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Old 05-19-2017, 11:42 AM   #1
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Default Newbie Boat Owner (north of Boston) just looking for tips

I finally bought my first boat. I got a 2003 Boston Whaler 150 Sport with a 2 stroke Merc 60HP. I intend on using this mostly in salt water. I live in the Merrimack Valley. Im looking to launch from a few places. Im going to try the ramp in haverhill that will put me into the Merrimack river. From there I can go as far as the mouth and thats about it. I also plan on using the ramp at Popes Landing in Danvers. I have some boating experience, but not a ton. Im also not familiar with these waters (Im more familiar with the waters between East Boston and Hull). Looking for any information about this area that might be good to know. Like not going out the mouth of the Merrimack etc.
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:47 AM   #2
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What do you plan to do?
Joppa flats is the perennial favorite, but can get crowded. Launch in newburyport.

Check out Granite Pier in Rockport. It might be a haul from you but would allow you to get out into the ocean without the Mouth issue.

Also, Hampton NH.
Which state do you live in? Mass? you can lobster!
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:53 AM   #3
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Crow, this is exactly the type of stuff im looking for. I will look into Granite Pier. I live in North Andover, MA. I'm certainly willing to try different harbors. I think I will spend most of this year learning the waters and the boat. I could maybe lobster in the future. The guy I bought the boat from used it for recreational lobstering. Thanks for your input.
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Old 05-19-2017, 12:40 PM   #4
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Random thoughts...No particular order.

It's a long slow trip to the mouth from Haverhill.

Cashman's (Newburyport) ramps can be a real PITA on weekends with the crowds. And
when you throw in the river current with an outgoing tide it can be sporty. On the upside
there is usually a dockmaster directing traffic.

Salisbury reservation also is crowded on the weekends and parking can be an issue if
you get there after 9 - 10 AM. Not much of a current or tide issue but with no dockmaster
it becomes an every man for himself situation.

I believe there are some sandbars off of Maudsley Park (across from the old Hat Factory in
Amesbury which are now condos) that will pop up around low tide. Just beware of the current
if you have kids.

Do not fear the Mouth of the Merrimack. Respect it, and exercise caution especially with an
outgoing tide and an on-shore wind. Feel free to turn around when you see the walls of standing
waves as you approach the jetties. I have.

Also, the mouth area can be very crowded. People drift fish between the jetties and don't really pay
attention to what's going on around them. Common sense and the rules of navigation often do not
apply in this area. Some of the bigger boats (Party and Whale watch) will throw huge wakes which
will "echo" between the jetties. Situational awareness is vital.

There can be a lot of different LE agencies patrolling on busy weekends. On the upside if you have a
problem help will be nearby. On the downside, if your SO is attractive and wearing a bikini, expect
multiple "safety Checks" during the day.

Have fun.
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Old 05-20-2017, 07:00 AM   #5
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If looking for a nice river cruise with family the one at the Haverhill/Merrimack Line is great. Otherwise if you want to head down to the Cranes beach area use Salisbury, but only run the Plum Island river at high tide. If she doesn't have a depth finder, definitely invest in one! Ipswich has a nice ramp, (If no one is collecting at the ramp you pay at town hall I believe) but stay out of the river at low tide even in a 15'.
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Old 05-21-2017, 07:22 AM   #6
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Lots of good info has been offered already, but I'll add my .02. If you want to cruise the river, putting in at Haverhill makes it easy. Keep in mind that most of the river is no-wake so it's a slow trip from there to the mouth(1.5 hours or more). If you want to go fishing, most of the good fishing is between Amesbury and the mouth. In that area putting in at Cashmans park or the Salisbury state park ramp are about it for non-residents. Yup, Cashmans can be a bit of a zoo and sometimes has some pretty good current, but the ramp is good and so is the parking. The Salisbury State park ramp is a long drive out and on weekends the parking lot can easily be full when you get there. Add in really bad traffic on good beach days. If cruising with family, a fun stop is at the town docks in Newburyport.

Ken
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Old 05-21-2017, 12:16 PM   #7
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I would add, I dont know what condition your trialer and tow vehicle is in...
but since your boat is more modest sized, dont be afraid of the smaller ramps that larger boats cant use. less boat traffic.
High school in Glostah is well used- great ramp. Granite is small, decent. if the tide is super low, you might fall off the edge a little.
Macks should be around soon, as are the bass.
Lobster! Do it!
Some tuna not far off as well.
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Old 05-21-2017, 12:31 PM   #8
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Ditto what most said....i prefer Salisbury ramp over cashmans less current, cheaper, shorter run to ocean.
With your boat you should be able to hit hook a most days and the beach front on calm days....
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Old 05-21-2017, 04:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crow. View Post
I would add, I dont know what condition your trialer and tow vehicle is in...
but since your boat is more modest sized, dont be afraid of the smaller ramps that larger boats cant use. less boat traffic.
High school in Glostah is well used- great ramp. Granite is small, decent. if the tide is super low, you might fall off the edge a little.
Macks should be around soon, as are the bass.
Lobster! Do it!
Some tuna not far off as well.
Tuna in a 15 whaler? I would love to watch that
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Old 05-21-2017, 05:51 PM   #10
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I would say in a 15' boat stay away from the mouth of the Merrimack. You might get out fine but coming back??? The back side of PI to Ipswich is a nice run, just plan to avoid a few hours either side of low tide. Putting in in Haverhill makes for a nice ride down the river and there is lots to see. Put in at Cashman's is a good launch to head to Ipswich or just cruise Newburyport. Just keep in mind you are in a small vessel and plan accordingly. I ran all over from Newburyport to Gloucester by way of the Annisquam in my 15' er. You will have a blast for sure!
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Old Yesterday, 10:18 AM   #11
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I love the Merrimack and the comedy show the people put on during the weekend (and it's not funny - it's just not safe). I've seen boats that had zero business being in the river let alone trying to make the passage with an outgoing tide into an easterly wind...lunatics. There are plenty of good spots within the river to fish. Joppa is a great spot but as others have said can get a bit busy. Chain Bridge also can produce but you need to be driving the boat through there and can't anchor in the channel so unless you're going with someone else (which I would recommend anyway) not as much fun.

The run from Haverhill to Newburyport as others have said is about an hour and change - nice for early season fishing as the stripers make their way chasing bait.

Biggest thing about the Merrimack is you need to respect it. It's not a hard river to manage but I would get yourself comfortable launching at slack tide so you can familiarize yourself with the area. Also note that the aids to navigation are there for a reason - if you are further up river, they are spaced a bit further apart and you'll need to be mindful of that as there are some VERY shallow areas with hidden rock piles during high tide that will do a number on your lower unit if you're not in the marked channel. I've seen a few boats try to cut it short only to run aground - not pretty...

Lastly, make sure you have a portable VHF radio in case you get in trouble. Should be a waterproof one that floats. Keep the thing on your person as taking a rouge wave and getting knocked out of the boat wouldn't be a happy time.
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