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Northshore Harbormasters Association News


New Harbormaster comes aboard

 Alan Burke Staff writer MARBLEHEAD — When he was a boy, Charles Dalferro’s big brother worked for the Marblehead Transport Co. And when there were empty seats, Dalferro boarded for free, taking the ride from stop to stop, getting to know every corner of one of the world’s most beautiful harbors. It was useful experience for the man who became harbormaster on Feb. 6 after more than 17 years as an assistant. Dalferro, 53, comes aboard at the beginning of a new era. The recently completed harbormaster’s office at Tucker’s Wharf includes showers, laundry facilities and electrical power outlets for pleasure boats. It’s part of an effort to make Marblehead Harbor more attractive to the fleet of wealthy boaters who cruise the Northeast coast each summer. "It’s going to bring in a lot more people than we’re bringing in now," Dalferro says. Of course, he can take a long view, having lived on this harbor for more than half a century. "You could pretty much water ski when I was a kid," he says with a chuckle. Today the waiting list for moorings can keep you waiting more than a decade and 1,000-plus boaters pay $10 each year just to stay on it. Meanwhile, the summer armada seems shoehorned in, causing a forest of bobbing masts. Yet, thanks to the moorings, as well as town-owned boat yards and the folks who use the new washing machines, Dalferro runs one of the few departments that costs taxpayers nothing. "You don’t pay for it unless you own a boat," he says. His budget is projected at $500,000, but he expects to raise at least $200,000 more — which goes into the town coffers. Dalferro gives his predecessor, Warner Hazell, and the Harbors and Waters Board the credit for his department’s economic health. "(Hazell) left this place better than when he took it over," Dalferro says. Which matters. Marblehead Harbor is no afterthought in this town — it’s the soul of the community, the rockbound jewel that drew the first English settler nearly 400 years ago. Dalferro knows about that, too. On his mother’s side, his family tree stretches back to Marblehead’s earliest days and includes names like Johnson and Chapman. The Dalferros, meanwhile, hail from Lynn and before that Ellis Island and before that Florence, Italy. Dalferro bought his first boat as a young man, a skiff with an outboard. "It cost me a pile of money, as boats usually do. I did a lot of fishing back in the days when you could go out into the harbor and fill a small bucket with flounder," he says. After attending Marblehead schools, he decided against college, opting for carpentry. Unfortunately, in the 1970s, jobs were scarce. He went to work for a high-tech company in Waltham building artificial heart and lung machines. Layoffs sent him back to town, first to Hood Sailmakers and later to what was then called the Selectmen’s Department. He did various jobs around town, rising about as high as he could go in that department. With two children and a wife, Diane, he next moved to become assistant harbormaster. Over the last several years, he was assumed to be Hazell’s likely successor. With some prodding, Dalferro admits that the job can be dangerous — and not merely because of surly boaters. "When you’re out there during a storm and you’ve got a boat on the rocks … there’s some hairy moments. Things happen fast," he says. The new harbormaster has so far not set long-term goals. He explains that he’s still getting his bearings, settling in. His first task was hiring an assistant, F. Webb Russell, another townie with experience in the boatyards. The harbormaster stresses that he will have an open-door policy for anyone who wants to speak with him. "I just like to go where things lead," Dalferro says, sitting in his new office across from a framed photo of the USS Constitution at Marblehead Harbor in 1997. He can be seen in the picture and he points to a tiny figure on one of the patrol boats surrounding the famous frigate. "I’m pretty pleased with the way things have gone," he says with a smile

Posted on March 14th, 2005 by dan in North Shore