duck harbor

Duck Harbor looking south toward Great Island on 30 October 2022.

It’s no secret I love Bound Brook Island. I’m excited to have just started a new book, An Island in Time: Exploring Bound Brook Island by Sharon Dunn. I stumbled upon it at Wellfleet Marketplace the day after Joe and I spent some time at Duck Harbor — the early Wellfleet port that was economically tied with Bound Brook.

As a kid, my parents took me to Duck Harbor fairly often, It was never my vibe. It’s a rocky beach, sometimes difficult to walk because of the shingle. I think that makes it harder for a kid, but even today I prefer the plane above the beach to the beach itself. 

When Joe and I got out of the Jeep, I reflexively said we were about to see the best view on Cape Cod. I laughed at myself because we’d just walked in at least three spectacular places — any one of which could be said to be ‘the best view.’ Duck Harbor is a spectacular view because it offers the full effect of the Cape Cod spiral. To the north you can clearly see Provincetown and the bend at North Truro. On a clear day, you can discern the silhouette of the Boston area on the far horizon. Directly across Cape Cod Bay you can see Plymouth. And to the south you can follow the edge of Wellfleet’s barrier islands, Eastham, Orleans, and the shimmer of the towns of the mid-Cape.

Joe and me at Duck Harbor on 30 October 2022.

There’s also something otherworldly about Duck Harbor. It’s one of the few places on the Bayside that has sand cliffs — and in a sense feels much more like the Atlantic edge than what I expect of the Bay. But it’s the topography of the beach and shoal — from above — that always delights. You get a sense of the harbor that was once there, and of the current that silted it closed. 

Someone carted out three rustic benches and placed them at the grandest vista. We ate our lunch there and said hello to two couples who hiked through. A larger group traipsed along the beach below us. The day was spectacular — warm enough to walk in a t-shirt, which is a treat in late October. 

On the walk back, I was reminded of my summer visit to the same site, when hiking with my friends Mark and Glenn we had to cover up because of the swarming deer flies and mosquitos. Somewhere there’s a video of my running and swatting the flies, and probably swearing I’d never visit the place again. It’s a marvel how different one place can be in various seasons.

Look closely at this sunset photo from my 28 June 2022 visit to Duck Harbor and you’ll see the menacing insects.

Field Guide: Walking & Painting on Cape Cod 
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