California Anchoring Laws

When I wanted to spend some time on the ocean I began to look at some options. Obviously I wanted to spend as little money on mooring the boat as possible so I began doing some reearch on anchoring laws in California and I came up with nothing. 

Every city/area has different laws on anchoring! How long it’s allowed, does it require special permits etc. all vary from location to location! So I started writing down everything that I learned from the main cities and put it all in this article. 

Hopefully this is easier for you to read than calling all of the local governments like I had to. 

1. Eureka Anchoring Laws

  • Humboldt Bay

No boat can anchor in Humboldt Bay for longer than 72 hours without getting a temporary anchoring permit. A temporary anchoring permit will allow you to anchor in Humboldt Bay for 14 days. 

2. San Francisco Anchoring Laws

  • Angel Island Anchoring Rules

Angel Island doesn’t really have much space for anchoring but they do have many moorings and docks. You can stay on the mooring overnight for $30 a night or use a dock during the day for $15. 

  • Aquatic Park Anchoring Rules

Aquatic Park is closed to all power boats. Other boat types are allowed but can only anchor for a maximum of 5 nights. A permit is required to anchor in Aquatic Park. After staying for 5 nights you cannot re-anchor in Aquatic Park until after a 7 day wait period. 

  • Belvedere Cove Anchoring Rules
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Belvedere code is often used to stop during the day but is rarely anchored at overnight as it is too exposed to anchor overnight. A better place to anchor overnight is Paradise Cove (mentioned below).

  • Clipper Cove Anchoring Rules

Clipper Cove allows anchoring of under 24 hours without any permit. If you are planning on anchoring longer than 24 hours then you will need to either get a short term permit (up to 4 days) or a long term permit (5-10 days). Anchorage permits are free for Clipper Cove. You have to wait 21 days after your permit expires to apply for another permit. 

  • Paradise Cove Anchoring Rules

Paradise Cove is a longer anchorage that currently doesn’t require a permit. There is a beach close by that can be visited if you so choose. It can be quite rough during the day but will normally calm down in the evening. 

  • Richardson Bay Anchoring Rules

There are many boats in Richardson Bay that have been there for a long period but legally you can only anchor in Richardson Bay for 72 hours. Boats must have a valid registration and an operable marine sanitation device. 

3. Monterey Anchoring Laws

Monterey has open anchorage available in the area east of wharf 2 and the east moorings. Boats can anchor in water that is 15-30 feet deep. Boats cannot be anchored for more than 30 days in any six month period. 

4. Morro Bay Anchoring Laws

Anchoring is allowed inside the anchorage area but for a maximum of 30 days within a 6 month period. There are no fees for anchoring for the first 5 days. After that it will cost .23 per foot per day. 

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5. Santa Barbara Anchoring Laws

Sanat Barbara has two designated anchoring areas. The year around anchoring area and the seasonal anchoring area. 

The seasonal anchoring area only allows anchoring from April through October. 

The year around anchoring area allows anchoring all year long Source

6. Ventura Anchoring Laws

Ventura does not allow anchoring inside the harbor without getting permission from the general manager. It is solely up to the discretion of the general manager if they allow you to anchor inside the harbor. 

7. Santa Monica Anchoring Laws

You cannot anchor a boat other than by mooring in a protected area adjoining breakwater unless you get a permit from the harbor master. 

8. Long Beach Anchoring Laws/ Los Angeles Anchoring Laws

Both Long Beach and Los Angeles share most of their water laws including the anchoring laws. 

No boat can anchor in deep draft sub- anchorages  B-7, B-9, B-11, D-5, D-6 or D-7 for more than 48 hours. 

No boat can anchor anywhere else in Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors for more than 10 days unless they receive permission from the port captain. Source

9. Newport Beach Anchoring Laws

Anchoring is allowed in the harbor between Lido Island and Bay Island. You cannot anchor for longer than 72 hours without an extension from the harbor master. Boats cannot be left unattended during the evening or in bad weather. There is no charge for anchoring. 

10. San Diego Anchoring Laws

San Diego offers a guest dock facility which has 26 slips. They can hold boats up to 65 feet in length. Water and 30 amp power is available at each slip as well as sanitation facilities.

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 The slips cost $1 per linear foot per day. You can stay at the slips for 15 days in a 40 day period. Reservations can be made online up to 14 days in advance. Reservations can be made here

San Diego also has 72 hour anchoring available. There is no charge for anchoring but you are required to have a permit. 

San Diego also has a cruisers anchorage but you are required to appear in person and prove that you are NOT a resident of San Diego County. You can stay in the cruiser anchorage for up to 90 days in a 12 month period. Further information can be found at the following link

That sums up our list of the anchoring rules and laws in 10 major California cities. There are obviously many other places to anchor along the California coast. You can either call ahead and learn the anchoring laws in that location or just play dumb and hope that you don’t get in trouble. I always prefer avoiding trouble and knowing the boating laws in every place I go but some people prefer to ask forgiveness than permission. 

Whatever you decide, please stay safe and happy boating!

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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