Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Newburyport, MA

We’ve been having an outstanding week of weather cruising the New England coast from Maine to Massachusetts.  On Tuesday, Sept. 15 we traveled from Kennebunkport, ME to Newburyport, MA.  The landscape has clearly changed from what we experienced in Maine.  Gone is the rugged coastline peppered with innumerable inlets.  In its place are wider expanses of coastline, fewer hills and more houses lining the shores (except for this outstanding lighthouse).

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There are so many interesting places to  stop as we re-enter more populated areas of New England that it is hard to decide which beautiful, historic town to select.  We decided on Newburyport because one of the cruising books described it as the “shining diamond in the crown jewels of harbors that line the coast of Massachusetts”. 

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We are trying to focus on anchorages and moorings as they are the lower cost options in the cruising world and we just plain enjoy them.  There are no safe anchorages in this area due to the raging currents that can run through the Merrimack River.  We learned that the town wharf in Newburyport had both moorings and docking facilities.  At first we were going to dock and then we opted for the mooring.   Lynn had difficulty grabbing the mooring ball and even Jonny couldn’t because the line was wrapped on it.  So we got another one that turned out to be in a better (more calm) location.  We  rowed our dinghy the short distance to the dinghy dock and went ashore to explore. 

Jonny was chagrined by the ridiculous and very unusual practice of this municipal dock to charge a mooring fee per calendar day instead of per overnight.  So our charge was $50 instead of the usual $25 mooring charge.  Of course, because it’s a mooring, there is no water or electricity included.  But, it’s obviously a lot less than paying for dockage. 

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We walked around town visiting the historic customs house located on the waterfront where we met the director who had just been to the New London Customs House near where Jonny grew up.   She gave us lots of enthusiastic advice about which towns to visit in the area.

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Because we didn’t bring our bikes ashore (harder to transport them in a dinghy), we did not see as much of the town as we usually like to.  But we did our best as we walked around the entire afternoon through the streets filled with well-preserved red brick buildings that house numerous and attractive shops and restaurants.   It is clearly a prosperous town catering to tourists but not at all tacky.

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There was a funky warehouse type store near the waterfront that Lynn wanted to check out, but by the time we circled back to it, it was closed.  We don’t really have room on the boat for some of the “awesome stuff” that they had for sale!

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We chose to eat dinner on board (trying to work through some of our provisions) and thought about taking the dinghy back into town to catch the new Woody Allen movie at a small movie theatre not far from the waterfront.  We haven’t been to the movies since before we left on this trip.  However, our onboard cocktail hour went long as we caught up with Stephanie and Jonny’s mom and dinner was delayed. So we skipped the movie and caught up on a couple of episodes of Mad Men – our guilty  pleasure these days!


  1. John, when you get to the New Bedford area there is an inexpensive docking option. Check out the Acushnet Boating Club in Fairhaven (across from New Bedford) ask for Laura. If available they have floating dock for only a buck a ft and reasonable electricty. They are not in the guide books, but I found them on Active Captain. Hope it works for you.
    David Doyle, back home in Jax and watching all your posts.

    1. David, thanks for the recommendation. We planned to stop in that area to bring on guests for the week so that could work out wonderfully. We remember your great recommendations when we cruised the St Johns.