Buzzards Bay, MA: One of the most challenging and satisfying bodies of water to navigate on the East Coast
From Rhode Island Sound to Cape Cod, including the Elizabeth Island chain
Since 1914, Buzzards Bay has been connected to Cape Cod Bay by the Cape Cod Canal. In 1998 Buzzards Bay was designated an Estuary of National Significance. There are 310 miles of beautiful scenic coastline along Buzzards Bay. This total does not include the 9 miles of coastline of the Cape Cod Canal within the Buzzards Bay watershed, nor does it include an additional 40 miles of coastline on the bay-facing side of the Elizabeth Islands.
Massachusetts is one of five states* with property ownership to the low tide mark. So where do people swim? There are 13.4 miles of public beaches (municipal and state owned) in Buzzards Bay, with an additional 31.9 miles of "semi-public" beaches. Many of the semi-public areas are not open to the general public; they include some large tracts of government-owned and private conservation coastal lands where the public may have some right to use, beach association and community beaches, private pay-to use beaches, club and resort beaches, and other stretches of coastline where more than a single owner is allowed use. The rest of coastline is privately owned, generally to the low tide mark. More information on the origins of public rights in the intertidal zone in Massachusetts can be found on Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management's Public Rights Along the Shoreline page. Their background page is informative, and they offer booklets and maps with descriptions of public access sites in several coastal regions of Massachusetts, including Boston - unfortunately not in the Buzzards Bay vicinity yet.
On a boat, we can enter any one of so many lovely anchorages and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings, or the hustle and bustle of their population centers. Therein lies an advantage to enjoying these beautiful coastal regions from the water. Eleven coastal communities share the Bay. The city of New Bedford, Massachusetts is a historically significant port, known for its role as one of the world's most successful whaling ports in the early-to mid-1800s. The town of Marion is a port of another significance, being the jumping off point for several major racing events in the northeast. And Padanarum, if you can find it, is a charming village destination.
The Buzzards Bay Regatta is reported to be the largest multi-class regatta in North America. It typically attracts more than 400 boats representing at least 15 different classes. The three-day event is hosted by the Beverly Yacht Club in Marion and Community Boating Center in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Click here for information.
The Beverly Yacht Club also sponsors one of the most popular blue water races on the east coast. It is open to cruising and racing yachts and is somewhat less rigorous, but no less competitive, than the Newport to Bermuda Race. It is held every two years, and the two races to Bermuda alternate years in which they take place, Marion to Bermuda being in the odd numbered years.
Buzzards Bay is considered to have some of the most challenging waters for boating on the east coast. The intense currents rushing through some of the cuts through the islands can be very daunting, and downright dangerous if you pay no heed. Storms can whip up the waters into a churning maelstrom. It's small wonder that there are so many wrecks noted on the charts. Click here for Buzzards Bay tides predictions. Yet, when the sun comes out, and you respect the movement of the tide, you can have the sleighride of your life, leading toward some of the most charming destinations on the east coast. So come along. Let's take a seven day joy ride.
Approaching Buzzards Bay from the Southwest, it's hard to miss the Buzzards Bay Entrance Light, a 63 foot spiderlike tower (Fl 2.5 sec, Horn, Racon _...) that replaced the larger light platform in 1997, which replaced the light ship in 1961. As fog is a frequent phenomenon in this part of the world, the fog horn is a welcome signal when transiting these waters.
Most of the harbors on the west shore of Buzzards Bay are open to the southeast, whereas harbors on the eastern shore tend to be open to the North and West. You may wish to consider this factor when planning a cruise of Buzzards Bay.
Destinations and 7-day Itinerary
Please note: We will be adding more destinations so please come back and visit again. If you see something that should be added or corrected, please let us know!
*The other states are Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
And then there is:
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