, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 20, 2012

Boaters sounding for early start

City docks will be put in water in mid-April

NEWBURYPORT — In spring, a boater's fancy turns toward docks and moorings, a sentiment to which Harbormaster Paul Hogg is sympathetic.

But despite the warm weather and tranquil river this week, Hogg is holding course with his traditional mid-April date as the time when crews will begin putting in municipal docks.

"It's good weather right now, but in March, the weather can turn quickly," said Hogg, a Newburyport native in his third year as harbormaster.

"People are looking forward to the season; already, some have been calling for their (registration) stickers. Still, our plan is to begin putting in the docks the weekend of April 13 and 14."

But he is starting to get ready for another season.

Hogg supervises one of the most active parts of the city in summer: the waterfront.

Last year, a record number of boats, 1,450, were registered here; both private clubs and public docks reported increased activity, especially among visiting craft.

In Hogg's first full fiscal year as harbormaster, his department generated income of $339,172, one of the best years ever, according to city officials.

His collection of fees from docking of vessels recently set a record. His team brought in $41,900 in the first five months of fiscal 2012, July to November, which was more than the former top mark in 2006, $38,530, set in a full fiscal year.

This summer, the harbor will likely be extra busy. Newburyport will be named a Coast Guard city, and numerous activities will be built around the weekend the federal maritime agency actually makes the presentation, Aug. 4 and 5.

It appears that the city is being discovered by both amateur boaters and career flag officers.

"Paul has been effective in getting more people on the water," said Ron Barrett, a Plum Island boat owner who is active at the American Yacht Club on Water Street.

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