Mattapoisett holds a special place in my heart, as it happens to be where I live. If you’re a boater, you couldn’t ask for a saltier location. It seems as if every other person in town is either a lifelong boater or involved in the marine industry in some fashion. Sometimes it’s a bit of both. Text & Photos by Tom Richardson
Mattapoisett’s nautical roots run deep, as the town was a major shipbuilding center in the 1800’s. The last whaling bark to sail out of New Bedford, the Wanderer, was built in Mattapoisett by Holmes Shipyard in 1878. She wrecked off Cuttyhunk in 1924.
In more recent times, Mattapoisett served as home to Brownell Boatworks, Dexter Boats, and Edey & Duff (all gone now). Other homegrown marine businesses continue to thrive here, including Triad Boatworks, the Mattapoisett Yacht Club, the Mattapoisett Boatyard, Peinert Boatworks, Brownell Systems, The Wooden Tangent, and, of course, New England Boating.
This little town on the western shore of Buzzards Bay boasts a natural harbor that’s well protected from winds out of the southwest, west, and north (easterly winds are another matter). It features a series of grand stone wharves dating back to the 1800s, with pump-out, visitor tie-up, and a dinghy dock, as well as a double-wide launch ramp that offers good access to boats of all sizes throughout the tide.
A good anchorage can be found in the shelter of Mattapoisett Neck, but boaters who want a mooring can call Triad Boatworks, which offers several moorings free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. The Mattapoisett Boatyard also offers transient moorings (for a fee), as well as fuel and service on the eastern side of the harbor. Their launch can give you a ride to the wharf, but it’s a short and pleasant walk into town.
Ashore you’ll find a quaint, classic New England “village” peppered with Victorian ship captains’ homes; a well-groomed waterfront park where concerts, dances and other events are held during summer; an ice-cream/snack stand (the Seaport Slip) and the tidy, well-staffed harbormaster’s office. Just across the street from the harbor is the Inn at Shipyard Park—the oldest seaside tavern still operating in its original structure—for a drink or some good food. The Inn has live music throughout the year, and offers guest rooms, as well. A few doors down, you can also book a room at the cozy and comfortable Mattapoisett Inn.
A short walk will bring you to the commercial center of town, home to the Walrus & Captain restaurant and a gift shop at the Rope Walk Plaza, across from the fire station and Post Office. Next door is the large and ornate Ying Dynasty restaurant, which serves Chinese and American fare. You’ll find local favorite Nick’s Pizza on the other side of Rte. 6.
Kayakers will also find plenty to love about Mattapoisett. You can launch at several spots along the Mattapoisett shoreline to explore the inshore waters. The Mattapoisett River, which enters the harbor on its western side, winds north for a half-mile before ending at Rte. 6. Other terrific kayaking spots can be found outside the harbor, such as Pine Island and Aucoot Cove, the latter on the Marion/Mattapoisett border.