Duxbury Bay

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Welcome to Duxbury Bay

Gurnet Light marks the gateway to Duxbury and Plymouth Bays.
Photos by Tom Richardson

LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 32 NAUTICAL MILES SOUTH OF BOSTON, THE SHALLOW, PROTECTED WATERS OF DUXBURY BAY SERVE AS AN AQUATIC PLAYGROUND FOR ALL TYPES OF BOATERS. FROM MARSH-LINED CREEKS TO EXPANSIVE SAND FLATS TO SURF-POUNDED BEACHES, DUXBURY OFFERS A BIT OF EVERYTHING. HOWEVER, BE SURE TO STUDY A CHART OF THE AREA AND PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE CHANNEL BUOYS, OR YOU MAY END UP SPENDING MORE TIME ON THE SAND THAN YOU PLANNED.

Chart: Duxbury, MA

SAT map

If trailering or cartopping, you can access the bay at several spots, including the Duxbury town landing, in the northwest corner of the bay; Howland’s Landing (on Kingston Bay); and the Kingston town landing near the mouth of the Jones River (see “Names & Numbers”for more detail). Be aware that these are small ramps with limited parking.

The best place for non-residents to launch is the state ramp in Plymouth Bay, which can accommodate boats up to 35’ and has lots of parking. See Names & Numbers for more details on area launch spots for both trailer boats and kayaks.

Read the story Duxbury Bay
Fishing Information

If arriving by water, you can overnight on one of the town moorings, or rent a slip or mooring at Bayside Marine. Anchoring is also possible in certain areas. Launch service is available via VHF 9 and 10. Again, see “Names & Numbers” for more details on transient options.

Be aware that while Duxbury offers several good restaurants, shops and B&Bs in its pretty waterfront district, the town dock has a 30 minute tie-up limit. In other words, if you simply want to go ashore for a few hours to grab an ice cream, a meal or simply stretch your legs and see the town, you’ll need to arrange for a mooring and launch service.

Iconic Bug Light recently received a much-needed facelift.

Of course, Duxbury’s aquatic charms are the real draw, and the best time for newcomers to explore the bay is around the top of the tide. However, be aware that the water drains surprisingly fast on the ebb, so watch the water level and plan an escape route.

On the other hand, plenty of boaters choose to intentionally beach themselves on one of the bay’s sprawling sand flats, such as Browns Bank or the area known as the Cowyard, where they can have a huge stretch of beach all to themselves (at least until the rising tide chases them off). You can dig clams (with a permit), explore the tidal pools or fish the channels for stripers, bluefish or flounder. Just be sure to keep an eye on the tide to avoid being cut off from your boat by the rising water.

Obviously, shallow-draft vessels offer the best mode of transportation for exploring the bay’s flats and backwaters, although those in larger craft can anchor along the channel edges and wade or dinghy ashore in certain spots.

The harbormasters office is located at
the base of the town landing in Snug Harbor.

Kayakers are uniquely positioned to enjoy the bay’s shallow waters, especially the Back River, the Bluefish River and the Jones River. ‘Yaks can be rented at nearbyBillington Sea Kayak in Plymouth and launched at several spots around the bay, including the town landing, the base of the Powder Point Bridge (parking is available on either side) and Howland’s Landing. Kayakers can also access Kingston and Duxbury Bays via the launch area at the Jones River Landing, on the Jones River in Kingston, as well as the Kingston public landing near the mouth of the Jones River (town sticker required for parking).

A note of caution when kayaking the open bay: Note the forecast prior to setting out, and know your limitations. The bay has a lot of fetch, and strong winds can kick up steep chop, particularly when they blow against the tide. Always plan to paddle back to the launch site with the wind and tide, and carry appropriate safety gear. Additionally, note that Duxbury sees a lot of boating traffic, so be sure to use extra caution when crossing channels, and display some type of flag. Fog can also be an issue, so bring an airhorn or whistle (see: Cold-Water Paddling Tips).

The Duxbury Bay Maritime School offers many
boating programs and public access to the bay.

Aside from the aforementioned Cowyard, other popular spots for beaching a boat and going ashore include the backside of the 6-mile-long barrier beach (Duxbury Beach) that extends from the Power Point Bridge to Gurnet Point, and the aforementioned Browns Bank, opposite Saquish Head. Note that the bank disappears at high tide, and many boats have grounded on it when their skippers failed to keep an eye on the channel markers. Make a note of it when running in and out of Duxbury and Plymouth.

The Duxbury waterfront.

Small-boaters and paddlers can also enter the Back River, drop the hook, and dinghy ashore for burgers and ice cream at Blakeman’s, located in the lunchroom of a weathered wooden bathhouse on the barrier beach. Another good spot to visit by small boat is small, family-friendly Ellison Beach, at the foot of Ship Yard Lane, which features a float moored a short distance offshore. The adjacent salt marsh invites exploration, and reveals why Duxbury Bay serves as an important nursery for all sort of marine critters.

GETTING THERE
Charts: NOAA 13253, 13246

Chart: Duxbury

Duxbury Bay is approximately 32 nautical miles south of Boston, 26 nautical miles west of Provincetown and 4 nautical miles north of Plymouth, Massachusetts. To enter Duxbury Bay from Cape Cod and Plymouth Bays, head west through the well-marked channel to Duxbury Pier Light (Bug Light), being careful to stay north of Browns Bank, off the tip of Plymouth Beach. Also, do not attempt to pass north of Bug Light, as this will take you over very shallow water. After rounding Bug Light, turn to starboard and follow the channel into Duxbury Bay. The main channel forks at flashing red buoy “6”; the port route leads to Snug Harbor with access to the town of Duxbury, while the starboard route leads to Duxbury Beach and the Powder Point Bridge/Back River. Roughly one nautical mile into the harbor approach, turn slightly to port again at red buoy R “12” to reach the town pier. Note that the channel is quite congested with moored boats as you approach the town pier.

Note: Use caution when entering Duxbury Bay, as boat traffic can be heavy (especially in summer). Also, strong currents in this area can affect navigation. When entering the harbor, stay within the channel, which is bordered by very shallow sand and mud flats. It is very easy to find yourself aground if you do not pay attention or try to cut corners. A good piece of advice is to visit the harbor on a flood tide, as the rising water may lift you free if you happen to run aground.

Go Slow! Be aware that Duxbury Bay is home to numerous oyster farms, all clearly marked, and their owners and employees do not take kindly to damage of their gear. Additionally, please keep your wake to a minimum if you see rowers and paddlers in the area. The Duxbury Bay Maritime School hosts numerous rowing programs on the bay, and it’s easy to swamp their light craft.

Dockage, Moorings & Service

  • Duxbury Town Pier & Harbormaster (718) 934-2866; VHF 9: The town may have moorings available for transients, but call ahead. Dinghies can be left at the town landing. There’s a 30-minute maximum (and strictly enforced) tie-up at the landing, where Bay Rider launch service operates (VHF 10).

  • Bayside Marine (781) 934-0561: Full-service marina and boat dealership. Offers launch service (VHF 9), gas dock, marine store, rack storage, haul-out, engine service and hull repair.
  • Long Point Marine (781) 934-5302: Near the Bluefish River; offers haul-out, storage, canvas shop, engine service and hull repair.
  • Snug Harbor Boatworks (781) 934-1366: Repair.
  • Brewer Plymouth Marine (508) 746-4500: On nearby Plymouth Harbor. A full-service facility with transient slips, restrooms, gas, diesel, pump-out and more.
  • Duxbury Yacht Club (781) 934-5815: Next to the town ramp. Offers reciprocal privileges to members of affiliated clubs.

Anchorages

  • A small, deep, protected anchorage called the Potato Hole is located off the north end of Clarks Island, behind Saquish Neck. Depths are around 18’ at MLW. If it’s calm, you can also drop anchor in any of the deeper spots in the area known as the Cowyard, northeast of buoy RN “2.”

Harbormaster

Launch Ramps & Launch Areas

  • Launch facilities directly on Duxbury Bay are limited, especially if you aren’t a town resident. The best option for trailerboaters is the large state ramp with plenty of parking on Water Street in nearby Plymouth ($5 daily fee). This ramp offers good access on all but the lowest tides.
  • Duxbury Town Pier & Ramp: This ramp at the Duxbury town landing and harbormaster’s office (on Mattakeesett Court) launches directly into Snug Harbor and the bay. However, parking is very limited, especially in summer, and deeper-draft boats may have trouble launching and hauling at low tide.
  • Howland Landing: Trailerboaters and kayakers can launch at this ramp, located just west of Myles Standish monument, off Crescent Street. This is a small launch area on the north side of Kingston Bay with limited parking along the narrow street.
  • Powder Point Bridge: Kayakers can launch from the small beach on Powder Point Avenue next to the Powder Point Bridge (west end). The lot here fills quickly in summer, so get there early!
  • Duxbury Beach Park: This beach is reached via Rte. 139 to then Gurnet Road. It affords access to a swimming beach on the ocean side and kayak access to the Back River marshes, although you’ll need to time your launch on the upper stages of the tide. Open 9:00 to 9:00. Parking is $15 per day. The bathhouse contains restrooms, showers and a lunchroom. The beach is also next to Blakeman’s restaurant.
  • Jones River Landing: Kayakers can also launch at the Jones River Landing Center on the Jones River in neighboring Kingston. This spot provides access to Kingston Bay, but make sure to launch on the upper half of the tide. Check in with the Center’s staff before parking.
  • Duxbury Beach: Wade fishermen and kayakers can find access along Duxbury Beach (the town beach accessible via the Powder Point Bridge), but must first purchase a seasonal oversand permit for $255 (non-resident). The gates close at 11:00 p.m.
  • Kayaking Info: A great site for local kayak information in Southeastern Massachusetts is Wild Turkey Paddlers.

Boat & Kayak Rental

  • Plymouth Watersports (508) 747-1577: Plymouth Watersports is located on Town Wharf Drive, in historic Plymouth harbor. Offers rentals of PWCs, inflatable boats, 16′ skiffs, kayaks, and bicycles, as well as a ferry service to historic Plymouth Beach.
  • Billington Sea Kayak, Plymouth: (508) 746-5644
  • Duxbury Bay Maritime School: DBMS offers many boating courses and classes to both residents and non-residents, as well as rental of small sailboats.
  • Check out Wild Turkey Paddlers, a great source of information on paddling in southeastern Massachusetts.

Provisions

Getting Around

  • Traveler Transportation (781) 834-1900
  • Patriot Taxi (508) 747-1702

Where to Eat

  • Blakeman’s at Duxbury Beach Park serves all kinds of delicious seafood as well as fried and grilled fare, including lobsters, steamers, chowder, burgers, fried fish and more.
  • French Memories (781) 934-9020: Great spot for coffee and pastries on Snug Harbor near the landing. Also serves breakfast and lunch items.
  • Snug Harbor Fish Company (781) 934-8167: Offers al fresco seafood dining with views of the harbor.

Where to Stay:

Things to Do & See:

  • Duxbury Bay Maritime School (781) 934-7555: Offers a variety of ecology and boating programs for kids and adults.
  • Duxbury Beach Park (781) 837-3112: On Gurnet Road and the barrier beach side of the Powder Point Bridge. Has a bathhouse and a popular restaurant called Blakeman’s. Parking $15 per day. Open 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

General Information:

Photo Gallery

Boaters are allowed a 30-minute tie-up at the town landing.

The town launch ramp affords good access to the bay, but not much parking.

The Powder Point Bridge connects the mainland to Duxbury Beach.

A lone cyclist pedals through Duxbury.

Rowing shells await unloading at the Duxbury Bay Maritime School.

Dawn on Duxbury Bay.

A pair of anglers and their dog cast for stripers on a June morning off Saquish Head.

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