Remote & Afloat: 5 Destinations for Boating Solitude

If you’re looking to stay clear of the more popular and crowded boating destinations this year, we’ve got you covered with the following list of “off the beaten path” spots that offer seclusion and beauty, plus accessibility to a nearby lobster roll and beer if you just gotta get off the boat!

Thimble Islands. Photo Caryn B. Davis

Thimble Islands, Connecticut

This archipelago of pink-granite islands in the low-key Connecticut town of Stony Creek is the perfect place to drop anchor and unwind. You can anchor pretty much anywhere inside the harbor, as long as you remain outside the main channel. A good spot is west of G C “1” in seven feet of water. There’s less roll in the eastern end, but watch for power lines. Transients can leave dinghies at the town dock while they go ashore for the day. You can find food and provisions at the Stony Creek Market or Thimbleberry Café.

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Dutch Harbor, Rhode Island

If you truly want to get away from the crowded Newport scene, look to Conanicut Island’s western shore, home of Dutch Harbor Boat Yard, a small facility with moorings, launch service, a taco stand, and a great view of the West Passage. It seems a long way from everywhere, but a mile-long walk or bike ride down Narragansett Avenue brings you to the local shops and restaurants of downtown Jamestown. If you wish to anchor, you can drop the hook outside the mooring field or on the protected inside “hook” of nearby Dutch Island.

Tranquil Cuttyhunk. Photo Tom Richardson

Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more remote setting than Cuttyhunk Island, at the end of the Elizabeth Islands chain. While the harbor does fill up on summer weekends, it’s still a great spot for solitude-seekers, even onshore. Moorings are available for $35/night through Jenkins Moorings or Frog Pond Marine. Anchoring is possible in the Outer Harbor.

Don’t feel like cooking aboard? Hail Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms, a floating raw bar that delivers oysters and littlenecks directly to your boat. They also offer lobster bakes and raw-bar catering. Additionally, you can grab a snack or meal at Bart’s Cart (breakfast and lunch items on the town wharf) or the famed Cuttyhunk Fishing Club B&B.

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Boston Harbor bustles, but you can still get away from the crowds. Photo Tom Richardson

Boston Harbor, Massachusetts

It doesn’t seem possible that you could find solitude in the shadow of a metropolis, but you can in Boston Harbor! The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area comprises numerous islands that offer shelter in almost any wind direction. Moorings can be rented at Spectacle, Georges, and Peddocks Islands for $25/night. Reservations are available through Dockwa

There are also plenty of places to anchor among the islands, and you can even camp on Bumpkin, Grape and Peddocks Islands.

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Heavenly Harpswell. Photo Joe Devenney

 

Harpswell, Maine

Harpswell isn’t really a single port; it’s at least a half-dozen distinctly different destinations rolled into one, with miles of shoreline ranging from rugged granite to sandy beach, densely populated to nearly empty, easily navigable to seriously challenging. And gunkholes? They’re all over the place!

A few good spots to drop the hook include Harpswell Harbor (west of Stover’s Point in 18 feet of water); Potts Harbor (central portion of the harbor in 22 to 33 feet of water); Mackerel Cove (47 to 52 feet of water), and Cundys Harbor (southern end in 20 feet of water).

If you’re tired of the onboard fare, head for one of the following establishments:

Dolphin Restaurant (207) 833-6000

A Potts Harbor dock-and-dine favorite. Offers lobster, local fish and shellfish, hand-cut steaks and more, all served with great views of Casco Bay.

Morse’s Cribstone Grill (207) 833-7775

Cozy restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating near the famous Cribstone Bridge on Bailey Island. Good food and water views.

Cook’s Lobster & Ale House

Boiled lobster dinners, chowder, steamers, mussels and other Maine classics are the draw at this seafood mainstay on Bailey Island.

Holbrook’s (207) 729-9050

Cundys Harbor dock-and-dine specializing in seafood, burgers, fried fare and more.

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Time out in Tenants Harbor. Photo Tom Richardson

 

Tenants Harbor, Maine

This small, picturesque harbor is ideally located near the entrance to Penobscot Bay—arguably Maine’s most famous cruising grounds. But it also offers a beautiful spot in which to hang out and soak up the coastal ambience, far from the madding crowds.

Rent a mooring through Tenants Harbor Boatyard, or anchor in Long Cove, off the western shore of Northern Islands. Long Cove offers a deep and well-protected spot in which to anchor, but steer clear of the rocks in the center. The entrance is marked by buoy RN “2”.

Food and refreshments are available at the following:

East Wind Inn (800) 241-8439

Good food served in a charming inn overlooking the harbor. Popular spot for breakfast.

Happy Clam Pub & Eatery (508) 646-3849

Specializing in fresh seafood and (believe it or not) authentic German cuisine.

Schoolhouse Bakery (207) 372-9608

Tasty baked goods, soup and sandwiches to go.

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