Boater’s Guide to Wellfleet, Massachusetts
With its gorgeous historic homes, a lively downtown and amazing natural beauty, Wellfleet, Massachusetts represents the best of Cape Cod and is a must-visit for any New England boater.
When navigating in Wellfleet Harbor, boaters should pay close attention to the tides. The harbor is home to shifting bars and channels that can challenge even experienced navigators at low tide. Boaters will do fine as long as they follow the channel markers. Also, when entering or leaving the harbor, stay at least 1,000 feet off the wreck of the freighter James Longstreet (south of buoy G “3”), which was once used for target practice by the military.
Visiting boaters will want to check out the Wellfleet Town Marina (508-349-0320), which features fuel, pumpout, electric and water hookups and more. Also, you can find a large anchorage with good holding ground west of G C “11”, north of Smalley Bar and east of Great Island, in 7 to 20 feet of water. The area offers good protection from winds from the west and southwest, but when anchoring be aware of the harbor’s 10-foot tide difference.
Wellfleet is located on the narrowest part of Cape Cod, giving it both big wave ocean beaches and tranquil bay beaches. Roughly 60 percent of Wellfleet’s land area is protected under the Cape Cod National Seashore. The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary features miles of walking trails and great bird-watching amid a pristine salt march. Great Island, which is part of a barrier beach extending from the mainland, has sand dunes, pitch-pine forest and a peaceful beach. And Wellfleet’s many winding tidal creeks and verdant marshes can be explored by kayak or small boat.
Lined with buildings that date back to the late 1700s, the center of Wellfleet is a nationally registered historic district that harkens back to an era before the town was a busy commercial port and later a popular tourist destination. Visitors can spend an afternoon exploring Wellfleet’s interesting shops, with selections of designer clothing, jewelry, books and gifts. The town is also home to a vibrant creative community and is home to a large selection of art galleries and world-class theater productions.
Thanks to a bustling commercial fishing fleet, local restaurants serve the best and freshest seafood you can find. Wellfleet is, of course, famous for its oysters. One great restaurant is The Wicked Oyster (508-349-3455), where you can dine on some of the Cape’s freshest seafood. Another place to try is Mac’s Seafood(508-349-0404) on the Wellfleet Town Pier. There you can enjoy traditional fried seafood, vegetarian entrées and burritos right on the harbor.