zshipley

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Nantucket Moorings' mooring buoys were large and well labeled. On arrival, a Nantucket Moorings dockmaster met us by boat, led us to our mooring buoy & stood by while we, awkwardly with our limited mooring experience, picked up the mooring. Call Nantucket Moorings on VHF 68 as you pass Brant Point light entering the Harbor, and they will meet you. After we were moored, the dockmaster came alongside and pointed the way to the Town Pier and gave us a couple of tips on local restaurants, etc. The mooring buoy had two pennants, one with a pick-up buoy with a mast. All components were in good shape. Each pennant was heavy (1-inch?) floating (polypropylene?) line and had a large eye (18 inches?). There being two pennants, and we were able to belay one each to our port & starboard bow cleats. (Most of our mooring experience has been in the Exuma Land and Sea Park in the Bahamas, where moorings typically have no pick-up buoy or mast and only a single pennant, through which one must feed a dock line belayed to bow cleats--sometimes a painful process.) Nantucket Moorings does not provide shore-side services, but in the Harbor there is a Town Pier with a dinghy dock (usually pretty crowded), trash receptacles, bathrooms & showers. The Town Pier also offers short-term docking for larger vessels at floating docks, for drop-offs & pick-ups. We were told that one may get free water there, but we didn't do so. Although we put our dinghy in the water, we used Nantucket Harbor Launch service for most of our trips between boat & shore ($6 per person each way). The Launch service runs 7AM to midnight in summer. We were picked every time within 10-15 minutes of calling for a pick-up (also VHF68). The ride to shore takes about 5 minutes, but the Launch may stop to pick up other people on the way. The Launch service's shore-side landing is on Straight Wharf, pretty much in the center of the waterfront area. (The Town Pier is a quarter of a mile farther south.) To return to your boat, just go to the landing; a Launch will show up in a few minutes. A sign in the Launch said that they will provide fresh-water wash-down service at one's mooring. We were told that the Launch service will also deliver ice. We didn't try either of these services & don't know their cost. There are very few slips available in Nantucket in summer. Moorings are also scarce but seem to be more available than slips. When we were there, a mooring was the only available option. We cruise in a power boat and prefer to be secured to a pier with shore power & water. Thus, the prospect of taking a mooring was daunting. Nantucket Moorings made the experience as painless as possible.

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We stayed here 2 nights. NOT at Safe Harbor Wickford Cove Marina but at the marina formerly called Wickford Marina, acquired by Safe Harbor in the last year or two and now called something like Safe Harbor Wickford North. At this point, Safe Harbor runs the two marinas as a single facility with integrated bookings. It is unclear to us whether Safe Harbor will do so in the future or will treat Wickford North as a separate marina. We requested a stern-in, stbd-side tie because we launch our dinghy to port & board from floating docks to stbd via the swim platform. We thought they had committed to meet our request, but upon arrival, they gave us a bow-in, stbd-side tie; it worked, but only because the finger pier was just long enough (our LOA=50ft) to reach our swim platform with the anchor pulpit hanging over floating pier; we don't know if they planned this or we just lucked out. We were told that Safe Harbor plans substantial upgrades, and this marina needs them. Bathrooms were clean but aged. (We didn't try the showers.) The laundry equipment was rusty. The 50A receptacle on the pedestal at our slip worked but was held in place by only one of its two screws. (The dockmaster Anders promptly called electricians to fix it, but the repair wasn't expected to be before our departure.) The staff was cheerful and willing, but will benefit from more experience in belaying dock lines. We were told that Safe Harbors plans to upgrade floating docks and pedestals winter of 2021-2022. We hope they also redo the shore-side facilities and maybe throw in a bit more training for junior staff. The dock configuration makes for a long, roundabout walk from some slips to office (ashore), but not as far as some marinas. Around the dock office there are some patio spaces that could be very pleasant. The view from there takes in picturesque salt marshes and boats in the docks and and on moorings. Wickford is a cute town with numerous, preserved colonial-era houses, pretty gardens (in early August, anyway) and a couple of pleasant water-front restaurants. Definitely a pleasant stop. It is a 3/4-mile walk from Wickford North to the center of town. There is a public floating dock for small boats within a couple of hundred yards of town center, about 0.9NM from the marina by water. To NW of public dock, just across the adjacent parking lot, is a Walgreen's; besides pharmacy goods, it sells some provisions like dry groceries, cases of water, etc. The nearest real grocery store is Dave's Fresh Marketplace, about 0.8 miles W of Walgreen's. We know from other Safe Harbor marinas that Safe Harbor generally runs its facilities in a first rate way. We expect that they will eventually bring Wickford North up to their usual standard. We suppose that Wickford Cove, which had no slips available during our stay, is in better condition and that this is why there was a slip available for us Wickford North but not at Wickford Cove. We expect that by summer 2022, Wickford North will rate 4 or 5 stars.

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The mystic Seaport Museum is an excellent stop for anyone interested in boats. But this is a review of the marina, not the Museum. We did not use any of the shoreside marina facilities (bathrooms, showers), so we can’t comment. We were docked at a fixed pier, and the intertidal range was about 3 ft—not ideal, but not a big problem. There are floating docks, but I think we may have been too long (~50ft) for the floating-dock slips. The marina is more thoughtful than most in providing fender boards to address the challenge of aligning fenders with pilings at its fixed piers. Mystic Seaport lies on the Mystic River above 2 bridges (railroad bridge & highway bridge) with closed clearances of only a few feet. Nothing but a low dinghy can pass under them. The opening times of the highway bridge are once per hour in summer—a major factor in cruise planning. The railroad bridge is more flexible except when a train is approaching, but these two timing constraints may interact inconveniently. Read about them elsewhere. Importantly & positively, the dock staff is superb: capable, informative & friendly. The town of Mystic has good restaurants & fun shops. The town offers a public dinghy dock a couple of blocks upriver from the bridges. The dock staff can tell you where it is. Anyway, less than 5 stars because of bridges & fixed docks.

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Champlin's seems to be the premier marina in New Harbor on Block Island. The rates are highest, but the facilities are very good, and a slip was available on 2 weeks notice for a Sunday night & Monday night in July. Dock staff was friendly and helpful. There is a well-kept swimming pool (lots of kids) and a bar and restaurant adjacent, although the restaurant was closed during our visit for lack of staff. Closer to the docks they have a carry-out "cafe" with hot pizza, boxed sandwiches & salads, beer, etc. and a bar overlooking the harbor on the second story over the dockmaster's office at the outer end of the central pier. We were told that the marina has recently been bought by new owners who have invested a substantial amount to improve it. We did not use the showers, but the bathroom's were clean. By comparison with Newport (as a reference point), Block Island is less intensively thronged with visitors, but the downtown area is full of pedestrians and the roads are full of bicycles. Car, moped and bile rentals are readily available, the coast is scenic from roads as well as from the water, and there are plenty of restaurants. (This was our first time there.)

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This is a nice facility, used primarily by residents of Branford, CT, but accommodating some transients. Floating docks are in good shape with ample cleats. Electricity & water are available from a pedestal at each slip. All as one would hope. The staff is friendly & helpful beyond all expectations. In our case, special applause for Matt the General Manager and dock-hand Peter. Also there are several waterfront restaurants/bars up the quiet Branfpord River, easily reached by water. We were there during first week of July, and there were lively music and some food trucks over the 4th of July weekend. A great stop in an interesting area along the Connecticut coast.

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Very clean, pretty-well-protected marina. Very helpful staff. Floating docks with movable cleats, diesel (not gasoline), pump out in slips, good restaurant (but closed for Covid-19 as of this writing). We came up for a just couple of nights from Palm Beach, only a few miles away, but marina is close to AICW, for those in transit.

Marina Response:
Thank you for the review. It was great having you here in the marina and look forward to seeing you in the future.
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