“One of the most beautiful views in American waters.” –The Boston Globe, 1915
Marblehead Harbor is the centerpiece of historic Marblehead, a coastal community of 19,800 residents 16 miles northeast of Boston famous for its contributions to the American Revolution and in all wars since. The town’s quaint narrow streets and historic 17th and 18th century buildings mirror Marblehead as it has existed since its founding in 1629. It was the largest fishing port in colonial times, as well a major ship building center.
Marblehead became the birthplace of the American Navy when, in 1775, General George Washington commissioned the Hannah, owned and crewed by Marbleheaders, to pursue the British Navy. In 1814, the harbor became the refuge of the vessel USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) as it was being pursued by two British frigates. The oldest commissioned naval ship in the world and the flagship of the U.S. Navy, Constitution visited the harbor in 1937 and again in 1997. Marblehead is also the birthplace of U.S. Marine aviation when, in 1912, the first biplane, The Flying Fish, took off and landed from the harbor.
The harbor entrance is flanked by historic Fort Sewall (1644) and Marblehead Light (lighthouse). It has been both the starting and finishing port for many international races, including between Marblehead and Kiel, Germany; San Sebastian, Spain; and Bermuda. The iconic biannual Marblehead to Halifax Race, which began in 1905, continues to this day, the oldest continuous ocean race in the country. And the mid-summer regatta begun in 1889—the country’s largest and most enduring annual regatta for small boats and today known as National Offshore One-Design (NOOD) Marblehead Race Week—still attracts yachtsmen from around the world.
With more than 2,400 moorings and 14.2 miles of tidal coastline, the harbor is the center of recreational boating, sailing, cruising, racing, kayaking, fishing, lobstering, marine businesses, and social life. It is home to six yacht clubs—Boston, Corinthian, Dolphin, Eastern, Marblehead, and Pleon—the nation’s oldest youth yacht club. The Marblehead Racing Association annually organizes nearly 200 races, including one-design fleets—Etchells, IODs, J/70s, Rhodes 19s, Town Class, 420s, Lasers, Laser Radials, and Viper 640s. More than 2,000 sailboats and power boats dot the harbor. It takes more than twenty years to get a mooring, and there are more than 1,000 people on the mooring waiting list. In 1915, The Boston Globe called Marblehead Harbor “one of the most beautiful views in American waters.” It remains so today.
LET US KNOW
What do you love most about the harbor? Do you have a favorite part? Let us know below. See you in the harbor!