Red Brook

The harbor's placid shorelines and quirky, down-the-rabbit-hole entrance make it worth a visit, especially if your schedule allows for time to get off the boat and explore the area by dinghy or on foot.

Introduction

Just south of Wings Neck, Red Brook is, for cruising sailboats, the closest significant harbor to the Canal on the east shore of Buzzards Bay. It’s the best naturally protected of the Bay’s large harbors, and home port to a sizable fleet of mostly recreational boats.

For the visitor bound through the Canal in either direction, Red Brook is a convenient 4 miles from the Hog Island Channel and it features two large, accomplished facilities for sailors and a potentially quiet anchorage.

The harbor’s placid shorelines and quirky, down-the-rabbit-hole entrance make it worth a visit, especially if your schedule allows for time to get off the boat and explore the area by dinghy or on foot.

📷 Geoff Rand

Navigation

Approaches

The entrance to Red Brook is not especially difficult, but it is intricate. There are two channels; one passes to the north of Bassetts Island and the other to the south. Both are narrow and twisting, but are well marked with frequent government and occasional private buoys. Controlling depth in the south channel is reported to be 7 feet on an average low tide, but with various obstructions (both charted and rumored) strewn throughout. It is frequently used by local boats, although there’s little margin for an unfamiliar navigator to experiment.

Not for navigation

North channel depths are said, by Kingman’s, to be at least 8 ft mlw, and we spoke with a local boat who said “I draw 5’10” and go in & out all the time with no problem.” Our depth sounder gave a slightly different report {2005}, indicating a controlling depth of just better than 6 ft mlw in the vicinity of can “13”. NOAA’s chart 13236 shows 5 ft here, at mllw. Norman Martin, a reliable navigator with a recently calibrated depthsounder, carried 7 feet all the way around Bassets Island on an average low tide in 2007.

Bottom line: The north channel is wider and straighter, with 6 feet if you follow the buoys and avoid a drain tide. A boat drawing 7 should not try either channel on the back end of a falling tide. And with the 4 foot tidal range, a boat drawing 8 feet should be able to get in and out the north channel if the tide is halfway up and rising. Once inside you’ll find adequate depth at the moorings and slips.

As for charts, the Maptech ChartKit (reprinting NOAA’s 13229) does not show several crucial buoys marking the north channel behind Bassetts Island, including N “12” and C “13”. The large scale chart 13236, also reprinted in Maptech’s Embassy Guide, shows all the buoys, but even its detail is vague in key spots. For electronic chart users, some portions of the channel are close to the limits of GPS accuracy. And the screen of a handheld may not offer sufficient resolution and look-ahead at the same time.

Again, the entrance to Red Brook is not difficult – hundreds of keelboats are moored here – but a navigator unfamiliar with the harbor who tried to enter without proper charts and good daytime visibility would be flirting with a grounding.

📷 Geoff Rand
Private buoy marking rocks off the northwest corner of Bassett I. This photo was not taken with a very big lens. . .

Anchorages

Hospital Cove, off the south channel, is well-sheltered with depths of 7 to 10 feet. If it’s too crowded, the narrow finger of deep water just east of Bassetts Island is a popular alternative. South of nun “12” it’s unmarked, so it requires a little groping around with the depthsounder. More convenient, though less protected, is the large open cove between the south end of Bassetts Island and Scraggy Neck. This outer anchorage is more useful as a short stop before or after transiting the Canal than as a cruising destination. Finally, in the little cove just inside the northern entrance there is typically room to anchor a boat or two on the edge of the mooring field.

Moorings & Slips

Both Parker’s and Kingman have moorings and launch service.

Parker’s is a 3 generation, family-run yard that has for years specialized in sailboats. Kingman is a full-service marina with gift shop and restaurant. Their extensive float system makes them the primary source for slips in Red Brook, though Parker’s may also have tie-up space available.

As you enter, Kingman’s moorings are to the left (north) of the fairway and Parker’s to the right.

Charts

Not for navigation. Charts are not updated. 

Going Ashore

The boatyard and marina comprise most of the civilization in Red Brook, and that in turn helps to establish much of the harbor’s character. Bassetts Island is nearly deserted and the southern portion of the island is owned by the town (Bourne). It’s beaches are a great destination for dinghy exploration. Note that the northern part of the island is private.

The mainland shores are similarly attractive and lightly developed. Within a mile of the harbor, the Bourne Conservation Trust controls nearly 100 acres of woods and fields, connected by a network of trails. We got a trail guide from the office at Parker’s.

If you’re looking for bright lights instead, the restaurant at Kingman’s (the “Chart Room”) draws a crowd from well beyond the harborfront. On a nondescript Friday in late September the wait for dinner was over an hour. For the self-reliant who nonetheless would like to get off the boat for a while, Parker’s has charcoal grills on the beach.

📷 Geoff Rand
Fresh brightwork at Parker’s.
📷 Geoff Rand
Some complicated shingle work on the Red Brook Yacht Club at Parker’s Boat Yard.

Services

Facilities

Parker’s and Kingman’s both offer launch service to mooring customers. There are dinghy docks attached to both organizations’ floats.

Showers, restrooms and trash facilities are available at both marinas.

Fitting Out

Diesel, water and ice are available at both yards. And both have full repair services.

Kingman’s dock has pumpout capacity, or the Bourne Harbormaster has a pumpout boat (VHF: 09)

Groceries and other supplies are not convenient in Red Brook. The folks at Parker’s offered the use of a loaner car for a trip to town. Kingman’s has a very limited selection of groceries (milk, soup, t-shirts), but offered to pick up an order in town. Short of an emergency, you’re better off reprovisioning elsewhere.

Contacts

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Red Brook

Navigate your way

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