Northwest Anchorage Bechers Bay

Sail to Northwest Anchorage Bechers Bay with Capt. Dan Ryder and Sail Channel Islands.
Low lying hills give some protection from strong westerlies and protection from swell action from NW to SW.
Loc:East coast Santa Rosa Lat: NN34-00.5 Long: W120-02.8 Last visit: July. 2020
Tide/Sun/Moon/WX Dist: 0 Bechers Bay, Santa Rosa WX
Chart 18728 Santa Cruz Channel NPS Alerts
Skipper: Capt. Dan Boat: S/V Tiger Beetle Capt. Rob Port: Chan Islands
Landing Permit Not Required Local Notice to Mariners

Description

NOAA chart 18728
NOAA chart 18728

Northwest anchorage Bechers Bay on Santa Rosa Island is well protected from swell, but the wind can come whistling over the low hills. Nevertheless, Fagan deems it good enough to be a refuge anchorage in NW winds to 39 knots.

We were in there in time to enjoy a sundowner, which made the rigging whistle, but not much more. Tough to light the barbecue, however.

Approach

It’s a straight shot into the anchorage, but if you’re doing it near sunset, which seems pretty likely, you’ll be staring into the sun and will be unable to see much of anything.

Bechers Bay sweet spot for anchoring
Our favorite spot to anchor at Bechers — about 200 yards ENE of the pier. Note: anchoring in kelp areas brings two hazards — the kelp and the rocks that kelp holds on to.

The shoreline near the anchorage is unremarkable. What you’re looking for is the pier, but that blends in with the cliffs and may not be visible until you’re within a mile or two. Even on a severe-clear day it’s frequently hard to pick out the pier. The pic at top makes that point pretty well. We frequently spot the ranch buildings first because of their reflective roofs or the windsock on the dirt runway south of the pier.

Anchoring

The chart shows a couple of anchoring issues: kelp and rocks. Rob Macfarlane, master of the S/V Tiger Beetle,  reported in July 2020 that he got hung up on rocks near our usual anchoring spot. Up to this point, Sancerre has dodged the issue, but it looks like we were just lucky. Here’s Rob’s report:

“I was in 30′ of water just to the north and outside the pier I could hear the anchor chain rattling among rock.

The NOAA chart says ‘rky’, with ‘S’ (sand) just inshore.  So I moved over much closer to the existing kelp bed and set there in 24′ of water.

Thanks to Rob Macfarlane, we stand corrected: the bottom in Bechers NW anchorage is littered with rocks.

There was some chain rattling going … I put on SCUBA gear and dived the anchor.  Turns out the bottom there is flat shelf rock dotted with 3-5′ large rocks.  The shelf is covered with 1-2″ of sand.

My anchor (a Rocna) wedged itself under one of the large rocks, the chain wrapped around another large rock perhaps 50 feet away from the anchor.”

Night Approach

Anchored close aboard but seaward of the pier in about 20'
Anchored close aboard but seaward of the pier in about 20′

There are three very bright steady red lights mounted on the end of the pier, making close-in navigation a lot less tricky than using radar alone.

Going Ashore

Though the National Park Service has total control these days, there are still some places that they don’t want you to tread. Check out NPS ALERTS for details. Note: scroll  all the way to the bottom of that  page to ensure you get all pertinent information.

BTW – the Torrey Pines are an easy hike from the pier; however, I do not leave my boat unattended.

Sail for just a few hours …. or several days

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