Boating in Pocasset & Red Brook Harbors
The Perfect Escape
The villages of Pocasset, Red Brook, and Cataumet—all part of the town of Bourne—are beautiful summer oases nestled along the eastern shore of Buzzards Bay. Many cruisers planning to transit the Cape Cod Canal stop in these popular harbors, often lingering a day or two more than they originally planned.
The harbors are also a handful of miles away from the expansive Massachusetts Military Reservation. Among the many operations there you’ll fi nd the Coast Guard’s Air Station Cape Cod. Don’t be surprised if you hear the thunderous whirr of helicopters overhead, as they are dispatched from here to cover the waters from the Canadian border to New York City.
A whirr of a different sort dominated the mid 19th century when Perry Macomber had a windmill that sharpened lances and harpoons for New Bedford whalers. His ambitions stretching eastward, Macomber saw the market rising for grinding grain on Cape Cod, but his mill was in Fairhaven. If only it were on the east shore of Buzzards Bay, he thought.
On a cold winter day in 1853, Macomber slid the mill by oxen across the frozen Buzzards Bay to Red Brook Estate, where it became the largest wind-powered grist mill on Cape Cod. Business boomed until a storm damaged the mill arms in 1869. It never operated again, but it was restored in 1906 for its historical value and moved again to its present site south of Red Brook Harbor. The mill is now part of a private home.
In the 1870s, the railroad replaced passenger packet ships on the east shore of the Bay. Flour shipped in from the Midwest supplanted the product of local grist mills, and thus began the area’s decline. It wasn’t until the turn of the century, when Bourne became a popular summer community that the area’s economy got back on its feet. Today, the villages of Pocasset, Red Brook, and Cataumet, all part of the town of Bourne, are beautiful summer oases.
Things to See and Do
The peaceful surroundings may lull you into some hardcore relaxation, but if you’ve brought a bicycle or your walking shoes, find time to explore the beautiful tree-lined roads. Back on the water, there is excellent shellfishing by permit (508-759-0623) in the waters around Bassetts Island. The town owns the southern part of Bassetts Island, which makes
it a popular spot for boating picnics. From Red Brook Harbor you may go ashore to the beach on the southeast side of the island. Swimming in the Pocasset or Back rivers is not recommended because of strong currents.
Restaurants and Provisions
Barlow’s Landing in Pocasset Harbor is very convenient, since there’s room to drop a hook and you can take a dinghy to
the town dock. Just a quarter-mile up the road from Barlow’s Landing, you’ll have easy access to Graziella’s Pizza, Pasta & Seafood (508-563-5541) at 375 Barlow’s Landing Road., which offers Italian cuisine, casual dining, and take-out.
Across the street, the Corner Café (508-563-6944) at 369 Barlow’s Landing Road. serves breakfast and lunch with coffee and fresh treats from their bakery. Here you’ll also fi nd a mini-market and, across the street, a hardware store; a little farther up the road is a small shopping center with a post offi ce, a few boutiques, and Pocasset Country Market (508-564-4258) at 303 Barlow’s Landing Road.
Set a course to the Chart Room (508-563-5350) at Kingman Yacht Center, where you can sip tropical drinks at a very popular gathering spot. About a mile and a half inland from Kingman Yacht Center and Red Brook Harbor, where County Road meets Route 28A, you’ll enjoy the lively atmosphere of the Courtyard Restaurant & Pub (508-563-1818) at 1337 Country Road.
The Parrot Bar & Grill (508-563- 2117) at 1356 Route 28A, is also a popular dining spot. The Daily Brew Coffee House (508-564-4755) at 370 Route 28A serves breakfast and lunch.
When you find yourself in need of marine supplies, head to Parker’s chandlery or the store at Kingman. If you need sail work, call on Squeteague Sailmakers (508-563-3080) off Route 28A in Cataumet.
Use tide tables for Newport. High tide and low tide at Barlow’s Landing in Pocasset Harbor is 25 minutes later. Mean tidal
range is 4 feet.
Navigation and Anchorages
Red Brook and Pocasset harbors offer some of the best natural protection in Buzzards Bay. Shaped like a four-leaf clover with its stem pointing west, these harbors share a common entrance between Wings Neck to the north and Scraggy Neck to the south. The junction buoy RG N “ER” at Eustis Rock, marking the turning point to the harbors, is 5.7 miles from Onset pier, 4 miles from Megansett Harbor’s town pier, and 6 miles from Ram Island in Sippican Harbor.
Bassetts Island sits smack in the center of the two harbors and, together with Scraggy Neck, protects the inner harbor area from the prevailing southwesterly winds. Pocasset Harbor is north of Bassetts Island; Red Brook Harbor is east of it, with Hospital Cove off its southern tip. Overnight anchoring requires permission of the harbormaster (VHF 9). The town of Bourne has two pumpout boats that can be reached through the harbormaster.
All marked inner channels and harbors are headway speed only. There is a 15-minute limit to tie up at town landings and floats.
From the north via the Cape Cod Canal and the Hog Island Channel, be cautious when rounding Wings Neck, giving it 500 yards of clearance. Be sure to consider the fast current from the Cape Cod Canal when navigating this area.
From the south and west, the approach to Pocasset and Red Brook would be straightforward were it not for Southwest Ledge and Seal Rocks, which extend to R N “2,” about .9 miles west of Scraggy Point. To clear these rocks, continue northeast in the Cleveland Ledge Channel until you are more than 1 mile north of R “8” Fl R 4s. This gives you clearance of Southwest Ledge as you turn east into the harbor.
CAUTION: Avoid Southwest Ledge and Seal Rocks. While they are well marked, the buoys don’t really identify the end of the danger zones. Give these a berth of at least 500 yards, and do not cut inside Southwest Ledge. Also check the direction of the fast currents from the Cape Cod Canal so you don’t get pushed into the rocks.
As you enter the outer harbor heading toward Bassetts Island, give RG N “ER” plenty of room. This junction buoy identifies Eustis Rock, which has a 5-foot spot just east of the buoy. If you anchor anywhere west of Bassetts Island (the bottom is rocky), stay behind Scraggy Neck to hide from the southwest winds.
At RGN “ER” you have a pick of two entrance channels north and south of Bassetts Island, both boasting deep water. The north channel, with an 8-foot controlling depth, takes you through Pocasset Harbor. The south channel (controlling depth at 6 feet) leads you directly to Red Brook Harbor. Local boaters recommend the latter, because Scraggy Neck protects the south channel from southwest currents and winds—those waves can chase you clear into Pocasset Harbor. The south
channel is also a little less convoluted and confusing.
At the south end of the south channel is Hospital Cove, an excellent anchorage, where you’ll fi nd 8 feet of water at mean low. Anchoring space may be at a premium, since this is a popular area for many boaters from surrounding harbors. You need permission from the harbormaster (VHF 9) to anchor overnight. When taking the channel, honor the nuns and cans;
there is a wide shoal extending south from Bassetts Island.
Red Brook Harbor
The south channel into Red Brook Harbor carries depths of 6 feet. Stay midchannel to avoid the rocky shoreline and the shoal extending south of Bassetts Island. Once you round the south side of Bassetts Island, follow the channel through its narrowest stretch along the island’s eastern shore. Make sure to go north of the red nuns west of Handy Point before turning toward Hen Cove or Red Brook Harbor. There are two boatyards in Red Brook Harbor, Kingman Yacht Center (508-563-7136) and Parker’s Boat Yard (508-563-9366), at its eastern end. They both usually have slips and moorings available for transients, as well as gas dock and pumpout. Launch service is free with a mooring rental; there’s a small fee if you drop your own hook. You may fi nd some room to anchor east-southeast of Long Point in 7 feet of water. You can come ashore with your dinghy at the town landing south of Kingman’s.
The north channel around Bassetts Island is narrow, like its southern counterpart, and carries depths of 8 feet into Pocasset Harbor. This area is open to the southwest. If you want to anchor, try the bight on the north side of the island, where you’ll find 7 or more feet of water. The nice thing about Pocasset is that Barlow’s Landing offers the best access to town and supplies. If you’re thinking about going from Red Brook to Pocasset Harbor or vice versa, follow the chart closely to avoid the shoals. Generally, you can use the line of mooring buoys off Patuisset and Hen Cove as a guide, but keep your eyes on the depth sounder. The channel is deep, and you may find room to anchor in one of its side pockets. You need permission from the harbormaster (VHF 9) to anchor overnight.
Hen Cove, between Patuisset and Handy Point, is shallow with only about 3 feet of water. You may see some of the local boats moored in here, but due to the rocks it should be entered only in a shallow-draft boat.
North of Wings Neck is the Pocasset River, a narrow estuary where no anchoring is allowed. Approach this as you would Phinneys Harbor (described in the previous chapter). As you near R N “6” on the way to Phinneys, head southeast toward the unmarked river, which carries 5 feet. If you do head in here, stay to the middle of the channel. On the southern shore
near the Pocasset River Bridge (fixed vertical clearance: 7 feet) is a small boatyard and some private docks. On the northern shore at the bridge is a town dock where you can tie up briefly to load or unload.
¦ Shoreside and Emergency Services
Airport: Barnstable 508-775-2020
Coast Guard: Cape Cod Canal 508-888-0335 or VHF 16
Harbormaster: Bourne 508-759-0623 or VHF 9
Police, Fire, Ambulance: 911
Taxi: All Village 508-540-7200
—Sea Tow 800-4SEATOW or VHF 16
—TowBoatU.S. 800-391-4869 or VHF 16 ?