2013-07-03 / News

Jamestown named one of 10 best cruising towns in country

By Ken Shane

The packed Jamestown Harbor in Narragansett Bay’s East Passage shows why the island was chosen as one of the top 10 yachting destinations in the country. 
Photo by tim riel The packed Jamestown Harbor in Narragansett Bay’s East Passage shows why the island was chosen as one of the top 10 yachting destinations in the country. Photo by tim riel It is no exaggeration to say nearly everyone who lives in or passes through Jamestown recognizes that its one of the country’s best nautical cruising destinations.

Now a contest in Yachting magazine is helping to prove that widely held view.

Since 2010 the magazine has held an annual contest to identify the best cruising towns in America. Recent winners have included Oxford, Md., and Beaufort, N.C. The contest begins with a field of 50 towns and cities that are compiled from nominations and input from Yachting’s editorial staff. Readers and editors whittle the field down to 10, and ultimately the winner is chosen entirely on voting by the magazine’s readers.

The big news is that Jamestown is among 2013’s finalists. Not only that, but at press time Conanicut Island was in second place, trailing only the bucolic Alaskan port of Petersburg. The large port city of Seattle was closely behind in third place.

Other finalists range from big cities like San Francisco and New Orleans, to smaller ports such as Ocracoke, N.C., Fernandina Beach, Fla., and Montauk, N.Y.

The only other New England port in the finals is Portland, Maine.

Jamestown wasn’t the only sailing center in the Ocean State to make the top 50: Newport and Block Island were also nominated. The nearby Massachusetts ports of Nantucket and Plymouth were also in the top 50.

“It’s unscientific,” said Mary South, Yachting’s editor-andchief. “We invite our readers to go to the website and nominate their favorite towns. The only criterion we have is that it be a waterfront town. Beyond that, it can be large or small, as long as it’s salty.”

According to South, the magazine doesn’t usually get the 50 nominations needed for the contest because readers often nominate the same ports.

“We always get a bunch of nominations for Annapolis and Newport, the obvious ones,” she said. “The editors add towns we cruise to.”

South said when her editorial staff chooses towns to add to the mix, it makes sure to change the ports from year to year. However, the No. 1 town is completely based on votes from readers.

For the first time this year, the voting is taking place on the magazine’s Facebook page. In the past, voting has been done on Yachting’s website, but South said technology provided by the Facebook platform is more advanced.

It also allows voters to see what town is in the lead.

“It’s interesting to see the difference between the print readership, the online audience and social media,” she said. “They’re not all the same people. We do have a very healthy Facebook audience and it’s pretty participatory and enthusiastic. So I’m hoping we get a lot more votes this year than we have in the past just because we’re doing it through Facebook. Those people already have electronic media savvy. I’m not sure that’s the case with a fair portion of our print audience.”

More than 14,000 Facebook users “like” Yachting’s page.

The winning town will be featured next year in the Yachting magazine story that announces the 2014 contest.

Each of the 50 towns in the original field have a blurb on Yachting’s website. According to the Jamestown blurb, while the town is just across the bridge from its flashier and more famous Newport neighbor, the two destinations run at totally different decibel levels.

“With 5,400 permanent residents, Jamestown is a bit slower and a whole lot quieter, which is how the locals like it,” the article says. “It’s the type of town where everyone still gets morning coffee from a quaint bakery instead of a drive-through window and picks up supplies for a weekend project from the local hardware store. There are no supercenters. Dining options are limited to a half-dozen restaurants on Narragansett Avenue, but there’s enough variety to last all summer.”

The blurb goes on to cite the Dutch Harbor, Jamestown and Clark boat yards as excellent options for transient boaters.

The articles continues, “With a location that is close to destinations like Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Cuttyhunk and Nantucket, this is a smart jumping-off point, assuming you ever decide to leave.”

Voting continues through Aug. 30. Voters are allowed to cast just one ballot.

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