Chart: NOAA 12372
The approach to Clinton Harbor from the west is relatively open, and the problem areas are well marked. You can pass both Faulkner Island and Kimberley Reef to either side. When passing Faulkner Island to the north, stay north of green gong “15”. Once at Hammonasset Point remember to stay south of nun “10” and give the point a wide berth, in order to avoid the strong current that flows around the point.
When approaching from the east, keep south of Kelsey Point breakwater, marked by a flashing light. The rips off the breakwater can be rough at times. Head for buoy RN “2” and proceed from there to RN “4” and the channel into the harbor.
Entering Clinton Harbor is straightforward, as long as you follow the buoys closely and stay well inside the channel. The outer harbor is shallow, but the channel leading in is well marked. When entering the channel, give gong “3” a wide berth, as it marks Wheeler Rock, which is covered by only about a foot of water at low tide. Just north of the gong, the dredged channel begins to round Cedar Island. Watch for the bend marked by GC “9” and RN “8” (not shown on charts, because they are frequently moved as the channel shifts).
- Town Dock (860-669-7475): The Town of Clinton maintains several transient slips, available on a first-come, first-served basis, just west of Port Clinton Marina. Call the dockmaster for information.
- Cedar Island Marina (860-669-8681): Large, full-service “resort” marina on the harbor opposite Cedar Island. Offers transient slips, fuel, pool, playground, children’s activities, bocce court, restaurant, bait-and-tackle shop, free shuttle to town and weekend entertainment.
- Port Clinton Marina (860-669-4563): On the harbor next to town ramp and dock. Offers transient slips, floating docks, restrooms, water, electricity and on-site engine and hull repair/service.
- Old Harbor Marina (860-669-3500): At the eastern end of the harbor. Offers transient slips, water, electrical hook-up, rigging service, and on-site engine and hull repair and service. Also has picnic facilities and restrooms.
- Harborside Marina (860-669-1705): Dockage, service and on-site restaurant.
- Indian River Marina (860-664-3704): Small boat marina offering slips, storage, launch ramp and kayak/SUP rental.
- A federal anchorage with good holding ground is located just west of Port Clinton Marina. Dinghies can be left at the Town Dock, but check in with the harbormaster first.
- A town launch ramp is located adjacent to the town dock, and is accessible on all tide stages. Daily fee for non-residents. Overnight parking available.
- The nearest state launch ramp is the East River ramp in Guilford, west of Clinton. This concrete ramp has 25 parking spaces and a toilet.
- A municipal sand launch ramp for kayaks and cartop boats is located on Hammonsassett Beach in Madison.
- You can rent kayaks and SUPs at the Indian River Marina (860-664-3704). The marina also supplies a laminated map indicating a variety of paddling options in the area.
- Essex Taxi (860-767-7433)
- Aqua Restaurant (860-664-3788): Located at Cedar Island Marina, offers good seafood and harbor views.
- Lobster Landing (860-669-2005): Vies for the title of “absolute best lobster roll” this side of Maine.
- In town, be sure to savor the coffee and crepes at M. Sarba Fine Art Café (860-669-5062) at 95 East Main St.
- If you’re looking for a sports pub atmosphere, Chips’ Pub III (860-669-3463) at 24 West Main can’t be beat.
- Cedar Island Marina (860-669-8681): With a pool, playground and party atmosphere at Cedar Island Marina, there’s no need to leave the boat unless you like being pampered with comfy beds, great food and conviviality.
- 3 Liberty Green Bed & Breakfast (860-669-0111): Liberty Green Bed-and-Breakfast is one such renovated Colonial home. Built in 1734, the home is situated on the triangle of grass that was once a Revolutionary War muster field. During the War of 1812, residents of Clinton thwarted British raids on the harbor, and a Navy cannon remains on the green as a reminder.
- It’s just a short walk from Cedar Island Marina to the Indian River Marina (860-664-3704), where you can rent kayaks and paddleboards by the hour or day to explore the local rivers, wetlands and shoreline and get as close as possible to the area’s abundant wildlife.
- In town, stop first at the Clinton Visitor’s Information Center (49 East Main St.) in the 1630 House, which sits in front of the town’s fire station.
- The Clinton Historical Society (860-669-2148): Located at 103 East Main St., the historical society maintains several historic properties in town, including the 1750 “Brick House” and collections in several public buildings.
- Chamard Vineyards (860-664-0299): Located 115 Cow Hill Road, Chamard Vineyards offers tours of the winery, which produces an award-winning chardonnay.
- Clinton Crossing Premium Outlet Center (860-664-0700): Shop at Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Michael Kors among 70 other high-end retailers.
- Downtown Clinton is also a cornucopia of antiques shops, including the Clinton Antique Center (860-669-3839), as well as other small shops and boutiques.