The town of Provincetown began leasing aquaculture grants in the tidal flats in 1989, but hopes for creating a thriving new marine economy were dashed — at least temporarily — by the emergence four years later of a devastating and mysterious quahog parasite known as QPX. From the air, as in this photo, one can still see many of the cages at low tide. ¶ Posted 2013-01-17
If Long Point Light is the surest visible sign that one is coming home from the sea, Bell Buoy No. 3 on Long Point Shoal offers the welcome sound that means the harbor is about to unfold in its considerable majesty. Even though it is anchored only about 450 yards off the point (to be more exact: 42 degrees, 2 minutes north; 70 degrees, 9 minutes, 42 seconds west), the buoy floats over a depth of more than 100 feet, dramatically illustrating how steeply the topography changes off the Cape. In the photo, you can see the clappers suspended around the bell itself, which remains fixed while it is struck from the outside. The sound is so pleasing that the sculptor William Boogar went out of his way in the early 1950s to emulate it in a household bell in the form of bronze scallop shells, with a seahorse-shaped clapper. “You have only to close your eyes, touch the seahorse and the gentle plaintive tone will transport you to Provincetown at once,” The Advocate said. ¶ Posted 2013-01-17
Technically speaking, Provincetown has only one breakwater, and this is it. (The extraordinary structure in the West End that almost everyone, including me, calls a “breakwater” is — more truly — a dike.) The purpose of this 2,500-foot-long structure, which rises 15½ feet above mean low water, is to calm the waves of the harbor before they reach the central piers at which the fishing fleet is moored.
A fairway is an unobstructed, deep-water thoroughfare in a harbor, guaranteeing smooth passage to large vessels — a highway in the sea. Though there’s no evidence of the fairway to greet the eye, accumulated experience watching the ferries arrive and depart will acquaint you with its presence. There’s a reason their movement through the harbor seems so predictable: they’re following the entrance channel fairway. This main fairway forms a Y as it nears shore, branching into the Coast Guard fairway and the Provincetown fairway, to MacMillan Pier. There is also a personal watercraft fairway. These and other features are mapped in the Provincetown Harbor Guide, a very useful publication of the Provincetown Tourist Fund. ¶ Posted 2013-01-18
In the early 20th century, Provincetown thrilled every July to the arrival of a small armada from the Navy’s North Atlantic Squadron. But dozens of large warships (or large vessels of any kind) present a logistical challenge all their own: how can the ships be moored in such a way that they will not collide with one another while riding at storm? More pictures and history»