Sailboat Parts Mooring In Outer Wychmere Drifts To Chatham

HARWICH --- A wayward vessel parted its mooring in Outer Wychmere Harbor mooring basin on Saturday and miraculously drifted all the way to South Chatham before Harbormaster Thomas Leach and assistant Heinz Proft caught up with her a third-of-a-mile off the beach. "I don't understand why it didn't hit the rocks of Saquatucket Bluffs," said Leach of the loose boat and wind coming from the west to northwest.

Leach said there were several calls to is office and the Police Department about this boat drifting offshore. Leach said he was working at the harbormaster's workshop on Bank Street when he received a call. He had Proft warm up the Commander, the town's 35-foot vessel and they set out after the errant 36-foot Catalina owned by Blake Nelson of Stow.

The vessel was drifting in four to five feet seas in 30 knot winds, explained Leach, when he pulled the town vessel alongside, allowing Proft to climb aboard and affix a line. They then towed the sailboat back to Saquatucket Harbor. "The seas were rough and that boats was climbing and plunging," explained Leach of the challenge of getting aboard the sailboat. The vessel was in about eight feet of water when they caught up to it and it had been over shoals, but the tide was high, explained Leach. He said he saw no apparent damage to the craft. The hawser had parted below the waterline close to where the mooring chain connects, according to Leach. The parted mooring was not caused by rubbing on deck, a more common cause, explained the harbormaster.

The mooring had been rented from Harwich Port Boat Works, according to Leach. The harbormaster did say while there are three or four vessels remaining on moorings in the outer harbor, this late in the season, it is a good idea to bring those vessels inside to available slips.

Hope Looms For New Saquatucket Boat Ramp

by William F. Galvin (10/28/99)

HARWICH --- The 30-year old boat ramp at Saquatucket Harbor may be in for a face lift. The hope is that the pitch of the present structure and depth it reaches into the water will be improved and more accommodating to vessels. The Conservation Commission was entertaining a new design on Tuesday evening and with a little luck the State Access Board will be doling out the money for the new ramp, according to Harbormaster Thomas Leach.

The present ramp was constructed in 1969 and has a pitch of 13 degrees at the top and 23 degrees at the bottom. The plan is to change the angle of the ramp, explained Leach, to 15 degrees throughout. The plan is also to expend the ramp further into the water giving up to 18 inches more depth when people are launching or retrieving vessels, according to the harbormaster. Presently some sailboats of larger depth can only be launched or pulled on the highest tide of the month. A vessel with a 7-foot draft has to be scheduled for an 11-foot tide, explained Leach.

The base of the ramp has been de-stabilized over the years, especially when power boats go off the end of the ramp at low tide and have to power their way back onto trailers. It moves the toe rock around and undermines the structure, explained Leach. "Power loading undermines all the boat ramps on the Cape," explained Leach. Power loading means driving the boat onto the trailer at full throttle, he said.

Leach is not exactly sure when the State Access Board will provide the money for the new ramp, but, he said, he has been told if the town does the engineering and design, that project will be moved to the top of the state's list for ramp funding. Town is being asked to refile for a Chapter 91 license as part of this process. That permit allows for locating structures in the tidelands. When does Leach anticipate the new ramp will be installed. Likely next fall, suggested the harbormaster.