Our first visit to Pelican Bay on Santa Cruz Island

From Forney we made our way back east along the north side of the island, and the terrain became spectacular. There were innumerable caves in the sharp rocky cliffs. We brought the boat in very close and had a look at a couple of them, including the famous Painted Cave which is big enough to anchor a 30 foot boat inside!

We had heard that Pelican Bay was well protected and beautiful, but wanted to check out other anchorages on the way just in case. We thought we might anchor at Platt's Cove, but there was already a boat in the choice spot, and the other possibilities didn't have much protection from the west swell (which had, by the way, lessened to 2 ft or less, but was still big enough to be uncomfortable at anchor).

On the way to Pelican Bay

So we pulled into this tiny anchorage called Orizaba Cove to give it a try. There was barely 100 feet between some cliffs and a rocky ledge, with 100 feet to a steep rocky beach. We set the bow anchor (a "bruce" anchor), and then backed off and dropped our stern anchor (a "danforth") in about 25 ft of water. However, as it worked out, we were the wrong way in the anchorage. Instead of having our stern pointed at shore and our bow out to the ocean, after we set the anchors we managed to find ourselves with our bow pointing to the cliff about 50 feet away, and our stern precariously floating about 15 feet away from some nasty looking rocks. Concerned that it might be a problem, I decided to pull in the stern anchor and try to re-set it in a better position.

So I hauled away on the stern anchor line, and then got the bright idea of putting it on a winch to make it easier. So I cranked on the winch while my crewmate let out on the bow anchor and we came closer and closer to shore. Then when the anchor finally came free, we were virtually on the rocks, so we had to hurridly start the motor and draw up to the front anchor. But that's not the best part of this story.

When we got the Danforth anchor up out of the water, it was bent at nearly a right angle. I'm talking about 1/2" steel. I guess it had been lodged in some rocks and by using the winch I had bent it while trying to free it. I was able to straighten it somewhat by strapping it to a cleat and muscling it, but it's still twisted! Oh well!

By that point we decided to abandon Orizaba Cove as too dangerous and just continue down to Pelican Bay.

There were already three boats at Pelican, but we were able to find a nice spot, with some swinging room, in about 50 ft of water, about 125 feet from a really pretty cliff face. The cliff was made of all different kinds and colors of rock, and at some points went straght up vertically from the water

as much as 250 feet or more. And perched on every little outcropping or ledge were sea gulls by the hundreds. They were really cool, and about every 15 minutes would do a huge chinese-fire drill as a few birds might come in and cause everyone to squawk and re-arrange themselves.

Pelican Bay was absolutely gorgeous. We took the dinghy out of the bay into the little coves next door. On one side there was a really cool Arch with lots more birds and a few seals lazily feeding in the rich water. On the other side was Tinkers Harbor which had a nice little beach and hiking trails leading up from it.

We also did the meet the neighbors thing here and met a really nice couple from Ventura. They told us that the next day (Friday, as we arrived in Pelican Bay on Thursday), that there would be 40 or more boats coming to Prisoner's Cove (right around the bend), and that we should consider ourselves lucky to have Pelican to share with only 4 or so other boats.

The next morning, I took the dinghy out for a quiet early morning paddle around the bay. The water was very clear, and I could see all kinds of fish, star fish, and urchins in the tidal waters there.

After that, we made to weigh anchor. As we were putting the dinghy away, some guy came in and dropped his anchor right on top of where we thought ours was, and then dropped a stern anchor right on top of our neighbors bow anchor. Needless to say everyone was a little upset with him. Our neighbors left even before we did, and we were going as fast as we could as we hurridly pulled up anchor, started the motor and left the bay. However, it was so pretty here that we plan to come back next week after the crowd has left.

From Pelican Bay we headed back to the mainland to Channel Islands Harbor where we have a reservation with a reciprocal agreement at a marina there.