Rockport Harbormaster
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Harbormaster & Waterfront Committee Reports

Annual Reports for year ending December 31, 2015.

Rockport Harbor Department
2015 Annual Report

The Rockport Harbor Department consists of 4 harbormasters who are State certified harbormasters, shellfish officers, EMT's or 1st responder's whose duties consist of managing the waterfront and oversee the safety of local and visiting boaters, commercial and recreational.

The 2015 season was an active one with the following highlights:

Bearskin Neck Breakwater: work continued during the extreme winter weather with completion by late June. This new construction has created a new attraction for visitors to town along with providing more protection for the harbor.

Mooring fees: The moorings fees were increased to help with the operating expenses of the harbor department. There had not been an increase in over 10 years.

Old Harbor: Work was done to open up the entrance to the harbor. The winter weather had closed up the entrance and maintenance had to be done before boats could enter or excite the harbor.

Rescue of two kayakers: Late in May 2 kayakers were rescued by Mike Tupper, owner of the FV Freemantle Doctor, and his crew Jim Kluge. The pair had launched their kayaks from Front Beach late on a Saturday afternoon and paddled out to the Dry Salvages area when trouble hit. Their kayaks capsized and the 2 swam to the highest point which was the Dry Salvages. Darkness was falling and they spent the night and most of the next day huddled together on the exposed rocks. The Freemantle Doctor was heading home late on Sunday afternoon and Jim Kluge spotted the pair waving for help. Mike Tupper called Rockport Patrol and upon our arrival they retrieved the male and we got the female off the Rocks. Both persons were brought into Rockport Harbor and transported to Addison Gilbert Hospital. After 2 days at AGH hyperthermia and cuts and bruises they were released and thankful for all the help and very thankful for Mike and Jim on the Freemantle Doctor.

Divers in distress: Later in June we received a call from the RPD that there were 2 divers in a small 16' aluminum boat and one diver was in distress. Upon our arrival to the area we found a 16' boat with one diver in it and the other was in the water.  Our protocol was followed and we brought the distressed diver in to Rockport Harbor where the Rockport Ambulance was waiting.
Numerous other diver incidents occurred during the season.

Blackburn Challenge: August brought the Blackburn Challenge to Sandy Bay with over one hundred paddlers in all sorts of vessels. The sea conditions were not favorable for this event and there were capsizing and swamping of vessels who were crossing Sandy Bay.

Front Beach swim float: During the summer months there were all sorts of problems with the Front Beach swim float. The float had out lived its life expectancy. Built with pride by local contractors over 15 years ago it just could not with stand another season.  Due to popular demand the Harbor Department realized a replacement was necessary for this season and within a week there was a new float at the beach for all to enjoy.

Fire Works: In early August the annual fireworks were displayed off of Granite Pier. The weather was predicted to be a little easterly with showers but as the day went on the skies cleared and a spectacular fireworks display was seen from land and sea.

Medical Emergency: There were a number of medical emergencies during the summer with the most memorable being at Folly Cove on a 50' cabin cruiser. A gentleman/passenger on board was having a medical problem and upon our arrival it was determined the best plan of action would be to bring him, on that boat, into Rockport Harbor. All worked well and we treated and transported to Rockport Harbor where the person was transported to Addison Gilbert Hospital via the Rockport Ambulance.

Labor Day: Labor Day came and went with the usual congested harbor and pretty much concluding the busiest weekend of the summer.

Cruise Ship incident: At approximately 1915hrs on September 11th we heard a "man overboard" call on marine channel 16. The 650ft cruise ship "Seabourn Quest" had alerted an emergency of a person overboard 10 miles off the coast of Rockport. After entering the coordinates of the incident we got underway to the designated location. The weather conditions were clear, cool with seas 5 to 8 ft. Also in the area and responding was a local 35' tuna boat Kaybur, USCG Station Gloucester's 47' life boat came out of Gloucester and a 270' USCG cutter was diverted to the area. Within 15 minutes of arriving at the location of the "Seabourn Quest", after a 30-45 minute run from Rockport Harbor to coordinates, the Kaybur spotted what he thought was the victim. The recovery and transport was then coordinated between the federal, state and local agencies. Rockport harbormasters retrieved the victim and transported into Rockport Harbor where they were met by the appropriate authorities.

Whales and Seals: Several whales and seals where reported sick, injured or deceased on our shores. All state and local protocols were followed in dealing with each individual situation.

Massachusetts Harbormaster Association camera grant: In early December the Massachusetts Harbormaster Association was awarded a million dollar grant from FEMA for cameras to be installed in waterfront communities from the New Hampshire border to the Cape Cod Canal. Each community will receive between 2-5 cameras in strategic locations for homeland security purposes.  Rockport will receive 5 cameras.

Pigeon Cove Harbor Breakwater: Work has begun on the outer breakwater and entrance to the harbor sea wall. The work will progress during the winter months and the scheduled completion date is late June or early July 2016. Classic Site Solutions, Inc. who did the Bearskin Neck Breakwater is also doing the Pigeon cove work.

Santa Clause: The season comes to a close with the arrival of Santa Clause on the FV Freemantle Doctor. This year the event was scheduled for 1pm. The weather was great and the crowds were huge, this was a great way to start the Christmas season.

Commercial fishing continues to be a significant part of the waterfront activity in Rockport. In 2014, according to the most recent statistics provided by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, there were 52 active commercial lobstermen in Rockport; who landed 1,014,968 lbs. of lobster worth an estimated $4.4 million to the fishermen. The Harbor Department continues to work cooperatively with Rockport's commercial fishermen on issues that include bait storage, moorings and enforcement.

The Rockport Harbormasters are active members of the Massachusetts Harbormaster Association with Rosemary Lesch, president and Scott Story, president of the North Shore Harbormasters Association and both are members of the Governors appointed Massachusetts Harbormaster Training Council.

Rockport Harbormasters
Rosemary Lesch, Scott Story
Assistant Harbormasters
Ron Petoff, Story Reed


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