Waterline Illustration

Greetings boaters.  It’s December, and there’s a lot going on to report from the Harbormaster’s office in Manchester right now.  Let’s get to it.

Dredge Assessment

As we all know Manchester requires routine dredging to maintain the mooring fields and channel.

Looking ahead to the next project, it is clear that funding is a real challenge.  A state program offers 50 percent of the cost up to $2.5 million per project.  Our next project is estimated at $3.4 million, making our share $1.7 million.   

In order to meet this number, it is likely a bond will be needed.  To repay the

Bond the Harbor Advisory Committee recommended a $2.50/ft. assessment on vessels kept in Manchester with a $2.50/ft. match from taxation.  The BOS approved the assessment.  The assessment will be included on your water-way renewal forms.  Feel free to reach out with questions.

Fishermen’s Facility Project

Operators of recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length are required to use an engine cut-off switch as of April 1, 2021, as the U.S. Coast Guard implements a law passed by Congress. 

Manchester was founded in no small measure by fisheries. This industry faces constant challenges and has changed dramatically over the decades and centuries. The fishermen of Manchester have overcome these challenges and continue to be relevant contributors in a field most of us would not dream of pursuing. Manchester is consistently right smack in the middle of producing ports in Massachusetts.

As our fishermen deal with new challenges, including aging, we should be supporting their efforts with appropriate infrastructure for a changing business model.  The new facility will help extend careers by improving vessel access.  In addition, the facility will be an enticement for younger people considering this time-honored work.  This business group directly contributes to the economy and infrastructure not just in their work but through grants awarded by their very presence, approaching a million dollars over the last decade.

The goal for the Harbor Department is to ensure transparency and provide ample opportunity for input and feedback.  In that spirit the Fishermen’s Facility project has been part of the Waterline on six different occasions, including the March issue announcing the Sea Port Economic Council (SEC) grant award, and the Cricket twice. 

I will continue to share updates and milestones.

At the Town Meeting held on June 21 residents voted to fund 20 percent of the engineering and permitting cost through CPC.  This following the award of $132,00 from SEC covering 80 percent of the cost.  The SEC has stated that the town will be awarded 80 percent of funding costs for construction of the facility pending a 20 percent match and successful permitting of the project.  FOTH Engineering has completed the bathometric survey and will provide a site plan for the design and permitting of the facility.

If history is any indication the fishing fleet at the head of the harbor will only enhance a positive waterfront image, true throughout New England.  While obviously a change, the fishing fleet has always been front and center on Beach Street.  The opportunity to see the routine up close and firsthand of fisherman plying their time-honored craft is priceless.  It is our culture and heritage.   Piling, floats and lobster boats are a quintessential part of the New England coast.

Drawings and plans will be developed in the coming weeks and months.  We will share these with everyone.

Thanks to everyone for the vote to replace the aged public safety boat! It served well but left room for improvement as a response platform.

The new vessel will have the same shallow water response capabilities as the retired vessel.  In addition, the boat will have better fire-fighting capabilities to compliment other Fire Department apparatus and a dive door for recovery of persons in the water.  Dewatering capacity is also improved.

Police, Fire and Harbormasters will be better protected from the elements with the new vessel.  We will arrive on scene uncompromised by weather conditions thus improving the likely of positive outcomes.  Towing too will be safer with the addition of tow bits.

Given current supply issues a new vessel is very unlikely to arrive for the upcoming boating season.  Managing the harbor will be quite challenging without this asset in the fleet. But will keep the glass half full and look forward to the day when Manchester Harbor will be better protected than ever.

Safe Boating Class In November

In November, the Massachusetts Environmental Police hosted its certification class in Safe Boating Course.  All students passed … well done!  Thanks to everyone at Sacred Heart Parish Church, and Father Paul for use of the hall.  Thanks also to the MEP for helping coordinate the class.  We could not have done it without you.

Dinghies & Kayaks

Dinghy and kayak owners must remove their vessels from town racks and docks.  December 1 was the cut off day.  Any dinghy or kayak owner who failed to remove their vessel at the appropriate time will lose their privileges for next year.

Marine Mammals

A beached whale, dolphin or porpoise should be reported immediately and left alone pending further instruction.  Call the NOAA 24-hour Marine Animal Hotline: (866) 755-6622. Please leave your name and a phone number where you can be reached.

Sea turtles in our region do not typically come ashore unless they are seriously debilitated.  Call the 24-hour Marine Animal Hotline: (866) 755-6622.

Seals belong on the beach. It’s normal.  What should you do if you spot a seal on the beach?

Keep people and dogs 150 feet away from the seal.  Does the seal look injured or unhealthy?  If so, please call (866) 755-6622 or call me, your harbormaster.  All marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  This law makes it illegal to touch, disturb, feed or otherwise harass marine mammals without authorization.

Manchester Draw Hours 0f Operation

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Bridge at “Mile 1.0” in Manchester has been operating as follows: the draw shall open from Memorial Day thru September 30 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.  From Memorial Day and from October 1 to November 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.   At all other times, the draw shall open on signal with at least four hours of notice.  Call (617) 222-6114.

Towing Policy

Manchester Harbormaster only tows those vessels that are in immediate danger or present a potential environmental hazard.  Please contact a towing or salvage operator should you need to be towed.

Towing Insurance

What happens when you breakdown or run out of gas or some other unforeseen event that ruins a perfectly nice boating day?  If you are lucky enough to be in an area where the community allows towing by the harbormaster help is nearby and probably free.  Many communities including Manchester do not allow towing unless there is risk to life or property involved, otherwise you will pay large sums for towing service.  It would be wise to consider the purchase of towing insurance from your insurance company, Seatow or Tow Boat US. For a reasonable rate you will potentially avoid paying thousands in towing fees. 

Think about it and plan for next year.

Office Hours as of December through February, 2022 are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.  Hours will vary depending on training, Safe Boating classes and meetings.  Feel free to call before coming to the office.  And if you do come in, please wear a mask and stick to safe distancing requirements.

Finally, be vigilant and notify the harbormaster of any missing or off station aids to navigation. The latest Manchester Harbor Rules and Regulations are posted on the Harbormaster website.