‘A slice of paradise we can call our own’
Mackerel Cove, a picturesque seascape nestled into the shoreline bordering the east side of the isthmus between Beavertail and the main body of Conanicut Island is the subject of postcards. A seat on the pristine sands of the town-owned beach affords a panoramic view of the East Passage of Narragansett Bay.
This perfect setting for daydreams inspires visions of the Black Pearl, a pirate ship from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean,” rounding the rocky corner on the south side of the cove. Here, the legendary square-rigger could drop sails and weigh anchor in gin-clear, protected waters. Pirates could row ashore and bury their booty in the sun-bleached sands of the gently sloping beach. A look across to the north shore and Horse Head, the Wright family summer mansion, offers a breathtaking welcome back to reality.
“This pristine jewel is a slice of paradise we’ve reserved for Jamestown residents,” said Matt Bolles, Jamestown’s director of parks and recreation. “It’s a perfect, family-oriented, natural playground.”
The cove, just six-tenths of a mile south of the village, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Saturday, June 18, to Monday, Sept. 5. During park hours, three state-certified lifeguards strategically stationed at intervals on the soft, sandy beach are on duty.
Parking is available to resi05 dents with a season sticker on their windshield that costs $15 dollars. Non-resident stickers are not offered, but visitors can park in designated areas for $15 dollars a day. To be eligible for a sticker, applicants must prove residency for more than 30 days. Only residents, not guests, are eligible.
“It’s the perfect summer job,” said Abbey Littman, a Mackerel Cove lifeguard. “The beach is so safe. We never have any disasters,” she added with a smile. “There’s a sandbar just off the beach. During low tide, little kids love to play in the ankle deep water. The worst thing that ever happens is an occasional jelly fish sting when the water is warmest during the summer. Like now. Other than that, we’ve had a fair amount of seaweed for the last week or so, but we think that’s because of the swells brought in by hurricane Irene. Before that, the beach was really clean. It should go away soon. I hate to see the summer end,” she said.
Like the other lifeguards, Littman is a student who passed her Rhode Island lifeguard certification test and applied for a summer job with the Jamestown Department of Parks and Recreation. She is a senior at Moses Brown High School in Providence and plans to go to college next year in Boston.
“I’m not sure what caused the seaweed. I’m not a scientist,” said Bolles when asked about the recent problem. “I think it might be a combination of a few things. We had an unusually high bacteria content when we last tested, although we were well within safe limits. That could be a contributor. It could also be because the water is warmer than normal, and it is very possible that seaweed was generated from the storm. Whatever it was, we expect it to go away soon. It’s happened before. Seaweed is nothing new. I see no reason for alarm,” he added.
Picket-like fences enclose sea grass and other local fauna in areas along the beach that are part of a sand dune restoration project designed to create safe haven for birds and other small wildlife. Across the street from Mackerel Cove is a saltwater marsh just south of Dutch Harbor where residents can dig clams and enjoy bird watching.
Buoys mark the swimming area at Mackerel Cove to keep boaters a safe distance away from the beach and swimmers. The cove is a popular place for recreational sailboats and powerboats alike to drop anchor and spend the day.
Mackerel Cove, a little stretch of paradise that presents Mother Nature dressed in her Sunday best for the greatest show on earth. Don’t miss it.