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Nahant is the favorite beach of many Boston sailors. And for good reason. It is about 20 minutes away for most of the city, has ample parking, and is sailable in any wind direction. Spring and fall, this is frequently the beach of choice. Alas, the wind disappears during the summer, thus forcing migrations to Cape Cod.

For all the superlatives, Nahant has two downsides: a long walk at low tide and heavy algae buildup in the summer. The algae stays close to shore so you only encounter it at the start and finish. Try to keep it off your board's deck: it stains and stinks when it dries.

Nahant is a great spot for the novice and expert alike -- but rarely at the same time. Usually, there is small swell with waves lapping up on the shore. As the wind increases, so do the waves. One- to two-foot breaking waves are the standard in strong winds. These might be a challenge, but are not insurmountable for the intermediate sailor. Raging nor'easters can produce four- to five-foot waves so plan accordingly.

Westerlies and sou'westerlies work great at Nahant. One rarely sees positive words for sailing offshore winds, but if your waterstarts are solid and you have a friend who can assist if your gear fails, go for it. The offshore winds flatten the waves, making for extremely flat and fast conditions.

If the nor'easters and northerlies create too much wave action or if the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) closes the beach, there is an alternative just across the street. Immediately out of the rotary to your right (just across from the MDC) is a boat ramp and parking. Parking is free and conditions are always flat. Note: this side of the causeway is only sailable three hours either side of high tide.

If lifeguards are on duty and collecting parking fees, ask about the windsurfing restrictions of the day. When the lifeguards are around, windsurfing is usually restricted to the northern side of the beach (i.e., the opposite end from the entrance).

20+ minutes from Boston. Ample parking (nominal summer fee: $3). Flat water to wave sailing, depending on conditions. All wind directions are sailable!
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From points south, take I-95N to 16E. Continue on 16E through Lynn. At the fork, bear right toward Marblehead. At the rotary, go 90 degrees. Go to the end of the causeway, then turn left into the parking lot.

The sensor overlooks the Nahant Beach causeway and provides excellent readings in all directions.

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