NEBO TV Report from the Field: Boston Harbor, MA

The Boston Harbor Islands National Park represents a unique public resource, especially among recreational boaters. This network of 34 islands, plus a stunning peninsula, is particularly remarkable when you consider that it exists within a heavily populated urban area. Yet it remains somewhat of a hidden gem, despite the efforts made by officials to get more people out to the islands.

boston horizonThe New England Boating crew endeavored to change that by showcasing the Harbor Islands last week, starting with a camping trip on Bumpkin Island in Hingham Bay. Bumpkin is a small, wooded island that once served as home to a hospital, a World War I POW camp and a Navy base, but is now open to boaters seeking a unique urban camping experience.

On the night of our stay, we literally had the island to ourselves, save for a horde of wild turkeys and a few deer. It was quite an experience, as you’ll see. The next morning, we met with Tim Getchell and Greg Jones of the Massachusetts Division of Conservation & Recreation, one of several state and federal agencies that manage the park system. Getchell and Jones provided a MassParks workboat to serve as a camera boat as NEBO made several stops in the harbor, starting with Peddocks Island.

Peddocks is home to another campground, this one featuring several well-appointed yurts, as well as open sites. Peddocks also features great swimming beaches and scenic overlooks, as well as the ruins of a former Italian POW camp, Navy barracks and long-range mortar bunkers.

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Next up was a stop at Georges Island, home of Fort Warren. Built in the mid-1800s, the fort is well camouflaged from the water, belying its sprawling interior. NEBO’s Tom Richardson and Parker Kelley got a brief tour of the fort, including a ghost story involving the mysterious “Lady in Black,” who is said to roam the ramparts after dark.

After departing Georges, the team headed to Spectacle Island, which serves as the centerpiece of the Harbor Islands system. Built on a former city dump, Spectacle is home to a public marina that is currently being repaired. When the marina re-opens in 2017, boaters will be able to rent a slip or mooring, from where they can launch expeditions to the outlying waters. Spectacle is also home to a visitor’s center, walking trails and a swimming beach.

DSC_1233Island hopping can spawn a powerful appetite, so the NEBO crew set a course for downtown Boston and one of its few dock-and-dine eateries: the Barking Crab. This awesome restaurant on the Fort Point Channel is known for its fun, festive atmosphere and great seafood, and the crew enjoyed a smorgasboard of menu items ranging from lobster rolls to crab cakes, served on the open-air deck fronting the water.

Re-energized, the crew headed back into the harbor, pausing to get some footage of the planes landing at Logan before heading to Little Brewster Island and the famous Boston Light. Waiting to greet us was lightkeeper Sally Snowman, who led Tom and Parker on a tour of the grounds and the lighthouse, which is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year. The highlight was climbing the tower for an amazing view of the harbor, the Boston skyline and the open Atlantic.

You can catch all the island fun when the Boston Harbor episode airs this fall on NESN. Stay tuned to NewEnglandBoating.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on show times and dates.

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