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Difficulty I-II
Length 0 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 03/31/2003 9:21 pm

River Description




****Update 3/2003. The wave at Cohasset has been altered by natural or man-made events. A recent inspection showed that granite blocks from the broken dam which formed the wave have moved out of place. This displacement prevents the wave from forming. This site will be updated when more information is available. It is strongly recommended that you check the conditions before planning any trip to park and play at Cohasset****

Note: see the Comments. Jason Walker reported in June 2007 that this is still a viable surfing spot--though it may not be as amazingly easy as it once was.

Something of a cult favorite among Eastern New England paddlers, this is a play spot that will challenge you every time you visit. The Cohasset wave varies in character and difficulty by the minute due to rapidly changing water depth and tide height differential. In short...every day brings a new wave at Cohasset. It's also an excellent place for novices to practice since it's got eddies, a wave train, sharp squirt lines, and everything from flat water to a class II rapid.

The Cohasset wave forms on the incoming tide. About 3 hours before the actual high tide, the water moving out of the Gulf River (a tidal pool with a narrow channel to the harbor) goes slack. A short while later it begins to reverse direction and slowly starts flowing back into the tidal pool. The flow rate increases minute by minute and the current begins to pick up speed. Massive stone blocks from an old broken dam line the river bed near the mouth of the river. As the tide pushes back into the river the water is compressed and pushed backwards over the rocks and the wave begins to build. As the tide continues to press back into the harbor the water at the mouth of the river becomes congested, and the levels rise even faster. This accentuates the height differential between the harbor side of the broken dam and the river channel. Within 30 minutes of the slack water, the Gulf River has a 24 inch high standing wave and a wave train that reaches back 50 to 100 feet. At it's peak the wave can be 3 to 4 feet tall with a 12-18 inch trough in front of it. Depending upon the tide height differential and other less predictable conditions the wave will occasionally collapse and form a river wide hole. When this occurs the hole has a shallow angle of entry making it quite friendly.



When to Go: Plan on getting there 3 hours before high tide, and you'll arrive while the current is still flowing gently out. Check the tide times before you go.If you arrive early the water will still be flowing out toward the harbor. It reverses fairly quickly over a period of a few minutes. The wave will begin to form about 10 minutes after the reversal. It's gentle at first and builds gradually. If it's your first visit, it's nice to be there during this stage.

Directions: Take I-93 south to Route 3 south. Get off at Exit 14 (Cohasset, Hingham, Rockland, and Nantasket). Turn at the end of the ramp onto 228 north. Follow the signs for 228 North. After 7.0 miles you will cross Route 3A. At 0.12 miles farther, Route 228 will bear left, but you will bear right (sign to Cohasset) onto Main Street. Follow Main Street for 3.0 miles; at the second flashing light (in the middle of town), turn left onto Summer Street. About 0.25 miles down Summer Street bear right onto Border Street. Follow this for 0.25 miles (bear left where the road appears to fork) until you cross over a narrow stone bridge. The rip is below on your left as you cross over the bridge.

Parking: The best place to park is on the street overlooking Cohasset harbor, (the view you just passed before the bridge). Do NOT park in front of the Lobster Pound (tow or ticket-city) which is the ramshackle group of buildings that appear as if they're going to fall down. If there are already lots of cars with boat racks on them it's going to be a "six flags over neoprene" kind of day in the eddy. Also do not park in the public dock parking lot. This is resident parking and the Harbormaster occupies the building overlooking the lot.

Put-In: To Put-in you can either: 1. Carry your boat across the bridge, then down to the water below the rocks on either the left or right side of the bridge, 2. Carry your boat across the bridge, then left, follow the road up the small hill to the public boat dock and seal launch off the wooden dock (easy and fun) 3. Carry your boat across the bridge, then immediately turn 180 degrees left and seal launch off the rocks on the left side of the bridge (about 5-7 foot drop). Some people make this look easy but it's a lot like jumping over razor blades, which you'll understand if you ever smack into this barnacle encrusted wall of rock.

Take-Out: You can take out on either side below the bridge on river left. The rocks on the left below the bridge are slanted, slippery and tough to carry up. The right side of the bridge will require exiting the boat in a foot of water since the tide covers the gravel bar once the wave has diminished. The carry up the rocks on this side is also steep. Move cautiously to avoid slipping.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Peter Ashley
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1 year ago

Is Cohasset dead? I took some video is to help people decide if Cohasset is "broken". This video was taken on a 10.5 foot tide, early in the session when the wave was still moderate. I hadn't been there in years and am not very good. The first half of the tape has some surfs and the second half has a swim incident and a bunch of failures to attain the wave, in case you want to see all the ways you can miss. My verdict is the wave is still just hard to get on, as I always remember it was. Bring a long or big boat and be in the water 3 hrs before high tide. The wave flattens out 1 hour before high tide, which is when you go practice squirts farther down the gulf. https://youtu.be/7jX18kE7l8k A more modern way to plan a session is to look at the exact tide chart online. http://www.tides4fishing.com/us/massachusetts/cohasset-harbor-white-head Too low a tide may not be enough and a really big tide may shorten the session because the spot blows out. If roughly one wants to be in the water prior to the start at 5' and the spot starts getting blown out at 9', then a high supermoon tide (-0.7 to 11) only has a bit more than a 1 hour window and an above average tide (0.6 to 9.6) has a window of almost 2 hours. 9.6 foot tide was plenty big, so this may be ideal for a longer session.

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Scott M
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3 years ago

Visited on 7/23/16 with 9.5' tide. The wave didn't have enough height to surf. The secondary little spots right behind the wave were pulsing, so no rides on those more than a few seconds. It was fun to get wet and play in the current, but no good surfing to be had. It is still interesting to watch the wave form, and jumping off the bridge is fun.

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Jason Walker
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12 years ago

Cohassett is not dead contrary to popular belief. I visited on my way up the coast last week and the wave still forms even with a tide as low as 8.7. I agree it is a challenge to stay on and not very retentive but some of the secondary waves are very surfable. Maybe not worth a special trip but if you are in the area, certainly an enjoyable 1-2 hours.

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15 years ago

3/2004: A friend and I recently visited teh Cohasset in search of early March white water. Unfortunately, even with a 9.8 ft tide, the wave formed however both of our boats were too slow to catch it. It was glassy, and it was easy to once see why it ruled the northeast. There was a transient secondary hole that formed behind the wave that was a bumpy ride. About all you can do there now is stern squirts and think of how it once was. Unless the tide is above 10 feet I don't suddest going. I do however suggest a project- FIX THE COHASSET!

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Gage Descriptions

Check out maineharbors.com or Tides Online to see the forecast tide for the day you're looking to go play. Check below for info on when to go.

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News

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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190477 03/31/03 n/a n/a