Courtesy Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
What’s new: Chatham turns 300 in 2012 and major events are planned throughout the year. Events are detailed at www.chatham300.org. The Wequassett Resort and Golf Club completed a $40 million expansion and renovation about two years ago.
Rooms: There are just over 400 guest rooms in Chatham’s three main meeting properties. Other accommodations, from mom-and-pop motels and small inns and bed and breakfasts to vacation homes and cottages, are available.
Location: Chatham is the midway point on the Cape, located at Cape Cod’s elbow. It is 90 miles from Providence, R.I., and Boston and 275 miles from New York.
Getting there: The closest major airports are in Boston and Providence. Private planes can use Chatham Municipal Airport. Chatham is 36 miles from the Cape Cod Canal, which separates the Cape from the mainland.
Boat trips ‘seal’ the deal
To meet some of Chatham’s favorite residents, take a ride on Rip Ryder IV with Captain Keith Lincoln, at the helm for 22 years.
Lincoln takes boatloads of people to see the gray seals that inhabit North Monomoy Island and South Beach near Chatham. Tours are from late spring to mid-October and during the peak season Lincoln does four trips a day, seven days a week.
On the 90-minute rides, the Cape resident, who works as policeman in nearby Harwich during the off-season, talks about the Monomoy lighthouse, Monomoy Island and its shorebirds and other sights along the way to the seals’ outpost. Another highlight of the trip, Lincoln said, is the different perspective it provides. “One of the big things is being able to see the town from the water.”
But the seals are the stars. “People go crazy over the seals,” he said.
Because Lincoln’s boat is small and quiet, it is possible to get close to the seals without disturbing them. Under those conditions, the seals seem to enjoy the tourists as much as the tourists enjoy them. “The seals are as much into people-watching as we are into seal-watching,” Lincoln said.
Many factors affect the number of seals tourists will see, including the movement of the fish they eat and the boat traffic. “Sometimes there are 50, sometimes there are 1,000,” Lincoln said. “Every day is a different trip. That is the joy of working with wildlife. You can’t set them up on a union contract. Some days they make my job easy; sometimes they make me work harder, and I get a few gray hairs.”