With its roughly 9 miles of coastline and snug harbor, Marblehead has long had a close relationship with the sea. It was described in 1660 as New England’s greatest fishing town due to massive cod stocks off its coast. A hundred years later, the town arguably begat the Navy, building and manning the schooners that George Washington used to hobble British transport ships in 1775.
Today, Marblehead has yet another maritime claim to fame, as one of the world’s yachting capitals. Although the wait for one of the 2,000 town-administered moorings in the main harbor is about 20 years, not to worry.
At the mooring field in nearby West Shore Harbor, the wait is only two years. There’s even a launch to ferry owners to and from their vessels.
Average selling price of a single-family home in 2013, according to the Warren Group, which tracks real estate trends. Yes, compared with the statewide average ($320,000), this number is high. But you know what’s not? The town’s property tax rate ($11.09 per $1,000 of assessed value, one of the North Shore’s lowest) — and your stress level when you take in Marblehead’s ocean views.
Change in population from December to July. Unlike Cape Cod, which can see its population double come summer, Marblehead is one seaside haven that doesn’t suffer from excessive seasonal swelling. Just as well, because the narrow streets can get crowded even in the wintertime.
Rank in Coastal Living magazine’s 2012 list of “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns.” Despite being only about 16 miles from Boston, this yachting mecca has a somewhat island-time vibe. Forget the train timetable. In Marblehead, it’s all about the tide table.
Amount of molasses used in the recipe for the town’s famous Joe Frogger cookie.
PROS & CONS
There are several beaches in Marblehead, but the crown jewel is Devereux. The list of amenities is long (lifeguards, a restaurant, sand volleyball, picnic pavilions, charcoal grill rentals, bathrooms, an outdoor shower, a playground), but topping it is the free parking available only to residents with stickers.
It’s hard to find a town more steeped in history than Marblehead, which got its start as a fishing village and, in 1629, its name. It separated from Salem and became incorporated in 1649. The town produced the captain and crew of the very first American naval ship, the Hannah, which sailed off in 1775 to fight the British in the Revolutionary War. Reminders of that conflict remain, including Fort Sewall and Old Burial Hill, where Revolutionary War soldiers are buried.
You (almost) can’t get there from here. It’s an oft-repeated Marblehead gripe: The town is just plain inaccessible. It has no commuter rail service, and the best routes to Boston — or anywhere else — are chronically congested byways. For those commuting into the city, the best advice is to go early or not at all.
The Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA is not your average gym. Sure, you’ll find fitness classes (about 190 per week) and cardio machines (nearly 100). There are also three swimming pools, a gymnastics center, a gymnasium, and an early-learning center. But what sets this Y apart from the rest is that it has its own island. Children’s Island, a mile off the coast, is home to the facility’s idyllic day camp, where kids can sail, hike, and hear stories around the campfire. On weekends, the island is also available for family overnights.