January 8, 2017
5 Great Boating Things to Do on Buzzards Bay
Way Out Weepeckets
The Weepeckets comprise 3 rocky islets, the largest of which features a lovely fine-sand beach with deep water bordering its eastern shore. Depending on the size and draft of your vessel, you can either nose your bow onto the sand or anchor just offshore and dinghy or swim ashore.
Small-boaters from northern parts of Buzzards Bay should time their Weepecket trips so that they can cruise south in the morning, before the afternoon southwesterlies howl. When it begins to blow 20 in the afternoon, you can surf your way home!
Also note that the island serves as a seagull and cormorant rookery, which means that it can be quite aromatic when the wind is wrong. And don’t be surprised if your 4-year-old surprises you with a bleached bird skull he found in the sand (been there, done that). Nevertheless, kids will love the adventure of visiting the Weepeckets, which seem right out of a pirate book, and the swimming and even snorkeling are first-rate.
Bottom Fish Bounty
Buzzards Bay offers some terrific (and easy) bottom fishing options for families, starting with black sea bass. These great-eating fish are abundant in the upper bay from mid-May to mid-June, and can be taken on jigs and squid strips over any stretch of hard bottom in 15 to 35 feet of water. Scup are another crowd-pleaser, and can be caught in the same spots on small hooks baited with squid strips, worms or clams. Other bottom species you might encounter include cunner, sea robin, skate, fluke and toadfish—and you never know when a bluefish or striped bass will show up!
Chill at the Chart Room
About to enter its 45th season, the Chart Room restaurant in Red Brook Harbor bustles with customers who come for the good food, lively bar scene and spectacular sunsets. Owner Dave Jarvis, whose father bought the restaurant in 1972 and whose mother used to sing there, has maintained its cozy, nautical ambience with a focus on fresh, high-quality food. Perennial crowd-pleasers include the baked stuffed lobster, broiled swordfish, clams casino, clam chowder, steamer clams and the lobster salad sandwich on Portuguese bread.
The Chart Room also features a large bar staffed by 3 bartenders, who have their hands full keeping up with orders for their famous mudslides. Customers can enjoy those mudslides in the bar, whose dark beams resemble the interior of a ship, or on the large patio overlooking the Kingman docks.
To dock and dine, hail Kingman Yacht Center on VHF channel 79 or call (508) 563-5350. Dockage is sometimes available along the facing dock, but if not, the marina staff can put you on a mooring and get you to shore via the launch. Dinner reservations are a must, especially on summer weekends.
Paddle the Slocums
Looking for a fun, easy, and scenic daytrip in a kayak or canoe? Set a course for the scenic Slocums River in South Dartmouth, on the western shore of the bay. The Slocums flows for some 3 miles from its headwaters at Russells Mills to its mouth at Demarest Lloyd Memorial State Park. It’s not a difficult paddle—as long as the headwind isn’t too strong.
You’ll find a convenient dirt ramp with free parking at Russells Mills Landing off Horseneck Road. The ideal time to begin a kayak or canoe trip down the Slocum is in the morning on a dropping tide. Follow the ebb tide south in the late morning, spend the mid-day hours at the beach at Demarest Lloyd State Park then paddle back with the rising tide. Even so, the widest section of the river, at about the halfway point, can be challenging in a stiff westerly or northerly breeze. Monitor the weather and plan accordingly.
Perhaps the best part of paddling the Slocums is that you often have the white-sand beach that runs along the river mouth all to yourself, especially on weekdays and after the park closes for the season. This is a fantastic spot for little kids, as it features broad, sandy flats covered by warm, knee-deep water—perfect for collecting hermit crabs, periwinkles and the occasional horseshoe crab. In the fall you can sometimes catch stripers and bluefish in the deep channel at the river mouth. Blue crabs are abundant in the river and inside Giles Creek, and can be taken with nets or chicken legs. Restrooms, a changing area and an ice cream truck are accessible (in summer) via a short walk to the parking lot behind the beach.
When it comes to kid-friendly boating spots in Buzzards Bay, Sippewisset Beach (also known as Black Beach) at the mouth of Great Sippewisset Creek in West Falmouth fills the bill. The white-sand beach that borders the shore extends from either side of the creek mouth, and is a popular spot among local boaters, especially on weekends.
The warm, shallow water along the beach is perfect for swimming, but it’s the creek that makes this place so special. On a high tide, you can explore deep into the marshes with a kayak or SUP. As the tide drops, you can “ride” the current as it flows out of the creek to Buzzards Bay. Bring a snorkel mask, as you can spy all sorts of marine life in the creek as you float along. Low tide is a great time to hunt for blue crabs, which are abundant starting in midsummer.
Newbie boaters should approach the beach carefully, as there are some nasty rocks that lurk between the shore and Great Sippewisset Rock (marked by a daymarker). Also, be mindful of the depth as the tide drops. Small skiffs can usually anchor within wading distance of the shore, but may have to re-anchor due to tide changes or wind shifts.
Since Sippewisset faces west, it is exposed to the prevailing southwesterlies that blow up on summer afternoons, so make note of this if you need to cross the bay to get home. The place is ideal in a light easterly breeze.