Local Hazards for Channel Islands

A good source of information that concerns navigation as well as many other issues all boaters should keep abreast of is the U.S. Coast Guard's Local Notice to Mariners. For further information on Coast Guard navigation issues you should take a look at the Coast Guard Navigation Center .

Potential hazards to sailors in the Channel Islands area

Welcome to the Marina Sailing Adventure in the Channel Islands! This pristine cruising area offers some of the most beautiful scenery and marine wildlife to be found on the California coast. It is important to be aware of some potential hazards that can exist in this beautiful area. Keep in mind that this is just an overview and that you should check your cruising guide before leaving the dock. It is very important to take your guide with you whenever taking your boat out of the harbor. The following are few items you should keep in mind when sailing the Channel Islands.

  1. Channel Islands Harbor-When leaving or entering this harbor, it is recommended that you use the Southeast Harbor entrance. The Northwest entrance is subject to shoaling and may appear deep and safe in certain areas, when in fact there are shifting sands that can ground your vessel. If you find it necessary to use the Northwest entrance, we suggest you favor the breakwater side of the channel.
  2. Shipping Lanes-If it is necessary for you to cross the commercial shipping lanes, you need to know the proper boundaries indicated in your CRUISING GUIDE and understand that you are not to enter these lanes according to the U.S.C.G. regulations. If you do cross into these shipping lanes, please do so perpendicular to the shipping lanes. Be especially careful at night! These ships travel at a very fast rate of speed and the distance (over water) is deceiving. The running lights are often weaker than normal (especially large tugs under tow) and appear to be much farther away than they actually are.
  3. Oil rigs at sea-Give oil rigs and their mooring buoys a wide birth! You are not allowed to moor to the rigs or their moorings at ANY time. Do not try to anchor around the oil rigs due to the fact that there are many underwater pipes and cables that could cause you to foul your anchor.
  4. Port Hueneme Harbor-This harbor is a commercial & military harbor and restricted to any personal pleasure craft. When traveling past the entrance to this harbor be cautious not to interfere with the commercial or military vessel movement.
  5. Sailing along beach areas-Travel along the beaches is dangerous, especially after storms in the mountains, due to the fact that we have several rivers depositing debris into the ocean, and you will also find several areas with rocks and shoals. It is suggested you stay 2-3 miles offshore.
  6. Lobster and crab traps-During certain times of the year, you need to keep a close watch for floats that mark the location of traps. If you have ever wrapped a line around your rudder or prop, you know how dangerous it can be (especially at night) near the islands and rocks.
  7. Approaching Islands-When approaching the islands, be sure to check your CRUISING GUIDE FIRST! You need to be aware of rocks, reefs, kelp beds, bottom conditions (if anchoring), tides, and currents for the area.
  8. Santa Rose & San Miguel Islands-These islands are OFF LIMITS to Marina Sailing Members unless you have prior written approval to visit these islands. These islands are subject to very high winds and sea conditions with very little notice. There are several reefs and sand bars a good distance from these islands.
  9. San Nicholas Island-This island is a military installation and restricted to landings by private craft. There are several restricted testing areas off the island. If you are in this area you need to keep your VHF radio tuned to ch. 16 at all times. Be sure to check your CRUISING GUIDE.
  10. Santa Barbara Island-This island is noted for poor anchorages. Carefully check your CRUISING GUIDE. This island is also noted for sudden high wind and sea conditions with very little notice.
  11. Point Mugu Military Base-North of Mugu Rock is a military firing range. If you observe RED FLAGS at the range, turn your vessel out to sea and stay at least 4 miles off shore. Keep your VHF radio turned to ch. 16 for warnings of live ammo firing at the range.
  12. Ventura Harbor-This harbor entrance can be very dangerous with high sea conditions. There is (at times) heavy shoaling in the entrance and the channel can become very narrow. The harbor department is adding additional structures to make the entrance safer for boaters.
  13. Point Conception-This area can be very dangerous (from Santa Rosa Island to Pt. Conception). This area has a reputation for some of the roughest sea conditions on the West Coast.

As mentioned, this is just an overview to acquaint you with some hazards in the area. It is your responsibility to refer to your CRUISING GUIDE whenever you are in doubt or unfamiliar with the area you are entering!