Friday, March 22, 2013

Thatcher Island a Fantastic Local Resource! How to Support? How to Visit?

photo by Melissa Abbott
Visiting Thacher Island
Thacher Island is located about a mile offshore of Rockport,
Massachusetts. Rockport is a small seacoast town about 40 miles north of Boston. It can be reached via Rt. 128 north. Although the island may be viewed from the shore from either Eden Road or Marmion Way the best way to view the island is by going there by becoming a member of the Thacher Island Association.
Landing Fee
All persons over 14 will be charged a $5.00 landing fee. This fee will be waived for all who can show proof they are Rockport residents, paid up Thacher Island Association members, holders of National Park Service America the Beautiful passes or a valid Federal Duck Stamp. Landing fees will be payable in the form of cash, check or credit card to the keeper on duty in the boat house.
Launch Fee
Seats aboard the Thacher Island Launch will cost $20.00 per adult and $10.00 for children under 14. (The Landing fee is included).
This fee will be waived for all Rockport residents and paid up Thacher Island Association members. Launch fees will be payable by credit card when making your reservations by calling 617-599-2590. The launch fee will be reimbursed if the trip is cancelled due to weather or rough seas. Any cancellations made less than one week before the time of departure will result in forfeiture of payment.
By the Thacher Island Launch
Reservations for 2013 will open again on May 15, 2013.Trips begin on June 1 and run through August 31,2013.(weather permitting)
Join us each Saturday morning at 8AM, 9AM or 10AM returning at 10:30, 11:30 and 12:30. Travel aboard the Thacher Island I or II launch for an exciting 20 minute ride out to this magnificent historical island.
Trips are also available on Wednesdays at 9AM returning at 11:30.
You must make reservations at least two weeks in advance by calling 617-599-2590.
Seats are limited to 6 passengers. Launch leaves from the Town dock (T-Wharf) next to the Sandy Bay Yacht Club.Trips to the island are not recommended for young children under 3 years of age, and becuase the island is a wild life refuge, is off-limits to pets.
Donations are gratefully accepted.

By Kayak
Other ways to get there are by kayak (which you can rent in town) or by your own boat. There is no dock on the island, only a ramp, which may only be used by the Association's launch or kayaks.Distance from Rockport Harbor is about 3 miles.The Assocition asks kayakers to use caution, pay attention to weahter conditions, turn back if you feel uncomfortable. This is not a reliably good paddle for novice kayakers or those with limited endurance. 
Dont forget to bring money for the landing fee.
Your Boat
We make available 3 guest moorings adjacent to the ramp about 50 yards offshore. You must call the keeper on the island in advance to tell him you are coming at 508-284-0144. Unless you plan to swim in from your boat, bring a dingy which you can land on the ramp. Only small row boats and kayaks are allowed to land on the ramp. Landing fees apply.
Ocean Reporter Private Launch Service
Rockport Harbor to Thacher Island
Bird Watching-Eco-Tours-Water Taxi
Because Capt.Lee moors 50 yards off the island he uses a dingy to ferry visitors ashore,passengers should have the physical dexterity to climb in and out of his vessel from the dingy.The return trip need not be on the same day, making the ocean Reporter a good way for campers to reach the island.
Captain Bill Lee
Reasonable Rates

$30.00 Individual
$60.00 Family
$125.00 Corporate
$500.00 Lifetime
Donations are tax deductible
(To the extent allowed by law)
Privileges of Membership:

Free rides to Thacher Island.(Reservations Required)
Two or more newsletters a year.
Thacher Boat/Car sticker.

Satisfaction of helping to preserve a National Historic Landmark.
Click here to purchase your membership:

A Bit of History
Thacher Island was sighted by Champlain in 1605, by Captain John Smith in 1614, and by how many more before that, nobody knows.
The name comes from a shipwreck described as "pathetic" by historians. A small boat out of Ipswich , bound for Marblehead , was caught in the Great Storm of August, 1635, and was dashed to pieces on the rocks of the Island . Of the twenty-three passengers and crew, only Anthony Thacher and his wife survived, watching helplessly as their children and friends were swept away.
On September 3, 1635 , the General Court voted Thacher 40 Marks. Also, in 1636-37, the General Court voted to grant Thacher the Island "at the head of Cape Ann , as his inheritance."
In 1717, the Island was sold by John Appleton (an heir of Thacher ), of Ipswich , to the Reverend John White - 30 acres, more or less, for 100 pounds.
In 1726-27 the Reverend John White sold to Joseph Allen for 175 pounds. This was Joseph Allen, Jr. who owned it at his death in 1750.
In 1771, the Colonial Government bought it back for 500 pounds. The same year, the twin lighthouses were erected and lighted for the first time on December Twenty-first.
The present 123-foot granite towers were completed in 1861 raising the lights to 166 feet above sea level. In 1888 the Town of Rockport adopted the Seal of the Island as its official seal.
Early in this century, four families lived on the Island , to run the lighthouses and fog whistles. Descendants of these families still live in Rockport.
The north light was shut off in 1932, as an economy measure. The Coast Guard, which had manned the Island for many years, removed its last crew of four men in 1980. At that time, the south light and the fog whistle had become automated, and the Town of Rockport took over the Island by lease from the U. S. Coast Guard.
In 1983, the Thacher Island Association was formed as a non-profit organization to support and encourage historic preservation and restoration of the structures on the Island . The Association financed the design and construction of a custom made aluminum launch, a mini landing craft, to provide access to the Island .
Major restoration work was completed in 1988 on the once abandoned North Tower it was relit and approved as a private aid to navigation. A 15 watt fluorescent lamp replicates the amber light of the original oil lamp and can be seen for almost eight miles.
In the summer of 1998 the Coast Guard installed a solar panel to power the south tower and fog horn.
The entire Island and its structures were designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. This designation in January of 2001 officially recognizes Cape Ann Light Station’s significant impact in our nation’s maritime history.
 A total restoration of the brick two story duplex Assistant keepers quarters and a guest apartment on the Island took place during the summer of 2002 allowing the Town to begin renting the guest apartment and providing an income stream to be used for further restoration. The Association maintains volunteer keepers on the Island during the summer months to assist and inform visitors, and to provide the daily upkeep needed for a ship-shape facility.
Also in 2002 the southern 28 acres of the Island and its structures were deeded over to the Town of Rockport by the U.S. Coast Guard. The north end and tower is owned by the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service and managed by the Town on their behalf as a wildlife refuge.
Future plans include restoration of the island and its structures to their original 1800’s condition and keep it open to the public as a historic and educational facility.

photo by Melissa Abbott

Such an incredible location to visit and it's right here on Cape Ann just offshore with some of the most iconic and beautiful lighthouses on the east coast of the United States. Happy Cruising!

For more information and to visit Gloucester Marine Terminal at Cruiseport:
Melissa Abbott
Director Sales and Marketing
Seaport Grille
Gloucester Marine Terminal
Cruiseport Gloucester
978-852-0381 Cell

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