Boating in Newport, Rhode Island
Very alive and very well
Founded more than 365 years ago, Newport has always been an influential stopover for boats of all sizes. The early trading ships were followed by larger sailing vessels, then steam-powered/paddle-wheel-driven boats for transportation and commerce. By the 19th century, boating was also a form of leisure recreation and the first yacht clubs were established in 1886. The U.S. military established fortifications in the area in the early 1800s but it wasn't until the start of the 20th century that those fortifications had been rebuilt and expanded. Following the Civil War, some of America's wealthiest families built extravagant mansions as their summer "cottages," foreshadowing the Gilded Age of the late 1800s. Newport had become the unchallenged premiere summer playground for the nation's ultra-rich.
With World War I came a slowing in the lavish spending, and the stock market crash of 1929 was the end of that "chic" era. The Navy enlarged the tiny training station on Goat Island, and then continued the influx by building the Naval Air Station on nearby Quonset Point. After the war, the Naval Underwater Systems Center left Goat Island and moved into Middletown. The military presence was prominent in and around Newport for decades but that aspect of Newport's nautical history ended in 1973 when the Navy moved out.
With only faded memories of "Blood Alley" and other disreputable hangouts, the Newport of the 21st century is very very well off. Newport remains the iconic mecca of fashionable cruising-sailing, powerboating, or on land-along the East Coast
Things to See and Do
A tour of the harbor is a historic venture in itself as you'll find the classics and the classy sharing the facilities. Activity is a given here, so get plenty of rest before you make your landing. For the quickest orientation, your first stop should be the Visitor's Information Center (800-326-6030 or www.gonewport.com) on America's Cup Avenue. The town has retained its "walkable" motif as most of whatever you need is close to the waterfront. If you'd like to get the lay of the land by bicycle, you'll find rentals at many shops. Pedestrian or peddler, take normal precautions as the streets and sidewalks are sometimes narrow and almost always crowded during the summer season.
The many haves (and some of the have-nots) who've spent time in and around Newport have left their mark. Perhaps the most dramatic period in the town's history came at the turn of the 20th century, when the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Belmonts built their famous summer "cottages" here. Most of these summer homes are huge mansions, although none outshines the opulence and splendor of the Breakers. Today, many of these houses, located on Bellevue Avenue and Ocean Drive, are open to the public for tours sponsored by the Preservation Society of Newport County (401-847-1000 or www.NewportMansions.org).
For an unbeatable view of the stunningly posh homes on Bellevue Avenue, venture out on Cliff Walk, a three-mile path along the rocky coast. The mansion owners tried to stop construction of the walkway, but after a long battle, the town prevailed. Belleview Avenue is also home to Redwood Library Athenaeum (401-847-0292 or www.redwoodlibrary. org). It's the oldest lending library in the U.S.
You likely have an interest in Newport's yachting history, so be sure to visit the Museum of Yachting (401-847-1018 or www.moy.org) in Fort Adams State Park. The museum is dedicated to the preservation of classic yachts and the traditions of yachting as a sport. America's Cup fans will enjoy the gallery dedicated to the history of the Cup. The International Yacht Restoration School (401-845-5777) operates on the grounds of the museum, restoring ancient traditions and ship-building techniques.
On Labor Day Weekend, the museum sponsors the Classic Yacht Regatta and Parade, which takes place on Narragansett Bay and attracts more than 100 boats designed before 1955. Oldport Launch Service (401-847-9109 or VHF 68) will whisk you across the harbor from downtown to Fort Adams Park. For information on Newport's yachting events, contact Sail Newport (401-846-1983 or www.sailnewport.org). Sail Newport is one of the finest public sailing facilities on the East Coast. It operates a fleet of rental kayaks, J/22s, and other sailing craft, provides sailing lessons to hundreds of children and adults each year, and provides access to the harbor dinghy dock for visiting boaters.
As you can imagine, Newport has more than its share of nighttime entertainment. If you're in dance mode, there are plenty of nightclubs to be found. Newport's premiere live music venue, Newport Blues Cafe (401-841-5510), is conveniently located on Thames Street, one block from the post office. For a slightly slower pace, you'll find a number of theaters and festivals in town. The JVC Newport Jazz Festival (401-847-3700 or www.festivalproductions.net) attracts many of the biggest names in the business, and is normally held in August at Fort Adams State Park. For something a little bit different, you can attend the Dunkin' Donuts Newport Folk Festival (401-847-3700) and the Classical Music Festival (401-846-1133).
The Newport Yachting Center (401-846-1600 or www.newportyachtingcenter.com) on the waterfront hosts numerous events throughout the season that attract boaters and landlubbers alike. The festivities run the spectrum from the sumptuous Schweppes Great Chowder Cook-off to the well-loved Newport International Boat Show in mid-September. Contact the Yachting Center for a schedule of events.
All tennis fans love the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum (401-849-3990), in the historic Newport Casino. This was the site of the first national singles championship, held in 1881. That competition later moved to New York and is now the U.S. Open. Today, two world-class tournaments-the only professional events played on grass courts in the United States-are held on the grounds each summer. Thirteen grass courts are available for public use-don't forget your racquet.
In the heart of downtown, historic buildings and shops stand side by side. At the north end of Washington Square you'll find the Brick Market, a National Historic Landmark. It was built in the 18th century as a warehouse, market, store, office, and printing building. For 50 years the building served as Newport's City Hall, but now it houses the Museum of Newport History on the second floor and a museum store and tours ticket office on the ground floor.
Another historic landmark in town is the Colony House (401-846-0813) at the opposite end of Washington Square. It was in this building on May 4, 1776, that the colonial legislature forswore their allegiance to George III and made Rhode Island the first independent republic of the 13 original colonies. When you visit, you'll see Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of George Washington.
Two blocks north of the Colony House, you'll find the Friends Meeting House (401-846-0813), built in 1699. It's the oldest religious structure in Newport. The massive interior trusses of this building are an outstanding example of early colonial architecture. The Touro Synagogue (401-847-4794) on Touro Street is the oldest Jewish house of worship in North America. The Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House (401-846-0813), built in 1675, was the home of many colonial governors, and was the site of the Stamp Act Riot of 1765.
Trinity Church (401-846-0660), designed by Richard Monday, is one of America's finest churches, with a three-tier pulpit built in 1726 and an arcaded steeple. The Newport Art Museum (401-848-8200), located in the former Griswold House, offers changing exhibits of contemporary and historical art of Newport, as well as art classes and lectures. Additional information on all of Newport's historical elements can be found by contacting the Newport Historical Society (401-846-0813 or www.newporthistorical.org).
If you've had your fill of Newport's history and trappings, venture to the Norman Bird Sanctuary (401-846-2577), a 300-acre wildlife refuge complete with 7 miles of walking trails. The sanctuary is about 5 miles north of Newport in Middletown. It's the perfect afternoon escape from the constant activity of urban Newport.
The Old Colony and Newport Railroad (401-624-6951) runs a vintage train round-trip from downtown Newport to the tip of Rhode Island in Portsmouth. The tracks pass along the western shoreline of the island, presenting a spectacular view of Narragansett Bay. The train stops to let people on and off at the Green Animals topiary gardens (401-683-1267) in Portsmouth.
Restaurants and Provisions
Notable restaurants are as common as flags on a boat-and just as varied. You'll go nuts making your dining decision; our suggestion is that you arrange to stay longer so that you can fit in as many meals as possible. So many delights…so little space in the tummy.
On Goat Island, The Windward (401-849-2600), at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, offers casual dining with an American menu, and also serves breakfast and light lunches. For heartier fare and a relaxed atmosphere head for the Marina Grille (401-841-0999). Docking for both restaurants is arranged through Goat Island Marina (401-849-5655).
At Bannister's Wharf, (401-846-4500 or www.bannisters newport.com) you can dine in style at the Clarke Cooke House (401-849-2900), or make the more casual scene on their deck of The Candy Store. The Black Pearl (401-846-5264) offers burgers, chowder, and comforting American fare in a casual atmosphere. At Bowen's Wharf (401-849-2243), Le Bistro (401-849-7778) serves modern bistro cuisine and offers a fabulous wine bar, or enjoy a selection of soups, salads and sandwiches at Café di Mare (401-847-2962). If you're looking for upscale dining, 22 Bowen's Wine Bar and Grille (401-841-8884) is Newport's premier steakhouse and boasts an extensive raw bar.
To the south you'll find the Moorings (401-846-2260), specializing in seafood, with a bent for shellfish. At The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina (401-847-9000), be sure to pay a visit to Pier 49 Seafood and Spirits. Their menu features classic New England and American specialties including fresh local seafood, steaks, and pasta entrees.
If you're in need of a helping hand, or just searching for some simply good food, the Aloha Café (401-846-7038) serves breakfast and lunch on the grounds of the Seamen?fs Church Institute (401-847-4260). The non-profit institution has served as a haven and helper for mariners and the community since 1919.
Heading away from the water on Thames Street, you?fll find the popular Brick Alley Pub (401-849-6334), well known for its burgers, steaks, and seafood with a Mexican flair. Take the whole flock to the Red Parrot (401-847-3800) on the corner of Thames Street and Memorial Boulevard. Start with an outrageous tropical drink followed by a selection from the raw bar, then move on to one of the eclectic entrees including pizzas, pasta, salads, burgers, ribs, pork, chicken, fajitas, and, of course, fresh fish... If your head isn?ft spinning from those selections, just wait until you see the dessert menu!
At 464 Thames Street, Pronto (401-847-5251) offers down-to-earth Italian food for the family. Farther along, at 527 Thames Street, Scales & Shells (401-846-3474) sells succulent southern Italian seafood. Across the street, Callahan?fs Cafe Zelda (401-849-4002) serves up sumptuous steaks and seafood dishes, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and specials. We also like Peaceable Market (401-846-0036), a deli serving breakfast and lunch.
On Waite's Wharf, Anthony?fs (401-848-5058) offers all your New England style favorites (fish and chips, chowder, clam cakes, boiled lobster, etc.) in a very casual atmosphere overlooking the harbor.
If a pile of pasta is on your mind, get one on your plate instead at La Forge Casino (401-847-0418) on Bellevue Avenue next to the Tennis Hall of Fame. Or head to Salas?f Restaurant (401-846-3781), 345 Thames Street, serving great Italian food at reasonable prices. On Memorial Boulevard, Sardella's (401-849-6312) offers excellent Italian cuisine.
On Marlborough Street, deep in the heart of Newport, the White Horse Tavern (401-849-3600) serves a full menu of continental cuisine. The oldest continuously-run tavern in the New World, the White Horse is fine dining at its best. Dress is business casual, and remember, elegance comes at a price. Farther south in Newport Harbor, in the corner set off by Ida Lewis Rock, Vincent's on the Pier (401-847-3645) presents a fine selection of upscale entrées.
For coffee, pastries, salads, and sandwiches-or just for a loaf of bread to take back to your galley-head to Panera Bread (401-324-6800) in Long Wharf Mall. At dessert time, go beyond ice cream with some handmade gelato (good luck narrowing down those amazing flavor choices) from Cold Fusion (401-849-6777), on Brown & Howard Wharf. You can grab a cone or sundae at Ben & Jerry's (401-846-2663) on Bannister's Wharf, or step next door for some fudge. Bowen's Wharf offers exotic fruit smoothies and fresh squeezed lemonade at Newport Fruit & Smoothie, or ice cream and milkshakes at Sprinkles (401-847-2962). You will also find mouthwatering homemade cookies and fresh brewed coffee at the Cookie Jar (401-846-5078). Other treats can be had uptown around Bellevue Avenue at Newport Creamery (401-846-6332), Cold Stone Creamery (401-846-7927), and Katrina's Bakery (401-847-8210), which we also recommend as a lunch spot.
When your larder is lacking, head up the hill to the Stop & Shop (401-848-7200) at 250 Bellevue Avenue. A natural grocer, liquor stores, a pharmacy, and a Laundromat are right there as well. Your supplier on Goat Island is Rum Runner Spirits & Provisions.
You won't have to look far to find marine supplies. You'll find any nautical publication you could ask for, along with the latest digital products, at Armchair Sailor (800-292-4278) on Thames Street. Neighboring Team One Newport (401-848-0884) can suit you up in the latest sailing and durable foul-weather gear. Newport Nautical Supply (401-847-3933) has a full line of new and used marine supplies and will even deliver. The Ship's Store and Rigging (401-849-4999) on Bowen's Wharf offer a chance to take care of the boat's needs while the crew seeks out fine food and shopping at the same location-a dock and shop experience. Bowen's Ferry Landing provides a public dinghy dock, trash disposal, and recycling bins.
Use tide tables for Newport. Mean tidal range is 3.5 feet.
Use ChartKit Region 2, pages 6 and 26; ChartKit Region 3, pages 64 and 68; Maptech Waterproof Chartbook Block Island to Cape Cod; or Maptech Waterproof Charts 18 & 19. Also, Maptech electronic and NOAA paper charts 13223 (1:20,000), 13221 (1:40,000), and 13218 (1:80,000).
Navigation and Anchorages
Newport Harbor is located just inside the entrance to East Passage of Narragansett Bay. Goat Island in Newport Harbor is 4.3 nm from R "2" Q R WHIS off Brenton Reef and 1.9 nm from Jamestown Harbor.
Newport Harbor is one of the most accessible sites in the bay, but East Passage can get crowded during the summer. Follow the marked channels carefully, both in Newport and on your way to and from the harbor. Make your plans well beforehand and be sure to have your mooring or dockage reservations prior to setting sail.
The harbor is well protected, especially in Brenton Cove, but you'll feel the weather from the southwest at the other mooring areas elsewhere in the harbor. There is a 5-mph or no-wake speed limit enforced throughout the harbor, as well as "quiet hours" between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
From the south, set your course for Iso R 6s 40ft 12M HORN at Castle Hill on the eastern side of East Passage. Enter East Passage between Beavertail Point, marked by Beavertail Lt Fl 9s 64ft 15M HORN, and R "2" Q R WHIS south of Brenton Reef. Keep R "4" GONG, marking Brenton Reef, to your east. From Castle Hill north, the water is deep along the shore-it's often more than 50 feet within 50 yards of land. Round Fort Adams, marked by Fl R 6s 32ft 7M "2" HORN and begin to head east into Newport. Split R N "4" and G C "1" along the passage and head for G "3" Fl G 2.5s BELL at the southern tip of Goat Island.
From the north, you'll pass Coddington Cove on the west shore of Aquidneck Island (charted name Rhode Island), east of Gould Island. This is a naval base with a marina for military personnel, so don't anchor here. Continuing south, stay to the western side of East Passage when crossing under the Claiborne Pell Bridge (vertical clearance: 194 feet at center span mhw).
CAUTION: Stay west of Rose Island; don't attempt the passage to the east. The Pell Bridge is too low on the east side of the island for most cruising boats to get under, and the water north of the island is extremely shallow, making east-west travel parallel to the bridge impossible.
Keeping R N "12A" off Rose Island to port, begin your approach to the harbor. Beware of lobster pots, and swing well west of this area, especially at night. When entering Newport Harbor, keep to the middle of the channel between Fort Adams and Goat Island.
Some large boats are allowed to anchor outside Goat Island in Naval Anchorage Area D, but the weather from the southwest can wreak havoc on ground tackle. If you can, it's best to head into the harbor for better protection.
From G "3" Fl G 2.5s BELL at the southern tip of Goat Island, you can head north and swing to the east of the island. To the east, you will see an anchorage area marked on the chart-this is off-limits except to boats using one of the mooring companies in the town. The harbormaster maintains 20 moorings located between the channel and Goat Island north of G C "7," and these are available on a first come, first served basis.
Along the main waterfront of Newport you'll see a dizzying array of wharves, docks, and piers, including several large marinas, all offering a wide variety of options to the visiting boater and all convenient to downtown. Here are a few of the landmarks: on Goat Island, is of course, Goat Island Marina (401-849-5655). To the east, at the northern end of the harbor, Newport Shipyard (401-846-6000 or www.newportshipyard.com) offers slips and all types of services, including a 330-ton lift.
The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina (401-847-9000 or www.newporthotel.com) offers 60 transient berths as well as stately guest rooms and suites. Several wharves south, the Newport Yachting Center (800-846-1600 or www.NewportYachtingCenter. com) is almost smack in the heart of downtown-it's also the home of Brewer Street Boatworks (401-847-0321 or www.bsbw.com), a full-service repair center. Farther south is Casey's Marina and Boat Hauling Service (401-848-5945). Rounding out the southern end of the waterfront is West Wind Marina (401-849-4300 or www.westwindmarina.com). Among their special offerings are some of the best sunsets on the harbor, not to mention the convenience of diesel fueling delivered to your berth by appointment.
The anchoring area for Newport is located south of the Cable Area (marked on the chart) from Little Ida Lewis Rock (R "6") to the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, and along the northern edge of the mooring area in Brenton Cove. As always stay away from any submerged cable when anchoring.
One problem area in Newport Harbor is Little Ida Lewis Rock (known locally as "the spindle"), marked by R "6." Don't cut east and south of the marker, no matter what type of boat you're in, as even dinghies can get hung up here.
All anchorages in the harbor are under the direction of the harbormaster. Vessels utilizing their own ground tackle cannot be left unattended-people may go ashore but can't leave the local area. If your boat goes unattended for too long, the harbormaster will tow it and charge mooring fees while it's in his custody. Boat owners must also tend to their vessels during bad weather.
Special Anchorages 1, 2, and 3 are the city's commercial mooring areas. If you're coming into the harbor, you can call Island Marine Services, Oldport Marine Services, or Newport Mooring Service to reserve a mooring. Most of the "action" occurs around mooring field 2, but you'll find more protection and seclusion in the Brenton Cove area. Launch service is available from this spot to downtown. The local station of the New York Yacht Club is located here, and the entire area offers an excellent vantage point for observing the spectacle of Newport Harbor.
If you would like to take a dinghy ashore, there are public-access docks at Ann Street, Elm Street, West Extension Street, and Bowen's Wharf. You may also tie up briefly at the Inn at Long Wharf, Dana Dock, and Alofsin Pier at Fort Adams.
Shoreside and Emergency Services
T.F. Green, Warwick 401-737-4000
R.I. Public Transit Authority 401-847-0209
Castle Hill 401-846-3675 or VHF 16
Police, Fire, Ambulance:
Cozy Cab 401-846-2500
Yellow Cab 401-846-1500
Amtrak, North Kingstown 1-800-USA-RAIL
SAFE/SEA 401-295-8711 or VHF 16
Sea Tow 800-4SEATOW or VHF 16
TowBoatU.S 800-391-4869 or VHF 16