Mattapoisett harbormaster adjusts to new state regulations

May 1, 2020

MATTAPOISETT — Harbormaster Jamie McIntosh’s job is to keep people safe on the water. In the age of coronavirus, he said that task takes on several new complexities. 

Unlike Marion, Mattapoisett’s boat ramp is a state boat ramp, and as such is subject to new state regulations as of March 27. 

The state said boat ramps are now open at the discretion of the municipality, with parking spaces for boating but not to access the beach. Boaters should wear masks, practice social distancing, and stay out of the boat launch area unless actively launching  or bringing in a boat. 

Ramps also can no longer be used for organized fishing tournaments, derbies, or any other type of gathering. 

McIntosh asks people to take these guidelines seriously. 

In some ways he is just taking it week-to-week. He has his off-season crew working in rotating schedules, and trying to distance themselves, though he notes that can be hard at times, when sometimes workers just need a hand. 

The department is technically hiring for seasonal deputy harbormaster and wharfinger positions,  but not until the Covid Stay-at-home advisory is over. 

However, supply chain quirks have made his job of keeping boats and people safe harder. A fews days ago he found West Marine sold out of paint. 

“Thank goodness for Mahoney’s and other local places,” McIntosh said, but added that sometimes local hardware stores can’t help with specialty pieces. 

The harbormaster said the number of boats in the water is well below average for this time of year, though he noted that May 1 is often the unofficial start to the boating season because it is the official start to the fishing season. 

However, he also asks people who do want to get out on the water not to skip steps on boat maintenance

He understands that people “want to get out on [a boat] and away,” but also worries about the possibility of a mechanical failure or other critical problem that could put them in harm’s way.