Cruisin’ to Santa Cruz Island

Posted:  September 20, 2018
In:  Blog
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Enjoying coffee in the cockpit (from left to right: Momma Neely, Marissa, Shannon, Jon)

After a long, long wait we finally caught the cruising bug after sailing Avocet further than ever before and spending an incredible few days anchored out at Santa Cruz Island with Chris’s family.  If you follow our instagram (@SVAvocet) you probably were able to follow along and watch our adventure first hand, this blog will go over our adventure a little more in depth, especially since there were so many things we did not via phone. So,we started our voyage Friday morning after stowing away the provisions, a new anchor, and getting the family settled aboard for the trip. It took us about 4 hours to arrive at our first anchorage, Smugglers cove. This was the first time Chris or I had anchored Avocet, and we were so happy Jon and Shannon (SV Prism) were there to help walk us through the steps. Just like that our anchor was set, and we were home for the night.

I had recently picked up a book about Santa Cruz Island from the world famous Minney’s Yacht Surplus (if you know, you know) and I decided that now was a better time than ever to crack it open and brush up on my knowledge of  the Island that is always in sight from our slip in Oxnard. The Island is 96 square miles and home to flora and fauna that is unique to the Channel Islands such as the Island Fox, which can only be found on 6 out of 8 of the Channel Islands and no where else on Earth. Although the fox is the largest of the mammals on the Channel Islands, it is the smallest canid (fox) on Earth! Besides the wildlife, there are many reminders of human life from long ago when there was ranching on the land. You can still see the old ranch buildings, corals, and cattle grates here and there. Chumash natives also lived on the island, making canoes out of planks and using shells as currency. I was blown away at the Islands history, and was sure to keep my eyes peeled for the things mentioned in my book. I was far from disappointed.


Avocet anchored on Santa Cruz island

Early the following morning we moved to our next anchorage called Prisoners, which was a pretty cool spot to explore first since there was a dinghy dock making it nice and easy to get to land. We got off Avocet for a few hours to explore, and ended up hiking the lookout trail to search for the “illusive” Island Fox that just so happened made an appearance almost immediately. The book was right, the fox was the smallest mammal on the island and absolutely adorable. After our fox encounter and a few prime shots of Avocet sitting pretty in the anchorage, we headed back down to the shore where I decided to go hunt for shells. The shore was scattered with intricate shells that were once homes to crabs and snails, but I was honestly more excited about the bones I found (I am weird, I know.) I found lots of small bones, fish bones, seal bones… all picked clean by what was likely the ravens. After a good 20 minutes of examining shells and bones alike we headed back to Avocet for a swim and some dinner. Fun facts about Prisoners: Prisoners received it’s name because in the early 1800’s, a Mexican prison ship released convicts on the island after being denied permission to do so in San Diego.

The next, final, and favorite anchorage was Little Scorpion which was a gorgeous spot for snorkeling and diving.  Avocet set anchor in the sandy bottom with a stern hook as well to keep us snug during the night. The surroundings were incredible, the east side of the cove had cliff walls that dropped straight into the water, natural rock bridges that you could snorkel or paddle through and thin lines of kelp that was a likely sign of a reef below. After digging out our snorkel gear and the wetsuits that came with Avocet, we suited up and jumped in to explore the world below our keel. The sun never showed up that day, so the fog made the water extra cold but nonetheless enjoyable because the amount of life that lives in that cove is incredible. We saw tons of garibaldi, kelp fish, silver fish, small abalone, and Shannon even found a bug hole (lobsters!) I couldn’t really dive since my wetsuit was super thick and made me extra buoyant, so Shannon was nice enough to dive down and bring the bottom of the ocean to me in the palms of her hand so I could say I “touched the bottom”. We spent about an hour out exploring and I could have honestly spent all day! We did have to get going though, the main land awaited, so we swam back, showered off and started to get the boat ready to set sail with a course set for home.


Little Scorpion anchorage. The rocks off the bow were the prime spot for snorkeling!

It was an incredible experience being able to anchor for the first time, we now feel like the possibilities are endless and will be exploring our potential cruising plans soon. We wanted to give a shout out to SV Prism for teaching us the ropes (or should I say lines?) when it comes to anchoring with our new Rocna “Vulcan” anchor! Seriously, it is badass! Finally, thank you to everyone who has followed our social media accounts and has reached out to us with questions or thoughtful comments, we do enjoy reading everyone and getting to know you all! Below is a video recap from our travels. Until next time, cheers!


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