Report from the Field: Bristol, RI

Gene Allen films Tom interviewing Bristol Marine waterfront director Mike McKenna
Gene Allen films Tom interviewing Bristol Marine Waterfront Director Mike McKenna.

On Monday, the New England Boating TV crew wrapped up its busy 2-day shoot in the boater-friendly town of Bristol, Rhode Island. Co-host Parker Kelley, videographer/director Gene Allen and intern Nick Vaillancourt (running second camera) kicked things off on Sunday by visiting Hog Island with local boater Chuck Millard and his grandkids Nick, Charlotte, Caroline and Maggie, who showed Parker how to dig for quahogs on the flats.

Parker goes clamming on Hog Island.
Co-host Parker Kelley goes clamming on Hog Island.

Later, Parker took a sailing trip with Captain Jim Lengel out of the Bristol Yacht Club. The crew sailed aboard Lengel’s 38’ yawl Top Cat, which he races, charters ( and uses to teach sailing lessons. Paul Sanroma was also aboard and ran the mizzen for a sunset tour of the harbor.

I joined the crew on Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. at Striper Marina in nearby Barrington. Striper Marina was the participating local Pursuit dealer for this episode, and owner Al Elson couldn’t have been more accommodating. He provided us with a C 260 Center Console and a C 310 to use as a camera boat, and we put both to good use on a fishing trip with local guide Brian Patterson of Patterson Guide Service. We started by running south to gather some live bunker off Prudence Island then headed to one of Patterson’s personal hot spots. We found the fish in short order, and our first striper was a fat 27-pounder—caught by Parker, of course! I succeeded in landing a smaller fish a bit later, and Parker landed a third that also topped 20 pounds.

Capt. Brian Patterson and Parker with Parker's big striper
Capt. Brian Patterson and Co-host Parker Kelley with Parker’s big striper.

With the fishing taken care of, we headed for our rendezvous with the folks at the Herreshoff Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame. The museum has a long pier and float where visitors can tie up while visiting (hail them on VHF 68 prior to arrival), making it a convenient stop. Once inside the museum, I met and interviewed Herreshofff Museum CEO Dyer Jones, who showed us some of the beautifully restored wooden boats, half models and other items on display. It provided a fascinating glimpse into the genius of Nathanael Greene Herreshoff.

Exquisite boats at the Herreshoff Museum
Exquisite boats at the Herreshoff Museum.

Next on the docket was a dock-and-dine segment at the nearby Waterside Grill & Bar at the Thames Street Landing overlooking the harbor. Boaters can tie up at the Landing’s dock for 3 hours, space permitting, while they go ashore. We enjoyed our meal at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables as the southwest breeze began to freshen.

With our hunger sated, we jumped back in the Pursuit and headed over to the Harbormaster’s Office. Recently appointed harbormaster Greg Marsili climbed aboard and showed us some of the harbor’s transient-friendly accommodations, such as the town moorings ($40 per night), the free dinghy dock behind the fire station, and the long float in front of the town docks where boaters can tie up for a few hours or overnight (the fee payable through the harbormaster’s office). We also learned that Bristol has no less than 4 public launch ramps with free parking!

Al Elson maneuvers the Pursuit C 310 photo boat during the fishing segment
Al Elson of Striper Marina maneuvers the Pursuit C 310 photo boat during the fishing segment.

After dropping off Marsili we took the Pursuit across the harbor to Bristol Marine, the only full-service marina in Bristol. We spoke with longtime Waterfront Director Mike McKenna, who gave us the scoop on the marina’s amenities, including its transient moorings and slips.

By now the sun was starting to get low, so we pulled stakes and headed full-speed back to Striper Marina. So, another episode’s in the can, so to speak, and it should be a great one! Look for it to air this fall on NESN. We’ll keep you posted on dates and times.