July 19, 2016
NEBO TV Report from the Field: Portsmouth, NH
Have you ever visited Portsmouth, NH? Well, the crew of New England Boating TV did last week, and we just love the place! This revitalized and historic city at the mouth of Piscataqua River is filled with restaurants, shops and interesting things to see and do. Even better, pretty much any place you’d want to go is just a short stroll from the waterfront.
Our adventure began when we convened at the Pierce Island public launch ramp. This 2-lane, concrete-slab ramp is certainly convenient to downtown Portsmouth and offers a fair amount of parking, but is subject to swift currents. Larger craft will want to wait until the upper stages of the tide to launch and haul. Trailers equipped with guide bars have an advantage here when loading in the current, which can run as fast as 5 or 6 knots. The daily fee to launch and park is $20 for trailer boats; $10 for kayaks and canoes.
Our first stop after splashing the boat was the municipal docks at Prescott Park. Visiting boaters can keep their vessel overnight or on an hourly basis at the marina, which offers slips with water and electric. Granted, a stay here can be a bit rolly due to all the boat traffic on the river, but it puts you within a ten-minute walk of downtown Portsmouth and even closer to one of the city’s chief attractions: Strawbery Banke Museum.
This “living museum” encompasses 10 acres and gives visitors a snapshot of what Portsmouth was like through the centuries through its various preserved homes. Parker Kelley and Tom Richardson got a tour with Director of Marketing Stephanie Seacord, who was more than happy to unveil the museum’s recent maritime exhibit that showcases the city’s shipbuilding and shipping past through ship models, artifacts and paintings.
The museum is also steps away from another popular historic attraction: the Gundalow Piscataqua, where Tom interviewed its captain, Matt Glenn. This wooden replica of the sail-powered freight barges that once transported goods up and down the lower river is available for tours and sails, and also serves as a children’s day camp in the summer.
We learned more about the river during an extensive tour with members of the NH State Division of Ports & Harbors. Harbormasters Rodney McQuate and Del Record met us at the Prescott Park marina and even allowed our videographer to film from their boat while Record hopped on our Pursuit C260 to conduct the tour. We started by heading south below the Pierce Island bridge and through the Back Channel, which offers a pleasant and scenic route between the open Atlantic and downtown Portsmouth. Along the way we stopped to chat with Spencer Epperson, manager of the Wentworth by the Sea Marina in Newcastle, which offers slips, fuel, water, electric and an onsite restaurant to visiting and seasonal boaters.
Our tour of the river resumed at the mouth, where we could see the Isles of Shoals in the distance, along with nearby Whaleback Light and the Wood Island Lifesaving Museum, which is currently being restored. We headed upriver, with Record dispensing facts about Fort Constitution and the long-abandoned, castle-like prison on Sullivan Point in Kittery. We wrapped things up just below the Memorial lift bridge, which marks the gateway to the upper river and the Great Bay estuary. Many thanks to the Division of Ports & Harbors for all of their excellent help and information!
With the Pursuit temporarily berthed at the Prescott Park marina, the crew headed off to explore Portsmouth’s downtown delights. As mentioned, the city boasts dozens of restaurants, many of them overlooking the water. However, for a change of pace we headed a few blocks inland to the recently opened Row 34, an oyster bar featuring a variety of oysters (including its namesake Row 34 oysters from its partnership with Island Creek in Duxbury, MA), an extensive selection of craft beers and top-notch cuisine based on sustainable, locally sourced seafood and produce. The crew enjoyed an excellent meal, and we highly recommend dining here.
Also excellent was Parker’s cooking segment with chef and owner Evan Mallet of the Black Trumpet. Parker prepared a duck breast with a Chinese 5-spice rub, garlic scapes, heirloom beet greens and grits with an apricot vinaigrette.
And speaking of local flavors, viewers will get a taste of Portsmouth’s maritime history in this episode, when Parker takes a stroll through the downtown area with a curated tour from Discover Portsmouth. On the list is a look at our comfortable and stylish accommodations: The Ale House Inn and the Hotel Portsmouth, both intimate, boutique-style inns with excellent service and exquisite attention to detail. Both are ideal spots from which to explore this eclectic, ever-growing coastal city.
Overall, we can’t say enough about Portsmouth as a boating destination, so we’ll just have to show you on television! You can catch the Portsmouth episode of New England Boating TV this fall on NESN. And stay tuned to NewEnglandBoating.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on show times and dates, and to find out where we’ll be filming next!