Scream consulted a few sources before deciding on visiting Smuggler's Cove on Santa Cruz Island. All of our sources agreed that Smuggler's Cove was the best place to anchor in NW weather.
We had a forecast for 10-15 in the Santa Barbara Channel. Predictably, we had no wind most of the way across so we motored. The offshore area had a small craft warning. We had expected the lee of Santa Cruz to have the weather from the channel, but we 20W gusting to 30 about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz. To our dismay, this weather moderated only very slightly in our anchorage. Smuggler's cove is a slight indentation with a sandy bottom, open about 150 degrees from SW to E. We tucked in close to the cliffs of the shore, but the winds howled and the waves rocked the boat.
So instead of staying a couple days we left at first light. Arriving at dusk and leaving before dawn we saw little of Santa Cruz. Given the lack of shelter in the area's "best" anchorage I have to recommend bypassing the northern channel islands entirely. We need to make 60 nm to Santa Catalina, so we motored almost the entire way, arriving 1/2 hour before sunset.