The Best Boat Ramps On The Cape

Summer is here and the weather is prime for a day out on the water.

As any Cape Cod mariner knows however, it not easy to get your boat a permanent mooring or dock slip and even if you could, those things don’t come cheap. Most boaters turn instead to a more practical option – trailer the boat and launch it yourself.

But where you ask? Well, the options are plenty from one end of the Cape to the other.

In order to learn more about which ramps are best, and why so many even exist in the first place, we turned to an authority on the subject, Mr. Gary Brown.

Brown said that for fishermen it first comes down to where you’re looking to go. You see, game fishermen like Brown need to follow the fish. Just because stripers are in the one place today, doesn’t mean they’ll be around next week. A good fishermen needs to move to follow the catch, and know the ramps in the area.

“If you’re fishing Monomoy you want something down Cape with a good ramp. Bass River, Harwich Wychmere Harbor, Allen harbor.” he explains. “If you’re up in Falmouth you want Green Pond, those ramps are good. On the mid-cape it’s Barnstable on the north side.”

Brown said that it is crucial to move around and be informed about the different launch opportunities.

“If you’re commercial fishing you’re moving from ramp, to ramp, to ramp depending on where the fish are.” he said.

“I was off Monomoy Island today. If I was fishing Bearse’s Shoals, the outside, I’d launch out of Ryders Cove. But where I’m fishing Handkerchief, inside, I launch out of the Gary Brown Ramp or the Bass River Ramp.”

There’s a great deal of localized fishing lingo tucked into that quote, things best understood by those who know the area nautically. What really ought not to go unnoticed though is the fact that Gary Brown, the fisherman we’re taking to, often launches from the “Gary Brown Ramp.”

Coincidence? No. The man has an actual ramp named after him, to prove his expert knowledge on the subject.

When asked about the popularity of the Cape’s many ramps, Heinz Proft, assistant harbormaster in Harwich, said that a lot of it has to do with convenience and economy.

“There are people who can put their boat in a slip all season, like May through November, but it costs a lot of money and space isn’t available for all of the boaters who want to use the water,” he said.

“Having the ramp allows people to launch the boat on wonderful beautiful bays to access the water and leave at the end of the day without having to pay for a boat slip, or wait years to get a boat slip.”

It wasn’t always this way though. Brown says that years ago commercial interests overshadowed the needs of local fishermen and there were few options for a boater looking to launch.

He said that it got so bad that area fishermen got together and petitioned for something to be done at the municipal level. A short time later, the Commonwealth got involved and began making serious investments in local launches.

Today, the Cape is littered with boat ramps: sandy ramps and paved, salt water and fresh, appealing to fishermen and recreational boaters alike and they offer some serious benefits to boaters over slips and moorings.

“The nice thing about boat ramps is boats that are a little bit smaller in size, that are maybe exposed to bad weather, can pick and choose their days to launch and the ramp is open real every morning, at 4:00 am, and people can go out and utilize as little or as much time as they want on the water and then come back, haul there boat out and go somewhere else. Go to Pleasant Bay or go to another town.” said Proft.

“People who have boat slips are pretty much limited to the slip that they’re in, or where they can get to by water. There’s not as much flexibility.”

Laurel DeLong, assistant harbormaster for the Town of Barnstable said that when it comes to launching a boat, it’s different strokes for different folks, and the towns try to serve as many interests as possible.

“Some ramps are steeper than others, some of them have more parking. Some are in an area where a person wants to boat particularly or go and hang out, its closer to that specific area.” she explained.

“We have them on the north side as well as the south side. So obviously if you want to go over to Sandy Neck, you’re going to use the boat ramp out by Blish Point, if you want to go to Sampson’s Island you’re going to use a boat ramp somewhere over in Three Bays that’s going to be closer to your final destination.”

Land lovers may be wondering why a municipality would go through the trouble and considerable expense of creating and maintaining these ramps to pleasure an admittedly boisterous bunch of small-time, day-trip mariners.

Well, according to Brown it’s pretty simple.

“Think of the tourism,” he said. “You want people coming down spending money on gas for the boats, loading up equipment for the boats, hitting the tackle shops, the restaurants, blah, blah, blah… It makes a lot of sense.”

Towns seem to get that. Both Delong in Barnstable and Proft in Harwich were quick to highlight extensive – and expensive – renovations which have recently been completed at boat ramps in their towns.

New amenities include expanded parking, electricity, bath houses, attendants, railings, grippy things on the ramps themselves to increase traction. It’s clear that towns are seeing the municipal benefits of these sorts of resources.

Cape Ramps

Barnstable
Barnstable Marina, Barnstable Harbor at both Scudder Lane and Blish Point, and Hyannis Harbor at both Old Harbor Road and Lewis Bay Road. There are fresh water ramps available as well at Hamblins Pond, Lovells Pond, Shubael Pond, and Wequaquet Lake.

Bourne
Bourne Marina, Barlow’s Landing on Buzzards Bay, Electric Avenue to Buttermilk Bay, Great Herring Pond, Monument Beach, and Hen Cove.

Brewster
Little Cliff Pond and Sheep Pond

Chatham
Bridge Street on Nantucket Sound, Andrew Harding Lane on Chatham Harbor, Foot of Cove Road and Ryders Cove on Pleasant Bay.

Dennis
Bass River, Corporation Road, Cove Road, Ferry St., Grand Cove, Mayfair Marine, Sesuit Harbor, Uncle and Freeman’s Landing

Eastham
Hemenway Road, Salt Pond, and Rock Harbor.

Falmouth
Ashumet Pond, Megansett Harbor, Snug Harbor, Great Harbor, Falmouth Harbor, Great Pond, Green Pond, White’s Landing, Waquoit and Upper Waquoit Bay.

Harwich
Saquatucket Harbor, Harring River, and Round Cove.

Mashpee
Johns Pond and Mashpee-Wakeby Pond

Orleans
Meetinghouse Pond, Portanimicut, Pleasant Bay, Quanset Road, Rock Harbor, and Town Cove.

Provincetown
Just Provincetown Harbor really.

Sandwich
Sandwich Marina

Truro
Pamet Harbor

Wellfleet
Wellfleet Harbor

Yarmouth
Berry Ave., Bass River Beach, and Center Street.
Paved Ramp – Top Half of Tide