Johnsons Lee, Santa Rosa Island
|Loc:South coast Santa Rosa
||Last visit: Sept. 07
||Bechers Bay, Santa Rosa
||Santa Cruz Channel
|Skipper: Dennis the Bosun
||Boat: S/V Sancerre
|| Port: Chan Islands
Even though Santa Rosa Island is now fully under the control of the National Park Service, there are still some places you must avoid. You no longer have to worry about getting shot, but you should still refer to the NPS website hiking restrictions & beach closures as certain beaches are closed from time-to-time to protect the snowy plover nesting sites as well as pinniped rookeries (seals, sea lions, elephant seal nurseries)
Anchorages There are relatively few anchorages on Santa Rosa Island, and most of those visiting this island are drawn to Becher's Bay NW anchorage, often not venturing beyond this large, well sheltered and popular anchorage. However, heading around East Point up the south west coast of the island to Johnson's Lee is well worth the trip in the right conditions. However, this anchorage is untenable when the winds are out of the southeast or there is a southern swell. Also, as mentioned above, strong winds out of the west can also make for a pretty unsettled night.
Approach The approach to Johnson's Lee is fairly straight forward as it lies immediately NE of South Point (the southern most point of Santa Rosa Island). However, finding the "sweet spot" can be a bit of a challenge. Brian Fagan states in The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California (revised 2002) "The buildings on the slopes are visible from a long distance. Steer for the pier immediately below them. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the sake of returning the island to its natural state), these buildings and the pier no longer exist, and virtually all traces of them have been eliminated. The only landmark remaining is the light on South Point. But, don't expect to see this light when approaching from the south east. While it should be visible when approaching from San Miguel Island, spotting may also be a little difficult (except at night, which we're not likely to attempt).
How we did it, specifically It should have been, but it definitely wasn't pretty. We departed Yellow Banks at the east end of Santa Cruz fairly early, and headed fairly far off coast on a southwesterly heading in search for some wind and perhaps a few dolphins and a whale or two. Fortunately, we encountered all of the above (including the largest and most active pod of Fin Whales any of us had previously seen). We had sailed far enough out so that when we tacked we were on a northwest heading that practically took us straight into Johnson's Lee. Without the missing landmarks cited in Fagan's guide, finding the right place to drop the hook required a little more poking around than normal. In addition, extensive kelp beds are reported at various times of the year. While the anchorage is quite large, care must be taken to avoid anchoring at the base of the canyon where strong winds can at times come roaring through. At the same time, care should be taken so as to not to get too close to the northern shore where (according to Fagan) it is rocky and the holding is poor. We wove our way through a small kelp bed, and dropped the hook in approximately 25 feet of water, a half mile or so off shore, paying out about 200 feet of chain. There is a mooring buoy to help you locate the spot. Our's was roughly 150 yards west and a bit north of the buoy. When we go again, we'll probably moor a bit closer to the buoy.
Going Ashore Go to Santa Rosa Island for general information including history, topography, flora and fauna of Santa Rosa and an excellent slide show on the Channel Islands National Park website.
Hazards None that aren't charted or visible.
Updates If you have new or amplifying information concerning this anchorage or the surrounding area, please contact Capt. Dan. His e-mail link are top left.