September 24, 2018
Time Out in Tiverton
Steeped in New England history, this quiet Rhode Island town offers boaters an inviting stopover as they cruise the waters of the Sakonnet River and Mount Hope Bay. Photos by Andrea Zimmerman
As one of Rhode Island’s more out-of-the-way ports, Tiverton doesn’t get a lot of attention from visiting boaters. Yet while this quiet, no-frills town on the banks of the Sakonnet River and Mount Hope Bay may be off the beaten cruising path, it’s worth exploring by water, especially if you like to get away from New England’s busier spots.
Tiverton lacks public docks, but boaters can find a home and access to the waterfront at Standish Boat Yard, marked by a large rooftop sign. The largest marina in town, Standish has space for transients, who can fuel up and have access to showers and pump out. It also offers full repair and brokerage services.
Further north is the Tiverton Yacht Club, which has slips and moorings for members of reciprocal yacht clubs. After a fire destroyed the clubhouse in 2003, followed by a lengthy court battle with neighbors, a new club headquarters was finally constructed. Transient moorings can often be arranged via the club.
CHANGES IN THE BASIN
Speaking of new construction, Tiverton’s harbor has been a pretty busy place lately, with the building of the new Sakonnet River Bridge and renovation of the boat launch below. The new launch features an asphalt ramp and tie-up float, although it can be tricky to use due to the strong current. It offers fast access to Mount Hope Bay, Upper Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River.
At the opposite end of the harbor, the venerable Stone Bridge piers guarding the southern entrance have taken a beating. The remains of this 1907 bridge act as a buffer to the Boat Basin, but have been deteriorating for some time. Local boaters have long been concerned that further erosion will threaten the boats currently moored in the basin, but repairs are finally being made.
While Tiverton doesn’t have many shops or boutiques along the waterfront, it does boast several restaurants. Many embrace the farm-to-table movement, providing a truly local flavor.
Case in point is the highly rated Red Dory, a casual fine-dining establishment that features lovely views of the Sakonnet River. It offers a raw bar, fresh local seafood, plus some more unusual dishes such as Spanish octopus and skate wing.
If you seek a great cup of coffee, drop by Coastal Roasters, right on the water. The café and retail shop has a full espresso bar, waterfront patio, local pastries and artwork for sale. Further north is the Boat House, another great spot to enjoy local flavors and watch the sun set over Mount Hope Bay. The restaurant has its own dock where you can tie up while you enjoy cocktails on the deck and a variety of seafood and pasta dishes, including gluten- free and vegetarian options.
While the Boat Basin serves as headquarters to most of Tiverton’s waterfront activities, there are other spots worth checking out. Tidal Nanaquacket Pond, accessible from the Sakonnet via a narrow channel, is a wonderful place to explore by small boat, kayak or SUP, perhaps do some fishing then pull up for lunch at the popular Evelyn’s Drive-In or the Black Goose Café, both on the banks of the pond. (Note: to access the pond you must pass below a small bridge with a vertical clearance of 12 feet.)
A bit farther south on the Sakonnet River is Fogland Beach, a rocky point and park that shelters a small cove. Many boaters anchor there for the weekend, as It’s protected from winds out of the south. Fogland is also a good spot to launch a kayak or SUP, and is popular among windsurfers and kite-boarders.
If you find yourself driving or biking around Tiverton, be sure to spend an afternoon at Tiverton Four Corners, the historic district in the southern part of town. It’s home to small shops offering antiques, fine art and gifts, set amid 18th century buildings spread out over a half-mile. Don’t miss Gray’s Ice Cream, which has been churning out unique, homemade flavors like ginger, rum raisin, grapenut and frozen pudding, along with more traditional favorites, for 90-plus years. It’s the kind of establishment that typifies Tiverton—a quiet escape where boaters can catch their breath before the next big adventure
Tiverton At a Glance
DOCKAGE, MOORINGS & SERVICE
STANDISH BOAT YARD (401) 624-4075
Full-service yard with slips and moorings for transients. Offers fuel, showers, pump-out, repair, service and a marine store.
Offers moorings and slips to members of reciprocating clubs.
DON’S MARINE (401) 624-3465
Full-service repair and sales facility on Nanaquacket Pond.
PIRATE COVE MARINA (401) 683-3030
Indoor and year-round storage, 40-ton TraveLift, repair services and yacht sales.
Concrete-slab ramp off Fogland Road/Three Rod Way. Access for kayaks, paddleboards or windsurfers. Fee charged for non-resident parking.
SAKONNET RIVER BRIDGE LAUNCH
Free ramp below the Rte. 24 bridge, off Riverside Drive. This recently renovated but narrow launch can accommodate trailers and offers a handicapped-accessible fishing pier.
SEAPOWET MARSH & POINT FISHING AREA
Gravel boat launch south of the bridge on Seapowet Avenue for hand-carried craft. Parking area is north of the bridge. Fee is charged for parking in summer.
Kayakers can launch at this beach on the Sakonnet River at Main Road and Lawton Avenue.
WHERE TO EAT
EVELYN’S DRIVE-IN (401) 624-3100
Dock-and-dine eatery on Nanaquacket Pond. Serves Rhode Island chowder, clam cakes, lobster rolls, lobster chow mein, plus favorites like burgers, chicken pie and chicken tenders. Indoor and outdoor seating or take-out.
BLACK GOOSE CAFÉ (401) 816-0882
Espresso bar and frozen drinks, breakfast served all day, sandwiches, wraps and paninis.
RED DORY (401) 816-5000
Mediterranean-inspired food, including octopus and skate, plus an extensive raw bar. Also serves chicken, beef and pasta dishes.
THE BOAT HOUSE (401) 624-6300
Local fare prepared in a beautiful setting on the water. Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Speciality cocktails, seafood, raw bar, steaks and sandwiches. Dockage available for boating patrons.
COASTAL ROASTERS (401) 624-2343
Cafe and retail shop with full espresso bar, waterfront patio, local pastries and artwork for sale.
FOUR CORNERS GRILLE (401) 624-1510
Popular restaurant featuring local produce, seafood and wines. Also serves steaks, burgers and sandwiches.
PETER’S ATTIC ANTIQUES II (401) 625-5912
Antiques, country tables and other furniture, plus garden ornaments.
SAKONNET COLLECTIVE (401) 484-8141
Fine furniture, sculptures, mixed media, ceramics, and jewelry by resident artists. Also hosts work of visiting artists.
Gallery featuring local and regional artists with paintings, decorative items, glassware, soaps and jewelry.
TIFFANY PEAY JEWELRY & GALLERY (888) 808-0201
Fine handmade gemstone and pearl jewelry by renowned artist Tiffany Peay.
MILK & HONEY BAZAAR (401) 624-1974
Specialty food market with over 100 varieties of cheese, plus olive oil, vinegar, mustard and jelly.
THINGS TO SEE & DO
FORT BARTON REVOLUTIONARY WAR REDOUBT & WOODS
Original earthern mounds of a Revolutionary War redoubt offering views of the Sakonnet River area from an observation tower. Hike on marked trails in the 82-acre Barton Woods.
TIVERTON FOUR CORNERS
Center for arts, crafts and gardening shops and home to a historic Meeting House. Also hosts several arts and gardening festivals throughout the year.
SAKONNET FARM (401) 624-4004
Farmers’ market, educational programs and accommodations in a remodeled schoolhouse and Colonial home.
CHASE-COREY HOUSE (401) 624-3358
Historic, gambrel-roofed Colonial building owned by the Tiverton Historical Society. Hosts special exhibits throughout the season. Open Sundays, May to September, and by appointment.