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Destination Portsmouth - If you decide to go

Facilities for cruisers visiting Portsmouth, N.H., are along the PiscataquaRiver and in Little Harbor, southwest of New CastleIsland at the river mouth.

Facilities for cruisers visiting Portsmouth, N.H., are along the PiscataquaRiver and in Little Harbor, southwest of New CastleIsland at the river mouth. A state-operated pumpout boat serves yachts at area marinas, moorings and anchorages for $10.

Read the other stories in this package: Destination Portsmouth, N.H.   Destination The Isles of Shoals

Green marker 2KR marks the mouth of the Piscataqua’s deep, well-marked channel shared by recreational boats, Naval ships and commercial vessels. Because of the current, which roars through at 4-plus knots on both the flood and ebb, locals advise transiting the river around slack tide downtown. Normal tidal range is about 9-1/2 feet.

En route to the city are two lift bridges. The U.S. 1 Memorial Bridge (10-foot closed clearance) opens on the hour and half-hour. A quarter-mile beyond, the Sarah Long Bridge (19-foot closed clearance) opens 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the hour. North of Portsmouth’s marinas, twin 135-foot-high Interstate 95 bridges span the river.

NOAA chart 13283 — CapeNeddickHarbor to Isles of Shoals, PortsmouthHarbor — covers the area.

Where to stay


You can anchor, pick up an unoccupied state-owned mooring (you’ll have to vacate if the holder returns), or make reservations at Wentworth by the Sea Marina, at the head of Little Harbor. The marina’s launch serves anchored and moored boats daily from May through October. Seacoast Trolley or Captain and Patty’s Water Taxi, (207) 451-8156, make runs to Portsmouth.

Wentworth by the Sea Marina — (603) 433-5050, VHF channel 71, — has slips for boats to 165 feet at $3.30 to $4.50 per foot per night depending upon length, including pumpout. Electricity and telephone are optional. Moorings with launch service, showers, laundry and pumpout are $50 a night. Because of the current, marina manager Pat Kelley recommends calling in advance. “We can talk them in, if necessary,” says Kelley. The facility offers a high-speed fuel dock, ice, marine supplies, showers, laundry, picnic area, snack bar and lounge are on-site. Courtesy vans and cars, rental bikes and cars, tennis, a swimming pool, and fine dining and lodgings at Wentworth by the Sea Resort.


Pepperell Cove, below the bridges to starboard in Kittery, Maine, is a popular anchorage and mooring area, but you’ll need a taxi to Portsmouth.

• Portsmouth Yacht Club on New Castle Island — (603) 436-9877, VHF channel 9, — rents moorings with daytime launch service for boats to 40 feet for $30 per night. It offers fuel, showers, ice, grill and a dinghy dock. You’ll need a taxi to get to town.

• Kittery Point Yacht Club on Goat Island — (603) 436-9303, — rents moorings with weekend launch service, showers and ice, and water taxi to Portsmouth.

• PrescottPark, downtown but seaward of the bridges — (603) 431-8748, VHF channel 9, — has limited docking for boats to 55 feet in 18-foot depths. Overnight rates range from $20 to $50, daytime $1 to $5 an hour, depending upon length. Half-hour loading and unloading is free, and the maximum you can stay is 72 hours.

• The Marina at Harbour Place, upstream of Memorial Bridge — (603) 436-0915, VHF channel 9, — has dockage for boats to 150 feet for $2 a foot per night, $5 per daytime hour. Showers, laundry, water and electricity are on-site.

• Dockage may be available at Witch Cove Marina on Sagamore Creek — (603) 427-1313 — or in Kittery, Maine, across from Portsmouth, at Badgers Island Marina — (207) 439-3820, VHF channel 9 — or Kittery Landing Marina — (207) 439-1661.


The only harbor is GosportHarbor, between Star, Cedar and SmuttynoseIslands. Because of poor holding, most cruisers prefer to pick up a mooring maintained by Portsmouth or Kittery Point yacht clubs. However, if a club member arrives, you will have to vacate.

Boaters can anchor in the cove between Star and Cedar, and can land at the float on Star. To visit Smuttynose, you can anchor in Haley’s Cove or behind the breakwater. For AppledoreIsland you can pick up a vacant mooring on the west side of Appledore and dinghy to the Shoals Marine Lab dock.


• Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, (603) 436-3988,

• New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development, .


• Saturday mornings in season: Farmer’s Market, City Hall parking lot.

• All summer: PrescottPark Arts Festival, with jazz, folk, country and bluegrass music on the outdoor stage, (603) 436-2848.

• June 9: Annual Market Square Day, street festival, 10K road race, (603) 610-5521.

• June 16-17: Pocket Gardens Tour, self-guided three-mile tour among antique houses and gardens of South End, Friday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., (603) 436-4762.

• July 4: An American Celebration! Independence Day festivities, children’s parade, music, games, reenactments, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., (603) 433-1100.