Signs that You’re in a Boating Community

For whatever reason, I’ve always been interested in signs. I like antique signs that describe the store without having to use a lot of words. You know, a pair of eyeglasses that point the direction of the eye doctor. A tooth for a dentist’s office. A pint of beer for a bar. A key for a locksmith. It seemed to me there used to be a lot more of these in the past, but I don’t see as many of them anymore.

One place where I see a number of unique signs is in fishing and boating towns. Common road and street signs are no doubt important, but they somehow lack a degree of punch found in these cool towns. Fortunately for me, many folks living in these kinds of towns probably got tired of the green and white, or the yellow and black, and came up with something more creative. I can attest to winters being long in our town, and creative sign making is a cure for boredom. Here are some head turners.

The first one is a rock. With the numbers 1620 etched in, how shall I say, stone, you’re no doubt in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It’s the final landing place for the Pilgrims and the beginning of the new colony that ultimately became the United States of America. Humble beginnings for our great nation!

The bright orange Maine lobster needs no words of introduction. Buy ‘em fresh from the sea or cooked orange to perfection, this is certainly a place where you can find ‘em.

A skull and crossbones means pirates. This sign is from a museum devoted to the findings of the wreck of Black Sam Bellamy’s pirate ship Whydah. After a winter of looting in the Bahamas, Bellamy return to Cape Cod with a hold of loot, and ran aground on the offshore bars. In 1984, Barry Clifford found the wreck along one of the area’s best fishing beaches. The cannons, gold coins, and cutlasses probably cut off a fish or two before the salvaged goods were placed in a museum.

Surf’s up at the local surf shop! That long board has seen some mileage, and now it is turned not only into a sign advertising the store; it’s also a bench to sit on when the swells are flat.

Even the Harbor Master has a creative sign!

And finally, beacons have guided sailors and fisherman safely to port for centuries. This local restaurant does the same thing for landlubbers! The Lighthouse….home of some of the best chowder and fried clams around.

What kinds of signs do you see where you fish and boat?

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at