Bass River Yacht Club

Member Area
Sailing School
Club By-Laws
Email List
US Sailing
SM Sailing
Wianno Senior Optimist

Bass River Breakwater

from Report:
Preliminary Examination of Bass River
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Report
May 31, 1895

"About 60 years ago, before construction of the existing railroad line through this region, Bass River was a place of considerable importance to this neighborhood, and was the center of a large amount of shipping, principally comprised of whaling vessels. In those days, as many as 150 vessels are reported as having been laid up in the river every winter. In consequence of the commercial importance of this place at that time, the United States, under river and harbor appropriations, expended about $20,000 between 1837 and 1840 outside the mouth of this river in the construction of a breakwater of about 250 feet length, to serve as a shelter to vessels of from 6 to 12 feet draft; and later on, in 1854-1855, the Light-House Department constructed a light-house on the breakwater at a further expense of $4,000. Since that date, the whaling interests have almost entirely died out, and the adjoining harbor of Hyannis, combined with the construction of the Hyannis branch of the Old Colony Railroad, has diminished the local importance of Bass River so that its commerce is at present very small. Further than this, the shifting sand of this neighborhood have built up shoals in rear of the breakwater and around its harbor so that it is now possible at low water for a man to wade without difficulty from the breakwater to the shore on either side of the entrance to the river.  Boats at present lying in what is left of the anchorage behind the breakwater can not go directly into the mouth of the river, except by passing over a shoal of about 0.75 mile length with an average depth of only 0.5 foot at low water. In order to get from the breakwater harbor to the mouth of the river by the best boat channel, boats must now first sail 1.5 miles westward from the breakwater and then enter the river by a narrow and winding entrance, having at its shoalest point (its outer bar) hardly 2 feet depth at low tide. Owing to the marked decrease of the commerce in this river, and of its usefulness to navigation, the Light-House Department in about 1881 removed its light from the breakwater to the adjacent shore, retaining the breakwater itself as a front range to the shore light for the use of vessels approaching the river entrance and the breakwater harbor. At present, however, the main utility of this breakwater is as a popular fishing place for summer visitors."

Arial View of Bass River - Breakwater is at lower right

Closeup of Breakwater

Sam Lawrence on Breakwater in 2002


Bass River Yacht Club
P.O. Box 182
South Yarmouth, MA 02664