North Coast, MA – Gloucester, Rockport & Lighthouses

This tour is 7 hours with a sit-down lunch and is available year-round.

famous-calendar-red-wharf-fisherman-supply-store-rockport-ma-2

On the north shore of Massachusetts, 28 miles from Boston, there is a beautiful peninsula named Cape Ann, named by Captain John Smith, after the Danish-born mother of English King Charles I.  It is cut off from the mainland by the Annisquam River, and access is only by boat or bridge – there are those who claim it is effectively an island, as it is surrounded by water.  There are but two towns here.

andrea-gailGloucester, named after Gloucester, England, is America’s oldest seaport, settled by English pioneers in 1623.  This town is particularly familiar to those who saw the George Clooney film “The Perfect Storm” (2000), based on the true story of the sorry fate of a sword fishing boat, the Andrea Gail.  This town is one of the premier commercial fishing ports in America, and is situated just 14 miles from Stellwagen Bank, one of the best fishing grounds off the coast of the United States.  It is also accessible to fishing grounds off of Nova Scotia and the Grand Banks.  Commercial fishing is the most dangerous job in the country, and over the years, over 10,000 Gloucester fishermen have lost their lives at sea.

bluefin-tunaThe TV show “Wicked Tuna” is filmed here in Gloucester, and there are 4 species of whales “fishing” the waters there today, as do giant Bluefin tuna, sharks and swordfish.  “Giant” Bluefin tuna are a different species than Bluefin tuna and are considered by the Japanese as the best overall Sushi fish in the world.  They range in weight from 400lbs. to 1100lbs., and individual fish have sold for more than $400,000 to Japanese fish dealers at auction.  Fish auctions occur daily in Gloucester.

There is a large Portuguese and Italian-American community of fishermen here, and also a vibrant artist colony on the peninsula.  A few of the artists who have lived here include Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, William Glackens, Fitzhugh Lane, and Wm. Morris Hunt.

Clarence Birdseye perfected the craft of freezing fish and vegetables here, using the only bathtub in his apartment, in which he would mix brine and ice, and use different types of household fans, etc. while trying to keep peace with Mrs. Birdseye.

The late Reverend Sun Myong Moon lived on-and-off here, and he owned the largest fish processing plant in town.  The actress Whoopi Goldberg has a home here, and has been known to come into town to tend bar at a rough-and-tumble fishermen’s tavern on quite a few unpredictable occasions.

There is also a growing population of Japanese here, as they are wholesale buyers of fresh seafood – Japan Airlines has daily non-stop flights to Japan from Boston – so folks can enjoy freshly caught seafood within 14 hours of its being hauled in from the sea (this is extremely important as freezing seafood kills most of the flavor).

Eastern-Point-LighthouseThere are 6 lighthouses here on this small peninsula, one of them is at the eastern-most point in the United States, and its light is the first lighthouse the Captain of the Titanic would have seen as he entered American waters had the ship not sank long before reaching shore.

While Gloucester is a working town, it shares the peninsula with scenic Rockport.  There are vast differences between the two towns – Rockport’s fishermen specialize in trapping lobster, and there are harbor front restaurants in this very picturesque town, where you may literally see lobster boats at the rear of the building unloading lobsters caught only minutes before your arrival.  Famous “Motif #1” (see photo at the top of the page) – a building made famous by its use in calendars – is in the tiny harbor, and may be instantly recognizable to you.

Bearskin Neck has a fabulous walking street, lined with shops, jewelry and art galleries, and the ocean is on either side of the neck.  There are great and simple restaurants to choose from, and the artist colony in Rockport surpasses that of Gloucester’s (as do the prices!).

Halibut-Point-Quarry-Rockport-2010There are numerous abandoned granite rock quarries in Rockport, and the stones brought out of these holes start today as foundation stones of familiar buildings throughout northeast America, including the Empire State Building.

We can take you to visit the Newspaper House, made entirely of newspapers by an eccentric resident some 80 years ago.  The owner had newspapers left-over when he was finished building the house, so he filled it with usable furniture – also made entirely out of newspaper!  It has to be seen to be believed.

Julia Roberts has made several films in town, as have other stars.  The films made here include “Stuck on You” (2003), and “The Proposal” (2009).  Hollywood even erected a totem pole in the center of town and transformed the town into Sitka, Alaska.  Other films made here (population 6000) include “Edge of Darkness” (2010), “The Love Letter” (1999), and others, such as “Coma” (1978), “I’ll be Home for Christmas” (1998), “Mermaids” (1990), and “The Next Karate Kid” (1994).

For lunch there are good choices in both Gloucester and Rockport – we can show you how to eat lobster if you like – restaurants supply bibs, so drop your inhibitions and give it a try!