4 Local harbormasters working to keep South Shore residents safe on the water this summerBy Richard Trust
Photography by Jack Foley
Stephen Mone is new in his job, having been the Scituate harbormaster for just a year. A Brockton native who grew up boating with his family on Cape Cod, Mone previously served as the harbormaster in Mashpee. He now manages two marinas (Cole Parkway and Scituate Marine Park), the commercial fish pier and approximately 700 moorings including those in the North and South rivers. Mone’s department oversees Scituate’s shellfish department, provides security for all maritime facilities and, like all harbormasters, cooperates closely with the Coast Guard as well as local and state environmental police departments.
“We have an extremely busy harbor and it drives a lot of the local economy,” says Mone. “This is my dream job. In my mind, [Scituate is] the most amazing area to boat out of. It’s absolutely beautiful. I’m grateful to the town officials for entrusting me with their harbor. It’s the crown jewel of the South Shore.”
Harbormaster Michael DiMeo’s office currently sits in an outdated, modified trailer in Green Harbor, but within months it will be replaced by a new harbormaster’s headquarters and a bustling maritime center. A harbor park and 4,400-foot path designed for walkers and bikers is also rising nearby.
DiMeo is a patrolman in the town’s police department and has use of a state-of-the-art patrol and rescue boat. The purchase of the $365,000 vessel was funded in large part by a Homeland Security grant written by DiMeo. Additional funds were provided by the town’s waterways fund and the sale of an old harbormaster boat. One of five search-and-rescue craft in the fleet, the boat features infrared cameras for night missions, the latest radar and sonar technology, the means to extinguish fires and pump out sinking boats as well as a defibrillator and oxygen for medical emergencies. For DiMeo, being able to work with the public and help bring big projects to fruition are some of his favorite parts of the job.
“When I took over as harbormaster, I wanted to treat everyone fairly and equitably and to be a strong advocate for the town and for the commercial and recreational boaters,” says DiMeo. “I think I’ve done that.”
“You can’t ask for a better front yard than Duxbury’s waterfront and coastal waterways,” says Don Beers, who has been the town’s harbormaster for the last 38 years. “And we have tremendous natural resources in fishing and shellfishing.” His office contains marine, beach and natural resources units. The Marine Unit’s tasks include search and rescue, emergency medical services and law enforcement. The Beach Unit’s duties are protection for endangered species like piping plovers and least terns, along with shore patrol. The Natural Resources Unit provides, among other services, environmental protection, law enforcement and education.
The harbormaster’s office also oversees the annual sale of some 9,000 beach permits for vehicles that use the parking lots and off-road vehicle corridor. Close to $1.9 million in receipts is generated to cover the incurred costs of operation. “We lease the beach from the Duxbury Beach Reservation, which funds the endangered species program through a reimbursement program,” says Beers. “Beach permits help pay for that lease and our department.”
A Plymouth native, harbormaster Chad Hunter’s love of all things oceanic stems from his younger days when he spent time aboard the boat his father captained.
“Being a harbormaster is like being the manager of a small community,” says Hunter, whose jurisdiction includes not only the harbor but also some 450 ponds and lakes. “We want to make sure the people are operating in a safe manner.” In an effort to keep newbie boaters safe, Hunter and Marshfield harbormaster Michael DiMeo helped research Mass. House Bill No. 627, which calls for the development and implementation of a state-mandated boater safety education course that will lead to a boating certificate along the lines of a license to drive a car. Anyone age 12 or older would be eligible to receive a certificate.
The harbormaster department also has contingency plans in place in the event that the Pilgrim nuclear power plant becomes endangered, working together with federal and local agencies (including harbormasters from many South Shore towns) to be prepared for any eventuality.