Chart: NOAA 13214
Stonington Harbor—41˚20’10” N, 71˚54’49” W—is easily reached by boat from Long Island Sound and Fishers Island Sound. Located approximately 96 nautical miles east of the entrance to the East River in New York, roughly 120 miles south-southwest of Boston and about 18 miles north of Block Island, Stonington Harbor is well marked and deep, with a mean low water of 10′ in the middle of the harbor. (Beware: if you run east past Stonington Point into Little Narragansett Bay, the water becomes quite shallow—1′ to 5′ MLW.)
From the west via Long Island Sound, pass north of Ram Island Shoal and Ram Island, between the white day beacon “ER” on Ellis Reef and the red buoy “4” on Cormorant Reef. Head toward red buoy “2” on Red Reef and the flashing green light on the breakwater off Wamphassuc Point—the harbor’s entrance is to port just beyond the light.
From the east and south, enter between Fishers Island and Watch Hill then head for the flashing red buoy “6”. From there head toward red buoy “2” and proceed north, staying well to port of Middle Ground and the breakwater. The harbor’s entrance is straight ahead and to starboard of Wamphassuc Point and the breakwater.
- Dodson Boat Yard (860-535-1507): Located at the head of the harbor, this full-service yard offers transient slips and moorings, as well as gas and diesel, repairs, ice, laundry, pumpout and showers. Dodson also runs a launch service in the harbor and had an onsite restaurant called The Dog Watch Cafe (860-415-4510).
- Stonington Harbor Yacht Club (860-535-0112; VHF 78): Offers more than 240′ of transient dock space. Discounted rates offers to members of reciprocating clubs.
- King Cove Marina (860-599-4730): Small-boat marina offering hauling, service, storage. Also has an onsite tackle shop and kayak rental.
- Skipper’s Dock (860-535-0111): Offers overnight dockage. Free tie-up for restaurant customers. No amenities.
- Don’s Dock (860-535-0077): Seasonal and short-term dockage for smaller vessels on Lambert’s Cove, north of the train bridge. Floating docks, launch ramp, showers, locker rental, engine service and repair.
- The Stonington/Westerly pumpout boat can be hailed on VHF 8.
The town offers free use of its dinghy dock for boaters who prefer to anchor. The main anchorage is on the west side of the harbor—to port as you enter—west of GC “7” (see chart). The town dock is directly opposite, tucked between Skipper’s Dock restaurant and the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club.
Trailerboaters, kayakers, windsurfers and cartoppers can launch at the Barn Island state ramp off Palmer Neck Road. This is a large and busy ramp (especially on weekends) with a ample parking and toilets. No fee.
Another access point for kayaks and canoes is at Saltwater Farm Vineyard, at 349 Elm Street (where Elm meets Rte. 1). This put-in provides access to Oxacossett Brook. Parking for 5 vehicles can be found near the start of the private road leading to the Vineyard.
King Cove Marina (860-599-4730): Offers kayak rentals and sales.
- Noah’s (860-535-3925): Casual fine dining on Water Street. Closed Mondays.
- Skipper’s Dock (860-535-0111): Dockside restaurant and bar, offering free short-term dockage and dingy tie-up for patrons. Also offers overnight dockage.
- Milagro (860-535-8178): Authentic Mexican on Water Street.
- The Water Street Café (860-535-2122): Well-known for its Sunday brunch.
- Zack’s Bar & Grille (860-535-0301): Closed Mondays.
- Yellow House Coffee and Tea Room (860-535-4986): Good spot for a quick bite on Water Street.
- Dog Watch Cafe: (860-415-4510) Casual restaurant and bar on the water at Dodson Boat Yard. Dock n’ dine.
- The 1823 Stonington Harbor Light, the first lighthouse to be commissioned and built by the federal government, is a popular attraction. Now known as the Old Lighthouse Museum (860-535-1400), the light is owned and operated by the Stonington Historical Society. Hours are 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through labor Day. Admission also allows access to the Capt. Palmer House (860-535-8445) and the R. W. Woolworth Library (860-535-1131) exhibit and research center.
- The 1,013-acre Barn Island Wildlife Management Area (860-424-3000) is the state’s largest coastal property for wildlife conservation and includes salt- and freshwater wetlands where visitors can paddle, hike, fish and birdwatch.
- A short walk from Stonington’s busy waterfront area are the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve, located off Main Street on the eastern side of Stonington Point, or “the Point.” A walkway meanders through salt marshes and offers great views of wildlife and a prime view of Watch Hill Light, Napatree and Sandy Points, Sandy Point Island and Sandy Point Beach, all on Little Narragansett Bay. On the southwest shore of the Point you’ll find tiny and well-protected DuBois Beach (860-535-2476), which charges a small access fee.
- Stonington Community Center holds local events, including a Safe Boating Day in June and the Stonington Fair, in early August. Check the website for exact dates.
- Gansett Cruises runs daily cruises and tours aboard a 50-foot lobsterboat (401-584-7000)
- The Stonington Harbor Sailing Foundation (860-535-9362) offers instruction to sailors of any age from its headquarters on Water Street, next to Skipper’s Dock. The SHYC is open to the public, and also offers marine biology classes.
Stonington has many eclectic shops, boutiques and stores, including:
- La Grua’s (860-535-1030)
- Zia’s Jewelry & Accessories (860-535-2298)
- Cate Charles Gallery (860-245-5213)
- AK Dasher Jewerly (860-535-1774)
Antiques and galleries are another Stonington staple, with several shops located on Water Street, including:
- Boathouse Antiques (860-535-4714)
- Devon House Antiques & Gallery (860-535-4452)