently become an important part
of the local economy (Municipio de Comondu 1994a). In the last few years agriculture and
fishing have been unproductive, resulting in a depressed regional economy and large-scale
unemployment. Since 1988, more than 11,000 residents have abandoned the Santo Domingo
Valley as a result of the economic recession in the region (Expreso de Baja California Sur 1994).
         Man-o-War Cove
Distant view of Man-O-War cove as taken enroute
to San Carlos
            San Carlos Wharf
           San Carlos Wharf
The Dinghy landing is located to the far port in the
photo.  As far as the Author is concerned, the
passage to San Carlos is for emergency only being
the reason the Author made the long passage from
Santa Maria Bay with an inaccurate fuel gauge and
heavy northbound weather. This fuel stop was a
nightmare, first you must go ashore and purchase
the estimated fuel, then you must "jerry-jug" the
fuel to the boat proving very difficult against
almost constant 25 to 30 kts of wind from the
northwest. Folks, if needed, carry plenty of diesel
with jerry-jugs, forget about this fuel stop.
              Punta Belcher
Distant view of the old whaling station enroute
to San Carlos, the outbound current was about
2 kts or more at this point.
                Punta Belcher
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