Twin Harbors

Sail to Twin Harbors on Santa Cruz Island with Capt. Dan Ryder and Sail Channel Islands
Twin Harbors can accommodate two sailboats.
Loc: NW Santa Cruz Island Lat: N34-02.6 Long: W119-42.9 Last visit:July 2021
Tide/Sun/Moon/WX Dist: 12 Prisoner’s Harbor WX
Chart 18728 Santa Cruz Channel NPS Alerts
Skipper: Capt.Dan Boat:Sancerre Capt. Dan Port: Channel Islands
Landing Permit Required Nature Conservancy permit app/info
Local Notice to Mariners


It’s called Twin Harbors and it looks like two, but realistically it’s only the east side that is tenable for an overnight stay. There’s room for one or two yachts, but it’s tight with two. Protection is good from south to west.


Approaching Twin Harbors from the east
Approaching Twin Harbors from the east

If you’re cruising the north coast going either east or west, you’ll readily spot the arch that marks the end of the protecting peninsula that forms the west wall of the main anchorage. Click thumbnail #6 near the bottom. If you’re heading in there near sunset, it can be hard to see. We cross check the GPS and chart plotter and stand off until we have the spot in sight.


There's enough room for two, but it takes cooperation.
There’s enough room for two, but it takes cooperation.

Once we’ve located the sand beach at the back of the anchorage, we make our approach up the eastern (downwind side) of the anchorage. If we’ve got crew unfamiliar with the anchorage, we make a dry run and point out the spot where we want to drop our bow hook — just behind (south of) the arch, about 100 ft. out from the peninsula. There’s a crease in the rocks at the precise spot that we use for our drop point for the bow anchor. We drop the hook, motor back slowly, paying out rode until we’re in about 17-20 ft. of water at high tide.

We aim to anchor just west of the middle of the anchorage.
We aim to anchor just west of the middle of the anchorage.

That requires something over 300 ft. of rode on the bow. We set the bow hook, drop the stern hook and start forward, laying out about 150 ft. of stern rode. We set the stern hook and set it hard because this is a spot that can produce some short term canyon winds from the stern.

On calm days, we’ll back in  and drop the stern hook (a Fortress) in 15′ and lay out 250′ of rode. We set the stern hook hard and then drive forward to drop the bow. Finally, we ease out the bow rode as we take in the stern until we’re at 100′.

Backing in has become my preferred method, but only in light breezes.

The Twin

Twin HarborsWe took a look at the west anchorage in the next morning. It was pretty rough and exposed to swell and there was no place to hide from the prevailing wind. It would be OK for breakfast, but by lunchtime it would be fairly uncomfortable. Certainly not a place I’d plan to spend a night.

Landing Permits Required

If you intend to go ashore, you’ll need a landing permit from the Nature Conservancy.


If you have new or amplifying information concerning this anchorage or the surrounding area, please contact Capt. Dan.



Sail for just a few hours …. or several days

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