The Mighty Merrimack River

Haddock

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I am just happy that all of your comments reinforce my decision to run out of the Danvers River with a 1.5 hour commute from home just to get there and a 5 MPH run upriver to get out to the ocean. :)
 

cb34

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I am just happy that all of your comments reinforce my decision to run out of the Danvers River with a 1.5 hour commute from home just to get there and a 5 MPH run upriver to get out to the ocean. :)
I would give up boating :oops:
 

BillD

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Outside the jetties bill?
As stated in other posts, depends on the tide and wind.
There is a trough just off the north side of jetty out a bit that will cause a wave to break.
The south jetty out past the 1st green can is wild during a NEeatser.
Still a great river to boat out of.
 

BillD

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Crowds? I never even mentioned those. Is it crowded there too??? WTF. The middle of the channel, In the dark,seriously...
very crowded on weekends....need to stay focused when surfing the 25 T Jason inbound on the back of a breaker with an outgoing tide and having boat traffic coming at you heading out !
All good
 

leaky

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As far as the services go, it is true there are just no reasonable fuel options over there and at times during the year you are playing games just to get overpriced fuel when available, there is no place to get ice on the water (by shoveling it for free anyway), and the mouth sucks. Additionally, since the place is a river where ice becomes an issue, you will be hard pressed to find a marina allowing you to keep a boat in the water past the start of November. The way the moorings keep popping up, and I do applaud Salisbury for making more space, it seems like some day we will have a no wake zone running from the chain bridge all the way past the point where the Captain's boats are. The channel inside there keeps shrinking as more boats are piled in, every year it seems like I need to cut further south after passing the ice breaker to avoid snaking around moorings.

But the harbor is as far north as you can go while still being able to land fish in MA, which is important if one wants to go commercial striper fishing and lives to the north, is in a relatively ideal spot as far as access to tuna and other species, and there is a whole lot of dockage & moorings available on the river - if the boating industry isn't in a boom slips start opening up and can be found on the cheap. Hampton/Seabrook have some additional services and lack a nightmare inlet but if you want to be at a marina there just isn't much there for slips, a mooring might be available on short order but it's going to be way back in some muddy river area. Portsmouth so I am told is extremely expensive, Gloucester is a solid 50 minute drive if you are coming from the MA/NH line, while in my area Newburyport is 20 minutes through backroads.

My ambition is definitely to get away from the Merrimack some day, but bottom line there are not a zillion great options.
 

harpoon83

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The mouth of the merrimack is no joke, recently it has gotten insane with people trolling and drifting Across the channel and then looking at you like your the asshole for trying to traverse the mouth like a normal human.

I used to hug the north jetty and sneak out that way, but not this year. This year it was different each trip, in my center console I have only ever had to turn around once and not go out the mouth. It is not a safe place to be for most of the boats that you will see fishing there most days.

There are days when the ocean is flat calm and the mouth looks like a tropical storm, funny no one tries to fish the mouth on those days...
 

CCtuna

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Some day...
As far as the services go, it is true there are just no reasonable fuel options over there and at times during the year you are playing games just to get overpriced fuel when available, there is no place to get ice on the water (by shoveling it for free anyway), and the mouth sucks. Additionally, since the place is a river where ice becomes an issue, you will be hard pressed to find a marina allowing you to keep a boat in the water past the start of November. The way the moorings keep popping up, and I do applaud Salisbury for making more space, it seems like some day we will have a no wake zone running from the chain bridge all the way past the point where the Captain's boats are. The channel inside there keeps shrinking as more boats are piled in, every year it seems like I need to cut further south after passing the ice breaker to avoid snaking around moorings.

But the harbor is as far north as you can go while still being able to land fish in MA, which is important if one wants to go commercial striper fishing and lives to the north, is in a relatively ideal spot as far as access to tuna and other species, and there is a whole lot of dockage & moorings available on the river - if the boating industry isn't in a boom slips start opening up and can be found on the cheap. Hampton/Seabrook have some additional services and lack a nightmare inlet but if you want to be at a marina there just isn't much there for slips, a mooring might be available on short order but it's going to be way back in some muddy river area. Portsmouth so I am told is extremely expensive, Gloucester is a solid 50 minute drive if you are coming from the MA/NH line, while in my area Newburyport is 20 minutes through backroads.

My ambition is definitely to get away from the Merrimack some day, but bottom line there are not a zillion great options.
IF you can find a slip/mooring in Portsmouth. NH is not the most boater friendly space wise
 

BUDXR7

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With a full season under my belt on the Merrimack I can attest to its snottiness. And asshole boaters. Although I never went out there on truly bad days it doesn't take much to get it kicked up on an outgoing tide. I never paid much attention to differences going north or south after clearing the jetties because I pretty much exclusively go south for our destinations. Whether at low or high tide I never went across anything on the depth finder that I worried about grounding on (not without a 15' wave anyhow). Never had any trouble in the NB 28. One key is having enough power and using it at the right time. And not getting swamped by a big sport fisherman cranking through at 30 knots. I can't for the life of me understand the guys who drift in the mouth. I'm sure there are fish but man do you get the shit kicked out of you.
 

Haddock

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Too many boaters have the money but not the knowledge or experience with the Navigation Rules and Regulations; the mighty Merrimack is not the best classroom to learn.
 

leaky

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With a full season under my belt on the Merrimack I can attest to its snottiness. And asshole boaters. Although I never went out there on truly bad days it doesn't take much to get it kicked up on an outgoing tide. I never paid much attention to differences going north or south after clearing the jetties because I pretty much exclusively go south for our destinations. Whether at low or high tide I never went across anything on the depth finder that I worried about grounding on (not without a 15' wave anyhow). Never had any trouble in the NB 28. One key is having enough power and using it at the right time. And not getting swamped by a big sport fisherman cranking through at 30 knots. I can't for the life of me understand the guys who drift in the mouth. I'm sure there are fish but man do you get the shit kicked out of you.

Keep the north route in mind, sooner or later you are going to be coming home and from a distance you will just see white where the entrance is, typically then even the big boats can be spotted going way around to use the north entry, sometimes waiting it out over there until conditions improve. On the way out of course the same can be used, head north then go way around.

Also worth learning is the backriver from ipswich, that has saved our ass before but especially in a DE you gotta do it I'd say 1.5 hours on either side of high (for a shallow DE).

As far as fishing the mouth, if you got a boat that drifts OK and the bigger fish are around it is a very exciting tide. Basically they can feed really hard and all at once, multiple hookups at a time, similar to rips elsewhere. Of course they tend to bite right about in the roughest spot most of the time.
 

BUDXR7

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I did the backside of plum island the last day of the season. The timing was just good to try it, went in about an hour before high tide. Watch out for the submerged "breakwater" before the plum island turnpike. Wtf is that there? Maybe it was my inexperience but I carved a couple lines through the mud when I was in the river so I ended up running 4-5 knots the whole way. Evidently searays can cruise through there at 25 knots..... tight quarters and lack of visibility be damned.
 

leaky

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I did the backside of plum island the last day of the season. The timing was just good to try it, went in about an hour before high tide. Watch out for the submerged "breakwater" before the plum island turnpike. Wtf is that there? Maybe it was my inexperience but I carved a couple lines through the mud when I was in the river so I ended up running 4-5 knots the whole way. Evidently searays can cruise through there at 25 knots..... tight quarters and lack of visibility be damned.

Haha I have a funny story about going through the creek and under that bridge at about 50 knots (no I was not driving!).. these things happen sometimes :).

On Joppa Flatts you mean? If so that's the "dike". As the story goes they built it to walk out and duck hunt at low tide. If there is 4 ft of water coming up to it you got 2+ ft under you but honestly even in my skiff I don't cross it at speed unless I see 5, not really sure if there are any high spots.

Best bet coming out of the backside of joppa, cut around the dike then head through the yacht club moorings back into the busy section of the harbor near the CG station or just run a course east of the green flasher after you clear it.
 

MAArcher

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Interesting tidbit about the area. Do you guys know what all the Little straight line channels in the marshes are from and for?
 

leaky

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Interesting tidbit about the area. Do you guys know what all the Little straight line channels in the marshes are from and for?

My assumption is those were for irrigation at some time, those marshes are basically a river delta and ideal for farming. Would be interesting to know for sure.
 

Jjammer

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That whole area is a lot of fun in a skiff or CC

Would love to keep my DE on the Parker but it’s just too skinny at low
 

MAArcher

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The drainage ditches started in 1800s to farm marsh hay. Then in th late 1930’s and early 40’s it was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps for mosquito control. Now some groups are trying to get them filled in to restore the marshes but it’s slow going with all the red tape.
 

MAArcher

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On Joppa Flatts you mean? If so that's the "dike". As the story goes they built it to walk out and duck hunt at low tide. If there is 4 ft of water coming up to it you got 2+ ft under you but honestly even in my skiff I don't cross it at speed unless I see 5, not really sure if there are any high spots.

I've wondered about that. Makes sense. Woodbridge island is a historic duck hunting spot and has a duck hunting cabin on it and its still owned by a duck hunter. There's two "dike's", one protruding from the north west corner of Woodbridge Island towards Joppa, and the other protruding from Plum Island towards the north east corner of Woodbridge.

My worst experience with obstacles in that area is last year when I had a 19' War Eagle center console duck boat with a 115hp on it. I was tearing up the creek having too much fun and didn't realize the grass flats north of Chaces Island (didn't used to be called seal island?) get totally submerged at high tide. I went from a grinning fool at 40mph to "holy crap what have I done!" and zero mph real quick.
 

BillD

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I've run the Merrimack mouth with my toooo many boats I've owned for 25+ yrs.
Remember, the mouth was dredged 2010-2011....since then the sands have filled back in causing the big eddies and breaking waves on outgoing tides and the NE, E, SE winds push against the outflow
 
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