As a sheltered mainland harbor on the east side of Buzzards Bay, Quissett makes an intriguing alternative to Red Brook. The quirky entrance, close rocky shores and lack of services also give Quissett a character something like the more celebrated Hadley Harbor, across Woods Hole.
The narrow fishhook channel and relatively small harbor enclosed must have discouraged the growth of any significant marine industry here. It’s one of the few protected and navigable coves in Massachusetts without an associated town.
This legacy of slow development, punctuated by a significant grant of open space, leaves Quissett’s waterfront pleasantly sparse and unhurried.
This small stone jetty helps protect the marine railway at the Quissett Harbor Boat Yard.
Looking at the chart, you might not believe that a keelboat of any size could make it in to Quissett. You might even think that whoever put the buoys here did so with a gleeful malevolence, like a modern-day mooncusser with a scheme to lure visiting boats onto the rocks that appear to sit right across the channel.
In reality, the entrance is quite a bit wider and less treacherous than the chart suggests. . .
It’s hard to spot from out in the Bay, though, especially on a first visit. The water stays over 18 feet until quite close in, so the outermost buoy is near to shore and blends in even when visibility is good. Likewise the riprap-covered Knob doesn’t distinguish itself from the rocks behind it as early as you might expect. More prominent are a windmill to the north and a standpipe to the south about equidistant from the harbor.
From flashing red “2”, it’s a question of following the nuns and cans around the corner. In a big southwester, the early part of the channel rolls with chop off the Bay, then flattens out as you get to nun “6”. The shallowest spots in mid-channel are maybe a little better than 9 feet on an average low, near can “5” and again near “7”. This is a channel where you intuit the curving track that the buoys suggest rather than simply connecting the dots.
After can “7” there is a fairway through the moorings in the outer basin; it’s slightly deeper on the right-hand (east) side. The ledges making out to nun “8” at the throat of the inner basin are exposed through most of the tide, but there is 12 feet between red “8” and green “9” at low.
The left hand side of the entrance to Quissett is past the low peninsula that terminates at the Knob. This view of the Knob shows it from approximately the vicinity of Fl R “2”.
Looking towards shore from the boat yard wharf. Their marine railway is at right.
There is likely room to anchor in the outer basin, to the east of nun “6”, and the area is well-enough protected in fair weather or an easterly. The anchorage is exposed to the west, though, and looking straight out to the width of Buzzards Bay will feel even more exposed than it is.
A sign declares that anchoring is prohibited in the inner basin, where the tightly spaced moorings leave no room to even really contemplate it.
The Quissett Harbor Boat Yard maintains moorings — labelled “QHBY” — for visiting boats. The 16 feet charted for the inner basin holds more or less true for most of the mooring area. You’re likely to see some disconcertingly small boats moored in double-digit depths.
The Quissett Yacht Club uses the private dock in the northwest corner of the harbor but their focus is junior sailing and one-design racing. As their website states, they “have no phone and no building.”
There are no slips in Quissett. The QHBY wharf has 12 to 14 feet at low along the front face and the Yard has water and ice, but no fuel. When it’s blowing out in the Bay, enough chop finds its way in to make this an awkward spot to lie for very long.
Not for navigation. Charts are not updated.
The shoreline surrounding Quissett Harbor can be roughly divided in to 3 parts. To the east is a wooded and widely spaced residential neighborhood with substantial houses overlooking the water. At the head of the harbor is the compact lot of the Quissett Harbor Boat Yard, with its classic marine railway. And to the left, forming the west side of the harbor, is a collection of land now owned by various private and non-profit groups interested in wildlife, land conservation and water access.
Much of this western shore was owned from the 1880’s through the 1970’s by the Carey family. Among other things, they ran a summer resort hotel known as the Quissett Harbor House in a big complex of buildings by the harbor’s northwest corner. When Cornelia Carey died in 1973 she left the Knob and its peninsula as a public bird sanctuary.
The benefits of this to a visiting sailor are nice wooded paths out to the Knob, panoramic views across Buzzards Bay, and accessible beaches on both the harbor and Bay sides. To protect the Knob, and the harbor, from storms off the Bay and incessant love from the public, the outer stretches of the property were surrounded with a massive stone revetment in 2005.
A more complete story of this part of the harbor along with some nice older images is at the Quissett Harbor Preservation Trust website.
This one looks like an unsolved mystery. A beached canoe tied to the tree, paddle ready to go. With a month’s worth of leaves and rainwater aboard.
A gate on Quissett Harbor Road at the head of the harbor. This stretch of road looks across to the old Quissett Harbor House and out to the harbor itself. The views are popular with photographers and painters late in the day.
The dinghy dock is around behind the left side of the boat yard wharf. Or you can dinghy over to the beach on the harbor’s western shore.
There’s a dumpster in the boat yard parking lot.
Water and ice but no fuel at the boat yard.
Quissett Harbor Boat Yard