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More Information, and a Correction, About Anchoring in the Port of Los Angeles

Readers — We made a mistake. (Or rather, I did.) In the December 2023 ‘Lectronic “Can Cruisers Anchor in the Port of Los Angeles?,” I mistakenly referred to both the ports of Long Beach and L.A. simply as “the Port of Los Angeles.”

“You tried to answer a question and made everything far muddier,” said one reader, who understandably assumed that we didn’t know that there were two distinct and separately governed ports within the same massive breakwater in the heart of the Los Angeles coast. We did speak with the City of Long Beach’s marine bureau manager, and the information they gave us is accurate. (We’ll add a bit of info about Long Beach later in this story.)

But in addition to using poor/incorrect wording to describe the individual ports, we … sorry, I … failed to contact the Port of Los Angeles to complete our original query: Can cruisers drop the hook in the Port of L.A.? We are happy to report that the answer is yes, temporary anchoring is allowed inside the port.

Cabrillo Marina is just east of the basin off Cabrillo Beach that is open to temporary anchoring.
© 2024 City of San Pedro

The Port of Los Angeles

A spokesperson for the Port of Los Angeles shared two links with us. The first “boaters” link describes the launch ramp, public landings, and recreational courtesy docks within the Port of L.A., as well as links to the 15 marinas within the Port. The “Mariners Guide” link is nearly 90 pages of rules, safety information, maps and charts, phone numbers for maritime services, etc.

Regarding anchoring, we spoke with the Los Angeles Port Police, who are the primary contact for boaters to obtain a permit to drop the hook in the Port of L.A. “We issue permits for around three days; anything longer than that would have to be discussed with our supervisor,” an L.A. Port Police officer told us, adding that in the event of severe weather, permits would be extended to allow boaters safe haven. “We do a background check and see if the vessel is registered and operable,” the officer added; boats are apparently not required to have insurance in order to anchor in the port.

The officer recommended calling the Port Police’s dispatchers directly at (310) 732-3500 for the quickest response. The background check can take as little as 10 to 15 minutes depending on the availability of officers. There is no fee for a permit; sailors anchoring for just a few hours do not need to obtain a permit.

The anchorage itself lies in the southwest corner inside the breakwater, off Cabrillo Beach and near the Cabrillo launch ramp.

Cruisers can anchor off Cabrillo Beach and inside the breakwater, which encompasses the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but only for three days.
© 2024 Google Maps

What about dinghy docks? That one’s a bit tricky.

“The closest public dinghy dock is at the [Cabrillo] launch ramp, but that’s only for loading and unloading,” the Port Police officer told us. “If it’s during the week and slow, and if you arrange it with the lifeguards, it might be OK [to leave a dinghy for an extended period]. If it’s on a busy weekend, [the dinghy] could be cited or impounded.”

The “boaters link” above mentions two courtesy docks — at berths 85 and 186, the latter of which is currently closed — but both are deep inside the canal separating the harbor shores of San Pedro from Terminal Island. Berth 85 is an eight-mile drive from the Cabrillo Launch Ramp (to be fair, traffic in L.A. is famously terrible), so it’s probably quite the epic dinghy ride to get there.

The Port of Long Beach

To reiterate from our December story, there is a “nearshore ocean area” in the Port of Long Beach, off Island White; that anchorage is only available on Friday through Sunday, along with moorings for rent.

“We highly recommend consulting an L.A. area chartbook,” a Port of Long Beach spokesperson told us this morning. There is an “‘open permit’ to allow for limited anchorage at Island White in the nearshore ocean area,” the spokesperson said. “The permit does not need to be filled out or submitted to our office. A boater needs simply to follow the rules of the open permit while at Island White. Long Beach Fire Department marine safety personnel patrol the area by boat and advise mariners of the open permit and rules thereof daily.” Click here to see the open permit: Open Permit – Island White 11-1-21

Looking to drop the hook in the Port of Long Beach? It is possible and the paperwork is minimal, but anchoring is only allowed on weekends.
© 2024 Google Maps

Apologies again, Latitude Nation, for the mistake, and that I’m just now getting around to correcting it. (The holidays always do a number on me.)

Does anyone have sailing stories or photos from the enormous and densely packed megalopolis in which the ports of Long Beach and L.A. lie? Please comment below, or email us here.

7 Comments

  1. Mark V 3 months ago

    So many stories … hard to pick just a couple. We had our boat at Cabrillo (CYM) for many years. I learned to sail and then to single hand in the Port of LA. This is a very busy port for huge container ships, tankers and all manner of working boats – pilots, tugs, barges and the like. Add in the fun wind we tend to get in the afternoon and evenings near the PV peninsula, and some decent current when the tide is running strong at the Angels Gate harbor entrance and things can get interesting very quickly.

    Among other anecdotes: one afternoon I was returning from several hours singlehanding offshore in our little 25 footer, to find a regatta underway in the basin just west of Angels Gate. I stayed out of the racecourse for some time, allowing competitors fresh wind and one less obstacle to navigate around. At last, I picked an opening and began to navigate towards the marina. All was well for 5 minutes or so, until I got close to the marina entrance. Suddenly and very unexpectedly, a HUGE trimaran appeared off my stern, aiming right for me, with some jacka** shouting “starboard” at me – as if I was racing and not navigating a normal boat in a well defined channel. We nearly collided (them overtaking slow me) but they steered away at the last possible moment. Several others on the trimaran looked concerned, so it wasn’t just me. Good times!

  2. PJ 3 months ago

    Am living aboard in Banderas Bay now, but seeing the middle picture of San Pedro reminded me of being able to see and get close to the Space-X rockets after they land. The narrow channel just to the right of the marinas is where the landing barge docks to get things ready to their refurbishment center, also in the LA/Long Beach harbor. A Space-X web site that shows the location is: https://sanpedro.com/la-waterfront/spacex/

  3. Michael Bowe 3 months ago

    The bays around Sydney, Australia have scores of free Pink moorings that may be used by anyone for up to 24 hours, and possibly longer if you are not an Australian registered vessel. I’m embarrassed by marinas and ports in the LA area that seem to be less than helpful or welcoming to cruisers!

  4. GEORGE DEVORE 3 months ago

    Thanks for the update! So glad to hear of allowable anchoring behind the outer breakwater of L.A. Harbor. Sorry to hear (in previous Latitude) of apparent reluctance to support temporary anchoring in Long Beach Harbor. American harbors still need recreational anchorages and public docks for both boats and dinghies.

  5. Rev Dr Malama 3 months ago

    Use it or lose it is my message of our boating rights and freedoms.
    Thank you for the correction….

  6. Sailorette 3 months ago

    “THE FEAR REGATTA” hosted in the slot of hurricane gulch. (That’s in San Pedro) You don’t have to have any racing (perhaps not even sailing?) experience to enter. Some don’t know the difference between starboard & port let alone race rules or etiquette. I’ve been racing for years but this has to by far be the most interesting race, crashes & MOBs excluded.

  7. williamkelly25id 3 weeks ago

    Just want to give cruisers a heads up that the port police will harass you even if you have a permit. We are visiting from San Diego and arrived yesterday and got our permit as required. The new shift today came up claiming we weren’t aloud to be here saying its not a public anchorage even though we have a permit. They were very rude, lying about them talking to us last week even though we have never been here in our lives, Eventually after being treated like a criminal long enough, I lost my cool and demanded they call their supervisor. They called him and left immediately without saying a word. I called the port police and reported their harassment and emailed the port community liason. The bad reputation of LA port police is confirmed to be very true. Unfortunately for them I am a Combat Veteran and will not be bullied.

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