Known as a city of firsts — America’s first lifesaving station, birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard and the first American Revolution Tea Party — Newburyport Massachusetts is also the first choice of many boaters cruising north from Boston. After the Great Fire of 1811 claimed the town’s wooden buildings, this historic port became the first Massachusetts municipality to enact zoning laws that called for less flammable brick construction of replacement structures. Many buildings used materials reclaimed from ships’ ballasts, and the charming brick-and-stone facades remain in place today.
Also known as the Clipper City on the south shore and Salisbury on the north, Newburyport’s harbor offers convenient docking and mooring options. Each vantage point provides a lovely view of the Merrimack River, plus waterfront eateries with al fresco seating and paved recreation trails that flank both shores.
Newburyport’s event calendar is packed with cultural and historic events. Among the most popular is Yankee Homecoming, a nine-day festival from the last weekend in July through the first weekend in August. Activities during the festival range from a paddleboard and kayak race to sidewalk sales and live music at both the Market Square Historic District and Waterfront Park. The festivities wrap up with a fireworks show and parade. Consider booking well in advance to reserve a slip or mooring for this event. Labor Day weekend is also bustling when Newburyport Riverfront Music Festival fills Waterfront Park with the sounds of up-and-coming and big-name performers. But this port is just as pleasant on quieter days when you can find plenty of entertainment. Visit the Custom House Maritime Museum for a look inside Newburyport Massachusetts seafaring heritage or stroll down the boardwalk and around town to take in the exquisite revitalized architecture.
Known as a city of firsts America's first lifesaving station, birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard and the first American Revolution Tea Party - Newburyport Massachusetts is also the first choice of many boaters cruising north from Boston. After the Great Fire of 1811 claimed the town's wooden buildings, this historic port became the first Massachusetts municipality to enact zoning laws that called for less flammable brick construction of replacement structures. Many buildings used materials reclaimed from ships' ballasts, and the charming brick-and-stone facades remain in place today.
Also known as the Clipper City on the south shore and Salisbury on the north, Newburyport's harbor offers convenient docking and mooring options. Each vantage point provides a lovely view of the Merrimack River, plus waterfront eateries with al fresco seating and paved recreation trails that flank both shores. Supplies are readily available, thanks to an array of convenience stores and specialty food shops. At the Tannery Marketplace, experience Newburyport's finest shopping and dining along the picturesque water- front. Be sure to visit the gorgeous spans of beach on both sides of the Merrimack River entrance. Marina staff can give information on the transportation options.
Newburyport's event calendar is packed with cultural and historic events. Among the most popular is Yankee Homecoming, a nine-day festival from the last weekend in July through the first weekend in August. Activities during the festival range from a paddleboard and kayak race to sidewalk sales and live music at both the Market Square Historic District and Waterfront Park. The festivities wrap up with a fireworks show and parade. Consider booking well in advance to reserve a slip or mooring for this event. Labor Day weekend is also bustling when Newburyport Riverfront Music Festival fills Waterfront Park with the sounds of up-and-coming and big-name performers. But this port is just as pleasant on quieter days when you can find plenty of entertainment. Visit the Custom House Maritime Museum for a look inside Newburyport's seafaring heritage or stroll down the boardwalk and around town to take in the exquisite revitalized architecture.
(978-462-3990)This 70-slip marina is part of the Newburyport Marinas' quartet and theclosest marina to the Merrimack River entrance offering a ship's store, fuel and an easy walk to downtown.
(978-462-3746)The recently upgraded municipal docks feature 850 feet of floating docks and a new boater lounge with showers and laundry.
(978-465-0307)Transient slips and moorings are available on the Salisbury side of the harbor, where two on-site restaurants offer views of Newburyport.
(50 Water St.)Beautifully presented fare and craft cocktails in an upscale setting, featuring local live music weekly.
(1 Tournament Wharf)Outdoor deck dining on both levels and live music on weekends, this local institution boasts spectacular waterfront views and fresh seafood.
(13 Middle St.)A Newburyport favorite, it hosts Sunday night jazz while offering classicAmerican comfort food and spirits. VASA Waterfront Kitchen & Bar
(175 Bridge Road)This raw bar and waterfront kitchen features fresh, locally sourced cuisine and a modern ambiance.
Exploring history-rich Boston, on Massachusetts coast, is one of the best summer cruising adventures on the East Coast. The area has been home to a wealth of significant events throughout the centuries, from the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party to the Battle of Bunker Hill. It's a one-of-a-kind destination that makes for an exciting weekend you won't forget.
Tie up your dinghy along the Charles River at Community Boating Inc., and enjoy a delightful day wandering down Newbury Street. The charming eight-block area is filled with salons, boutiques, and spectacular dining choices. Swing by the Flour Bakery (617-437-7700) for the excellent pastries, sandwiches and salads.If you fancy exercise, you can run, skate, or ride bikes along the historic 18-mile-long Charles River Esplanade, which runs parallel to the entire basin on both the north and south sides of the Charles River waterfront. If you're a baseball fan, don't miss a tour of or better yet, a game at Fenway Park (617-226-6666, boston.redsox.mlb.com), the oldest major league park in the U. S. and home to the Boston Red Sox. When it's time for dinner, you'll be spoiled for choices, as Boston is full of top- notch restaurants. One perennial favorite is the Top of the Hub Restaurant & Lounge (617-536-1775), which features contemporary New England dishes and stunning views of downtown. If you're near the area on the Fourth of July, relax along the banks of the Charles and catch the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular (july4th.org).
Great dockage can be found in the city's famed North End neighborhood at Boston Yacht Haven (617-367-5050, thebostonyachthaven.com), or at Constitution Marina (617-241-9640, constitutionmarina.com), which is set along the historic Freedom Trail.
For a quick trip through the city by water, travel down the Charles River through the locks to Cambridge, home to Harvard and MIT, and visit the Galleria Mall, Central Square, and Harvard Square.
Located just 35 miles south of Boston, the quaint town of Plymouth was one of the first colonies founded by the pilgrims in 1620. The town is best known as the setting of the original Thanksgiving feast and is filled with historic buildings, museums, and monuments, including the 1749 Court House and Museum, the First Church, Burial Hill, and the Mayflower II (a replica of the original Mayflower).
Stroll along the cobblestone walkways of the Village Landing Marketplace, a shopping district of boutiques, specialty shops, restaurants and cafes. Hungry? Hit the Plymouth Harbor waterfront and stop at the East Bay Grille (508-746-9751), to enjoy live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday. Another fun experience is joining a ghost and legends walk with Colonial Lantern Tours (774-454-8126). Dock at Brewer Plymouth Marine (508-746-4500, byy.com/Plymouth) a full-service marina within walking distance of town.
About 45 miles north of Plymouth is Gloucester, the center of New England's fishing industry. The city is home to the oldest seaport in the country. Ever seen the popular National Geographic show Wicked Tuna? That's exactly what this town is all about: bluefin tuna.
Soak up the rays at Good Harbor Beach or Wingaersheek Beach, both of which are kid friendly. Bring your appetite to take advantage of one of the state's best seafood restaurants: the Gloucester House (888-283-1812). Prefer to dock and dine? Head to Rudder Restaurant (978-283-7967), known for its wicked-cool atmosphere and creative yet affordable menu. Visit during the 33rd annual Gloucester Waterfront Festival (Aug. 17-18) for crafts, live music and food. Whenever you visit, tie up at Cape Ann Marina Resort (978-283-3293, capeannmarina.com), which provides transient dockage for vessels up to 150 feet.
The final destination of the weekend is Newburyport, a historic seaport 17 miles north of Gloucester that was the birthplace of the coast guard in 1965. Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is teeming with more than 800 species of birds, plants, and animals. Plum Island, 11 miles long, is great for birding and swimming. Hit Ten Center Street (978-462-6652) for a quick bite, especially if it's Wednesday, when oysters are $1. Michael's Harborside (978-462-7785, michaelsharborside.com) has great seafood and a lively outdoor bar. If you can, visit Newburyport during the annual Yankee Homecoming ( July 28Aug. 4) for concerts, sidewalk sales, food vendors, and magnificent fireworks. Dockage is available at Newburyport Harbor Marina (978-462-3990, newburyportmarinas.com)
Nothing "whets" an appetite quite like time on the water, and if you happen to be cruising, sailing or fishing along the coast of Massachusetts, we've got your fix in the form of these nine terrific dock-and-dine restaurants. Bon appetite!
The historic port of Salem is best known for witches, but it's also packed with restaurants, among them the boater friendly Finz Seafood & Grill. Owner George Carey launched Finz in 2001 at its current location on Pickering Wharf, in the heart of the Salem waterfront, and has kept the place fresh and popular over the years.
The dining focus is squarely on seafood, although Finz also serves some delicious meat, chicken and vegetarian dishes. The atmosphere is upscale yet not too fancy, with tasteful artwork and big windows affording views of the water. Outside tables are also available, or you can dine at the bar.
Finz serves an amazing variety of dishes, including fried oysters, fish tacos, burgers, pan- seared scallops, gourmet hamburgers and crispy haddock burritos -- all of it delicious. The bartenders also make some great cocktails and maintain an extensive wine list, keeping the place hopping after hours.
When arriving by boat, make your way into the channel behind Derby Wharf to Pickering Wharf Marina. Head down the channel leading to the South River and look for an open space along the floating docks to starboard in front of the restaurant. Hail Pickering Wharf Marina (VHF 9) to see about tie-up space and hourly rates. Another option is to grab a mooring in the harbor and catch a ride to the restaurant via the Salem Water Taxi (978-745-6070). This will give you more time to explore Salem after or before you eat. Another option is docking at Brewer Hawthorne Cove Marina, less than a 12 mile walk to Finz, offering 110 slips for vessels up to 65 feet.
While navigating the mouth of the mighty Merrimack River can be challenging, finding sustenance inside the river isn't. After docking, boaters can walk just next door to Michael's Harborside, a lively restaurant and bar overlooking the river.
Michael's specializes in seafood, including sushi, fish and lobster, but also offers pasta, steak, chicken, salads, sandwiches and vegetarian dishes. It also has raw-bar items and creative apps such as sunflower scallops, truffled tots and crispy fried pickles. Dine inside or outside while you watch the boats cruise past.
Hilton's Marina can accommodate vessels up to 100 feet and offers shower and restroom facilities, fuel, WiFi, ice delivery to boats along with a maintenance facility and secured docks. The marina also offers 15% off food purchases at Michael's Harborside as a Cruising Club Member!
Although Boston offers a taste of urban boating at its best, dock-and-dine restaurants are hard to come by. One exception is the Barking Crab, tucked away on the Fort Point Channel in South Boston and adjacent to the Federal Courthouse (where Whitey Bolger was recently tried). This popular "seafood shack," now in its 21st year of operation, offers open-air dining on picnic tables beneath a tent, as well as limited indoor seating. It's a fun, loud, kid-friendly place -- and the food is good, too.
The menu features pan-seared scallops, grilled yellowfin tuna, mahi and swordfish, lobster, baked haddock, snow crab legs, fried clams and other seafood favorites. Non-fish eaters can choose from a range of sandwiches, soups and salads. The bar features a host of local micro-brews and wines.
There is one caveat to dining at "The Crab": The dock is only accessible to vessels that can clear the North Avenue bridge (vertical clearance 7 feet MHW) so be careful of the tide or you might end up staying for longer than you planned. Also, dock space is limited, so calling ahead is a good idea, especially on weekends. For transient dockage stop at Boston Yacht Haven located less than a mile north on Boston's historic Commercial Wharf or at Constitution Marina located right on the Freedom Trail.
Just south of Boston, but still part of Boston Harbor, is the historic city of Quincy, home to Marina Bay on Boston Harbor -- the largest marina in the Northeast. The complex features a half-dozen eateries, among them Waterclub, overlooking the docks at Marina Bay and affording excellent views of the Boston skyline and the sunset. The restaurant serves all manner of appetizers, sandwiches, fish tacos, burgers and the like as well as a wide selection of mixed drinks.
As its name implies, the Waterclub is a loud and lively place, especially on summer evenings. It features an indoor and outdoor nightclub with dancing and live entertainment. Large-screen TVs on the patio bar make this a great place to catch the game or watch the boats coming and going from the marina.
Marina Bay on Boston Harbor offers 10 cents off per gallon of fuel to Cruising Club Members.
Hyannis needs no introduction among cruisers, and neither does this popular waterfront restaurant and bar at Hyannis Marina (to port as you enter the inner harbor). The lively Trader Ed's rocks in summer, when it features live music and indoor and outdoor seating on the water and by the pool (a special pass is required to use the pool).
The restaurant's appetizers include raw-bar items, crab cakes, coconut shrimp, chili wings, salads and stuffed quahogs, while entrees include swordfish, blackened mahi and steak tips. On the lighter side, there are sandwiches, burgers, lobster rolls and fried fish and grilled cheese.
Short-term dockage can usually be arranged through Hyannis Marina. Another option is to anchor in Lewis Bay and dinghy to the marina.
Boaters cruising through Nantucket Sound are well advised to take time out to explore the scenic Bass River, which separates the towns of West Dennis and Yarmouth. Along the way, be sure to grab a bite or slake your thirst at the Summer Shanty, at Bass River Marina. True to its name, the Shanty is the quintessential, laidback dock-and-dine spot -- the type of place that has become rare in New England.
The restaurant offers free dockage, space permitting, and both indoor and outdoor seating on the patio and the covered porch overlooking the marina docks on the beautiful Bass River, just a few miles from Nantucket Sound. You can also relax with a cocktail or appetizer in the Adirondack chairs arranged on the front lawn -- a popular sunset hangout.
The atmosphere is mellow and casual, with soft reggae music playing in the background. Live entertainment is the norm on weekend nights. The food is excellent, too, and includes lobster rolls, fish-and-chips, burgers, tuna salad sandwiches, stuffed quahogs and more. The salads are large and fresh, and the French fries are cooked to perfection. Entree prices range from $12 to $20; sandwiches are in the $10 range.
Note that the restaurant is located just north of the Rte. 28 fixed bridge, which has a clearance of 15 feet MHW.
Fans of idyllic Menemsha Harbor on Martha's Vineyard are no doubt familiar with Larsen's Fish Market. Yes, this long-established enterprise sells fresh off-the-boat fish and shellfish, but Larsen's also serves lobster rolls, boiled lobster, steamed clams and mussels, stuffed quahogs, chowder and raw-bar items, all of which can be enjoyed outside on picnic tables overlooking the harbor and its small fleet of working vessels. It's a simple, laidback, authentic place -- just like Menemsha itself.
Boaters can usually find space along the bulkhead, in one of the town-managed transient slips, or on a mooring, but check in with the harbormaster first (508-645-2846). Another option is to anchor in Vineyard Sound, dinghy to the beach and walk the short distance to Larsen's. No matter how you get there, it's worth the effort. In fact, you might fall in love with Menemsha and never leave.
First opened in 1966 and occupying a former Jersey Central railroad barge, the Chart Room is a Buzzards Bay boating institution on Red Brook Harbor in Cataumet. Located at Kingman Yacht Center, the Chart Room is a busy place with long waits the norm, especially on weekends. However, most patrons don't seem to mind, as it affords them ample time to enjoy a cocktail outside and soak in the sunset behind Bassetts Island. The restaurant serves a wide range of appetizers, seafood, steaks, sandwiches and entrees, but the broiled swordfish is a house specialty.
Tie up along the facing docks at Kingman, if space is available. If there's no room, hail the KYC staff on VHF 71 and they can usually find a spot for you on the fuel dock, in an open slip or on a mooring. From a mooring you can either dinghy to the KYC dinghy dock or hop on the launch.
For boaters on the southeast coast of Massachusetts, a trip to the Back Eddy on the Westport River is a real treat. Opened in 1999 by celebrated Boston chef Chris Schlesinger, this open, airy restaurant serves mid-upscale cuisine featuring entrees such as wood-grilled Japanese-style ahi tuna, wood-grilled swordfish, fried clams, ovenroasted cod loin, lobster rigatoni and fried New Bedford sea scallops. Interesting apps include the roasted corn and clam chowder, the Back Eddy signature stuffed clams, native steamers, smoked Maine mussels "from hell," and hand-picked lobster sliders. For sides, you can't go wrong with the honkey fries and Eddy slaw.
Be forewarned that the Back Eddy is a busy place in summer, but you can hang out on the restaurant's pier and enjoy a beer, glass of wine or cocktail from the outdoor bar while you wait for a table. The sunsets from this vantage point are spectacular.
Dockage at the Eddy is limited, but boats up to 25 feet or so can tuck in at the end of the pier. Call the restaurant ahead of time to see about available dock space. For overnight dockage stop at F.L. Tripp & Sons, just west of The Back Eddy on the Westport River.
It is no secret that Massachusetts offers unparalleled experiences for boats of all sizes. From booming Boston Harbor to all the small towns along the Cape, there are ample cruising opportunities. For more than 25 years, Chuck and Ann Lagasse have been passionate about managing and building marinas in this Massachusetts region. "We are boaters, they explain, so we know firsthand what boaters want and need."
In 2007, after years of managing multiple marinas in Newburyport, Chuck and Ann purchased Boston Yacht Haven Inn & Marina, set in Boston's historic North End. Their plan was to create the first mega yacht facility in the city. The marina's Inn received a complete overhaul that included upgraded amenities and nautical de´cor. A captain's lounge was added as a place where boaters and the crew could mingle and relax. The marina too was extensively renovated and is now a state-of-the-art facility featuring 100 deep-water slipsand 30 of these slips can accommodate yachts up to 225 feet. The property is just steps away from renowned Quincy Market, the theater district and a wealth of restaurants and shops.
Since there was such a positive response from the boating community to Boston Yacht Haven Inn & Marina, the Lagasses decided to take on another project and purchased Charlestown Marina in late 2014. A strict deadline was set for a major overhaul of the entire facility in historic Charlestown, across the harbor from Boston, and in May 2015 the marina was opened. The state-of-the-art facility boasts 350 slips and can accommodate vessels up to 500 feet. There's also a new 900-foot hybrid steel concrete breakwater system, new electric services and water connections and new shower and restroom facilities. A Pier 6 Restaurant, security, laundry facilities and grilling stations are all on-site.
This past summer the Charlestown Marina surpassed its transient and seasonal goals, and the Lagasses plan to continue expanding this season. "We welcome everyone," says Ann, "from 18-foot Whalers to mega-yachts."
This February, the Lagasses made their next move, purchasing Provincetown Marina, which is set in the town of the same name up at the very tippe top of Cape Cod. Provincetown is a quaint, beloved coastal town with a rich cultural heritage. Currently, the marina has 50 slips and 110 moorings, but the goal for this summer is to have 65 new slips open, with water and electrical hook-ups. "This is a five-year project," explains Ann, "and we are hoping to eventually enlarge to more than 100 slips."
If anyone can pull it off, it is the Lagasses.