The mouth of the Annisquam River makes an unlikely little harbor.
Often deserted in the spring and fall, with the yacht club shuttered, the beach empty, and the nearest public facilities two miles away, Annisquam can seem desolate. We’ve spent a day moored in the river, in fog thick enough to obscure both shores, and felt like the only boat in New England.
We’ve hung from the same mooring on a summer weekend: Day visitors anchor 3-deep off the beach. Fishermen, looking for stripers among the rocks or hunting tuna off the Isles of Shoals, come and go at all hours. It can feel like every boat in New England is passing through the Annisquam in a relentless parade.
Still, the harbor is convenient; the setting is beautiful; the protection is good. And Lobster Cove, accessible when the tide is anywhere above low, offers the snuggest moorings around.
The view from Wingaersheek Beach across the mouth of the Annisquam River. In the evening, it’s usually a quiet place to watch the setting sun light up the far shore.
The southern approach, up from Gloucester, is discussed in detail under Blynman Canal. Remember that depths in the Annisquam River change year to year, and that even a five foot draft may stumble in places near low tide. In recent years, the controlling depth has been about 4 feet on an average low.
From the north, find Red & White “AR” in Ipswich Bay. The channel into Annisquam is straight and well marked, of no particular difficulty in most conditions. A strong northerly can make it choppy and even a bit treacherous, however, especially if the tide is ebbing. The dredged portion is subject to shoaling, and can add unwelcome excitement to a transit at low water. We’ve seen depths under 6 feet in some years, but in 2010 there was at least 8 feet down the middle at average low. The thinnest spots were in the vicinity of nun “4”; south of that, there’s at least a foot or so more water through to the mooring area.
Barn Rocks, well outside the channel on the Wingaersheek side, are marked with a daybeacon.
The green and white beacon sits close against the shore between the yacht club and Lobster Cove.
There is no room to anchor comfortably in Annisquam. Boats will drop the hook off Wingaersheek Beach for the afternoon, but swinging room is limited by moorings, the bottom drops off steeply into the channel, and the current runs hard.
Annisquam is part of Gloucester, but the Gloucester Harbormaster does not maintain a full-time presence at this end of the river. There are two sources for moorings in Annisquam.
The Annisquam Yacht Club is on the east bank of the river, a bit more than a half mile south of Annisquam Harbor Light. Their guest moorings are big red balls across the channel from the clubhouse, with deep water, room to swing, and good protection from all but a strong northerly. On a pleasant summer evening, though, as the stream of boats passes by, you’ll feel either the energy of a sidewalk cafe or the charm of a roadside picnic table, depending on your frame of mind. The Annisquam Yacht Club has launch service and showers.
Lobster Cove Market and Marina oversees a few moorings within Lobster Cove which may be available for visitors. The moorings are well sheltered from all weather, and removed from the traffic in the river. The Marina is small, low-profile and pretty informally run, so it can take some effort to track them down.
Taking advantage of its placid conditions, Lobster Cove is packed as tightly with boats as any harbor in New England. The mouth is guarded by a ledge, covered maybe 5 feet at low water. Note that when entering the cove, Can “11” is a mark for the river, and must be left to starboard. The passage into Lobster Cove is between C”11″ and the Green & White beacon (GW “LC” on the chart) near shore.
There are no slips specifically for transients, although you may be able to arrange for tie-up space at the Lobster Cove Marina float.
The AYC moorings are reassuringly large, given the current they must stand up to. When it’s running, make your approach into the current to have any control. And once you’re secured, lock the rudder off straight so the boat won’t pull sideways on the mooring.
An easy dinghy trip to the beach, to the Yacht Club float or to the Lobster Cove docks will get you to Annisquam’s best shoreside features: both sides of the river are inviting and relaxing places to walk.
On the west shore is Wingaersheek Beach, narrow at high tide and surprisingly expansive at low. As you contemplate the passage out of the river, it’s fun to watch kids playing on the beach, seemingly in reach of the nuns marking the west side of the channel.
On the east side is the village of Annisquam, whose quiet residential streets full of neat cottages are delightful to explore.
And the footbridge across Lobster Cove is nearly irresistible.
The old cottages of Annisquam blend quietly into the landscape.
The moorings in Lobster Cove, viewed from the footbridge.
One Hour Ashore
Ice cream at the market in Lobster Cove, or sunset on the beach.
Off the Beaten Path
The streets of Annisquam are pretty and never crowded. The walk out to the lighthouse is short.
A sign on shore reads “For nearly two and a half centuries Annisquam was a fishing and shipbuilding center.” The evidence that remains is mostly read in the architecture.
There are no public indoor diversions here.
Proximity to beaches and marshes gives Annisquam its unusual beauty. It also means the harbor is more prone to insects than the built-up ports found elsewhere in Massachusetts. Midgies seem to peak in June; July can bring greenheads. We pack a few lengths of plastic screen fabric to drape over the hatches in the evenings.
The Annisquam Yacht Club launch serves their guest moorings.
To get to the village, dinghy in to the yacht club float or Lobster Cove Marina. Or dinghy to the beach.
The yacht club has showers and restrooms.
There is no diesel in Annisquam; the closest is at Cape Ann Marina, near Gloucester Harbor in the Blynman Canal
Water is available at the yacht club.
The Lobster Cove Marina store has a limited selection of groceries and ice.