A Boater’s Guide to Essex, Connecticut

Essex, Connecticut is quintessential New England. It is steeped in history, with beautiful streets lined with Colonial and Federal architecture. It is home to interesting shops, restaurants, and art galleries. And it is ideal for boaters, from the area’s great fishing, to the scenic cruising opportunities along the Connecticut River, to the plenty of slips and facilities in town ready to welcome visitors. 

You’ll find Essex on the western shore of the Connecticut River, 5 nautical miles north of Long Island Sound. Follow channel markers up the river to G C “26,” and be sure to observe the no-wake zones along the way. Also, pay close attention to channel markers off Hayden’s Point, as rocks extend underwater right to the edge of the channel.

Essex has no shortage of boating facilities, so boaters will have plenty of options to choose from when looking for slips and moorings. Among them is Essex Boat Works (www.essexboatworks.com; 860 767-8276; VHF 9 & 68). Boaters can also find slips and moorings at the Essex Yacht Club (www.essexyc.com; 860-767-8121; VHF 68).

The scenic Connecticut River is ideal for cruising and is teeming with wildlife. Thousands of birdwatchers flock to the area each year for a chance to glimpse bald eagles, ospreys and the fall migration of tree swallows. The river also has many small creeks and coves worth exploring by small boat. If you need to rent a kayak, check out Action Sports (www.actionsportsct.com) in Old Saybrook.

On land, Essex has many attractions. You’ll enjoy walking the scenic streets, enjoying the architecture, visiting the many shops and art galleries, and dining at the area’s many fine restaurants. While in town, be sure to visit the Connecticut River Museum (www.ctrivermuseum.org), which explores the history of the river with exhibits, educational programs and special events. The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat tours (www.essexsteamtrain.com) – featuring a 65-foot replica paddlewheeler – are a favorite among kids. Another great way to see the area is aboard the 54-foot boat Riverquest (www.ctriverexpeditions.org), which offers scenic cruises along the river.

For more information on Essex, Connecticut, visit www.essexct.com.