Haven on the Harbor: Quincy, MA

The historic and happening port of Quincy, Massachusetts, provides boaters with a wide variety of marinas, shops and restaurants, all within a stone’s throw of downtown Boston and the Harbor Islands National Park.


By Rob Duca | Photos by Tom Richardson, Eric B. Akdemir and Josh Kuchinsky

Marina Bay boaters are treated to spectacular views of the Boston skyline as the sun sinks low.

The city of Quincy is well known for its history, but its boating scene deserves equal billing. Its 27 miles of coastline comprises beaches, rivers, islands and protected coves that are ideal for watersports, fishing, swimming, picnics and whiling away a summer afternoon. Perhaps best of all, Quincy’s location puts mariners within easy striking distance of the fabulous Boston Harbor Islands National Park and its many sites and diversions, including historic Fort Warren.

The birthplace of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Quincy is proudly called “The City of Presidents.” It was also home to the country’s first commercial railroad, constructed in 1826 and known as the “Granite Railway.” Blocks of rock hewn from Quincy quarries were transported via rail to the harbor and shipped to different parts of the coast, including nearby Charlestown, where Quincy granite was used in the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument.

The Vietnam Memorial Clock Tower makes a convenient landmark for boaters bound for Marina Bay, near the Neponset River mouth.

Shipbuilding Roots

Quincy’s second major industry was shipbuilding. Thomas Watson of telephone fame established the famous Fore River Shipyard, which launched the U.S.S. Lexington aircraft carrier, the battleships Massachusetts and Nevada, and several submarines.

While ships are no longer built on the Fore River, Quincy still sees plenty of maritime traffic, albeit mostly of the recreational kind. And boaters who call on Quincy won’t lack for things to do once they dock. The city itself has numerous waterfront restaurants, shops, historic sites, museums and other attractions, all of it on the doorstep of one of the busiest harbors on the East Coast.

The Harbor Islands and surrounding waters serve as a natural playground for Quincy-based boaters.

Play at Marina Bay

As the largest full-service marine facility in New England, Safe Harbor Marina Bay is the focal point of Quincy’s waterfront scene, drawing sailors, anglers and cruisers from all along the Eastern seaboard. Located on Dorchester Bay, just east of Neponset River and the former Squantum Naval Air Station (now a scenic park), the 686-slip marina is only seven miles south of downtown Boston and minutes from Boston Harbor, making it a convenient stop for local boaters and transients who want to sample urban boating at its best.

The wooden boardwalk surrounding the well-protected dock basin provides a perfect pathway for exploring the many businesses that occupy the Marina Bay complex. There are three on-site restaurants, eight indoor/outdoor bars and a nightclub, plus a convenience store, a gift shop, a dry-cleaning service, an ice-cream stop, a deli and more. Most establishments offer dockage, so you can be enjoying dinner and drinks under the stars just moments after tying up.

The Marina Bay boardwalk is lined with many restaurants and shops.

Dining Options Abound

Among the outstanding restaurants at Marina Bay are WaterClub, Victory Point, and Summer House, all of which offer harborside venues that make them ideal for hosting special events. Siro’s &Blue, also with outdoor seating on the boardwalk, is known for pasta, grilled tenderloins, fresh seafood and spectacular sunset views. Skyline, a more casual spot, hosts live entertainment, including stand-up comedy. After dinner, diners can head over to Cream and Sugar for an ice cream.

You don’t even need to own a boat to enjoy the water at Marina Bay. The marina is home to a Freedom Boat Club franchise, which offers members the use of several different models, from center consoles to pontoon boats.

Several boating facilities are located on Quincys protected Town River.

On the Town River

The other half of the Quincy boating equation lies east of Houghs Neck, on the protected Town River. At the mouth of the river is the full-service Bay Pointe Marina, which offers 300 slips and a fuel dock. It’s also home to the Inn at Bay Pointe’s restaurant and lounge, making this one of the Boston area’s few dock-and-dine options.

Just upriver is the smaller Town River Marina, a family-owned facility with slips, mooring rentals and a launch ramp.

Next to that is Captain’s Cove Marina, with slips that can accommodate deep-draft vessels up to 80 feet. Each slip has water and power, while the grounds feature a shaded picnic area, grills, showers, bathrooms and WiFi access. It’s also pet-friendly.

If you’re a trailerboater, Quincy’s Houghs Neck Maritime Center on Sea Street has a free, double-lane launch ramp with excellent tie-up floats and parking for 20 rigs. The location gives boaters and paddlers direct access to the southern part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park.

The Inn at Bay Pointe offers dockage to diners on the Town River.

Islands of Fun

The park represents a vast, aquatic playground for local boaters. Peddocks, Lovells, Bumpkin and Grape islands all offer camping, and have sturdy docks for the loading and unloading of passengers only. Boaters can drop anchor or grab one of the free moorings then wade, swim, dinghy or kayak to the beaches on almost all of the islands. Some of the larger islands even provide dinghies.

Approximately 25 public moorings have been installed throughout the islands, including 12 off Spectacle that can be reserved for a fee via the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Spectacle even features a public marina with slips, plus a visitor’s center and walking trails. The views of Boston from here are spectacular, especially at dusk.

The other park moorings (look for the blue BHI buoys) are free for the taking on a first-come, first-served basis. There are two off both Georges and Gallops islands, and nine in Portuguese Cove off Peddocks. More moorings are available off Thompsons Island, home to an Outward Bound center.

Aside from the Harbor Islands, Quincy boaters also have ready access to the neighboring towns of Hingham and Hull, not to mention downtown Boston. If you have a larger vessel, trips to Provincetown, as well as towns on the North Shore and South Shore, are within easy daytrip range. And if you like to fish, the harbor offers outstanding action with winter flounder, striped bass and bluefish.

So whether you want to wet a line, take a walk through history, picnic on an island beach, relax at a harborside restaurant or tour the great city of Boston, Quincy makes the perfect destination.

Quincy at a Glance

Harbormaster

(617) 376-1219; VHF 9

Dockage, Moorings & Service

Safe Harbor Marina Bay (617) 847 1800
Full-service facility on Dorchester Bay with 686 seasonal and 25 transient slips. Also offers fuel, repairs, ice, water, electric, laundry, restrooms with showers, pump-out and immediate access to a complex of shops and restaurants.

Bay Pointe Marina (617) 471-1777
On the Town River, this large, full-service MarineMax facility has fuel, haul-out, repair, WiFi and transient slips.

Captain’s Cove Marina (617) 479-2440
Deep-water marina on the Town River. Can accommodate vessels up to 80 feet. Water, power, fuel, picnic area, grills for barbeques, showers, bathrooms and WiFi access. Pet-friendly.

Town River Marina (617) 745-9813
Moorings and slips on the protected Town River.

Anchorage

Boaters can often find room to anchor just outside the Marina Bay breakwater and the main channel, in eight to 12 feet of water. However, this area is exposed to northerly winds and boat wakes. A smaller but more protected anchorage can be found off Savin Hill’s Fox Point in eight feet of water.

Launch Ramp

Houghs Neck features a good free launch facility with an all-tide ramp, tie-up floats, and parking.

Where to Eat

WaterClub
Fun, lively club, bar and restaurant outdoor seating and indoor dancing at Marina Bay with. Also has a roof deck.

Victory Point

Siro’s & Blue
Upscale dining on the boardwalk at Marina Bay. Menu features a variety of creative seafood, steak and chicken dishes, pasta, salads and appetizers. Awesome views of the Boston skyline.

Bay Pointe
Dock-and-dine restaurant and bar with great views at Bay Pointe Marina on the Town River.

Things to See & Do

Boston Harbor Islands National Park
(617) 223-8666;
Unique National and State park with 12 diverse islands and peninsulas for exploring. There are 1,600 acres and 35 miles of undeveloped ocean shoreline on the islands. Some islands offer campsites and yurts, and Spectacle Island has a public marina.

U.S. Naval Shipbuilding Museum (617) 479-7900
The USNSM is home to the USS Salem, the world’s only preserved heavy cruiser. The museum is located in the former Quincy Fore River Shipyard.

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