Fort Point Pier: Info and Tips


Dock Hours and Regulations

Note: Fort Point Pier opened for public use on October 21, 2011.

  • Fort Point Pier is public, free of charge
  • Dock and Gangway Hours: Open daily, dawn to dusk
  • Dock may be closed in adverse weather conditions
  • Motorized vessels prohibited from using floating dock
  • Pier (raised platform over the Fort Point Channel) is open daily, 24 hours

Editor's Note: Operators of any vessel or craft must consult U.S. Coast Guard and MA Environmental Police waterways regulations to ensure full compliance with navigation rules.

Regulations published above are provided as a planning tool for convenience. These regulations were derived from a sign on Fort Point Pier (formal name: P&G Gillette Public Dock) installed by property owner P&G Gillette. Changes in regulations may be posted by P&G Gillette without notice at this site. Consult signage upon arrival at Fort Point PIer for full compliance with P&G GIllette regulations.


Fort Point and Boston Harbor satellite photo


Directions, Parking and Portage

Fort Point Pier is situated south of the Summer Street Bridge, in the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston.

The pier is easily accessed from downtown Boston and is less than one mile from exit and entrance ramps to I-93 North/South and Massachusetts Turnpike I-90 East/West.

The pier is physically located roughly 50 yards south from the end of Necco Court at the Fort Point Channel.

Click here for Googlemaps directions to the Channelside surface parking lot at Fort Point Pier. Note that the dock and pier may not appear in older satellite photos. See the section "Parking" below for rates and more info.

Fort Point Pier satellite photo

Public Transit: Fort Point Pier is a 10 minute walk from South Station on MBTA Red Line and Commuter Rail.

Editor's Note: We are not (yet) sure if a kayak is allowed on the Red Line.

Parking

For visitors driving to the Fort Point neighborhood, parking is difficult outside of commercial surface parking lots. Most metered spaces are converted to Resident Permit Only spaces after 6 PM and on weekends. A small number of metered spaces on A, Summer and Congress Streets are free to residents and non-residents on Sunday and after 6 PM on weekdays.

Fortunately Fort Point's numerous surface lots are reasonably priced, and proximity to Fort Point Pier from the primary surface lot is unparalleled by comparison with other area parking spaces.

Fort Point Pier parking

Immediately abutting Fort Point Pier is "Channelside," a large surface parking lot at 284 A Street (enter at 29-41 Necco Street, off Melcher Street). The Channelside lot is available for hourly, daily and overnight parking.

The Channelside lot has over 500 parking spaces, rarely closed due to over-capacity. The lot is jammed 9-4, Monday through Friday, but fairly empty on weekdays by late afternoon and virtually empty on weekends and holidays.

As shown at right, the weekend parking rate is a flat rate of $6.00/day. The M-F parking rate from 5 PM to 6 AM is a flat rate of $6.00. 24-hour parking is allowed for extended visits at a flat 24-hour rate of $12.00. Weekday rates are at an hourly rate, with a maximum of $12.00. NOTE: Rates shown were current in 2013, 2014 rates are slightly higher.

If Channelside is at full capacity, ask the Channelside attendant for permission to enter the lot for a few minutes to drop your kayak at the dock. Then park at another surface parking lot such as the one at Channel Center (enter at Iron Street) here. The Channel Center parking lot is available 24/7, affordable, and roughly a 5-minute walk to Fort Point Pier.

Limited metered parking is available along A Street, a public street.

Spaces on Binford Street require a South Boston Resident sticker. All other side streets (Garage Access Road, Wormwood St, Binford St East) are private streets with limited visitor parking.

Indoor parking is available at the Necco Court garage.

FREE PARKING

As required under MassDEP's amnesty license, the Channelside parking lot provides free parking for four (4) public parking spaces.

From Monday through Friday, the (4) free public parking spaces are available from 7 PM to 12 AM. Dock hours, however, are sunrise to sunset.

The (4) free spaces are available from 6 AM to Midnight on weekends and holidays, however no management or enforcement plan is in place to ensure availability to dock users. To date, these spaces have often been occupied by non-dock users, so availability is limited. We will provide more information on access to these public parking spaces once access for dock users is managed and enforced.


Portage

The closest access point for a kayak drop-off and portage to the dock is at the end of Necco Court, at the Fort Point Channel. Fort Point Pier is roughly 50 yards south of this point. It is possible at this area to idle an attended vehicle for a few minutes to unload gear. All of these side streets (Necco St, Necco Ct, Garage Access Rd) are private, so parking — even leaving a car short term, will invite a tow.

Portage of a kayak from within the Channelside surface parking lot to Fort Point Pier requires a walk of 25 feet. An iron railing along the Harborwalk provides multiple points of exit/entry from the lot. It is possible at Channelside to pull up very close to the pier, unload kayaks and gear, and then find a parking space.

For distant parking spaces available during busy weekdays, kayak wheels may be helpful.

Portage of a kayak to Fort Point Pier from surface streets in the Fort Point neighborhood is possible, walking down either Binford Street or Necco Court toward the Fort Point Channel. At the end of Binford Street (a public street, resident permit parking only) or Necco Court (a private street, no parking) the kayak can be carried or rolled through to the Harborwalk. Fort Point Pier is approximately 100 yards north from Binford Street at the Harborwalk.

The ramp at Fort Point Pier has a 5' width, easily allowing a kayak on wheels to run up the ramp onto the pier without lifting. A kayak can also be carried, turning into the pier and down the gangway to the dock.

Water Quality and Temperature

Water temperature is a critical year-round consideration for any sea kayak paddlers planning on using the Fort Point Channel or Boston Harbor. Though warmer than Boston Harbor and possibly considered "cooly refreshing" when dipping feet in mid-summer, hypothermia is possible in the Fort Point Channel even during mid-summer and shoulder months of summer. Boston Harbor surface temperatures average 65°-70° from June-August and water temperature may drop below 60° from September through May.[1] Lone paddlers should be especially cautious and capable of kayak re-entry in the event of an unintended capsize.

Water quality in the Fort Point Channel has improved dramatically since the Boston Harbor Cleanup[2]. With each passing year, there has been a dramatic increase in the breadth and depth of wildlife species populating the Channel.

We predict Fort Point Pier will prove a seasonal respite for harbor seals in years ahead, an Eastern seaboard equivalent of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

Of course, there will likely continue to be considerations with respect to water quality that impact the "swimability" of Fort Point Channel water. The Channel receives stormwater overflow and occasional combined stormwater/sewer overflow (CSO) discharges, usually accompanying large rainfalls. Some dumping of collected snowfall from Boston's streets and surface parking may be allowed. Lastly, the floor of the Fort Point Channel, if dredged or disturbed by area construction may release some toxic materials from past uregulated industrial use.

On the bright side, the most powerful force acting on the Fort Point Channel is the natural cleansing system: the constant tidal inflow and outflow of Boston Harbor seawater. Another significant cleansing force is the level of sunlight bathing the Channel from dawn to dusk.

Can you swim? Yes, you are allowed to swim. And we and our friends have fallen into the drink on a few times over past decades and we all survived. That said...

While we consider the Fort Point Channel to be an extroardinary launch point for a kayak, and getting wet is always part of our own plans paddling on the Channel, our (unscientific) recommendation is that you DO NOT plan on swimming or increasing your chances of ingestion of its water. We will be providing links to accurate water quality reports as available.

References

  1. 1. ^ Marblehead Racing: Hypothermia and Immersion in Cold Water including Boston Harbor Data
  2. 2. ^ Mazzone, Judge A. David : Chamber Papers on the Boston Harbor Clean Up Case, 1985-2005

Editor's Note: Although embellished histories of the Boston Harbor Cleanup are popular online, we are not aware of a definitive accounting of the Cleanup providing information about the 1983 lawsuit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation; the important judicial decisions culminating in the application of $4 billion in public funding; and a look at the engineering marvels that accompanied the project. We will provide links as available.
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