A few weeks ago, we received a letter from a cruiser who was waiting for hurricane season to pass in Mexico and was more than a little unsatisfied with their visit to the Port of Long Beach, which sits within a breakwater that also includes the Port of Los Angeles.
“We ran into an issue with [a] marina supervisor in Long Beach three weeks before we departed south. They have apparently decided that they do not want any cruisers to drop anchor in the outer harbor, even if you are a cruiser just passing through. They are forcing everyone to pay for slips.”
The 7,500-acre, 43-mile-long Port of Los Angeles is the largest seaport in the United States, as well as home to 15 marinas with more than 3,700 recreational vessel slips and dry docks; the Port of L.A. abuts the Port of Long Beach, and needless to say, there’s lots of maritime traffic coming and going.
But is there room for sailors to drop the hook?
What’s been your experience, Latitude Nation? Does the boater politic expect there to be free anchorages along the coast? Please comment below.
We sent an email to the City of Long Beach asking if there was — or had ever been — an anchorage area for transient cruisers. The city seemed to confirm what the letter said: A transient cruiser can’t just sail into the Port of Los Angeles and drop the hook, at least not without doing some paperwork first.
“The majority of anchorage in East San Pedro Bay is classified as commercial anchorage or special anchorage dedicated to Port of LB and Port of LA cargo traffic,” the City of Long Beach’s marine bureau manager told us in an email, adding that the “nearshore ocean area” is a general anchorage, but that Long Beach municipal code requires a permit to anchor there.
There are “public mooring docks across our Long Beach marinas system that allow a free three-hour mooring within a 24-hour day,” the marine manager told us. “We also accept transient or guest-stay reservations for slips, 15 days in a calendar month, to accommodate cruisers and other short-term visitors. The fee is $1.45 per foot per day.”
Has the Port of L.A. seen an influx of unhoused people living aboard old boats, such as we see here in the Bay Area? Has this affected their general policy toward cruising sailors?
“Yes,” confirmed the marine manager. “Increase in derelict, unregistered, non-operational vessels over the past four years within East San Pedro Bay has required City of Long Beach to take measures to maintain navigable waterways, ensure the safety of our slip permittees, commercial partners, city residents and visitors and protect the marine habitat.”
The sailor who wrote us suggested sailing right past Long Beach. “I suggest cruisers avoid L.A. and just pass on by. You’re better off going out to Catalina if you need to wait out the weather, or, like us, hurricane season. There is plenty of good anchoring in White Bay and supplies in Avalon, a short two-mile dinghy ride away.”
This story has been updated. We originally said that the Port of Los Angeles was “also known as” the Port of Long Beach, rather than making it clear that the two are separately governed and geographic entities that sit within the same massive breakwater.