Harbor Hazards

A common mistake amongst novice boaters is the perception that because it’s the ocean, it must be deep. There are obstructions throughout Salem Sound. There are six marked channels to guide you around them comprised of the main ship channel (Salem Channel), the Marblehead, Cat Island, Beverly, South Channel and Eagle Island Channel.

The most dangerous hazard is Coney Island ledge. All mariners must know its location before setting out in Salem Sound. It is visible at low tide but from half tide up it looks like open ocean but is inches below the surface and extensive in length. This is our most common mayday call. The Dry Breakers, just south of Bakers Island are very similar.

In close to shore, shallow tidal areas and mussel beds are too numerous to list. You cannot guess where you are and must buy a chart and study it.

It has been said that colonial mariners would sail the entire world only to wreck in Salem Sound. It is most likely not a coincidence that Nathaniel Bowditch, who was inspired to modernize existing navigation methods in the Practical Navigator, came from Salem.

Be smart and get a chart.