Bristol Harbor Names & Numbers
April 17, 2015
Charts: NOAA 13221, 13224
The entrance to Bristol Harbor, marked by the 25-foot-tall flashing red tower on Castle Island (41°39.2´ N, 71°17.2´ W), is about 13 nautical miles north from Castle Hill Light at the mouth of Narragansett Bay’s East Passage. Boats approaching from outside Narragansett Bay can follow the well-marked ship channel toward Providence, with depths around 100′ to the south end of Prudence Island. As you enter Bristol Harbor, steer clear of the shoal water surrounding Hog Island. Birstol Harbor itself offers good depth throughout. There is a well-marked rock ledge off Independence Park to look out for.
- Bristol Marine (401-253-2200; VHF 69): On Popasquash Neck (west side of harbor), Bristol Marine offers transient moorings and slips, with launch service, ice, showers and bathrooms. Also offers electrical, mechanical, carpentry, canvas and fiberglass service, plus a 50-ton TravelLift. Pump out is available as well.
- Bristol Yacht Club (401-253-2922; VHF 68): Offers reciprocal privileges with other clubs. Located adjacent to Bristol Marine on west side of harbor.
- Bristol Town Marina (401-253-1700, VHF 16): Hourly and overnight moorings and dockage available next to the ferry terminal. The town also maintains a free pump-out boat. A dockside pump-out station is located at the Rockwell Pier, next to the ferry terminal.
- Herreshoff Marine Museum (401-253-5000, VHF 68): Overnight dockage and moorings are available at the museum, located within walking distance of town. Free short-term tie-up can be arranged for museum visitors; call ahead. No launch service. Reservations recommended.
- Thames Street Landing: Short-term dockage available for free to Thames Street Landing patrons. Three-hour limit.
Bristol Harbor is open to the south, making it an uncomfortable anchorage in prevailing summer southwesterlies. Boaters can find some protection in the extreme northern end of the harbor (if you can find a space among the moorings), but it’s best to check with the harbormaster first. Dinghies and kayaks can be left at Independence Park beach or at the Town Marina dinghy dock.
- Independence Park at the end of Thames Street is a free ramp directly on the harbor. Parking is limited, especially on weekends. Trailer-boaters may be better off launching a bit farther north at Colt Sate Park.
- Colt State Park at the top of Popasquash Neck, off Rte. 114, offers a free ramp with ample parking and quick access to the upper bay. However, the ramp is exposed to west and southwest winds, which can make launching and hauling difficult, especially on summer afternoons.
- State Street ramp is a narrow town ramp used by Bristol residents and commercial fishermen. Limited parking in lot next to ramp, but sticker is required.
- Bristol Narrows ramp off Route 136; provides direct access to Mt. Hope Bay.
- Mount Hope Fishing Area, off Annawamscutt Drive, features a double concrete ramp with breakwater fronting Mt. Hope Bay. The ramp also features a dredged channel leading to deep water and two courtesy floats. It can accommodate most trailerable boats.
Bristol boasts close to three dozen restaurants. Here are a few within easy walking distance of the harbor:
- Thames Waterside Bar & Grill (401-253-4523): Dock & dine at Thames St. Landing.
- DeWolf Tavern (401-254-2005): Dock & dine at Thames St. Landing.
- The Lobster Pot (401-253-9100): Dock & dine just south of downtown, next to Herreshoff Museum wharf.
- Quitos (401-253-4500): Fresh lobster and seafood on the harbor.
- Point Pleasant Inn (401-253-0627)
- Bristol 4th of July: The oldest Fourth of July Parade in America is Bristol’s Grand Military, Civic and Firemen’s Parade, established in 1785. Be aware that the town and harbor can be very crowded during this weekend.
- Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame (401-253-5000): A must-visit for sailboat lovers and historians. Both places offer movies, displays and historical information about one of the greatest boat designers of all time.
- Blithewold Mansion & Arboretum (401-253-2707): Located just down the road (Rte. 114) from the Herreshoff Museum, Blithewold is home to historic mansions and gardens.
- Audubon Society Environmental Education Center (401-245-7500): Located on a 28-acre wildlife refuge near the Bristol/Warren town line with wildlife exhibits, aquariums, tide-pool tank and walking trails through the marsh.
- Coggeshall Farm Museum (401-253-9062): Off Popasquash Road, Coggeshall is a living, working 1790’s salt-marsh farm, with animals, gardens and a blacksmith shop.
- Bristol Historical and Preservation Society Museum (401-253-7223): Located at 48 Court St., the BHPSM has books, memorabilia and artifacts relating to Bristol’s 300-year history.