Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island

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Platt's Harbor, Santa Cruz Island
Platt's Harbor, Santa Cruz Island

Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island (Dick’s Cove, Dix Harbor, Platts Anchorage) is located on the north side of the island inside Platt’s Harbor, to the west of Twin Harbors and Orizaba Flats. In the first part of the 20th century, this location was used frequently by camping parties due to the convenience of a running spring located in the canyon.

The location was named for fisherman, Richard Jenkins (1821-1900) who had a camp located at this anchorage. In a letter dated September 14, 1874 U. S. Coast Survey employee, Stehman Forney, notes this place is called “Platts or Dick’s Harbor.”

Vessels lost at Dick’s Harbor include:

» Richard Jenkins

In the News~

November 13, 1902 [SBMP]: “Captain Merry of the yacht Daisy, returned from Santa Cruz Island last night and reports a most disastrous cloudburst there Sunday morning, which resulted in the destruction of a Japanese abalone camp and the narrow escape of the fishermen from instant death. In speaking of the affair, Captain Merry said: ‘We anchored in Dick's Harbor Saturday morning. The weather conditions indication that a rain was near at hand. It did not begin to rain until Sunday afternoon at 1 o'clock, when a steady downpour set in and continued through the night. At 5:30 Monday morning we were all on deck, when suddenly our attention was attracted by a loud rumbling sound. Glancing toward shore we discovered that a cloudburst had occurred on the north side of Diablo Mountain, and an immense body of water was rushing down the canyon. The water was, at the least estimate, 20 feet deep, and carried away everything in its path. Trees that measured two feet in diameter were torn by the roots and carried out to sea. Near the beach was a camp of abalone fishermen who were sleeping in their tents unaware of the impending danger. They were awakened by our party, and had scarcely left their tents when the avalanche of water struck their camp, carrying away everything in sight. The Japanese succeeded in reaching high ground and thus avoided instant death. These men had been on the island all summer, and had collected abalone meat valued at $1250 and shells to the amount of $750. Their boats, which had been piled on the sides of the canyon, were rescued by us, and, strange to say, were not badly damaged…’”

June 20, 1905 [SBMP]: “Gem of island is Santa Cruz... The mountains back of Pelican Bay and Prisoners’ Harbor are densely covered forests, some of the trees being immense... the canyons leading to Dick’s Harbor and Tinkers Cove still give evidence of flood...”

July 4, 1905 [SBMP]: “Captain Merry took a part of 12 men to Santa Cruz Island early Sunday morning for a day’s fishing in the channel and an outing on the island. They were well prepared with provisions and enjoyed Spanish barbecue at Dick’s Harbor. A number of fish were caught on the voyage. The first albacore of the season was hooked near the center of the channel, but after a hard fight with the boatman, it succeeded in escaping before it was gaffed. The men reported having had a very enjoyable trip.”

July 7, 1905 [SBMP]: “The island camping season will soon be at its height. The Voorhess party at Friar’s Harbor sends reports of a very delightful time. A Ventura party will soon be camped at Dick’s Harbor. Several local parties are forming for island trips, and the present warm weather will add to the population of the trans-channel retreats.”

July 11, 1905 [SBMP]: “Captain Merry’s yacht, Vishnu, took the Walker family and a party of friends from Hueneme yesterday to Dick’s Harbor on Santa Cruz where they will camp for a week or two. The Vishnu is expected in this port Wednesday.”

July 30, 1905 [SBMP]: “Captain Koch has returned from a three days trip to the islands where he went on business. He visits the T. E. Walker party, which is comfortably camped at Dick’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. They are preparing to break camp and will probably return to Hueneme tomorrow on board Vishnu.”

August 10, 1906 [SBMP]: “Mr. and Mrs. George McComber, Mr. and Mrs. Patton, and Mr. and Mrs. Alexander F. Harmer and Dr. Huntington and son have returned yesterday from Santa Cruz Island where they have been camping for two weeks. They made the trip on the Anita, Captain Koch. Today the Anita will return to the island, Dick's Harbor, with another party.”

October 26, 1906 [SBMP]: “The launch Pt. Firmin, Captain Short, brought word to this city yesterday of the wreck of the sloop Sealion on Santa Cruz Island. The vessel is a total loss, but the crew were all saved. The Sealion is owned by a Japanese company, and has been engaged in the abalone trade in the channel for some time past. Owing to defective ground tackle, she drifted onto the rocks at Dick’s Harbor during a heavy blow a day or so ago and broke up in short order.”

August 8, 1907 [SBMP]: “The launch Vamoose, Captain George W. Gourley, returned to port yesterday from a two day’s cruise about the Channel Islands... On the first day, the party lunched at Dick’s Harbor, where M. C. Faulding and family and Miss Gladys Moley are camped...”

June 26, 1908 [SBMP]: “Word was brought to this city yesterday... of Chester Moore, Lloyd Winthrow, Max Guenther, Willard Wilson, Lester Moyer, Reginald Cook and Louis Warren who went into camp at Dick's Harbor. They report an enjoyable time and will remain about two weeks.”

July 27, 1908 [SBI]: “A party of young people, chaperoned my Mrs. W. P. Butcher, left at 8 o’clock this morning in the launch Charm for Santa Cruz Island, where they will camp for two weeks at Dick’s harbor. In the party were Mrs. Butcher, Misses Bess Richardson, Jessica Johnson, Mary Overman, Agnes Leach, and Ralph Stevens, Horace Johnson, Earl Dickover, and Eugene Whitcomb.”

August 10, 1908 [SBI]: “After two weeks at Dick’s Harbor, a party of campers arrived Saturday evening in the launch Charm. Everyone was sorry to return to the mainland, for the outing was one of the most enjoyable ever taken. Those who made up the party were Mrs. W. P. Butcher, chaperon; Miss Mary Overman, Miss Doris Overman, Miss Jessica Johnson, Miss Agnes Leach, Miss Bess Richardson, R. T. Stevens, Horace Johnson, Earl Dickover, Eugene Whitcomb.”

During the summer of 1909, the Eaton family moved from Willows to Dick’s Cove where they lived in a tent. They cooked in the open and used a cave as a dining room. There was no adequate space for a vegetable garden, however they kept about 50 chickens. Helen Caire [1993] wrote:

“Honest Ben [Journey] was at Dick’s Harbor for many years, a tall, lean, white-haired New Englander with a white handlebar mustache.

July 14, 1911 [SBMP]: “Robert Cameron Rogers, Frank M. Whitney and others form the advance guard of a large party leaving today for Dix Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, where they will establish a camp. The trip will be made on the Charm.”

July 15, 1911 [SBMP]: “The launch returned last evening from Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, where Frank M. Whitney, Robert Cameron Rogers and Stewart Wolcott were landed as the advance guard of a large camping party that will take possession of the pretty little harbor next week.”

May 12, 1914 [SBMP]: “R. B. Gring, head of the Gring school in Mission Canyon, who went to Santa Cruz Island last Friday with a small party of his pupils, returned with them yesterday morning. The party camped at Dick’s Harbor, and the young adventurers were reported nearly wild with joy over the island experience.”

May 23, 1914 [SBDN]: “Mrs. H. C. Sexton of this city, Mr. and Mrs. George Fryer and son of Los Angeles, returned by the launch Otter this morning from eight days' outing at Dick’s Harbor. They brought back a number of curious Indian relics and quite a few beautiful ferns.”

June 26, 1914 [OC]: “…Captain H. Bay Webster… and the nine fishermen who left Oxnard a week ago Tuesday night, and remained away 11 days… On Thursday morning they raised anchor and sailed to Santa Cruz Island, landing at Dick’s Harbor. They spent one night here. Fishing was very poor and it was here that good luck and good marksmanship with the gun came to the rescue, when a nice wild hog was shot and served to furnish the needed variety in the culinary department...”

July 11, 1914 [SBMP]: “A party of well known Santa Barbara people will leave Monday on the Sea Wolf for Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, where they will spend two delightful weeks…”

August 27, 1914 [SBDNI]: “The power yacht Iona, which has been kept at Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, by a San Pedro camping party for the last three weeks, came to port yesterday afternoon for a short stay and to take on supplies.”

June 11, 1915 [SBMP]: “Captain Bay Webster’s island party that left here last Saturday morning with a load of pleasure seekers composed of high school students and teachers and a number of Carpinteria people, expecting to return to the mainland the same evening, did not get back until about 11 o’clock Sunday morning. There were thirty-two people in the party, and there would have been much suspense suffered over the non-arrival Saturday evening had not the excursionists announced at the start of the voyage that if they did not return at night it would be because the water was too rough on the other side of the channel to afford comfortable sailing, in which event they would wait for the smooth water of the early part of the next day for their return home. The party reported a very enjoyable time cruising about the island shore and in camp at Dick’s Harbor. There was no suffering from hunger or cold, and no sort of a hard luck story in the whole crowd when the home port was reached, but many reports of a joyous island outing without a single discordant note.”

June 22, 1915 [SBMP]: “The University Club island outing party that left last Saturday afternoon for Santa Cruz Island, expecting to return the following evening, found it expedient to stay on the island at Dick’s Harbor for a second night’s sojourn, as the water was so rough Sunday afternoon that it was seen that the voyage across the channel would be far from pleasant, and as the party was well supplied with bedding and provisions, it was decided not to set out for home until the coming of the smoother waters of the following day.”

June 24, 1915 [SCICo]: “Mr. J. H. Chaffee, c/o National Bank of Ventura, Ventura, Cal. Dear Sir:

Upon consideration of the conditions existing on the Santa Cruz Island, we have come to the conclusion that it would not be advantageous to us to rent Dick’s Harbor, as the number of camps on the island is already so large that an addition to the same would be embarrassing. While we have no doubt that your friends would be unobjectionable in every way, we are forced to conclude it would not be advantageous for us to enlarge the area devoted to camping parties. Yours truly, The Santa Cruz Island Company, AJC.”

June 24, 1915 [SBDNI]: “After passing an enjoyable week’s outing at Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, a party of 17 Carpinteria students returned today in the power boat Anacapa, Captain Webster. Everything necessary for the outing, including tents, cooking equipment, provisions, and the many things which go to make camp life comfortable, were taken along and brought back by the boat. Cooking was done by Suki, a Japanese chef hired by the campers. Fishing and hunting was enjoyed by the party, and several trips to various picturesque spots in the island were made. Those going camping were: Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Beckstead and family, Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Campbell and daughter, Miss Lulu Cravens, Mrs. George Clark, Miss Margaret Gaynor, and John Fuller.”

June 25, 1915 [SBMP]: “The Beckstead party, a company of Carpinteria people who went to Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, in the Anacapa powerboat last Friday for a short camping out, returned yesterday morning. They had a very pleasant time on the island, but reported that the water was too rough while they were there to make boating in the skiffs enjoyable, and so some of the party who had expected to do a good deal of fishing were disappointed.”

June 25, 1915 [SBDNI]: “A party of Carpinteria people who have been camping at Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, for a week returned yesterday aboard Captain Webster’s boat Anacapa.”

July 11, 1916 [SBMP]: “Last Sunday evening a happy party of ten people, seven from Santa Barbara and three from Ventura, under the chaperonage of Mrs. Helen K. Sexton, returned from a week’s camping at Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island. The campers reported a very enjoyable time at the charming island resort, with fishing luck that included the capture of a big shark. The Sea Wolf took the party over and brought it home.”

July 29, 1916 [SBMP]: “The party of seven young men camping for the past week at Dick’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, headed by Guilford Kimberly, will probably return home tomorrow night. Reports from the island camp tell of very happy times at fishing, swimming, and exploring the island, the only regret being that the outing is so near its close.”

August 1, 1916 [SBMP]: “Yesterday morning Scotty Cunningham came over from Dick’s Harbor with about 1,000 pounds of jack smelt, the largest catch he had made this season. He will go back to his island camp today to try his luck again while fishing is good.”

August 22, 1916 [LAT]: “Wear themselves out hauling fish on board… Two weeks spent in fishing around Santa Cruz Island, with Dick’s Harbor as their home port, convinced the amateur deep-sea fishermen that they had struck the fisherman’s paradise, and no mistake…”

September 15, 1917 [SCICo]: “Juan Vasquez at Dick's has left, although some of his things are still piled on the beach.”

September 16, 1917 [SCICo]: “We expect trouble with Juan Vasquez at Dick's. He is peddling whiskey as well as burning kelp.”

November 9, 1917 [SCICo]: “[Rosaline] Vasquez has moved from Fry's to Dick's, and we are serving him with another notice. Vasquez has been in the tourist business all season, and up to a month ago, Fry's has been filled with his people. He used Eaton's buildings and equipment, and when Eaton argued with him, he told him to clear out. [Later in the same letter]: Since writing the above, Carrigan and a vaquero named Hughston have returned from a visit to Dick's and Fry's. In riding down into Dick's, they herd a shot and hurried down as fast as they could. They got on the beach just in time to see Vasquez's boat, the Mary B, pulling out of the harbor with a sheep laying over the stern.”

January 22, 1918 [SCICo]: “[Ira] Eaton has asked for a reduction in rent. He states that the prospects for this season are very poor. Also that Vasquez deprived him of Fry's Harbor last year and is still occupying Dick's...”

April 5, 1918 [SBMP]: “Captain Vasquez’s Mary B returned from Dick’s Harbor yesterday with ten large sea lions, the first to be brought over from the islands in many months. They will be sent east and tamed for an animal show.”

August 17, 1928 [ODC]: “…The trip to Santa Cruz was made in Manuel Sousa’s boat from Point Mugu, leaving early Monday, August 6. Stopping at Dick’s Harbor we found Charles Murphy with a party including some of the Doud and McGrath boys just packing up to leave after an interesting week’s camp…”

In the February, 1931 Santa Barbara Museum Leaflet, Austin Tappan Wright stated:

“A rounded down, east of Dick’s Harbor, its edge sharp against a dark blue sea, was as soft and lustrous as the fur of an orange cat in the sun.”

June 29, 1931 [SBMP]: “Four persons saved their lives when they jumped off their disabled yacht, Typhoon, as it was pounded to pieces on a reef off Platt's Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, by a tremendous sea early yesterday morning. Out of gasoline, the jib sail torn to shreds and a 60-pound anchor almost useless against the tremendous swells, the boat was carried more than a mile down the rugged coast. They were rescued by members of the crew of Major Max C. Fleischmann's Haida, after a 12-hour vigil from a cliff-bound stretch of beach. Nothing of the boat was saved.”

In December 1932 Ralph Hoffmann collected the rare endemic perennial Hoffmann’s rock cress (Arabis hoffmannii) east of Dick’s Harbor.

An undated news item from the 1960s reported:

“Some of you have anchored at Dick's Harbor and noted a small shack at the base of the cliff there. It was once inhabited by a hard-boiled old lobster fisherman, Ben Journay, who having served in the Crimean War, was afraid of neither man, beast nor devil.”