ESSEX — David Peterson was jazzed when he found out he was one of about 50 boaters to hop off Essex’s mooring waiting list this past year and prepared to tie up his boat at an anchored ball, as part of a record year for Essex opening up spots.
“It’s a non-congested area. It’s convenient for us,” said Peterson. —Peterson, who had been trailering his 19-foot powerboat for the four or five years he spent on the waiting list, said that when he moved to Essex and signed up on the list, he expected to wait about eight years for a mooring.
Harbormaster and Police Chief Peter Silva, however, called Peterson last week to offer him a mooring off of Island Road.
“I remember when he got on the list. I said just get on the list, someday we’ll get to ya,” Silva said.
The wait for a mooring around 2005 was estimated to be eight to 12 years, according to Silva. Now, Silva said, the wait-listed only hold out for about three years, a slightly shorter wait than Peterson’s.
“I really had no idea when I’d get the call,” Peterson said. “I figured if we lived here in eight years, it would still be great to have a boat.”
Silva said this progress, which he called “record-breaking” was the result of hard work. Silva credits Mary Elinor Dagle, harbor clerk, with a lot of work keeping records, issuing stickers, and keeping track of renewals.
The mooring openings, he said, resulted from vigilant record-keeping. Some moorings opened up after boaters failed to pay renewal fees and the town promptly pulled their mooring rights.
“It’s a pretty well-operating machine right now,” Silva said. “If people don’t pay, they get taken off. If people are in violation, they lose their moorings.”
The harbormaster did make room for 15 additional mooring spots this year, but, he said, he cannot continue to add that many spots annually, not wanting to create overcrowding in Essex’s harbors.
“In some ports you could walk from boat to boat, and I don’t want to see that. But, what I do want to see is a department like ours working hard and opening up spots,” Silva said.
Essex’s mooring wait list, with the newly assigned boaters, was reduced by half, according to Silva, leaving about 50 people on the list, a measly wait compared to surrounding towns. Rockport’s wait list clocked in at 372 potential moorers in February, and Manchester’s list hosted 406 people as of April, those at the top had applied as far back as 1997.
With such a short list in Essex and such a low fee for moorings, at $6 per foot of boat annually, Silva expects boaters from other towns will scramble to get in Essex’s line. The list already includes names from Rockport, Topsfield, Danvers and Woburn.
“I suppose that, once people realize they can go out of town and get a mooring more quickly in Essex, we’re probably going to have seriously about 50 people jump on the list,” Silva said.
But, Silva said, those out-of-towners, along with Essex residents and individuals who will join the list as they note the improving economy, will likely still wait three years for a mooring, paying $10 annually to hold a spot on the waiting list.
A boater who fails to scoop up the opportunity to moor within a year of an offer is slashed from the list, according to Silva — which is why for those who do get an offer, whether they have a boat or not, Silva urges they pay the mooring fee and reserve the spot because there is no guarantee that a mooring will open the following year, he said.
“If you have any interest, get the mooring, get the real estate on the bottom of the ocean right now,” Silva said.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at email@example.com.