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.
"He has found moorings and made it easier for visitors to get fuel or leave their boat and go into town for shopping. Things have been working well on the waterfront."
Hogg, a 1996 graduate of Newburyport High School, spent his formative years near the water.
After high school, he worked for several seasons on fishing boats in the Virgin Islands in the winter and spent summers in Newburyport as an assistant harbormaster.
While preparing for a career related to boating, Hogg was going to school.
He earned a captain's license that demonstrates his knowledge of boats and waterways, and he graduated from the Massachusetts Police Academy, which gave him a background in law enforcement.
Hogg also fulfilled the requirements to emerge as a certified harbormaster, which was a useful credential when the top job came open.
City officials have been impressed with Hogg's handling of both maritime concerns and administrative matters. Hogg also manages the lifeguard corps at Plum Island, the deck hands at the boardwalk and the boating-assistance team at Cashman Park.
"We believe that Mr. Hogg has done an outstanding job of ensuring the safety and well-being of boaters and beach-goers alike," said T. Bradley Duffin, chairman of the Harbor Commission, in a recent letter to Mayor Donna Holaday.
"He has been an excellent steward of our vitally important harbor, Cashman Park, and the city's beaches and public facilities at Plum Island Point."
In coming weeks, Hogg will be preparing to fill positions for summer. In season, he has about 40 employees.
"Summers are getting busier, and when it comes to boating, we get craft from upriver, as well as the harbors along the coast," said Hogg, who has a waiting list of about 87 for docking and/or mooring space. "People are discovering Newburyport, and that's good for us. I like public service and the chance to help people enjoy the water here."