Report from the Field: Wareham, MA

Parker interviews Alan Slavin on Onset Beach
Parker interviews Alan Slavin on Onset Beach.

We are getting close to the finish line when it comes to filming the new season of New England Boating TV, and one of our final episodes was shot in Wareham and Onset Bay. Fortunately, we were able to dodge some of the gloomy, windy weather and put together what will be a great show about a Massachusetts town that doesn’t receive a lot of attention from boaters—but should.

Onset Town Pier and dinghy docks
Onset Town Pier and dinghy docks.

We started the shoot with an interview with John Cornish of Onset’s Stonebridge Marina, tucked inside Broad Cove on the East River. This marina caters mostly to boats under 35’, but has several deep-water moorings as well, plus it’s a short walk into Onset Village. After that we spoke with Greg Glavin at Onset Bay Marina, a full-service facility that can accommodate large vessels and also sells fuel. It too is very close to the Village.

Later, I stopped in at Marc Anthony’s Pizzeria, just a few steps from the Town Pier, where co-owner John Salerno spoke on camera about the history of this Onset Village institution. Afterwards, I got a lesson in how to “throw some dough” and make my own pizza.

On Monday, September 8, we towed the Pursuit C260 to the Tempest Knob boat ramp on the Wareham River, where we met up with Alan Slavin, chief selectman of Wareham. Slavin is a longtime boater and knows a lot about Wareham history, so he was the ideal guide for our tour of the Wareham River. As we idled upriver toward the Narrows Bridge, we talked about Wareham’s summer celebration of its 275th anniversary as a township, as well as the town’s role in the War of 1812, when the British gunship Nimrod paid an unwelcome visit. The Nimrod’s crew set fire to the local cotton mill, confiscated firearms and gunpowder and destroyed several ships suspected of being privateers.

Harbormaster Garry Buckminster shows off one of Onset's new eco-moorings
Harbormaster Garry Buckminster shows off one of Onset’s new eco-moorings.

Slavin pointed out that Wareham has lately made an effort to welcome more visiting boaters to this part of town by installing a long float with free tie-up for those who want to visit Wareham Center, which is home to several restaurants, shops, a gallery, banks, a liquor store and more. The only full-service marina on the river is Zecco Marina, and we later spoke with General Manager Mike McDonald about the facility’s amenities, which include transient slips and moorings (the marina is scheduled to install floating docks next season), gas and diesel, haul-out, a ships store and more.

Setting off in the kayaks from Onset Beach.
Setting off in the kayaks from Onset Beach.

After our tour of the Wareham River, we headed across the upper part of Buzzards Bay and into the west end of the Cape Cod Canal before finally entering Onset Bay. The trip gave us a sense of the remarkable amount of coastline Wareham occupies—54 miles of it, to be precise. Onset, a village of Wareham, is a wonderful boating destination in itself. Again, the town has really rolled out the welcome mat to boaters by offering transient moorings at $20 per night and launch service. There is also a federal anchorage behind Wickets Island (currently for sale for $600K). Small and midsized boats can even tie up at the town pier for an hour or so at no charge after checking in with the harbormaster. We learned all of this and much more during a tour of the bay with friendly Chief Harbormaster Garry Buckminster. Buckminster is one of the more progressive harbormasters we’ve met, and is clearly doing his best to help promote the town and invite more boaters to check it out.

Parker and Stonebridge Bar & Grill chef/owner Justin Hadley prepare shrimp Mozanbique and steak.
Parker and Stonebridge Bar & Grill chef/owner Justin Hadley prepare shrimp Mozanbique and steak.

And there is a lot to check out, as Parker discovered when she picked up her interview with Alan Slavin. Slavin showed her around the village, which features some well-preserved Victorian homes and buildings from the late 1800s, when Onset was a popular summer retreat for wealthy Bostonians. Today, the village has some lovely parks and an outdoor amphitheatre, plus several restaurants, inns, B&Bs, ice cream shops and, of course, and wonderful natural beach that all but surrounds the bay.

The Nantucket Lightship greets visitors on the Wareham River
The Nantucket Lightship greets visitors on the Wareham River.

It’s also a great place for paddling, and we did just that on Wednesday when Parker took a kayak trip with Nemasket Kayak, which has locations on Onset Bay and nearby Tihonet Pond. Nemasket rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, and also gives lessons and guided tours. Roy Edwards and Melodye Conway took Parker on a short paddle to Shell Point and Sunset Cove, where Parker even caught a fish from her West Marine Cayman fishing kayak (although we’re not sayin’ how big it was).

Director Gene Allen gets a free ride from the talent? What's that all about?
Director Gene Allen gets a free ride from the talent? What’s that all about?

After the kayaking adventure, Parker headed over to the Stonebridge Bar & Grill, located at the Stonebridge Marina on Broad Cove. The restaurant offers outdoor seating with amazing views of Onset Bay and Wickets Island. Parker and owner/head chef Justin Hadley shot a cooking segment during which Parker helped prepare dishes of shrimp Mozambique, grilled steak and lobster ravioli.

Overall, we’ve had a great time filming in Wareham, but it’s not over yet! We still have to film our fishing segment and piece on a local shellfish company, and will try to wrap that up next week. I know there are some albies (and oysters) prowling about Buzzards Bay, so stay tuned!

New England Boating TV, sponsored by GMC and Pursuit Boats and their network of New England dealers. Coming to  NESN this Fall on Mondays at 6:30 p.m.

The Pursuit C260 on the Wareham River tour
The Pursuit C260 on the Wareham River tour.
Enjoying the view at the Stonebridge Bar & Grill in Onset
Enjoying the view at the Stonebridge Bar & Grill in Onset.
Gene Allen films the open at Tempest Knob boat launch
Gene Allen films the open at Tempest Knob boat launch.