My entire life has been lived by the sea, it has been a gift I have always cherished and celebrated and the salt air you might say is a part of me. Most rarely appreciate what this means until a visitor from an inland state lets us know how fortunate we are. In my life I have enjoyed swimming, fishing, boating, dinning and great walks along the bays and beaches that our region is so blessed with. Over the years I have had the pleasure of owning sail boats and power boats as well as surfboards, canoes and Kayaks. Like many of us along the coast living the water is a part of our daily life.
My finest memories on the water were in my early 20’s when I lived in Padanaram South Dartmouth and owned a 1966 -19ft Marshall Cat Boat. I often took over night sail trips around the bay to Cuttyhunk, Martha’s Vineyard, New Bedford and Westport, Massachusetts. The Cat Boat was easy to sail, stable and slept two comfortably. With all the travel’s this life has brought me, nothing ever seemed as perfect as my overnight trips on my boat watching the day turn into night from the sea.
If you love boating, whether sail or power, you understand the simple pleasures of a day on the water. There is no better place to spend a day with family and friends celebrating life’s simple pleasures. We are fortunate in Southern New England to have many of the finest and most historic harbors and marine facilities in the world today. The Northeast is a mecca of treasured places to visit by boat with great overnight docking and mooring facilities and port marine services for supplies, gas, shuttle service and any needed repairs. It makes boat vacations in the region simple and hospitable.
Much like a road trip by car, a sea trip by boat brings us to new places and new adventures on the water. While it is a little more challenging, good knowledge, common sense and proper planning will make it all a very safe memorable time. While many boaters opt for a 2-3-day excursion, having a week to ten days will allow you to see multiple ports and harbors and have numerous shore visits in each location.
In only 50 miles of New England coastline you can easily visit 4-6 great seaside communities and enjoy some time in each. It doesn’t take a yacht for boat travel, even a small craft can sleep 2-4 comfortably for weekend getaways. You will also have the option in many places to get a hotel to get your land legs back for a night or two.
There are some key elements to a successful boating vacation that are critical for anyone venturing out into the sea. Good working knowledge of the craft is very important, as well as proper working equipment and gear. A good understanding of simple navigation is a must especially for sailing or boating at night. The basics are of course life preservers for all, GPS tracking devices, navigation charts online and in print, medical supplies and emergency plans. Make a list, pack smart, program all Coast Guard, marine service and destination ports for mooring and docking in your phone. Have backup power sources for your phone and devices in case you lose power. Try to arrive at your port of call in daylight. It is far easier to get settled under light instead of dark.
Most of all check your weather early and often to know what to expect, surprises are fine with parties, but the sea is to be respected under all conditions. Here are a few of our favorite communities, harbors and marine facilities to visit this summer. Remember three simple rules of safe boating, practice good seamanship, keep a proper lookout, and maintain safe speed.
Constitution Marina Boston Harbor
Boston and Constitution Marina on Boston Harbor is located right on the Freedom Trail in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, just a 5-minute walk from North Station and the Boston Garden, convenient to water transportation, all major waterfront attraction and all the great things Boston has to offer. Each summer it is the destination of choice for boaters from around New England and beyond. One of the most historic marine locations in the country, which is the home of U.S. Constitution. If you are thinking 4th of July book early and plan on a two- night minimum. That week there are numerous waterfront events in Boston.
Plymouth Town Warf
Located just North of Cape Cod, Plymouth is a tourist destination best known for Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims who landed there centuries ago. Plymouth is rife with history and small-town appeal, and offers plenty to do. Visit the Pilgrim Hall Museum, take a tour of the Mayflower brewing company, or stroll the shops and restaurants located in the downtown harbor district, within walking distance from the Brewer Plymouth Marine. The harbor facilities are wonderful are offer boaters extensive services, there are plenty of hotels and B&B’s for a night off the water in town. The restaurants offer some of the best seafood delights in new England.
Point Independence Yacht Club
Point Independence Yacht Club is located in Onset Bay, directly off Buzzards Bay, close to the west opening of the Cape Cod Canal. This well-protected bay is surrounded by the quaint, Victorian Village of Onset. The calm, warm waters of Onset Bay are great for overnight mooring and dockage. Take the short walk to Onset Village to shop or dine at a variety of restaurants.
The village founded in 1877 was originally part of Cape Cod before the Canal. Onset has been called “the people’s resort,” “summer home of the common people,” and “the Coney Island of the South Shore.” Onset is a great starting point to trips visiting the Elizabeth Islands along Buzzards Bay.
Cuttyhunk is a favorite destination on the NE Coast, being beautiful, isolated, peaceful, quiet, and unpretentious. Cuttyhunk is located in
the south western most part of the Elizabeth Islands. The harbor in Cuttyhunk Pond is protected by sandbars that make for amazing beaches. In the summer, the Harbor Raw Bar Boat will deliver oysters, clams, shrimp, chowder, and other delicacies right to your boat in the harbor. This destination dates back to the 17th century as a big game fishing mecca, but it’s now equally attractive for sailors and weekend cruisers. Although the harbor can, at times, be crowded, the island is really known as a quite beautiful, and isolated spot to do some serious relaxation.
New Bedford, MA
Fairhaven Shipyard & Marina
The historic whaling town of New Bedford has much to offer the cruising yachtsman. It is home to one of the world’s best fishing ports. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, created in 1996, encompasses 34 acres spread over 13 city blocks and includes a visitor center, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Seamen’s Bethel, the schooner Ernestina, and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum. New Bedford sits behind a hurricane barrier, the largest stone structure on the East Coast. The harbor is one of the safest havens on the eastern seaboard and features a hurricane barrier with a 150-foot opening that is closed during hurricane conditions and coastal storms.
Padanaram South Dartmouth, MA
New Bedford Yacht Club
Known as the jewel on Buzzard’s Bay, if you can find it. You certainly won’t want to miss this quaint and charming port of call. One of the region’s best small harbors. With views of The Elizabeth Island’s and majestic seaside home, Padanaram is one of the Southcoast regions top places to live. There’s one thing that sets Padanaram apart from many other destinations, you won’t find it listed on any chart. The charts say Apponagansett Bay is in the town of South Dartmouth, but everyone knows it’s really the historic village of Padanaram. There are great facilities at the New Bedford Yacht Club and wonderful small shops and restaurants a short walk away. A well protected harbor in a very quaint and historic town.
Westport Yacht Club Westport Point
Westport Point is located at the mouth of the Westport River with beautiful harbor facilities adjacent to Horseneck Beach State Reservation, one of the region’s top beach communities. The historic Westport Point dates back to 1770. There are excellent restaurants along the waterfront and wonderful beach facilities, camping facilities and hiking trails on Gooseberry Island. Westport is just a short way by water from South Dartmouth, so a two day or weekend trip is perfect. Daily fees for boaters are very reasonable.
Little Compton, RI
Sakonnet Point Marina
Located at the very end of Historic Sakonnet Point across the bay from Newport RI is the Sakonnet Point Marina in a quiet protected cove. Little Compton is an unpretentious and private community and one of the best kept secrets in Rhode Island. The famous golf architect Donald Ross summered here and built Sakonnet Golf Club. This is a great overnight stop on route to the bustling Newport Harbor. The Village Square is worth a trip into town with some great local food at reasonable prices. This is a relaxed laid-back community with many oceanfront and ocean view summer homes.
Newport Yachting Center / Gurney’s Resort Marina
The “City by the Sea” is the place to be for boaters in the summer. Newport is everything you could want and then some. Boaters have unlimited choices, the first of which is a mooring just off the waterfront with shuttle service by Old Port Marine. The next is dockage at the center of it all, The Newport Yachting Center. The dockage at Gurney’s Resort Marina on Goat Island offers full facilities and direct access to the resort. All three are great choices and Newport is one of the top boating destinations on the East Coast. Plan for at least two-night in Newport, there is so much to see and do.
East Greenwich, RI
East Greenwich Marina
East Greenwich Marina is located right in the heart of Greenwich Cove and is an ideal location to dock your boat during the summer. The Harborside Restaurant serves us some of the best in seafood dishes in New England, including a great baked stuffed lobster. This quaint New England waterfront town is dotted with shops and beautiful scenic views of the protected Greenwich Cove. Explore the history, charm, and attractions of coastal East Greenwich and the surrounding area at one of the best marina’s in Rhode Island. There is a vast array of eateries for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a reason to celebrate every night during the summer.