Rockport Harbormaster
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Harbormaster & Waterfront Committee Reports

Annual Reports for year ending December 31, 2001.


The Rockport Harbor Department opened the boating season by launching the patrol boat at T-Wharf at the beginning of April. The floats for all three harbors were put in the water at the end of April. The season seemed to get off to a slow start due in part to the higher price of fuel. Boaters were not as eager to travel long distances. As the season progressed these same boaters came to Rockport to spend the weekends.

The spring Town Meeting vote insured that White Wharf would be purchased from the Trust for Public Land and officially belong to the Town of Rockport. The boat slip holders at White Wharf remained the same for the 2001 season. The building on White Wharf was secured and parking permits were issued to all slip holders to use in designated areas on the wharf.

The voters at the Spring Town Meeting also approved the purchase of a new patrol boat. Our present 20' Boston Whaler has served us well, but after 18 years it was time for an upgrade. In the best interest of the boating public we chose to continue with a Boston Whaler. This vessel provides the durability and reliability that is is needed for all types of work. We choose the 24' Boston Whaler, Justice model. This boat is specifically designed for commercial use with high freeboard, an extra wide beam for increased stability, a large locking electrical box, dry storage in the console and leaning post, an anchor locker, two bow lockers and three in-deck storage compartments. After "sea trials" in Florida the new Boston Whaler was delivered to T-wharf in late October and will be put in commission in the early spring of 2002.

As the summer progressed so did the boating activity. From the 4th of July to mid October, Rockport Harbor was filled to capacity with visiting boaters. Most of these boaters had made reservations for their stay well in advance. On any given day during the summer and fall seasons, Sandy Bay, out off Front and Back Beach, could be host to any number of boats. Some nights there were 30 or 40 boats anchored in that area in a wide range of sizes.

The Rockport Harbor Department continues to work closely with Gloucester Coast Guard Station, the Environmental Police and local authorities to insure boaters a safe passage in and around the Rockport area.

We continue to be active in the North Shore Massachusetts Harbormaster Association with legislative changes, education, on the water training and monthly meetings.

Over the 2001 season we encountered a large number of different boating situations, from search and rescue, medical emergencies, assisting the public and May Day calls. We met numerous people from all over the world who found that Rockport is all that they had read about and more.

The Rockport Harbor Department continues to participate in the Massachusetts Clean Vessel Act Pump Out Grant Program. This program provides cities and towns the equipment to pump out vessels holding tanks.

After Labor Day work was started on the old Forest Fire Station on T-Wharf to create a much needed Harbormaster Office. We look forward to having an office on the wharf, which will enable us to conduct daily activities in one central location.

Assisted the public 67
Search & Rescue 13
Divers in distress 6
Medical Calls 6
Investigate Flare Sightings 4
Investigate Oil Spills 2
Assisted seal/whale 4
May Day Calls 5

Office Hours Thursday Night 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Rockport Harbor Harbormasters
Rosemary Lesch and Scott Story
Assistant Harbormaster Ron Petoff


January through April: working on Harbor Plan with Harbor Department (HD), Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) and Harbor Planning Committee (HPC).

May: Received a request from the Board of Selectmen (BOS) for a cost estimate to run White Wharf for the remainder of the 2001 Boating Season. This required an inspection of the property with the Harbormasters and a sub-committee to determine what needed attention right away and what could be done at a later time. The sub-committee consisted of J. Gardner (Fincom). R. Lesch, C. Nichols, S. Ouellette, B. Story & S. Story. We made up a list of possible uses for White Wharf to be included with the cost estimate to be delivered to the BOS in June.

June: June 5, 2001, a letter from C. Nichols, chair HAC was sent to the BOS with a detailed cost estimate of $20,523.00. This cost estimate was a cost to bring White Wharf up to a standard worthy of $100.00 at foot rental fee.

At the June 12, 2001 meeting of the HAC the committee was informed that the responsibility of running and managing White wharf was the Harbor Department's.

This was included in June 5th letter to the BOS as a $6,500.00 line item. The Committee was also shown the letter sent to the BOS.

A discussion of the possibility of the town charging mooring fees for moorings off Front and Back Beaches.

A discussion of a way to apply the enforcement of the loss of a mooring when the Harbor Department discovers an infraction of the Town of Rockport Official Harbor Rules and Regulations was completed. Such an infraction would be a boat not being on it's assigned mooring for at least 30 days of the mooring season. This will result in the loss of the mooring unless there are hardships involved.

Meeting June 21, 2001. The Harbor Department requested advise from the HAC regarding the issuing of mooring permits for moorings off Front and Back Beaches. After a long discussion, the HAC voted not to allow any moorings of the beaches. This was mostly due to the danger of severe Northeast storms which have caused many boats to go on the rocks in the past. The chairman was advised to send a letter to the BOS recommending this decision be included in the Harbor Rules and Regulations.

July: A letter was sent to the BOS from C. Nichols chair HAC on July 12, 2001 requesting the changing of the Harbormasters Labor Category. Meeting July 19, 2001. The need for updating and amending the Harbor Rules and regulations was discussed with the committee and the Harbor Dept.

August: A letter was sent to the BOS from C. Nichols addressing the vote taken at the June 21st meeting regarding moorings off Front & Back Beaches and requesting the decision be included in the Harbor Rules & Regulations. Meeting August 30, 2001. Further discussion of updating the Harbor Rules & Regulations. Election of officers: Chairman C. Nichols re-elected, Secretary J. Lucas reelected.

A letter was sent to the BOS on August 30, 2001, from C. Nichols Chair HAC. The subject of the letter the boating season at White Wharf 2002 and beyond, requesting the BOS accept our advice regarding the unanimous vote to assign slips and White Wharf directly from the mooring list. In addition that the present tenants be informed of this ASAP As well as those affected on the mooring list.

September: September 20, 2001 C. Nichols attended meeting requesting by BOS held in Library to discuss Chapter 91 issues including the HAC's role, function and involvement in Chapter 91 matters. This was the first of several daytime seminars on Chapter 91. Subsequent meetings included interaction with DEP officials. September 20, 2001 meeting: review letter from town administrator regarding Harbor Dept. wage classification. Perhaps form a subcommittee.

October: October 25, 2001 meeting: Continue to review Town Administrator letter, interact with Town Personnel Board (set up meeting). The BOS has requested that the HAC make a list of tasks that must be done to White Wharf for the 2002 boating season and what the estimated cost will be to carry them out. This will be done in concert with the Harbor Dept. The Harbor Dept. gave the BOS the estimate after the agreement of C. Nichols.

November: November 20, 2001 Board of Selectmen Meeting: C. Nichols and the Harbor Dept. explained their combined inputs to the BOS regarding the slips and fees at White Wharf. The selectmen voted to take the tenants off the mooring list and the fee will be $100.00 per foot for each slip.

December: No meeting only the Chairman and Secretary attended, no quorum.

The Harbor Advisory Committee has been working with the Harbor Planning Committee (HPC) the entire year. A draft copy of the Harbor Plan was given HPC in early fall by the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI). The committee spent 3 months editing and correcting the text. On December 12, 2001 the HPC met with the UHI representatives to go over the corrected text, and to correct the maps. UHI left the meeting with the marked up corrected copy of the Harbor Plan and plan to send the corrected copies to the Town in early 2002.

C. Nichols, Chairman


The Thacher Island Committee consists of 10 members who are charged with the oversight, maintenance and improvement of Thacher Island and its facilities.

The year 2001 was the first year that the Island was again opened to the public after a six-year hiatus, subsequent to the loss of the ramp. Four sets of keepers rotated on the Island from April through October as representatives of the Thacher Island Committee and the Town. They hosted over 1500 visitors to the Island who came either by the Thacher Island Committee launch or by private boat. The visitors hailed from 22 different states and eight overseas countries. Amongst them was Mary Richardson of TV Channel 5 who did a special program on the Island.

During the season, through the efforts of volunteer laborers and the keepers, the main building was made habitable and general repairs implemented. These repairs included making the building more weather-tight by installing storm doors and putting a rubber roof on the cellar entryway, as well as correcting problems in the electrical system and the septic system. The boathouse was repainted, trails were enhanced and improved, and two boatloads of trash were removed from the Island. The time donated by volunteer labor of the work crews was in excess of 1000 hours.

The Town Committee has worked with Fish & Wildlife who send a representative to each of our meetings, and the boundary line between the Town portion and the Fish & Wildlife portion has been established and marked.

The Town Committee works in collaboration with, and wishes to express its profound gratitude to, the Thacher Island Association for their continued fundraising efforts, volunteer labor, and general enthusiasm and support of the Island.

During the year 2001, Thacher Island was transferred from the Coast Guard to the Town of Rockport, thus completing 20 years of effort on the part of the Thacher Island Committee, the Thacher Island Association, and the Town. The Committee acknowledges the 10+ year stewardship of John and Mary Bennett as co-chairmen of the Thacher Island Committee. Lastly, due to the efforts of the Thacher Island Association, especially Paul St. Germain, Thacher Island was designated a National Historic Landmark in January 2001.

Plans for 2002 include upgrading the apartment facilities on the Island so as to enhance the visitor experience to the Island.

Sydney M. Wedmore, M.D.


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