A popular boating destination for Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York boaters is the anchorage at Napatree Point, a sandy spit of land extending west about a mile from Watch Hill, Rhode Island, an opulent day-trip or weekend target of those who want to enjoy exclusive shopping, exceptional dining, picturesque marine vistas at a pace that is slow and leisurely, relaxed and informal.
Filling the anchorage behind Napatree Point to the northeast is the Pawcatuck River which flows into Little Narragansett Bay, an estuary of about 320 square miles, running at an average depth of about seven feet; a perfect anchorage for boats of most sizes. Some of the boats under thirty feet prefer to back stern to the shore for easy access to either the calm water on the northern bay side or the throbbing surf on the opposite southern shore. And, there’s plenty of beach to go around even during the most active boating months.
In 1938, Napatree Point, Rhode Island broke away from Sandy Point, Connecticut, in a hurricane that devastated the area, sweeping homes off their foundations into what is now the anchorage. There are still vestiges of that storm on the sea bottom, uncompromised by saltwater and marine life, parts of cast iron stoves, stainless steel refrigerators, and metal plumbing – hence the moniker “the kitchen.”
The Naptree – Watch Hill connection is an Eden for boaters, blending a calm anchorage, top notch beach and upscale town only a short dinghy ride away. You can take a casual stroll down Bay Street opposite Watch Hill Harbor, stopping in to visit any of the small shops, bistros and specialty boutiques. For breakfast or lunch, there’s St. Claire’s Annex for traditional American style diner fare or the Bay Street Deli for a taste of the finest oversized deli sandwiches anywhere, like the Bay Street Reuben, The Mooring or Misquamicut Club. A couple of doors down you’ll find Bruna’s Cafe and an assortment of gourmet hot and cold drinks, yogurts, granola, sandwich wraps, salads, fruit smoothies, homemade sorbet and gelato.
If you’re looking for something a bit more formal for lunch or dinner, there’s indoor/ alfresco dining at the Olympia Tea Room and Bar and the well known landmark, the yellow Ocean House on Bluff Avenue on a hill overlooking Watch Hill Harbor to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
Kids will love a chance at grabbing the silver ring at the Flying Horse Carousel, the oldest continuing operating carousel in the country. For your convenience, there are public restrooms adjacent to the carousel at Flying Horse Beach and you can get ice for your cooler at the Bay Street Deli or on Watch Hill Dock. All this and more are within a quarter mile walk.
Napatree Beach is a mile long sandy stretch of shoreline with picturesque Watch Hill Light a lighthouse at the eastern end and Fort Mansfield, a Spanish American War gun emplacement now covered with thick vegetation, at the western end. Napatree is shaped like a crescent with soft sand and a view of Fisher’s Island to the south west and on a clear day, Block Island – Rhode Island to the southeast and Montauk Point – Long Island straight ahead.
A dangerous reef runs from Watch Hill Light over to the east shore of Fisher’s Island. The safest passage from the east is closest to the lighthouse through Watch Hill Passage, between G-1 (gong) and R-21 (flashing red – six bell). From the west your best route is to go around the western breakwater in Stonington, CT, past Stonington Point following buoys to the north past G-5 (flashing green) around the west end of Sandy Point. Stay in the channel and don’t cut south toward Napatree Point until you’ve passed Seal Rock and RN “22” unless you have shallow draft.
If you’re looking for a boating destination with a top notch beach, calm anchorage, a place to entertain kids, good food and casual, friendly atmosphere, you’ll find it at Watch Hill, Rhode Island and Napatree Point. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.