Scituate

Its central location in Cape Cod Bay - an easy day from Plymouth or the Canal, from Provincetown, or from Boston Harbor - makes Scituate a nearly automatic stop on any regional itinerary.

Introduction

Scituate is the indispensible harbor for cruising sailors headed south from Boston. Its central location in Cape Cod Bay – an easy day from Plymouth or the Canal, from Provincetown, or from Boston Harbor – makes Scituate a nearly automatic stop on any regional itinerary.

Just half a mile from open water, accessible at any tide and nearly any weather, Scituate is both convenient and reliable. With two yacht clubs, two marinas, two public launches serving the vast mooring area, and an active racing association, Scituate is one of the busiest sailing harbors in Massachusetts.

Navigation

Approaches

Scituate is easy to enter and well protected in everything but a severe easterly. Breakwaters at the mouth flank a dredged channel into the mooring basin. A major dredging project over the winter of 2002-2003 specified controlling depths of 12 feet in the outer channel, 10 feet in the inner channel, and 8 to 10 feet in the mooring areas.

The narrow opening may not be immediately obvious among the hills, dunes and trees of the shoreline, but the white lighthouse tower on Cedar Point is a good daymark.

At night, you’ll have to look hard for the R&W Mo(A) just east of the channel entrance, and the red light at the end of the breakwater. Both are very difficult to identify with any confidence among the other lights on shore, especially when approaching from the east.

Because the channel itself is marked only by unlit nuns and cans, it’s helpful to run an accurate course in from the R&W, maybe even checking the bearing back to the flashing buoy a couple of times, until you can pick up the first nun and can with a flashlight on the bow.

Not for navigation

Anchorages

All the deep water in Scituate Harbor is dredged and used for moorings — anchoring is neither permitted nor practical.

Moorings

There are some 650 boats moored in Scituate, so the law of averages suggests there’s nearly always a mooring available. Arriving in the afternoon, you can usually hail any of the launches for directions; they are all on VHF 09. The different launches in the harbor each have access to different sets of moorings; you may need to try more than one. Over the years, we’ve gotten moorings from all of them.

‘Scituate Harbor Launch’ runs E-Z Rider and Cedar Point, both long-standing fixtures of the Scituate waterfront. They run out of the town’s Cole Parkway Marina, most convenient to the shops and restaurants in town.

The club launches run from their respective clubhouses, just north of town. Scituate Harbor YC offers a classic clubhouse with dining room. The Satuit Boat Club is informal and outgoing, with just a simple DIY kitchen and a deck. The handwritten thank-you notes that the SBC has been sending to transient mooring customers in recent years is an uncommon and appreciated gesture.

In Scituate the Harbormaster does not manage transient moorings, except when all the launches are shut down for the off-season. It’s also worth noting that big-boat and small-boat moorings can be mixed together throughout the harbor. If you pick up a mooring without some local direction, you won’t be sure what you’ve got.

📷 Anne Grimes
Looking southeast out to sea from Cedar Point. The north breakwater is visible to the left, with its 23 foot tall flashing red light at the end. At the extreme right, the rocks on the south side of the channel are just visible.

Slips

Scituate Harbor Marina, in the center of the waterfront, is a full-service marina with transient dockage. The town-owned Cole Parkway Marina, supervised by the Harbormaster, has 3 or 4 slips frequently available for visitors. Expect them both to be full on summer weekends unless you’ve reserved ahead of time.

📷 Geoff Rand
View from the channel north to Cedar Point. A little bit of current is visible running in past the nun.
📷 Anne Grimes

Charts

Not for navigation. Charts are not updated. 

Going Ashore

Scituate is a town with a somewhat elusive personality. Driving its tranquil back roads in winter, it seems there’s a boat in every second driveway. It’s a sailor’s town, a fishing town, whose harbor is its most prominent feature.

 

But unlike the compact old ports of the North Shore, Scituate’s relationship to the sea is spread more thinly over both time and geography. Its maritime heritage may not be obvious as you step from the launch into the waterfront parking lot.

Shipbuilding thrived for nearly two centuries, but on the nearby North River rather than on the harbor itself. Fishing in Scituate historically meant mackerel, though both the fish and the market for it largely disappeared in the mid-1800s {SHS}. As the offshore cod fisheries of Boston and Gloucester were adapting to the industrial era, and leaving their mark, in large scale, on those waterfronts, Scituate fishermen “developed a small, clinker-built boat, and made the town famous for day fishing.” {Alongshore, p.325}

The harbor was never deep enough for ocean-going trade; the railroads came to Scituate only in the 1870s (compare 1839 for Salem, 1847 for Gloucester); the essential breakwater dates to 1890.

So the Scituate we see today is shaped primarily by its 19th century quietude, and by the major influences of the 20th century: the automobile, the intense appreciation (in both senses) of shoreside property, and effective local efforts at historic preservation.

And the sailing, and the fishing. Today the harbor is filled with sailboats on moorings; quite a few small trawlers are tied up at the Town Pier; the waterfront is lined with wharves; sport fishermen are everywhere, alongside the active lobstering fleet.

📷 Geoff Rand
This yellow cape was the home of lightkeeper’s daughters Rebecca and Abigail Bates, Scituate’s “Army of Two”.
📷 Anne Grimes

One Hour Ashore

The lighthouse is just over a mile walk from town, or a quick dinghy trip from the outer mooring area. The grounds are open; the keeper’s house is a private residence.

Off the Beaten Path

The much-celebrated Lawson Water Tower was closed for renovations when we visited in 2003. Open or not, it’s a long trip for a large anomaly.

Maritime History

The inescapable story is of lightkeeper’s daughters Rebecca and Abigail Bates, who are said to have bluffed away a British raiding party in 1814 by playing a very marshal set on fife and drum as the Brits attempted to row ashore.

The Scituate Historical Society’s Maritime Museum is located unfortunately far from the harbor, on a highway outside of town, but it promises exhibits on Irish Mossing (seaweed gathering). Summer weekends only(?).

Rainy Day

There are a couple of galleries and a movie theatre within an easy walk of the harbor. Otherwise it’s the waterfront sports bar.

Services

Facilities

The launches in Scituate are ubiquitous, friendly and efficient. Get the specifics from whichever launch arranges for your mooring. Dinghy tie-ups are in the vicinity of the launch landings.

Showers & Restrooms are available at the clubs or marina if you’re on a club mooring or marina slip, or at the Harbormaster’s office (really) if your mooring is through the public launches. The Harbormaster’s showers are notable for plenty of hot water.

Dumpsters for trash are adjacent to the harbormasters’ office as well.

Fitting Out

Diesel, water and ice are available at the Scituate Harbor Marina, or at the fuel dock adjacent to the Mill Wharf Restaurant, just before the Cole Parkway Marina. The harbormaster also sells ice.

For groceries, the Village Market is open 7 days, at the south end of Front Street, a short walk from the launch landing and harbormaster’s office. There is also a hardware store in the shopping center near the grocery store.

Contacts

Cedar Point Launch/EZ-Rider
1-781-545-4154
VHF: 09

Satuit Boat Club
1-781-545-9752
VHF: 09

Scituate Harbor Yacht Club
1-781-545-0372
VHF: 09

Cole Parkway Marina
(Harbormaster’s Office)

Harbormaster Stephen F. Mone
1-781-545-2130
VHF: 09
Book with Dockwa

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter

Comments

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

guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Scituate

Navigate your way

Explore More Harbors

Woods Hole

Woods Hole is the Jekyll & Hyde of Massachusetts waterways — sometimes a placid and well-marked maritime thoroughfare, sometimes the most dramatic and dangerous mile of water on the coast.

Marion

Marion offers a lovely, well-protected harbor and streets that are uniquely attractive among Massachusetts’ old coastal towns.

Provincetown

After Thoreau visited in 1850, he declared Provincetown “the most completely maritime town that we were ever in.”

World’s End

The way into Worlds End is narrow and a bit twisty, but the channel intuitively follows midway between the two shores and it’s well marked, though unlit.

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x