Introduction

towboat and barge
Geoff Rand
With its impressive engineering, its succession of bridges, the concentration of traffic, even the streetlights lining its banks, the Canal possesses a quirky industrial charm.

It is difficult for the contemporary mariner to imagine sailing in New England without the Cape Cod Canal. Before the Canal opened in 1914, the shortest route between New York and Boston required ships to navigate the muscular currents of Vineyard Sound and the shifting sands off Monomoy before passing the unbroken beaches of the Cape's outer forearm - 100 miles through some of the most dangerous waters of the East Coast. For a period in the 1880s, ships were wrecked at the rate of one every two weeks.

Today, a sailor with ordinary seamanship and a look at the current tables can expect to pass safely through the Canal between Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay. And for some, the Canal is an attraction in its own right. 20,000 vessels use the waterway each year; the vast majority are pleasure craft.

more on The Cape Cod Canal. . .