from Ventura Marina to Smugglers Cove on Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park

When we first set our itinerary for the trip, we allowed for a week to explore the Channel Islands, which includes both a Marine Sanctuary and a National Park. This plan, it turns out, was overly ambitious. Without even counting Catalina Island (which we have explored before, and will visit later on our trip) or San Clemente Island (which is the southern-most island, closest to San Diego, largely used by the military, and rarely thought of as a destination), there are SIX other islands in the group !

The northern-most four "main" islands in the group, shown in the map below, are Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel, and are between 20 and 50 miles offshore. The other two islands, are about an additional 25 miles south. As it turns out, there are inumerable anchorages, places to hike and snorkel, and a bewildering array of wildlife on the islands. So, due to the fact that you can only go so far so fast on a sailboat, along with the fact that we wanted to get to know a little more about these places, caused us to decide to focus our explorations on this trip to one of the islands, Santa Cruz, and to save the other islands for later trips.

Before leaving Ventura Harbor, we should mention that we had a good time there. We made several friends, including Neal, a guitar player/singer we met at a restaurant we ate at, and which he was playing at, dock mates Chris and April and their boat, Tryst Umiak, shown below, and we had the distinct pleasure of meeting and chatting with a charming gentleman actor named Victor Lundin and his companion Amelia. Victor has been featured in many television series and movies, including co-starring roles on Babylon Five, and Star Trek (as the very first Klingon) and going all the way back to Get Smart, as well as being the star of the upcoming movie, The Theory of Everything.

Alas though, we wanted to explore, and so on Monday, the 24th of July, we slipped our docklines and bade farewell to Ventura Harbor, bound for Santa Cruz Island.

Smugglers Cove - 22 NM, 7.5 hours, 3.5 hours sailing

From Ventura we made our way to and around the west end of Santa Cruz Island to Smugglers Cove. We were able to sail about half way there (the first and last quarters of the passage) with nice breezes. Along the way we had a nice view of Anacapa Island off to port. When we got within eyeshot of Santa Cruz, we could see we were in for a treat, as the very first land we made out was San Pedro Point which includes a prominent Arch (see pictures below).

Smugglers was very nice. We arrived at about 3:00 p.m. on a very warm afternoon Just after we had "dropped the hook" and were backing down to set the anchor, the engine started overheating (a buzzer came on). I rushed to the back of the boat, turned the motor off, went below, opened the engine compartment and discovered that the fanbelt had broken. Fortunately, we had a spare on board and I was able to change it in 20 minutes or so and we were able to complete our anchoring without too much further ado. Then for the first time on the trip, as it was a very hot day and hot work fixing the motor, we went swimming around the boat. The Northern Waters had been far too cold for us, but this water, at about 65 degrees was very refreshing.

We had a nice bar-b-que dinner and a few drinks on the boat that evening. The anchorage was a little bumpy during the night, with a slow 1-2 ft swell from the south, but it wasn't too bad once we got used to it. There were about 6 other boats in the largish (1/2 mile wide) bay, including two fishing trawlers and 4 sailboats. I noticed that several of the other sailboats had Flopper-Stoppers, which are weights that are hung off the boom to the side of the boat to damp it's rolling motion from side to side, and so during my anchor watch I planned how I could jury rig one the next day.

The next morning, as we were getting ready to leave, a Coast Guard Cutter and Helicopter came within a few hundred yards of us and began practicing evacuation drills.   Very noisy, those birds!    But it was fun to watch as we pulled up anchor and made our way out of the cove.