Massachusetts Coast Windsurfing

New England can offer great windsurfing if you know where and when to look for wind. This short guide should be of some help for understanding the weather patterns and choosing the right spots to sail. The document is a work in progress, so anyone is welcome to send suggestions to me or add more sites! Also, check out:

The weather and sites information in this page is taken a document compiled by Pierre St Hilaire (

For windsurfing info on the web, check out my list of windsurfing servers and info.

To directly access information about a specific site, click on it in the map.

For those without a graphical browser: Seabrook Harbor, Plum Island, Nahant, Pleasure Bay, Duxbury, Corporation Beach, Kalmus, West Dennis, Chappaquoit. Indian Lake.


Check out these
weather sources for current observations and forecasts.

The weather in New England is well known for it potential for rapid change. It is very difficult to predict even by professional forecasters, which means that local sailors must often depend a lot on their instinct and experience. That task is made simpler if we consider that most sailable days come from either one of 3 types of weather:

Type I: Low pressure coming from the midwest.

This weather pattern happens when a low pressure system from the midwest tracks along the great lakes and passes over northern New England or the St Lawrence valley. These low pressure systems are usually weak in the summer, which means that Type I conditions are typically encountered from mid-september to early June.

Usually the approach of the system is marked by an increase in SW flow. This SW wind is typically at its best within the 12 hours prior to the passage of the cold front associated with the perturbation. The nice thing about this SW flow is that it can be very warm, sometimes resulting in > 50 F temperatures in the middle of winter. The SW flow can result in winds in the 3.5 range in late fall and early spring. More typically one is likely to encounter 4.0 - 5.5 weather. The South Shore (i.e. Duxbury, Buzzards Bay and the Cape) is best at this point.

After the cold front the wind shifts to the NW. If the perturbation is strong enough the NW wind can be quite good (although always very gusty) for about 24 hours after the frontal passage, otherwise the sailing is either marginal or good for just a few hours. The North Shore (Nahant and Plum Island) often gets the best wind in those conditions.

A high pressure system typically follows the perturbation. At that point it is advisable to go back to work as the wind will be dead for a few days.

Type II: High pressure off the Atlantic coast.

A high pressure system locks in place off the Atlantic Coast. The center of that system is often close to Bermuda, hence its name Bermuda High. That type of system can bring good wind from early June to late September exclusively on the South facing part of Cape Cod (Kalmus to Chatam). The rest of the coasts usually shuts off. The Bermuda High, which can last many consecutive days, brings us the only sailable weather in the summer. If a cold front is approaching at the same time it can really crank, otherwise expect anything from 4.5 to 6.5.

Type III: Nor'easter

Low pressure starts forming offshore from Cape Hatteras and rapidly tracks along the East Coast. Since the storm is usually offshore the most powerful winds come from the northeast (hence its local name Nor'easter). Nor'easters bring us our most powerful winds (excluding hurricanes) and can sometimes reach hurricane strength! Nor'easter season starts late September and lasts until late May, the best months being October, November, april, and May. 3.0 to 4.0 winds are the norm for those storms. A good drysuit is essential, as the temperature is often in the 40's and lower 50's .

Sailing Sites on the Coast

Seabrook Harbor, NH

Preferred wind directions: W-NW, NE
Preferred weather type: I and III
driving time from Cambridge: 1 hour
Sailing is tidal although some sail the channel at low. Level is beginner to intermediate, advanced usually (but not always) go to Plum Island. Be careful about that tide, it pulls unsuspecting novices under the bridge and out to sea! Seabrook Harbor is located on the border between Mass and NH (495N to 95N to Rt 286, follow the signs to Hampton Beach, it's right before the drawbridge).

Plum Island

Preferred wind directions: W - NW, NE 
Preferred weather type: I and III 
driving time from Cambridge: 1 hour
Plum Island seems to be best after the passage of a cold front in type I weather. It often offers some of the best winds on the coast on NW wind. Be careful, though, as the tidal currents are very strong! For more info, check out the
Newburyport Boardsailing Association, and the description of sailing sites around the area.

Directions to Plum Island: take the NewburyPort exit on 95 (495N to 95S!), follow the signs onto the island, up to the Lighthouse ($5 parking in the summer).

Check out the Wind Hotline reported windspeeds from yesterday, and annual averages.

Nahant (a.k.a. Lynn Beach)

Preferred wind directions: W - NW
Type of weather: I and III
Driving time from Cambridge:35 min.
The preferred wind directions are W to NW, after a cold front passage. The launch site is at the end of a long isthmus, with ample parking space. The wind is offshore in W and NW winds, so the water is flat with some small chop. It is usually fairly gusty in those conditions. Nahant can be good in NE with some good waves, but I have found that Duxbury often has better wind in Nor'easters.

A great asset of that site is that is so close to Boston (35 minutes). It is a good after work sailing site, for those who have real jobs.

Check out the Wind Hotline reported windspeeds from yesterday, and annual averages.

Pleasure Bay

Preferred wind directions: S-SW. NE is also sailable, but gusty.
Preferred type of weather:I
Driving time from Cambridge:20 min.
The great advantage of this site is its proximity: 10 min from downtown! This makes it a good after work sailing place. The water of Boston Harbor is not the cleanest around, but is getting cleaner every year.

There are two launch points: one is in a protected bay (1 mile in diameter) and the other in the harbour proper (good on SW). The bay is interesting for beginners, and also in extreme conditions for advanced sailors. This is a good place to practice your survival skills in those killer > 50 knots Nor'easters since you can't get blown away too far. Pleasure Bay shuts down from June to September (type II weather).

Check out the Wind Hotline reported windspeeds from yesterday, and annual averages.

Duxbury (a.k.a. Powder Point Bridge)

Preferred wind directions: SW-S-SE , NE
Preferred type of weather: I and III
Driving time from Cambridge: 45 min.
The site is a funnel-shaped bay that extends to the south. Duxbury is a great sailing spot on SW winds and often gets the strongest NE winds on the coast. For a few hours after high tide on a SW wind the current creates Gorge-like conditions, with good ramps. Watch for low tides, or you might end up doing the "Muck Walk" !. At low tide follow the locals, they know the channels. Wear shoes as there are lots of broken clam shells on the bottom.

In type I weather Duxbury gets usually 1 sail size less wind than the Cape sites, but sometimes (late fall and early spring especially), the reverse can happen. Its a good idea to check out Duxbury when driving out to the Cape, it might save you a lot of driving. Duxbury shuts down in the summer (type II weather).

On a NE day you can sail either inside the bay or out in the ocean across the bridge (side-onshore wind). Be aware that in a big Nor'easter the waves can get well over mast high. Not for the faint of heart...

Check out the Wind Hotline reported windspeeds from yesterday, and annual averages.

Corporation Beach

Preferred wind directions: NW-N-NE
Type of weather: I and III
Driving time from Cambridge:1 hr 30 min.
This site is situated on the North side of Cape Cod. It is for expert wavesailors only as it gets killer waves in winds > 25 knots. On a big day expect to share the waves with the surfers.

Chapin Beach

Preferred wind directions: NW-N-NE
Type of weather: I and III
Driving time from Cambridge:1 hr 30 min.
About 5-10 minutes down the Cape from Corporation. Good place to sail on northerly winds. NE winds are a little weak on the inside, but good for jumps on the outside. It a good stretch of flat water on the inside, and waves for riding and jumping on the outside. Waves are usually a little smaller than Corporation, so it's great for non-experts. Chapin is unsailable during low tide, so make sure to check the tide charts before you head out there.

Directions: Take exit 8 off route 6 and travel north to route 6a and then take a right onto 6a (east). Heading East on 6a: Once in Dennis take a hard left (almost 180 degree angle) at the white and black signs for some beach cottages. Follow 200 ft and take a right and follow for about one mile. Take a left at the needlepoint shop. Follow until you come to the water. Keep going around the dunes until you reach the parking lot. Parking is limited so arrive early if good conditions are expected. Heading West on 6a (from Corporation Beach): Bear right at the white and black sign for the beach cottages. Follow directions above. (directions courtesy of

Check out the Wind Hotline reported windspeeds from yesterday, and annual averages.

Kalmus Beach

Preferred wind directions: W - SW - S
Type of weather: I and II
driving time from Cambridge: 1 hr 30 min.
This is probably the most famous beach in all of Massachusetts, and for a good reason: Kalmus gets consistenly more wind than any East Coast site north of Corpus Christi. The water is usually flat with some chop. The chop becomes larger as you get upwind. SW winds are side onshore.

Kalmus is famous for its summer thermal winds (type II) that blow on hot days when all other beaches are dead. Those thermals usually bring 5.0 - 6.5 wind in the afternoon with an occasional 4.0 - 4.5 day. The wind usually picks up late in the morning, slacks down around 5 pm., and often picks up again around 6 pm. So, don't be too quick to unrig, you might miss the best wind of the day! The combination of warm water in the summer and very constant winds makes Kalmus a good learning site. On the weekends, however, the site can get quite crowded. From Memorial Day to Labor day there is a $8.00 parking fee.

Directions: take Rt. 6 on Cape Cod to Exit 6. Go right (south) at the end of the ramp. Continue with the road through Hyannis. Look for the signs for the ferry (it's small sign with picture of ferry). Drive past the ferries, past the Kennedy memorial. About a 1/4 mile after Kennedy Memorial, Kalmus beach will be at a parking lot on your left.

Check out the Wind Hotline reported windspeeds from yesterday, and annual averages.

West Dennis Beach

Preferred wind directions:W-S-SW
Type of weather:I and II
driving time from Cambridge:1 hr 45 min.
West Dennis is a few miles further along the South facing part of the Cape and gets essentially the same wind pattern as Kalmus. SW wind is side-onshore. The beach is nicer than Kalmus and the chop a bit bigger. There is a sandbar 1000 feet offshore (near the island) than can create good ramps when the conditions are right. The main inconvenient is that you have to walk 100 yards in the dunes to launch between Memorial Day and Labor Day since windsurfers are confined at the end of the beach. There is also a $8.00 parking fee during that period. West Dennis beach is a good place to learn in the summer as the water is warm and the sea breeze very constant.

Chappaquoit Beach

Preferred wind directions: SW - NW
Type of weather: I and II
Driving time from Cambridge:1 hr 15 min.
Chappaquoit is in Buzzards Bay. It is probably the best wavesailing sites on the Massachussets coast in SW winds. W is straight onshore, which can make it tricky to pass the shorebreak. On a big day (4.0 and smaller) expect logo mast waves. Once past the shorebreak you will encounter big swells that can be mast high in high winds. This beach seems to attract the most advanced sailors in the area and is a favorite of Nevin Sayre. If the surf overwhelms you, or you want to take a break, it is possible to sail in the harbor on the other side of the road. There you will encounter very flat water and slightly weaker winds.

Note the Chappaquoit is closed to non residents between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Check out the Wind Hotline reported windspeeds from yesterday, and annual averages.

Other Sailing Sites

Please send me information about any sites you would like to add...

Indian Lake

Preferred wind directions: NW, SW
Type of weather: I and II
Driving time from Cambridge:45 minutes
The best wind directions are either northwest or southwest because of the coves that funnel winds in these directions. There is a sailing/windsurfing club that allows you to store equipment for a fee. Indian Lake is also the highest point in Worcester (by about 400 feet) so the wind is usually howling in the spring and fall.

Directions: get onto the Mass Pike. Go down about 5 miles and take 290W then take 190N. you will then see an exit that leads to the Greendale mall (can't miss it) then bear to your left and take the first exit. There will be a fork in the road, take the right. Now there is a set of lights, take a left. Soon you will see a YMCA and the park is right after it. You can also sail at Morgan Park by going down to the end of the street and taking a left, and following a sign to Morgan Park. This information was supplied by

comments and suggestions are welcome.

Compiled by Pierre St Hilaire (

Edited and translated to HTML by Ron Weiss (