Point Judith is commonly considered a stopover for transient boaters heading to more glamorous ports along the coast or as a jumping-off point for trips to Block Island, some 12 miles south. However, the curious boater who chooses to spend some time here will find a few good reasons to stick around.
Point Jude is really 3 ports rolled into one. Galilee, on the east side of the pond, is a long-established commercial port, home to huge draggers, lobsterboats,
the Block Island ferry and a large fleet of party- and charterboats. On the other side of the pond is Snug Harbor, where you’ll find several marinas that serve as headquarters for the area’s numerous recreational fishermen and boaters. Lastly, there’s the handful of marinas and yacht clubs on the Upper Pond, in the town of Wakefield.
Point Judith Pond itself is a 1,777-acre, 3 1/2-mile-long estuary where fresh water from the Saugatuckett River blends with salt water from the ocean. The result is a marvelously rich ecosystem that serves as home and nursery for an enormous array of marine life, from seaworms and mummichogs to quahogs and winter flounder. Many species of waterfowl depend on the pond, as well, and the expansive marshes on its eastern edge are a popular spot for birdwatching, especially during the spring and fall migration periods.
The pond is a maze of shallow bars and narrow channels best explored in a small boat, canoe or kayak, although a deep channel leads 3 miles to the very northern end of the pond. The shallow area north of Plato Island in the center of the pond is a haven for adventurers, with plenty of room to drop anchor or beach canoes, skiffs, small sailboats and kayaks. It would be easy to spend a full weekend relaxing in the pond’s warm, protected coves—swimming, fishing, boating, quahogging or all of the above. Just be sure to stay clear of the oyster farms, which are marked by yellow floats.
The breachway has existed since the last ice age…
The popular transient anchorage north of Plato is marked by white floats. To access the anchorage, follow the channel until you are just north of Plato Island (don’t take the shortcut, or you’ll hit a mudflat), then cut across to the anchorage between Plato and Gardner Islands. At dead low tide, the water is only 4′ deep between the channel and the 7′ anchorage, so deeper-draft boats should run north of the islands and cut into the anchorage between Gardner and Beach Islands.
Boaters can access the pond through via several launch ramps or through the busy inlet, also known as the breachway. The 15′-deep, 150′-wide breachway is the environmental and commercial lifeblood of Point Judith. It can also be a chaotic place, especially during the summer when it’s plied by hundreds of vessels each day.
The breachway has existed since the last ice age, although the natural inlet was widened and reinforced with riprap in the early 1900s to accommodate the increasing number of fishing vessels in Galilee. In the mid-’30s, a nearly 3-mile-long, semicircular breakwater made of granite boulders was constructed to create a harbor of refuge for commercial traffic between New York and Boston—although by the time it was finished so was the heyday of coastal shipping. Nevertheless, the breakwater wasn’t a complete waste of time and money, as it does a fine job of protecting the breachway, Salty Brine and Roger Wheeler Beaches, and the cottage community of Breakwater Village to the east from the full force of the sea, as well as providing an excellent anchorage for transient boaters stopping in Point Judith.