Going Ashore

Manchester is unusual among cruising destinations in Massachusetts, in that the town did not grow up as a significant port. Morison all but dismisses the colonial version of Manchester as "a poor fishing village, vot[ing] as the Boston merchant who handled its catch dictated." {MHM, p.24}

A dramatic shift towards the Manchester we now recognize began in 1845, when Richard Henry Dana, Jr. bought thirty shorefront acres for his father as a summer retreat. After the railroad came to town in 1848, more summer residents followed, so that by the 1870s, most of the town's coastal property had been bought up by wealthy out-of-towners. {NS p. 41 ff} Manchester was firmly established as part of Massachusetts' Gold Coast.

Dredging in the 1890s finally opened up the harbor to vessels larger than small fishermen. The yacht club debuted in 1895, and the forerunners of today's boatyards went into business around the same time. Manchester rose to prominence as a yachting locus in spite of lagging her neighbors, including the Boston YC (1866), Eastern YC (1870) and Beverly YC (1872) by a generation.

With its mostly private residential character, Manchester doesn't offer a lot specifically for visitors to do. The downtown has a few interesting restaurants, plus coffee shops, sandwich shops and pizza places. The attractive shopfronts, also concentrated near the harbor, are mostly of the jewelry/clothing/decorating gallery type. And there's an outpost of Nantucket Chocolatier. (Whether this is a good thing depends on your taste for upscale sweets outweighing your distaste for the occasional pretensions of a certain island. Either way, isn't the "Nantucket" brand incongruous in Manchester-by-the-Sea?)

Outside of downtown are several appealing and restful blocks of mainly 18th and 19th century houses.

Captain Dusty Ice Cream
Geoff Rand
house on manchester bay
Geoff Rand

One Hour Ashore

Maybe a walk around town and ice cream. The old pub at 7 Central Street got acquired by The Landing (of Marblehead) in 2004 but still offers sports on the tube in an 18th century house.

Off the Beaten Path

Agassiz Rock is a striking glacial boulder deposit on a hilltop, about 2 miles from the harbor. Walk north out of town on School St. and continue a half mile past Rt. 128. Closer by is Singing Beach, maybe 3/4 mile south of town on Beach St.

Maritime History

Crocker's Boat Yard is a family-run operation established in 1946. The grandfather of the yard's current owner was yacht designer Samuel S. Crocker II, and a number of his distinctive boats may still be seen in local waters. {I'm sort of embarrassed I don't have pictures. . .ed.} His 23 foot racer/pocket cruiser Stone Horse, first designed in the 1930s, in many ways prefigures the J/24. Edey & Duff of Mattapoisett revived the design in 'glass, building 150 between 1969 and 1996. Try this Sailing Magazine article (pdf)

Facilities

  • Dinghy
  • Showers
  • Restrooms
  • Trash
  • Public Transit

From the Manchester Marine moorings, it's an easy dinghy trip into their floats. The town dinghy dock is in the innermost cove, beyond the railroad bridge. There are also town floats at the head of the harbor, off Masconomo Park. The town dinghy dock and town floats are closer than Manchester Marine to most shoreside services.

Manchester Marine has showers and restrooms.

The commuter rail station in Manchester is just across the street from the harbor and has frequent service to Salem and Boston, or to Gloucester and Rockport.