, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 31, 2012

City assessing waterfront damage

NEWBURYPORT - City officials yesterday were assessing the effect of tropical storm Sandy on the waterfront, but one damaged asset that will not appear as a municipal loss is a segment of a wooden riverfront floating dock damaged by the Prince of Whales as it was rocked by the churning Merrimack.

“That wasn’t a city dock,” said Harbormaster Paul Hogg. “All of our docks were out of the water.”

Joseph Brown, treasurer of the Waterfront Trust, said, “The boat owners are required to supply their own piers. If there is damage, that is their responsibility. This is not a city pier.”

The Prince of Whales on Monday was tied up along a small dock, which itself was attached to the permanent riverfront walkway which is supervised by the Waterfront Trust. It’s located on the city’s central waterfront.

The 100-foot-long boat, which can carry about 150 people, is one of the largest on the city’s waterfront.

Bill Neelon, captain of the Prince of Whales, said that his boat survived the storm with no damage.

He indicated that tying up to the dock made the most sense at the time.

“It was about noon (Monday) and it appeared tying up was the best thing to do,” said Neelon. “There aren’t many places you can put a boat of this size.

“As it turned out, this storm wasn’t that damaging - we’ve seen weather like this before.”

But that wasn’t the opinion of city officials when the storm winds reached their height at around 10 p.m. Monday. The ship, which faced stern toward the waves, was being hit by a barrage of large rollers driven by fierce winds. City officials worried that the ship would completely smash the dock and damage the city’s boardwalk, or might break loose from its lines.

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