Watersports & Boating

Choose Your Pleasure (Boat) – Kayak, Sail or Motor

By Susanna Graham-Pye

Rain in the 2014 edition of Truly Orleans

Crystal and Pilgrim Lake, Baker’s Pond, The River, Kescayogansett Pond, Rock Harbor, Nauset Beach, Little Pleasant Bay, Arey’s Pond, Big Pleasant Bay, Cedar Pond, Town Cove, Skaket Beach – and that’s just the big stuff. We could go on and on listing bodies of water, large and small, salt and fresh, crowded and secluded – in Orleans.


But, hey! you don’t need a list.

Just drive any town road long enough and you’ll see the water. It might be just a glimpse through the trees, or you could come around another bend and find your breath taken away by the floor to ceiling sweep of it all: sand, ocean, sky.

kayaking Orleans cape codFor just about any kind of boating enthusiast, Orleans offers a place where you can climb aboard a vessel, be it large or small, and leave land behind.

Some of the town’s fresh water ponds offer kayakers and canoers space to glide over mirror still waters where they might catch sight of snapping turtles. Ponds here are so clear, pickerel or bass or sunfish can be seen sliding beneath a boat. Dragonflies and damselflies skitter over lake surfaces and close to shore, snakes bask in the the sun.

Many ponds in town, Crystal and Baker’s among them, are state stocked, though none allow internal combustion engines. Permits for freshwater fishing are required, but even during the height of summer one can be alone in the middle of a pond casting a line.

Kayaking, rowing and canoeing don’t need to be confined to freshwater. The town’s many tidal ponds and rivers, marshes and bays, all offer incredible paddling.

Goose Hummock Shop is an important stop for any paddling purchases. The shop, named for a tiny island in Nauset Marsh, opened in 1946 and was the first sporting goods store on the Lower Cape. For hunting, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, SUP boarding and other watersports – Goose Hummock is the place. It offers lessons and tours and can fit anyone with anything needed for a day out on the water.

Of course the larger bodies of water beckon those who prefer larger boats.

Boating from any one of the saltwater pond berths out through Little and Big Pleasant Bay can lead you straight out to the Atlantic. Along the ride, depending on the tide, you may see  shimmering streams of schoolies flow past, seals, herons, egrets and a host of other wildlife.

Town Cove is another gateway to ocean boating. The estuary is popular for water skiing, sailing, and all kinds of fishing.

And then there is Cape Cod Bay. Its magnificent tidal exchange, one that exposes tidal flats that reach for as far as the eye can see, are some of the largest in the world, rivalled only by flats off the coasts of Great Britain and Brazil. As beautiful as the flats are, the tides in the bay offer one of the most significant challenges for unknowing boaters. For two to three hours on either side of high tide, you must be back to shore in Orleans or you will find yourself stuck in the bay for a good long time .

Boating in Cape Cod Bay is not to be taken lightly. Some experience is helpful and paying attention to tides and winds is absolutely necessary. A wind switch in the bay can change gentle, glassy swells to giant waves in an instant.

Aside from being a boating destination, Orleans is the leading boat-building and boat sales hub of the lower Cape.

For more than half a century, Nauset Marine has been a mainstay of the Orleans boating scene. It offers boat rentals, a fully stocked marine store, boat hauling services, and a marina. In addition to being one of the world’s largest Boston Whaler dealers, Nauset Marine also sells boats in the Eastern, Hurricane and Sunfish-Vanguard boat lines. Nauset Marine is also a full scale boat building operation, constructing classic downeast powerboats — cruisers to center consoles — boats ranging in size from 25-footers to 36 feet.

Arey’s Pond Boat Yard, as its name implies, is a classic New England yard tucked away on beautiful Arey’s Pond in South Orleans. Yard owner Tony Davis offers everything from custom built-catboats to traditional launches. The people who work in this boatyard pride themselves on the ability to restore historic boats of all shapes and sizes. Like Nauset Marine, Arey’s offers boat rentals and sailing lessons as well.

Orleans has always drawn boaters to its shores, and the town has a long history of training boaters. Namequoit Sailing Association (NSA) is a little reminder of a day when the shores of Pleasant Bay were lined with summer sailing camps. The clubhouse overlooks Frost Fish Cove, a secluded tidal pond off Little Pleasant Bay that members refer to as their own private slice of heaven. NSA offers sailing programs for adults and children and its students and members can often be found racing other Cape clubs.

And, of course, there is the Orleans Yacht Club, which has been encouraging all aspects of sailing for more than six decades. The club runs a popular youth sailing program, and is home to Nauset Regional High School’s sailing team. It has a fleet of small daysailers that race throughout the summer on Town Cove. The club has a wide variety of sailboats that give its students and members an exciting array of sailing experiences.

Other Watersports Ideas

Blue Claw Boat Tours invites you join us as we explore the pristine bays, islands and inlets of Lower Cape Cod. We tour Pleasant Bay in Orleans to Chatham, Town Cove, the harbors of Wellfleet, Provincetown, Barnstable and Hyannis, as well as the Bass River. The boat leaves from Nauset Marine, 235 Main Street in East Orleans.

Freedom Cruise Line provides high speed ferry transportation from Harwich Port, Cape Cod MA to Nantucket Island. The lease expensive fast way to Nantucket Island! Sail away on the vessel Freedom from Harwich Port, Cape Cod and you will experience Nantucket within just 80-minutes.

Hy-Line Cruises offers cruises to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard along with sightseeing cruises of the Hyannis Harbor that pass the historic Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport and of the Cape Cod Canal, a National Historic Civic Engineering Landmark. Deep-Sea fishing packages are also available.

Join Dolphin Fleet New England’s First Whale Watch. Trips are departing daily so join us out on the water. On each trip we offer a great program for young and old guided by experienced naturalists. Remember not all whale watches are alike so get a local opinion.

Located on the Outer Cape, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary features 1,200 acres of salt marsh, pine woodlands, fields, and sandy beach, and our new green nature center boasts a large auditorium, laboratory, and dormitory for overnight stays. Staff expertise and areas of specialty for adult groups include shorebird natural history, turtle research, coastal ecology, geology of Cape Cod, and wildlife cruises.