My family has been coming to Chatham for most of my life. First, I came as a child with my parents. Later my mother bought a home in North Chatham after my dad died where we spent summer weekends and much of August. I came here after law school not knowing what I would do next and needing the time, after studying for the bar, to chill and figure it out. After my mom sold the house and moved to New Seabury, and I moved to Washington D.C., my kids and I would come for three weeks every August from our suburban Maryland home. We all agreed that we would live here someday.
And, then it happened. My oldest, who has severe learning disabilities, graduated high school with a diploma! We no longer needed access to the special schools he had attended and we decided the time had come.
to the east the Atlantic Ocean; to the south Nantucket Sound; and to the north Pleasant Bay. This has led to many shipwrecks along the Chatham coast, the most famous of which is the Whydah.
Downtown Chatham is very walkable and picturesque. It is lined with interesting and unusual shops housed in well-maintained, one and two story 18th century buildings. When they filmed the movie,The Golden Boys, here last year, the only thing they did to downtown before shooting was to move the cars, put hay on the ground, and change some of the signs over the stores. There are no parking meters downtown! Drivers actually stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Every Friday night in the summer there are band concerts at the gazebo downtown.
The Chatham Anglers, play all summer against other Cape Cod teams at Veterans Field which you can walk to from downtown. The Cape Cod Baseball League has been the premier amateur baseball league in the country since 1885. One in seven current MLB players played in the Cape League. The league recruits college players for teams throughout the Cape, who lodge with local families. Many Cape League players have gone on to Major League Baseball teams.
There are beautiful views everywhere you look. There are 27 acres of salt marshes, dunes, shoals, channels, and islands, as well the actual town. There's also Chatham's Monomoy Islands, an 8 mile thread of sand off Chatham which is home to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.
Then there is the Chatham Fish Pier. The kids and I considered it our summer, spiritual home. Chatham is one of only two Cape towns, the other is Provincetown, that supports a commercial fishing fleet.
Boats go out everyday from 3 to100 miles to sea to catch haddock, cod, flounder, lobster, pollock, dogfish, monkfish and halibut, depending on what is in season. They start returning around 3 in the afternoon. If you get to the Observation Deck, overlooking the fish upload area, around 5, after a day at one of the barrier beaches, you can spend an hour watching them upload their catch and enjoying the glorious view.
From the fish pier
you can see North Beach, the barrier beach for Pleasant Bay, which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. You can also see Tern Island in the middle of the Bay. Off to your right, or southeast from the Observation Deck, you can see the 1987 Chatham Break caused by a winter storm that breached the barrier beach. Hazards now include: shifting shoals, hidden breakers, strong tidal currents, shallow water, and unreliable buoyage.
In 2007, a new break occurred after a bad storm. Prior to that there had been break on the barrier beach in 1987. Until then, Chatham Harbor had been protected from surges of the open Atlantic by the lower end of Nauset Beach, which is known as North Beach. It is much safer now for the uninitiated to come to Chatham by boat via Stage Harbor.
Chatham Light is one of the best known lighthouses in the U.S. From it you can see more "Lights" than at any other point on the Atlantic seacoast. It overlooks Chatham Light Beach which, if you follow it for 3 miles, will lead you to South Beach, a three mile long sandbar and a great place for a day trip. You can see the Chatham Break from there, as well.
The waters of Monomoy are dangerous, particularly the Polluck Rip which forced the Pilgrims back out to the ocean to Plymouth. When Chatham was finally settled in 1656, Stage Harbor developed into a busy fishing port. Stage Harbor Light, the newest of the Chatham Lighthouses was installed to complement the Chatham Light, which is one of the foggiest points on the East Coast.
In addition, there are the Atlantic beaches like Hardings,and Ridgevale Beach. The gentle beaches of Nantucket Sound and the large fresh water ponds like White Pond and Schoolhouse. All kinds of water sports. The Chatham Bike Trail, the Fourth of July parade, Chatham First Night, the Chatham Railroad Museum, a local theatre, art galleries, and terrific and varied restaurants. I can honestly say I've never had a bad meal dining in Chatham.
To learn more about what Chatham has to offer, click on one of the links below