There are several small-craft facilities just above the entrance at Niantic and Waterford, on the west side and east side of Niantic River, respectively, and in Smith Cove.
Harbormasters are at Niantic and Waterford. A 6 mph speed limit is enforced on the river.
Click the “Map View” button above to see a chart of this harbor.
The Niantic River empties into the northeast end of Niantic Bay and is entered through a dredged channel that leads from the bay, thence through a narrow passage at the entrance, and thence to a point about 300 yards northward of the entrance to Smith Cove. In 2004-2006, the controlling depths were 4.6 feet (7.9 feet at midchannel) to the highway bascule bridge about 0.4 mile above the channel entrance, thence 5.4 feet at midchannel to the head of the channel. The channel is marked by daybeacons and seasonal buoys.
Two bridges cross the narrow passage at the entrance. The more southerly is the Amtrak bridge, with a 45-foot bascule span and a clearance of 11 feet; in 2010, a replacement bascule bridge was under construction with a design clearance of 16 feet just south of the existing bridge. The State Route 156 highway bridge, about 0.1 northward, has a bascule span with a clearance of 32 feet. The bridgetender at each bridge monitors VHF-FM channel 13; call signs KGA-511 and KXR-911, respectively.
Above the head of the dredged channel, small craft can navigate for about another 1.5 miles to Golden Spur (East Lyme) with local knowledge.
Smith Cove is on the west side of Niantic River about 1.5 miles above the channel entrance. A channel, marked by private daybeacons, leads westward from the river channel into the cove. In 1999, the channel had a reported depth of 5 feet.