Rockport Harbormaster
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Rockport Beach & Harbor Regulations



A. Harbors & Floats

Section 1. Definition of Terms

The following words, for the purposes of these by-laws, shall have the following meanings unless another meaning is clearly apparent from the way in which the word is used:

Adrift. The word "adrift" shall mean without being fast to a stationary object.

Aground. The word "aground" shall mean stuck on the bottom.

Anchor. The word "anchor" shall mean to hold a vessel in place by lowering a heavy weight into the water by cable, chain, line or other method.

Anchorage areas. The words "anchorage areas" shall mean areas designated for anchoring.

Awash. The word "awash" shall mean a semi-submerged vessel or object.

Berth. The word 'berth" shall mean a position to tie up to or anchor.

Boating season. The words "boating season" shall mean the period from July I to the following June 30.

Harbormaster. The word "harbormaster" shall mean the harbormaster and assistant  harbormasters duly appointed by the Board of Selectmen.

LOA, Length Overall, Overall length. The terms "LOA" and "Length overall" and "Overall length" are interchangeable and, where used, shall be taken to mean the length of a vessel from its forward-most part to its aft-most part.

Moor. The word "moor" shall mean to hold a vessel in place by cable, chain, line or other method as to a pier or buoy.

Mooring. The word "mooring" shall mean a semi-permanent anchorage installation, consisting of a heavy anchor, chain, a mooring buoy and pennant.

Mooring buoy. The words "mooring buoy" shall mean a white buoy with a blue band marking a mooring.

Mooring permit. The words "mooring permit" shall mean annual written authority signed by the Harbormaster pursuant to M.G.L c .. 91, 10A. Also known as a "10A permit".

Pennant. The word "pennant" shall mean a line or chain by which a vessel is made fast to a mooring buoy.

Person. The word "person" shall mean and include an individual; a receiver; a trustee; a copartnership; joint venture; a firm; an unincorporated association; a syndicate; a trust; a corporation; or any other entity.

Pier. The word "pier" shall mean any structure built out into the water for use as a landing place.

Rockport harbors. The term "Rockport harbors" includes Rockport Harbor, Old Harbor, Granite Pier Harbor and Pigeon Cove Harbor.

Scuba. The word "scuba" shall mean self-contained underwater breathing apparatus consisting of a diving apparatus with compressed air tanks for breathing underwater.

Snorkel. The word "snorkel" shall mean a breathing tube extending above the surface of the water, used in swimming just below the surface.

Transient permit. A mooring permit issued for no more than seven (7) consecutive days.

Vessel. The word "vessel" shall mean ships of all kinds, barges, houseboats, sailing vessels, watercraft and powerboats of any type or kind by whatever means propelled, every structure designed, adapted or capable of being navigated, towed or operated on water from place to place for the transportation of merchandise, people, or for any other purpose.

Wharf. The word "wharf" shall mean any structure generally parallel to the shore for use as a landing place.

Winter buoy. The words "winter buoy" shall mean a winter mooring marker.

Section 2. Mooring of Boats

(a) Permits

(i) Mooring Permits

No person shall moor, anchor or set any mooring, vessel or float within the limits of Rockport harbors without first obtaining a mooring permit from the Harbormaster.

(ii) Mooring Permit Application

No mooring permit shall be issued until the applicant files an application with the Harbormaster on a form setting forth the applicant's name and address, date of birth, business and home telephone numbers, length and type of vessel, the applicant's preference with regard to Rockport harbors, and such further reasonable information as the Harbormaster deems necessary. The application shall be accompanied by a fee to be determined by the Board of Selectmen.

(iii) Issuance of Mooring Permit

Upon receipt of a complete mooring application and any inspection of the mooring gear as the Harbormaster may require, and upon full payment of any fee that may be required pursuant to this by-law, a mooring permit may be issued designating the mooring location if, in the opinion of the Harbormaster, the mooring and gear is sufficient to moor the vessel described in the application and there is available space within Rockport harbors to moor the vessel without endangering other vessels. The Harbormaster may reassign any vessel to a different mooring location as he deems appropriate.

(iv) Waiting List

If, in the opinion of the Harbormaster, there is not available space within Rockport harbors to moor the vessel described in the application specified above, the applicant shall be placed on a waiting list maintained by the Harbormaster and a mooring permit shall be issued designating the mooring location when and if, in the opinion of the Harbormaster the mooring and gear is sufficient to moor the vessel described in the application and there is available space within Rockport harbors to moor the vessel. Applicants shall be issued permits on a first come, first served basis, taking into account availability of space, vessel size and such other factors as the Harbormaster deems fit and reasonable to equitably allocate space. In order to remain on the waiting list from year to year, the applicant shall pay an annual fee to be determined by the Board of Selectmen.

The Harbormaster shall maintain and make available for public inspection records of issuance, modification, surrender and revocation of mooring permits, and will post a list detailing all such changes to the waiting list on the Town Bulletin Board in Town Hall, with copy to the Board of Selectmen, twice per year.

(v) Transfer of Permit

No person may transfer his mooring permit and no person shall cause any vessel to be attached to the mooring unless the vessel is described in the aforesaid application; provided, however, the Harbormaster may permit the use of a mooring by another vessel. In the event of the death of a mooring permit holder, the Harbormaster may assign the mooring permit to the decedent's spouse, if said spouse is the vessel's registered owner or title holder, and requests the transfer in writing within one (1) year of the event of death.

(vi) Mooring Permit Terms

No mooring permit will be issued for longer than a twelve-month period. No mooring permit shall be issued until the applicant files an application with the Harbormaster on a form supplied by him setting forth the applicant's name and address, date of birth, business and home telephone numbers, length and type of vessel to be attached thereto, and such further reasonable information as the Harbormaster deems necessary to enable him to pass on the adequacy of the application, and until the applicant makes full payment of all fees that may be required whether imposed by Statute or pursuant to this by-law. No transient mooring permit shall be issued for more than seven (7) consecutive days.

(vii) Maximum Vessel Length

The maximum length of vessels on moorings in Rockport's harbors shall not exceed fifty (50) feet overall (L.O.A.).

(viii) Vessel Sales or Changes

The Harbormaster must be notified within thirty (30) days of the sale of any vessel, or the transfer of any interest therein, assigned to a mooring in the Rockport harbors. The permit holder has one (1) year to replace the vessel. In extenuating circumstances the Harbormaster can extend the time limit. Replacement vessels must conform to the type and size boat that has been approved by the Harbormaster. The Harbormaster may, if he deems appropriate, reassign any such replacement vessel to a different mooring.

(ix) Designated Use

A permit holder may, with the written approval of the Harbormaster, authorize a non-permit holder the use of said permit holder's mooring. The name of the non-permit holder must be present on the Waiting List [ref. Par. (iv) above]. Authorization can be granted for a maximum period of one (1) year. The same non-permitted boat will not be allowed to use the same mooring for more than one boating season. In the event that a permit holder shall not use his mooring for thirty (30) days in any boating season it may be deemed abandoned and reassigned, unless the permit holder has notified the Harbormaster, in advance and in writing, of his intent not to use the mooring for a period not to exceed one boating season. In such event the Harbormaster may make the mooring available for assignment.

(x) Skiffs, Floats

Stickers will be issued for skiffs. All skiffs shall bear identification indicating the name and number of its owner, and the vessel to which it is a tender. A fee will be charged to skiffs not covered on a mooring permit. There should be six (6) feet of slack in bow line when skiff is tied to a float, chain will not be allowed. Maximum length of skiffs will be twelve (12) feet, motors are not allowed.

(b) Gear

(i) Mooring Buoy Identification

The holder of a mooring permit shall cause his name and boat length to be painted or placed on the mooring buoy of the mooring. Any mooring not properly marked may be removed by the Harbormaster. Mooring buoys shall be standard white with a two inch blue band.

(ii) Winter Buoy

The holder of a mooring permit may use winter buoys to mark the location of his mooring. The winter buoy shall be upright and clearly marked with the name of the permit holder and length of boat. Winter mooring buoys shall be removed by the first of July and not set until Labor Day of each calendar year without the written permission of the Harbormaster. The top part of all winter moorings shall be painted white with a blue band so as to be easily visible at any tide level. Any winter buoy not removed by the first of July may be considered abandoned and may be removed by the Harbormaster unless written permission has been granted by the Harbormaster to maintain the winter buoys beyond the July first deadline.

(iii) Mooring Gear Inspection

Holders of mooring permits shall annually inspect moorings and gear, including pennants and buoys, and, if the gear is found defective, shall correct the defective condition immediately. The Harbormaster shall order permit holders to have their mooring lifted at the permit holder's expense once each three (3) years for visual examination to determine its condition. In lieu of lifting moorings, replacements may be made or, at the holder's expense, the Harbormaster may permit an underwater visual inspection by an independent diver or a diver satisfactory to the Harbormaster who shall report the mooring condition to the Harbormaster.

(iv) Minimum Mooring Gear

The Harbormaster may issue mooring gear rules and regulations, including minimum standards for anchors and ground tackle, in order to protect against endangering other vessels. These rules and regulations shall proscribe the minimum gear required prior to the issuance or renewal of a standard mooring permit. It shall be the permit holder's responsibility to make sure that the gear selected by him is adequate to moor the boat in all conditions. The permit holder ought not rely solely upon the minimum gear standards that may be set forth in the Rockport Harbor Regulations as these standards are only minimum in nature. All gear must be installed and inspected by persons qualified by the Harbormaster to install ground gear. Gear not properly installed will be removed at the owner's expense.

    (c) Fees. Before a regular mooring permit is issued, and annually thereafter upon the sending of mooring permit bills, the applicant or holder shall pay a mooring permit fee. Such fee shall be assessed on a per foot basis, according to the overall length (LOA). The mooring permit fee for a float shall be also assessed likewise. Fees shall be paid to the Town of Rockport. All mooring permit fees shall be calculated in the same manner. The Harbormaster may revoke any permit upon which the applicable fee has not been paid in full within ninety (90) days.

Transient mooring fees shall be paid on a per foot per day basis.

All mooring fees shall be established on an annual basis as recommended by the Harbormaster and as approved by the Board of Selectmen.

Section 3. Town Floats

    (a) Tying of Vessels. Any person using the Town floats shall tie up their vessels as directed by the keeper of the floats and shall move from the float when so directed by the Harbormaster.

    (b) General Use. Town floats may only be used for the prompt loading and unloading of passengers or supplies. For example, temporarily casting off from the float and then returning to the float within an hour will be considered unreasonable use of the float.

    (c) Charter/Party Boat Use. No person shall load or unload passengers for charter or party vessels except at the Town floats designated for that purpose. No person operating a charter or party boat will cause a charter or party boat to arrive at Town floats until just before loading time or to discharge passengers, and any person operating a charter or party boat shall leave the Town float immediately after loading or discharging passengers. One side of the Town Float in Rockport Harbor shall be left open for non-commercial use. 

 Section 4. T Wharf

    (a) Loading and Unloading of Traps, Fish and Gear. No person shall moor a boat at the area at the head of T Wharf designated for loading and unloading lobster traps, fish, lobsters, nets and related gear.

    (b) Fueling and Repair of Vessels. No person shall moor a boat at the area of T Wharf north of the Town Float designated for fueling, repairs and related activities of commercial vessels.

Section 5. Piers and Wharves

No person shall moor or station a vessel along side piers or wharves in the Town of Rockport without permission of the Harbormaster.

Section 6. Headway Speed

No person shall operate a vessel at a speed greater than five (5) miles per hour or cause a disturbing wake in Rockport harbors.

Section 7. Towing in Anchorage Areas

No person shall operate a vessel while towing water-skiers, aquaplanes or similar devices in Rockport harbors.

Section 8. Stray Vessels

A vessel which is:

(1) In a deteriorated or un-seaworthy condition, or
(2) Sunken or likely to sink, or
(3) Aground, or
(4) Adrift and likely to damage piers, wharves, floats or other vessels or to constitute a menace to navigation, or
(5) Secured to a mooring or pier without proper authorization, or in violation of these by-laws, or
(6) Awash,

is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and shall be considered a stray vessel. All stray vessels shall be delivered to the possession of the Harbormaster until claimed by the owner or disposed of according to law. The vessel owner shall pay all expenses incurred in connection therewith including charges for raising and storing same. Removal of any stray vessel by the Harbormaster shall be without liability to the Town-of Rockport, its officers, agents or employees. The Harbormaster may order the owner of any stray vessel to properly moor or remove any such vessel and failure to do so shall be a violation. For purposes of this section, the registered owner or title holder or any person commanding said vessel at the time just prior to it becoming "stray" shall be presumed to be the vessel owner.

Section 9. Lobstering, Fishing or Obstructing Navigation in Harbors

No person shall place or maintain any obstruction to navigation, including a lobster pot or buoy attached thereto, or anchor any vessel within Rockport harbors, or any approaches thereto.

Section 10. Scuba Diving, Swimming and Snorkeling

No person shall scuba dive, swim or snorkel in Rockport harbors except for purposes related to hull and mooring inspection, cleaning and maintenance. (amended ATM 4/5/03)

Section 11. Fishing

No fishing is allowed from any town float.

Section 12. Livery Boat Service

A Livery Boat Service licensed under Chapter 13.B.1.h. operating within the boundaries of the Town or the waters under its jurisdiction shall provide the following safety support:

a. Demonstrations of the rented/leased equipment to customers.

b. The following waterproofed documents to be placed aboard every rented/leased vessel:

     (i) Written instructions for operating the equipment.

     (ii) Abbreviated Rules regarding marine Right-of-Way.

     (iii) Chart sections of the anticipated areas of operation.

c. Such other equipment and/or training as may be mandated by Federal, Commonwealth, or Town regulations.

d. Personnel certified in CPR and other first aid techniques (added ATM 04/03/04)

e. A designated means of retrieving the property of the Livery Boat Service or proof of contract for such retrieval services. (added ATM 04/02/05)

Section 13. Police Assistance

Police officers shall assist the Harbormaster or his or her assistants in enforcing the orders relative to the use of the floats and the provisions of this By-law. The Chief of Police or his designee, may, upon request of the Harbormaster, and where the interest of safety so requires, close some or all of any wharf or street to permit the orderly hauling or storage of vessels.

Section 14. Violations

Violations of Rockport Harbor Regulations may result in loss of mooring permit, fines or both.

Chapter 14

D. Water Pollution

Section 1. Swimming in the Public Water Supply

No person shall bathe, wade or swim in a pond, stream, quarry or reservoir which is used for domestic or public water supply in the Town of Rockport.

Section 2. Polluting Public Water Supply

No person shall deposit excrement, foul waste, decaying matter, or any pollutant or contaminant in any water source used for domestic or public water supply within the Town or upon any shore or within fifty (50) feet of the water of any pond, stream or reservoir used for domestic or private water supply. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the lawful enrichment of land for agricultural purposes by any person owning, leasing or controlling real estate in the Town.

Section 3. Pollution of the Town's Waters

No person shall discharge sewage, waste, refuse, fuel oil, or any other pollutant to the waters of the Town. Such discharge shall be punishable by fine and/or loss of mooring permit.

Section 4. Pollution

No person shall deposit or leave any excrement, waste materials, pollutant, contaminant or refuse on any beach in the Town.

Section 5. Swimming in the Nude

No person shall swim or bathe nude in any of the waters in or surrounding the Town.

Section 6. Rules and Regulations

The Board of Selectmen may make reasonable rules and regulations concerning beach use and activities in order to promote public health, safety and welfare.




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