Hadley’s Harbor


Hadley’s Harbor is located on the western entrance to Woods Hole in Buzzards Bay. It is regarded as one of the nicest, most serene, and well protected harbors in southern New England. Many cruising sailors make a point to stop for the night at Hadley’s (it’s that nice). It’s also a place where sailors can stop for a few hours while they wait for favorable currents in the channel for Woods Hole. Power boats don’t need to worry about the currents. But most sailboats can’t buck a four and a half knot current flowing against them.

The harbor is also great for sailors to lay over in stormy weather. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, Galatea was towed into Hadley’s inner harbor due to our troubles during the heavy weather on Labor Day. We were safe and sound at anchor while 30 knot gusts blasted Buzzards Bay until midnight. Most other harbors I’d worry about being anchored in such conditions. But not at Hadley’s. I suspect you could ride out a hurricane in the inner harbor.

The inner harbor is surrounded by several islands: Uncatena and Bull Islands to the north, Naushon to the west, and Nonamesset to the east. The area due south of Bull Island, as you enter the Inner Harbor, is the best place to anchor. Perhaps the only place to anchor. As you steer further in and around Goats Neck there’s no place to set a hook. It’s too crowded with moorings and you can’t anchor in the channel. The ferry needs to pass unimpeded.

All the moorings in the inner harbor are private, but I believe it’s permissible for a cruising sailboat can pick any of them up for the night. That is if you find one available. They’re usually taken by the early afternoon.

The outer harbor for Hadley’s always has plenty of room for anchoring. It’s well protected from the usual southwesterlies and is only exposed to the east and northeast. If the wind is expected from those directions and the inner harbor is full I’d recommend motoring the short distance over to the harbor at Woods Hole for the night.

There’s one other location in Hadley’s where small boats can anchor. It’s the area between Uncatena Island to the north and Bull Island to the south. I stayed there one night with my old sailboat Karma on a trip from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard. You want to stay dead in the center of the lagoon. Once you get past the 5 to 6 feet of water at the entrance (at low tide) there’s a good 7 to 8 feet of water. Avoid anchoring near the sides of the lagoon. I think there’s only 4 or 5 feet of water on either side.

Another note about staying in Hadley’s Harbor. The Coast Guard maintains two or three white colored nuns in the inner harbor. These were always a benefit to cruising sailors to tie up to for the night, especially in inclement weather. No longer. The CG attached metal plates to the loops where you could tie a line to. Thus preventing anyone from using them. I don’t know what the rationale was for preventing their use. It just seems like a shame to me.

The next time we stay at Hadley’s I plan on exploring the waterways with our dinghy, the Jenhiu. The chart shows all these nice little areas to buzz around in. It’s just once of those things I’ve never done. And I understand that it’s permissible to go ashore on Bull Island and take walks. Another thing on the to do list.


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