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Buzzards Bay

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Padanaram MA, a jewel on Buzzard's Bay, if you can find it

You certainly won't want to miss this quaint and charming port of call

The quaint charm and elegance of Padanaram can be seen in the grand homes that look out over the harbor, as well as the quiet streets and the salty waterfront. But there’s one thing that sets Padanaram apart from many other destinations - you won’t find it listed on any chart. The charts say Apponagansett Bay is in the town of South Dartmout h, but everyone knows it's really the historic village of Padanaram.

Heading in to Padanaram Harbor

Click here for a larger version
Not to be used for navigation.

Use NOAA Charts No. 13230 and 13229 . Please note: the Coast Guard has made some changes in the buoys in the area by moving, removing, and adding aids, so it’s best to pick up the latest charts or to check in with Woods Hole Coast Guard (508) 457-3277.

The current in this part of Buzzards Bay runs gently and makes the perfect excuse to take in the natural beauty of Apponagansett Bay slowly. The way into Padanaram is from the south and east and is clearly marked, but pay attention to your charts as there are several rocks and ledges at boat-eating depths.

Heading towards Padanaram from the south, make for the radome, a large radar installation off Round Hill Point. Jutting out from Round Hill are Dumpling Rocks. Keep between GC "5" off Dumpling Rocks and RB "4" to remain clear of the sand spit directly east of the bell (at least 10 feet MLW but best to be safe). Next leave a good amount of room between your boat and the rocks, marked by a G "5A."

As you head for Ricketson’s point, keep RN "4LR" well to starboard (it marks the two-foot shallows of Lone Rock) and GC "3" well to port (Keel Rock). Follow the red markers into the harbor from the breakwater at Ricketson’s point.

There is no anchorage behind the breakwall.  The harbor is filled with moorings and the only anchorage is west of the main channel, south of the mooring field.  It is exposed to south and southeast winds. 

Docking and Mooring Facilities

The harbor is quite busy during the prime summer cruising season, and transient dock space here is almost nonexistent. Your options for transient accommodations are limited to the following and we understand that they do not take reservations. Space is reported to be on a first come first served basis:

Davis & Tripp 508-993-9232
New Bedford Yacht Club 508-997-0762
South Wharf, LLC 508-990-1011

If you a member of a club with reciprocal priviledges, you can land at the NBYC dock in about seven to ten feet of water to fuel up (gas or diesel), get ice or water, and arrange for an overnight mooring or, possibly, a slip (dock space may be available on occasion but not likely in mid-summer). Stand by RN “12” as you make the approach in Apponagansett Bay and hail the launch on VHF channel 68 for instructions. Visiting members of yacht clubs are asked to register at the club for reciprocal privileges. Make sure to reserve your mooring well in advance.The $40 fee includes launch service and use of the club’s facilities, including an excellent restaurant. Launch service usually runs from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Showers are available as is lunch or dinner (check the schedule). In alternating years, the NBYC shares responsibility for hosting the Buzzards Bay Regatta with the Beverly Yacht Club in Marion . Contact the NBYC about a place to keep your dinghy while ashore (508-997-0762).

Boaters may tie dinghys at the Town Dock (North of the Bridge on the East side) for a period of up to 2 hours. A short walk takes you into the village of South Dartmouth where you can buy groceries, sundries, or get supplies or replacement parts for your boat or engine at Concordia Co.

Dartmouth Harbormaster

You can reach the office on VHF Ch. 09 or try their website at The speed limit in the harbor is 5 MPH NO WAKE and is strictly enforced. The website is quite informative with aerial photos, rules, bridge schedules, and services listed. Instructions for free pump out services are included.

Things to See and Do

Classic lines of a Concordia yawl.
Padanaram is a natural beauty. You can spend time meandering the streets of the picturesque village. Coming off the pier at the NBYC, you are on Elm Street . In January 2006, the owners of the land where Concordia is based put the parcel up for sale. No sooner had they announced this move, than the residents petitioned the town to rezone the area to prevent development. What happens next is anyone's guess but it might be a good time to visit sooner rather than later.

There are shops to explore in the direction of Bridge Street , where you will find the Village Marketplace, the Trading Post, the Navigator Shop and the Padanaram Post Office within a five-minute walk of the yacht club. You may want to explore the preserved streets of Padanaram Village – don’t miss the federal style house at 25 Fremont St. and the Congregational Church on Middle Street.

By boat, you can also explore Little Island, northwest of the village and the eel grass marshes nearby. You can get a permit for shellfishing from Town Hall (508-999-0719) and dig for clams on the shores around Little Island.

Before you go, check out:

Marine Service

Davis & Tripp
Doyle Buzzards Bay Sailmakers
Marshall Marine Corp
Pioneer Mooring Service
Rigging Solutions
South Wharf, LLC 508-990-1011


The Black Bass
Oxford Creamery at the Bucket
Dockside Icecream
CV Variety
New Bedford Yacht Club
The Packet / Post Office

South Dartmouth History

In 1652, members of the Plymouth Colony met with Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag tribe, to discuss purchasing an almost 61-square-mile peninsula on Apponagansett Bay . The deal was struck for various items including blankets, utensils, tools, shoes, and wampum. The colonists, using the Native American name for the bay and nearby river, called their village Ponagansett.

By the mid-18th century, shipbuilding and related industries made it a thriving settlement. One shipbuilder, Laban Thatcher, who arrived in 1800 from Cape Cod and whose fortune was built on a tenacious work ethic and a deeply religious life, became one of Ponagansett’s leading citizens. He impressed his neighbors with his philanthropy so strongly that they decided to rename the village. Because the biblical Laban was commanded by God to go to Padan-aram in what is now Syria to marry, multiply, and live a long and prosperous life, the village was renamed Padanaram in honor of Thatcher. Padanaram is one of the original names for Mesopotamia which lay between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what was Assyria . People come to Padanaram now for reasons other than to marry and multiply (well maybe not always).

South Dartmouth is also the home of the “Witch of Wall Street,” Hetty Green, who shrewdly invested her New Bedford family’s whaling money. But she was "squeaky" when it came to opening her wallet and refused to pay a doctor when her son broke his leg. He got revenge by spending the family fortune on a huge stone mansion overlooking the beach on Smith Neck Road on the southern shore. It is now condominiums.

Emergency and shoreside services:

  • Tow services: New Bedford Marine Rescue (TowBOAT/U.S.) (508) 990-3997; Channel 16 (156.8MHz), or 1-800-391-4869
  • Police, fire and ambulance service: Emergency: 911; non-emergency, 999-0733; tip line, 997-9900.
  • Airport: New Bedford RegionalAirport: (508) 991-6160.
  • Taxis:
    • Town Taxi, 508-999-0003
    • Yellow Cab, 508-999-5213
    • Checker-Standard Cab, 508-999-4545.
Related Links
Dartmouth Harbormaster
New Bedford Yacht Club
Coastal Villages (great map linked from the bottom of the page)
The Henley House B&B
Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary
Slocums River Reserve

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