Harbormaster & Waterfront Committee Reports
Annual Reports for year ending December 31, 2004.
The start of 2004 brought the
continued planning of Mass Criminal Justice training for all North Shore
Harbormasters. This program is overseen by Harbormasters Rosemary Lesch and
Scott Story and runs for 12- 16 weeks during the winter season. The classes
are held at the Salem Police Department with a curriculum of law enforcement,
officer survival, and laws pertaining to harbormasters and on the water
In the month for February the Harbor Department in conjunction with the
Ambulance Department sponsored an Ice Rescue Program for all emergency
services in town. The majority of the day was spent at Steele Derrick in and
out of a large hole cut in the ice to practice ice rescue techniques. The
training was conducted by Ocean Rescue Systems, South Portland, Maine. Over 40
Rockport rescue personnel participated in the day long training.
The boating season got underway with a distress call on April 1. The call came
from a vessel in distress off Thacher's Island. The Alert 2 was quickly
launched and underway to the subject vessel which was then towed to Granite
Pier with two persons on board.
The Harbor Department along with the Sandy Bay Yacht Club contracted with
Great Eastern Crane Service to put in over 100 floats which we then tow to the
different harbors and secured for the season. The floats are in the water from
the first of May to the middle of October when the process is reversed and all
are taken out of the water and stored at Granite Pier.
On Sunday May 16 we trailered our 24' patrol boat Alert 2 up to the DPW yard
to participate in our annual Emergency Service Day. The day was a huge success
with over 700 persons of all ages dropping by to see the new police station
and all the equipment used by the emergency services and the DPW facility.
On May 29 we responded to a call for a party boat in distress a mile south of
Thacher's Island. Upon our arrival we found the 65' party boat Lady Tracy Ann
with 32 people on board taking on water. The sea conditions were rough which
made it difficult to secure the vessel. We got on board to discover a 4' hole
in the bow area. At that time we put tow pumps on board to start dewatering
the vessel and headed into Rockport. With the assistance of Gloucester Coast
Guard the vessel was secured in Rockport Harbor with the 32 passengers off
loaded and brought back to Seabrook aboard another party boat.
In June we participated with the Rockport Ambulance Department in Shore Line
Rescue Training on Back Beach. The sea conditions were choppy which made for
interesting rescue training for the Harbor, Ambulance and Fire Departments.
In mid June we received an emergency call from a 38' Novi fishing boat "It'll
Do" who was in distress between Halibut Point and Lanes Cove. Upon our arrival
we found the vessel on a reef and rolling gunnel to gunnel. One person had
already been taken off the boat by a passing boater. We got pumps on board and
the vessel off the reef and towed into Rockport. The vessel was secured at
Bradley Wharf and the hull inspected and repaired.
The summer proceeded with heavy boating traffic and visiting boats of all
to the harbor. The two largest vessels were the 119' "Impetuous" from
Florida and the 115' "Symphony" from the British Virgin Islands. Each vessel
a night in Rockport at the end of T -Wharf (on different nights)!
A bomb was reported in the waters off Back Beach which required many agencies
to investigate. Along with the Rockport Harbor Department the local police
contacted the Mass State Police and their Bomb Squad who scanned the area to
find what resembled a bomb. The item was brought to the surface and declared
not to be a dangerous item.
On August 2 we received a call from a boater passing by Thacher's Island
reporting an over turned 20' vessel with no people around the boat. As we were
responding to the scene it was reported to us that there were three people on
Thacher's Island. Upon our arrival to the island we spotted three people
climbing across the rocks toward the boat ramp. These three people 2 male
adults and a 6 year old boy had been swamped by the large waves about 1/2 mile
south of Thacher's. They then swam to the island. We took the three boaters
off the island and a Good Samaritan boater assisted in the retrieval of their
The season continued with routine traffic, many visitors and routine shellfish
patrols on boats and beaches.
The DPW continues the keep up with the maintenance of the ladders, wharfs and
Mid September brought the annual north east storms that taxed the Harbor
Department during its duration with numerous vessels breaking free and
moorings needing to be secured. Several days were spent securing vessels and
floats for the remainder of the boating season.
On November 12 at 5 p.m. we responded at the USCG request to a vessel aground
"somewhere" in the vicinity of the entrance to the Annisquam River and Halibut
Point. With 6'-8' seas and snowy conditions we responded to find a 33' sailing
vessel "Karpouz" hard aground on a sand bar in the mouth of the Annisquam with
2 people and a cat on board. As time went by it was determined by the USCG
that the rescue boats from Rockport and Gloucester Coast Guard Station would
not be able to get the people safely off their boat. USCG Sector Boston
dispatched a helicopter from Cape Cod which arrived within the hour to airlift
the persons and the cat to safety.
Early in December Santa Claus was brought into Rockport Harbor on a local
fishing vessel owned by Jay Vanderpool and escorted by the Rockport Patrol
boat and a 25' vessel from USCG Gloucester Station.
The year ended with a northeaster which sank a 38' fishing vessel in Pigeon
Cove Harbor and did substantial damage to other vessels in Pigeon Cove.
This report outlines some of the situations the Rockport Harbor Department had
encountered during the season. The routine daily activities include overseeing
Rockport's four harbors, public safety, maintaining the Mooring Waiting list,
responding to people in distress, shellfish activities, court cases, boat
maintenance, "Pump Out" service to locals and visiting boats, EMT
certifications, conducting harbormaster training, attending seminars on
Homeland Security/related topics and overall public relations for the Town of
Thanks goes out to all the local and State agencies that help the Harbor
Department run so smoothly.
Harbor Office hours: Thursday nights 7-8:30pm Harbor Office T -Wharf
|Assisted the public
|May Day Calls
|Search & Rescue
|Divers in Distress
|Investigated Flare Sightings
|Investigated Oil Spills
Rosemary Lesch and Scott Story
Assistant Harbormasters Ron Petoff & Story Reed
HARBOR ADVISORY COMMITTEE
January 22, 2004 - Review and vote to accept
letter drafted by chair to W. Donovan reflecting a unanimous vote at December 2003 meeting regarding eligibility for fish
Letter was accepted and the chair will bring it before town counsel for review.
annual report drafted by chair and voted to accept it as presented.
February 12, 2004 - Old Business: Letter to Mike Anderson about fish shack. New
Business: Review Petition to the 2004 annual town meeting to amend the Town of
Rockport Code of By laws to add boat livery rules and regulations.
February 13, 2004 - sent letter to BOS. At the February 12 meeting of the Harbor
Advisory Committee, the committee discussed subject petition and voted to agree
with its contents. The committee feels that if this petition passes at the April
Town Meeting that the waters in and around Rockport will be safer for both
livery clients and Rockport boaters because of this petition.
The chair presented a draft letter to the Building Study Committee (BSC)
outlining the possible uses for the building at White Wharf the committee voted
at the December 2003 meeting. The committee voted to accept the letter as
written and the chair sent it to the BSC.
MARCH MEETING WAS CANCELLED
April 15th meeting - Old Business: Call fishermen on waiting list for two stalls
in Motif # 1 and shack (E) on Bradley Wharf prior to meeting as to interest in
obtaining leases. Action: Called those on top of list, two turned down stall #1
in Motif, Bryan Church accepted, however an inspection of the Motif by the
committee revealed the fire lane was
blocked with gear. New Business: Redo application list for town fish shacks,
for non-town owned fish shacks, and gear storage areas. Action: Chair made a
draft of the
application list to include all of the harbors storage areas and town owned
those interested in available Bradley Wharf stalls and storage areas.
Letter to BOS sent April 16, 2004 as a result of Motif #1 inspection by
Highlights: Recommendation to allow two new leases selected and approved by
committee. Mark Gray stall #3 and Keith Desmond Fish shack E on July 25 1974 map.
inspection revealed stall #1 contained items of ex-tenant B. Lee and fire lane
with tenants gear. Recommendation that town agency responsible for management of
Motif #1 determine whose gear is blocking the fire lane and have it removed as
well as B.
Lee's gear from stall # 1.
May 13, 2004 - Discussed: Mr. W. Donovan acquired commercial fishing license.
Recommend he be permitted to apply for lease. Motif #1 conditions with B. Lee.
Chair agreed to reconfigure the February 1979 version of "Layout of Storage
Area, MOTIF #1" subsequent to information provided by Mr. Bill Lee.
May 17, 2004 - Letter to BOS - Recommendation to permit Mr. W. Donovan to lease his
The HAC is recommending that Mr. Donovan be granted the right to lease 1/2 of
the Fish Shack designated "A" on "Plan of Land Rockport, Bradley Wharf' dated
June 25 1974. Mr. Bill Lee addressed the committee regarding the fishing gear of
his in stall #1 and Fire lane of the Motif. He gave a reasonable explanation of
why the gear was not moved and in addition, said he would remove the gear ASAP.
Mr. Lee also enlightened those present at the meeting with a brief history of
the present configuration of the stalls in Motif #l. The HAC chair volunteered
to check the sizes of the stall as they are now, mark up the map and present it
to the BOS to be sent to the DPW to be redrawn or marked up and dated.
June 10, 2004 - Old Business: Motif # 1 interior condition. New Business:
Reappointment of committee members. The following committee members are due for
reappointment: Michael Polisson, Michael Clay, and Michael Tupper. Alternate
members due for reappointment: Benton Story and William LaMachia. Michael Tupper
has elected not to re-up.
He just does not have the time. Anthony Pizzimenti was suggested by M. Tupper to
replace him as the commercial fisherman member representing Granite Pier Harbor.
Mr. Pizzimenti was approached by M. Tupper and indicated an interest in filling
the position; however, the chair has not been able to talk to him at this time.
Chair sent letter to BOS requesting Mr. Pizzimenti replace Mr. Tupper as
representative of commercial fisherman for Granite Pier Harbor.
JULY MEETING CANCELLED
August 4, 2004 - Action item sent to Committee by BOS: Read and review letter sent
to BOS from Mr. G. Carter "Mooring Question".
August 12, 2004 - Old Business: New member Tony Pizzimenti. New Business:
Address complaints of Granite Pier boat users about skiff float conditions.
Harbor Department will make up plastic covered violation tickets to Harbor Rules
and Regulations. These to be affixed to violators skiffs. Go over proposed new
waiting list for Town leased land. Address G. Carter letter to BOS. Discussed
with Harbor Department, Mr. Carter's request violates present rules and
regulations. Send letter to BOS stating HAC agrees with letter to BOS dated
8/5/2004 from Harbor Department. Letter to BOS. In conclusion, this subject is
closed. The R&R have been carefully explained to Mr. Carter by the Harbor
Department and if he does not agree then that is unfortunate and the mater, in
our opinion is closed.
September 9, 2004 - Old Business: Complaints of Granite Pier boat users about
skiff float conditions. No action taken by the Harbor Department. New Business:
Welcome new member, Anthony Pizzimenti, appointed August 30 2004 for the term
until June 30, 2007. Address any harbor problems with Harbor Department. Address
questions by Bill LaMachia regarding Summer Moorings.
October 14, 2004 - Discuss the ongoing problem of new or replacement moorings
being installed by a contractor and interfering with adjacent moorings/mooring
gear after installation. Suggest that reference addendum have "The presence of a
member of the Harbor Department when mooring is set." Be added to addendum.
Further discussion of abuse of "the 30 day rule" to the point of a
recommendation by the committee. New Business: Review, discuss, and vote on the
new cost per square foot method for the stalls in Motif # 1. See excel
attachment Bradley Wharf Motif #1 Stalls. The result was $3.25 per square foot.
Chair will discuss this with town administrator.
NOVEMBER MEETING WAS CANCELLED
December 9, 2004 - New Business: Discuss the ongoing problem of new or replacement
moorings being installed by a contractor. Further discussion of abuse of "the 30
day rule" to the point of a recommendation by the committee. This was discussed
at length, the result to change the wording in the Rules and Regulations to
"active use of the vessel for 30 days". Discuss request from town to up the rate
voted on of $3.25 per square foot be increases to $3.90 per square foot. The
voted to accept the increase to $3.90 per square foot to keep the revenue to the
town the same as before. Mike Polisson and Mike Clay will define what is fair
trap storage practice. Mike Clay told the committee that the present rule of a
trap height of 6 was the safest and we should continue to hold to it. Mr. Clay
stated that he and M. Polisson would look into the square footage of all of the
trap storage areas on town land. This is to ensure that the cost per square foot
will be the same in all harbors. This action is a result of the BOS making the
Harbor Advisory Committee responsible for the uniformity of all town owned gear
storage areas and town owned stalls. This is also part of the Harbor Advisory
Committee's accountability to ensure that all applicants for town gear storage
areas, stalls and land leases for fisherman owned shacks are qualified as
working licensed commercial fishermen.
C. Nichols, Chairman
Harbor Advisory Committee
THACHER ISLAND TOWN COMMITTEE
The Thacher Island Town Committee consists of 11 members approved by the
Board of Selectmen and charged with the oversight, maintenance and upkeep of the
In 2004 there were a number of accomplishments. Under the leadership of Billy
Lee and the use of his boat, The Ocean Reporter, and the help of volunteers of
the Thacher Island Cable Company, the cable was re-spliced and electric power
was reestablished to the Island in July. The renovation of the exterior of the
principal keeper's house was finished by Joe Napolitano of NapCo Construction
and interior demolition was begun. Under the expert carpentry of Peter Berkholtz
and Dick Morris, with assistance by Paul St Germain, a generator shed was built
and the generator moved to the base of the South Tower to provide alternative
electrical back-up. By the help of Roger Perkins and Kevin Beaulieu, a propane
gas system was installed for the hot water heaters and the stoves on the Island.
Dick Douglas and Ted Tarr continued to do maintenance and weekly updates on the
The Thacher Island Town Committee works in conjunction with the Thacher
Island Association which is the fund raising arm of the Island. Under the
diligent efforts of Paul St Germain, over $180,000 in grants were received in
2004, and $160,000 from the Community Preservation Committee which will be used
for the interior renovation of the principal keeper's house. Additional grants
were received for the development of solar power on the Island.
This past summer there were three sets of keepers on the Island - John and
Darlene Fulton in July, Andy and Kathy Hines in September and Alan Tomasca and
Ann Hernandez in October. While these keepers were out there, the Island was
open and received over 1000 visitors. Special events included Artists' Day, an
overnight by the Girl Scouts and a fishing expedition by the Boy Scouts.
In anticipation of 2005, when there will be many contractors out working to
refurbish the principal keeper's house, the apartments on the Island will not be
available for rental. As always, we are looking for volunteers who have an
interest in the Island and any talents which may be useful in further enhancing
the Island's maintenance and upkeep.
Sydney M. Wedmore, MD
SEA FENCIBLES REPORT
Information taken from History of Gloucester by John J. Babson, Town on Sandy
Bay by Marshall W. S. Swan and Cape Ann Cape America by Herbert A. Kenny.
Sandy Bay was the Fifth Parish of Gloucester until 1840 when it became the
Town of Rockport.
The War of 1812 created serious hardships on Sandy Bay and Pigeon Cove. At
Sandy Bay a company of about 60 men called the Sea Fencibles were enlisted with
initial barracks at the entrance of Bearskin Neck. In 1814 plans to build a fort
out on the point were made. With donations (called subscriptions) from the
townspeople around $60 was raised to erect a horseshoe shaped fort out on the
point equipped with two cannons and nine guards who were housed in an adjacent
watch house and were to be paid $8 a month. To the British cruising off the
coast, it looked more formidable than it was as they planned to attack Sandy
A little historical background: In June 1812 the Congress of the United
States declared war against Great Britain. The majority of the people on Cape
Ann deemed this action unwise and unjust because they supported themselves and
their families depending upon free use of the sea. The war affected the
prosperity of the town. Fisheries were interrupted, commerce nearly destroyed
and many citizens were made captives at sea and confined to English prisons.
During 1814 the enemy had several large ships cruising along our coast. Many
Cape Ann families moved their valuable belongings to neighboring villages, as
that summer was one of constant alarms.
On June 6, 1814 an English frigate sailed into Ipswich Bay and sent two
barges into Squam Harbor to take or destroy vessels there. One was burned, one
sunk and two laden with fish were carried off. A ship loaded with flour was
chased onto the rocks at Eastern Point but the British were driven away by the
Gloucester militia firing their guns at them before they could board the vessel.
In August an enemy cruiser, "Commodore Broke", came into Sandy Bay intending
to take one or more vessels lying at anchor. She sent a shot into the village to
scare the people. Our militia assembled on Bearskin Neck and fired back with
their small cannon and small arms. Although a cannon ball entered under the
transom, passed under the deck and came out of the bow of the ship above water,
the ship escaped while being fired upon from the Neck as well as fired upon with
muskets as it passed along the coast of Pigeon Cove.
On September 8 the British frigate, "Nymph", captured one of the Sandy Bay
fishing vessels and forced her captain, David Elwell, to act as pilot for two
barges full of men being sent in to get possession of the fort on Bearskin Neck.
About midnight, in a dense fog, the barges were rowed with muffled oars toward
the Neck, one entered "Long Cove" (Rockport's main harbor now), landed her men,
marched to the fort, took the sentinel by surprise, made prisoners of 14
soldiers, stopped up the vents of the cannons with metal bars and threw them
over the wall. The men taken as prisoners were taken back to the Nymph on the
The other barge went into the Old Harbor (now called White Wharf) and soon
encountered people of the village who had been roused by an alarm given by a
sentinel on the Neck near the houses. It was now daybreak and a clear morning.
Muskets were fired at this barge while receiving cannon and grape shot but there
were no injuries.
To silence the alarm bell now ringing, several shots were fired by the
British at the belfry of the meetinghouse (now the First Congregational Church).
One cannon ball struck one of the posts of the steeple. A replica of the cannon
ball is in the steeple now and the real one is inside the church. The cannon
from the barge is on the church lawn.
That cannon shot was disastrous for the enemy because it loosened a plank in
the barge, which soon began to fill with water and sank near the pier in Old
The commanding officer jumped ashore, ran across the Neck with a few men,
seized a boat and made their escape back to the Nymph. The other twelve or more
men were made prisoners by the Sea Fencibles.
In the end, an exchange of prisoners was proposed and carried out. The
British captain promised to allow the Cape Ann people to use the fishing grounds
for the rest of the fall without being bothered by the British frigates and he
kept his word.
Selectman Joanne N. Wile