BoatingLocal paid a visit to Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, in summer 2011 and shot the accompanying video of this boater-friendly town on the western shore of Buzzards Bay. Mattapoisett appeals to boaters of all stripes, from fishermen and sailors to cruisers and paddlers. It’s a great jumping-off spot for trips all around Buzzards Bay or to the islands, and boasts a well-protected harbor with good boating amenities and services, including a free launch ramp and dinghy dock. The inshore waters are great for kayaking, and windsurfers and kiteboarders can take advantage of Buzzards Bay’s predictable southwesterlies.

You can learn even more about boating in and around Mattapoisett, including where to stay, where to eat, things to do and see, where to fish, best places to launch and kayak, and much more by reading our destination feature on the port, which starts below.

View of Mattapoisett Harbor looking southeast toward Mattapoisett Neck. Photo by Tom Richardson

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 way. Sometimes it’s both.

Mattapoisett’s nautical roots run deep, as the town was a major shipbuilding center in the 1800s. The last whaling bark to sail out of New Bedford, the Wanderer, was built in Mattapoisett by Holmes Shipyard, in 1878. She wrecked off the Elizabeth Islands in 1924.

SAT map

In the more recent past, Mattapoisett has served as home to Brownell Boatworks, Dexter Boats and Edey & Duff (all now defunct). Other homegrown marine businesses continue to thrive here, including Triad Boatworks, the Mattapoisett Yacht Club, Mattapoisett Boatyard, Peinert Boatworks, Brownell Systems, The Wooden Tangent and, of course, BoatingLocal.

This scenic 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 pumpout, free 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.

Chuck and Candy Cederberg's "Occam's Razor" lies alongside the family dock on Aucoot Cove. Photo by Tom Richardson

A good anchorage can be found in the shelter of Mattapoisett Neck, in Molly’s Cove, but boaters who want a mooring can call Triad Boatworks, which offers 5 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 not a far walk into town from the marina.

Immediately 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 well-staffed harbormasters office. Stop in at the Inn at Shipyard Park (formerly the Mattapoisett Inn and the oldest seaside tavern still operating in its original structure) to wet your whistle or enjoy some good food. The restaurant/pub has live music throughout the year. Next door, you can book a room at the cozy and comfortable Mattapoisett Inn.

The cozy Mattapoisett Inn offers the weary mariner a comfortable place to rest his sea legs. Photo by Tom Richardson

A short walk will bring you to the commercial “center” of town, home to Panino’s restaurant (a great spot for breakfast, lunch and prepared meals to take with you on the boat) at the Rope Walk Plaza, across from the fire station and post office. The Rope Walk also comprises a gift shop/boutique, a toy store and a clothing store. A great rainy-day option is Bowlmor Lanes, a throwback bowling alley from the 1950s featuring mini duckpins and candlepin-size balls, but call ahead for their hours. Next door to the Bolmor is the large and ornate Ying Dynasty restaurant, which serves Chinese fare. You’ll find Nick’s Pizza on the other side of Rte. 6.

Much of Mattapoisett is a kayaker's paradise. Photo by Tom Richardson

Kayakers will also find plenty to love about Mattapoisett. You can launch at several spots along the Mattapoisett shoreline to explore the local waters. The Mattapoisett River, which enters the harbor on its western side, winds north for a half-mile before ending at Rte. 6. You can beach a dinghy or kayak here and walk across the road to the South Coast Local restaurant or the Mattapoisett Chowder House.

Yet another option for paddlers is Brant Island Cove, on the western side of Mattapoisett Neck. The cove comprises a shallow, expansive marsh system that’s home to numerous species of shorebirds and waterfowl. You can launch from the Mattapoisett Land Trust property at the end of Mattapoisett Neck Rd., although you’ll have to portage your kayak 1/4 mile to the beach. Lastly, freshwater paddlers can launch at the small park at the junction of River Street and Rte. 6 to explore the upper reaches of the scenic but shallow Mattapoisett River, which winds for 11 miles into neighboring Rochester.

Live bands perform at Harbor Days, held at Shipyard Park each July. Photo by Tom Richardson

Local artists and artisans display their handiwork at Harbor Days. Photo by Tom Richardson

Jonathan Craig prepares to launch a canoe from the shores of Aucoot Cove. Photo by Tom Richardson

Summer fog hangs heavy in Mattapoisett Harbor. Photo by Tom Richardson

South Coast Local is one of the many local eateries, and is a short walk from the Mattapoisett River. Photo by Tom Richardson