Quicks Hole

For a cruising sailor, Quicks is rarely on the way to anyplace except Menemsha, but it is a lovely and remote little stretch of water.


Published sailing directions from the 1850s declare “The best way to New Bedford, even for vessels from the west, is through Quick’s Hole. . .” {Norie}

This was written as New Bedford enjoyed the prime of its whaling industry. Shipmasters then apparently preferred the bold shores of the Elizabeth Islands to the low reefs guarding the (much wider) entrance to Buzzards Bay.

Today’s weather forecasts, navigational electronics, copious buoys and auxiliary motors make the Buzzards Bay entrance far less daunting. Most traffic passes in and out of the Bay between Cuttyhunk and the mainland to the west, or Woods Hole to the east. Quicks Hole is largely ignored, except by local fishermen. For a cruising sailor, Quicks is rarely on the way to anyplace except Menemsha, but it is a lovely and remote little stretch of water.

📷 Geoff Rand
Cows on Nashawena Island. The entrance to Quicks Hole is beyond the rocky point, with Pasque Island in the background.



Currents can run at 2.5 to almost 3 knots through Quicks Hole, but it is by far the easiest passage through the Elizabeth Islands, with a number of advantages over its more popular alternative, Woods Hole. Quicks Hole currents are tough, but they’re still a knot or even 2 knots less than those in Woods Hole. More importantly, here the currents run parallel to the channel and the channel is straight, simple and clearly marked. Woods Hole instead offers a confusing welter of buoys, bifurcating channels, off-lying shoals and a current that sweeps cross-channel in places. Quicks Hole also has much less traffic.

The only obstacle in Quicks Hole is Lone Rock, north and just west of the entrance. Norie’s 1856 Sailing Directions recommends

“haul straight into the Hole, keeping the port hand best on board, following the bend of the shore. You will keep Gay Head Light open about a ship’s length by the S. E. point of [Nashawena], till you are at least a mile north of the Hole, which will carry you to the eastward of a ledge of rocks. . . with only 5 to 12 feet on them. . .” {Nourie}

Sailors today will probably look for the buoy.

Canapitsit Channel, to the west of Nashawena, and Robinsons Hole, to the east of Pasque, are both narrow, twisty and rock-strewn with currents running over 2 knots. Sailboats without local knowledge avoid them.

Not for navigation


It’s possible, and quite attractive, to anchor in Quicks Hole; the depths are amenable and Nashawena provides a good lee in the prevailing southwesterly. But exposure to both the north and south, plus strong currents, make it unreliable in all but settled summer weather. More of a lunch stop. The beach on Nashawena may be closed during bird nesting season — look for signs before landing.

Charlie Schock writes 
“There is a beautiful beach here which we used to enjoy. . . You can anchor overnight here but there is a reversing current so be sure of your ground tackle. The occasional dragger going through kicks up a good wake to roll you asleep (or awake).”


Not for navigation. Charts are not updated. 


Facilities / Fitting Out

There are no facilities. Both Pasque and Nashawena Islands are private and landing is not permitted, except as indicated by signs on the beach.






If you have updated information, corrections, or contributions to this harbor, please share them below. Comments are moderated by Boston Sailing Center. 

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Quicks Hole

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