A thriving commercial fishing village from the late 1600s through the 1970s, Menemsha still hosts a small working fleet of commercial boats. It also serves as the home to Coast Guard Station Menemsha, which suffered a major fire in 2010 that destroyed the historic boathouse and adjacent pier. Both have since since been replaced.
Menemsha was once famous for its landings of harpoon-caught swordfish, which could be found in relative abundance in the nearshore waters off Martha’s Vineyard. A large, bronze statue near the harbor entrance commemorates the harpoon swordfishery and its fishermen.
Today, Menemsha still exudes a quiet, laidback atmosphere. It’s the perfect place for independent, nature-loving boaters seeking escape from the crowds. Protected Menemsha Pond, accessible via Menemsha Creek, is a wonderful spot to explore in a kayak or dinghy. Do not try to access the pond in any vessel drawing more than three feet, however, as the creek is extremely shallow.
The harbor basin is confined, yet can accommodate surprisingly large commercial vessels. Anchoring inside the basin is prohibited, but the town reserves 16 slips and 2 guest moorings for transient vessels up to 40 feet, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Boaters may sometimes be asked to raft.
Good holding ground and more public moorings are available for larger vessels outside the harbor in Menemsha Bight. This area is exposed to winds from the north and west, but makes an ideal location during prevailing summer southwesterlies. Beachgoers can dinghy, swim or wade ashore and enjoy the wonderful beaches east and west of the inlet.
As mentioned, the delights of Menemsha are mostly of the laidback kind. Boaters may be able to arrange short-term tie-up along Dutcher Dock or the bulkhead near the fuel dock (check with the harbormaster first) and enjoy a cup of chowder, steamers, clam cakes or a lobster roll at Larsen’s Fish Market, or some grilled fare, fries and ice cream at The Bite or the Menemsha Galley. A short stroll brings you to several interesting shops and boutiques, including Menemsha Blues, Pandora’s Box and Copperworks. If you need provisions, the Menemsha Market carries basic groceries in-season.