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Bernard Romanowski launches from Manchester Harbor, inset, and paddles to the Misery Islands

Manchester’s hot spots for enjoying the open water.

Manchester harbor’s graceful wedge of protected water leads to the rock island-studded sweep of Salem Sound. On a summer afternoon, 30-foot boats fill the horizon, slicing the water at a clip. Salem Sound’s main attraction is deep water and the dozen offshore rocky islands, where opportunities abound for getting out on the water.

At Tuck’s Point, the Manchester Yacht Club is housed in a modest Greek-style temple. Sailors here have access to one of the most coveted harbors on the North Shore. The Manchester Sailing Association (MSA, offers a sailing

program from the yacht club docks and owns a fleet of Dyer Dhows, Optimist Dinghies, 420s, and Rhodes 19s for classes and open Saturday sailing.

New harbormaster Bion Pike is trying to “organize” the harbor by sorting out its 700 or so moorings. (Some sailors have been waiting 15 years for a buoy.) As one Harbor Advisory Committee member says, “It’s very important that dead people no longer have moorings.” That’s how muddled the system became.

The “roof rack yacht club” has no such challenges; simply take your kayak or stand-up paddle board off the rack of your car and launch. From the public launch behind the police station and Town Hall, it’s about a two-mile paddle to Great Misery, out of the inner harbor, under the railroad bridge, through the harbor, past the Tuck’s Point gazebo, Manchester Yacht Club, and out into the bay, where Gales Point and Ram and House Islands are all landmarks.

Owned by the Trustees of Reservations, the Misery Islands once housed a summer resort and nine-hole golf course. Several trails on Great Misery lead past the resort ruins and provide fine views of Salem Sound and Manchester Harbor. Most visitors hang out in their boats just offshore, so you have the island to yourself.

Beyond is Bakers Island, a summer colony. Little Misery has a nice little beach to land on, and the water is clear, so bring your snorkle. Use of the islands for picnicking and exploring is free to Trustees members, with a fee for nonmembers. Returning to the harbor late afternoon, several cocktail parties will have sprouted on the decks of moored yachts, happy summer sailors all.