A mid-week vacation day is the easiest. Oh, and you’ll need your resident beach sticker. We prepped our car with a picnic blanket for the seat, extra towels, and ice waters. Start early and grab a big “lobsterjack” breakfast because you’ll need the fuel. End late.
Let’s establish some base rules here.
First off, you need to spend at least 15 minutes at each beach. (You can tweak this a little if you want.) Next, you need to dive under. We suggest a ritual for each beach, e.g. ‘The Five and Dive’. Finally, you have to stop for ice cream and candy. Remember, you can do these beaches (or others in Gloucester) and jumps in any order. Be flexible for unexpected delays like staying at one beach for hours, or a friend asking you to drop off a sub (*cough* Joey *cough*). Most importantly, you have to do at least 13 beaches and 2 jumps in one day. Mind the tides. Be grateful we have so many choices.
The Beaches- partial list
Annisquam lighthouse. Coffin’s beach. Good Harbor beach. Long beach. Magnolia beach. Niles beach. Pavilion beach (by Beach Court). Pavilion beach bonus (by the cut). Plum Cove beach. Rocky Neck Oakes Cove beach. Stage Fort Park (1) – Cressy’s beach ( our alt. title ‘sea serpent’ big beach). Stage Fort Park (2) – Half Moon beach. Wheeler’s Point. Wingaersheek beach.
The Jumps- partial list
Annisquam bridge. Magnolia Pier.
*We do this challenge at least once each summer. Yesterday we started off with breakfast at Willow’s Rest and continued from there. Our timing was random especially as we spent hours at Wingaersheek. The second meal to get us through the day came from the sandwich counter at Annie’s by Wingaersheek. Yes, they have a sandwich counter.
Gloucester Beaches sandwich directory
Wheeler Point, Mill and Annisquam Rivers, circa 1950 Don Felt/ ©Fredrik D. Bodin
You say Wheeler, I say Wheelers;
You say Wonson, and I say Wonsons;
Let’s get the whole thing right…
My friend Cliff McCarthy and I disagreed on whether it’s Wheeler Point or Wheelers Point. We based our opinions on what we’ve heard people say and maps we’ve looked at. Who’s right? The United States Board of Geographic Names (US BGN) is right – they define the official names of everything geographic. Their database holds the Federally recognized name of every feature’s location by state, with USGS topographic map, geographic coordinates, altitude, and even includes undersea features. This is the gold standard for place names. In the American West after the Civil War, rapid westward expansion led to confusing names for geographic features. This was a serious problem for surveyors, map makers, and the military. In 1890, President Harrison created the US BGN to standardize geographic names.
The final word on Wheeler(s) Point and Wonson(s) Cove is here: http://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/index.html
Click on Search Domestic Names
, type in what you’re looking for in the Feature Name
box, select the State
, select the County
, then press the Send Query
button. You’ll see that Wheeler Point is correct (with Wheelers Point as a variant name))and so is Wonson Cove (with Wonson’s Cove as a variant name). Cliff, you were right!
Here are some interesting official names on Cape Ann: Cressy Beach (with Cressys Beach as a variant name), Dog Bar (an underwater bar), Dog Bar Breakwater (a dam) , Dog Bar Channel, and Dogtown Common ( listed as a Populated Place with an elevation of 79 feet). Some places we know are not listed, such as Cripple Cove. The US BGN invites any person or organization to propose new names, name changes, or names that are in conflict.
Printed from the original 4×5 inch film negative in my darkroom. Image # A9245-546
Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
Thought you might like to see our 22nd annual Thanksgiving Day swim off Wheeler’s Point into the Annisquam River. This year we had 54 swimmers. It started as 4 guys and 6 inches of snow and we have had as many as 70 swimmers. It is a fantastic tradition that will continue.