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Breathe a sigh of relief – it’s finally summertime. For most of us, the summer means hot days and some vacation time. These hot days free from work and school are perfect times to take a trip to the water.

Whether you choose a lake, pond, river, or the ocean for your visit, the water provides refreshing summer fun. Swimming, sport and shore fishing, canoeing, kayaking and sailing are all great ways to spend a relaxing day outside. Alternatively, tubing, waterskiing and other water sports provide for an exciting outing.

The Ipswich River in Ipswich, MA

The Ipswich River in Ipswich, MA

Across Massachusetts, the Department of Fish and Game’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access has established over 275 boat launch sites, allowing easy access to enjoy many forms of recreational boating. Many of these sites include trailer parking and concrete launching lanes that deliver access for larger boats. Most of these public access sites are managed by municipalities.

Recently, I spent a day touring six of these boat access sites with Doug Cameron, the assistant director/deputy chief engineer of the Office of Fishing and Boating Access (OFBA). Doug builds and maintains launching sites across the state.

As part of his work for the OFBA, Doug regularly visits public access locations to assess wear and damage done to the access areas. Doug and I visited sites in Danvers, Gloucester, Ipswich, Merrimac, Newburyport, Reading, and Wilmington. The OFBA is responsible for overseeing these facilities; we generally found them to be well maintained and in excellent condition.

Pope's Landing - on the Porter River in Danvers, MA

Pope’s Landing – on the Porter River in Danvers, MA

Although our day out was a foggy weekday, the cool weather and drizzling rain didn’t stop the public from utilizing the waterfront. I was surprised to find devoted boaters, fishermen and fisherwomen out and enjoying the facilities at five of the six sites we visited.

I highly recommend a visit to your local public waterfront. To find the location nearest you, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has established a search tool capable of sorting their sites by location, ramp type and fish type.

So if you find yourself at home on a hot day this summer, you may want to locate a public boat launching site near you and hit the water. With so many locations to choose from, there’s sure to be a publicly accessible lake, pond, river, or ocean waters nearby that’s perfect for your recreational activity of choice.

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