Going Ashore

Downtown Rockport is compact and easy to walk. Straight across the intersection from the wharf, the road leads to the 'modern' part of town, including a bank, small market and pizza. A short block to the right is Bearskin Neck, with its streets and alleys full of restaurants, shops and galleries catering to the visitor. Most summer evenings, you can expect plenty of those visitors will be on hand, sampling Rockport's charms.

Walk a little beyond downtown, and Rockport is a completely different place. There are beaches, parks, public footpaths and street after street of attractive houses that neatly get the aesthetic of an old coastal village.

Rockport hasn't always been this charming. When Robert Carter sailed in during his Summer Cruise of 1858, he recounted:

We landed on a dirty beach, covered with the decaying offal of fish, the stench of which was almost suffocating. . . It was so unpleasant on deck that, immediately after supper, we had lighted our cigars and closed the cabin doors, to smother with the fumes of tobacco the fishy odors from the shore. {Carter, p.97}

The current incarnation of the old storefronts and fishhouses on Bearskin Neck may stretch the notion of a coastal New England village until it's almost unrecognizable. And yet, the waterfront of most towns historically was crowded, public and commercial. Fishing villages never were pristine.

headlands
Geoff Rand
The rocky "Headlands" form the east side of the harbor entrance. Follow Atlantic Ave along the harbor's east side, and then the Foot Path at the end.
rockport entrance
Rich Urmston
The breakwater at the end of Bearskin Neck near sunset.

One Hour Ashore

Ok, walk to the end of Bearskin Neck. But try one of the alternatives listed below on your way back.

Off the Beaten Path

Sit on the massive granite wharves of the Old Harbor. Wander through Millbrook Meadow. Find your way out to the Headlands.

Maritime History

This is a separate trip (by car), but the State Park at Halibut Point gives a nice overview of how Rockport got its rock. There's a fascinating little exhibit, an interpretive trail through the old quarries, and a WWII observation tower to climb.

Rainy Day

Hmmm. Even in the rain, Rockport is still pretty dry, although the town voted in the spring of 2005 to allow limited alcohol sales in restaurants. There are plenty of art galleries and clothing stores, plus an intriguing book store.

Facilities

  • Launch
  • Dinghy
  • Showers
  • Restrooms
  • Trash
  • Info

There is informal launch service in the harbor, but the hours are pretty limited, even on busy summer weekends. It's best to check with the harbormasters for details when you arrive. Or, if you don't have your own dinghy, you can drop a crew member off to borrow one of the club's red & white skiffs.

Tie up among the other dinghies at the float to the left (east) of the yacht club. Both the town dock to the right of the yacht club and the front face of the yacht club float are frequently used loading zones.

The shower is behind the yacht club; it's usually open all hours. Restrooms are in the Yacht Club, which closes around sunset, or at the Harbormaster's brick office at the head of the wharf, open a little earlier and later. There is also a set of restrooms behind Front Beach.

Trash receptacles are on the wharf.

You should receive a Visitors Guide along with the payment envelope when you arrive.