Harwich was originally known as Satucket until it was incorporated as a 
town in 1694. After incorporation the town was then named for the famous seaport in England. 
The commercial growth of cranberries began in the Pleasant Lake section of Harwich in 1844. 
Cranberry farming is still a big industry in Harwich.
Office of the Harwich Harbormaster
www.town.harwich.ma.us/harbor
Saquatucket Pennant was accepted by the Waterways Commission in 2001. Two colors meeting in the unmistakeable shape of an S. The red on the left represents the sunrise in the east over Monomoy Island, while the deep blue represents the color of Nantucket Sound. This burgee replaced an earlier more complicated pennant that resembled a fouled anchor giving the odd appearance of a dollars sign. Click to see colorized version of our famous town seal.
Saquatucket Harbor
Official Burgee
715 Main Street
P.O. Box 207
Harwich Port, MA 02646
VOICE (508)430-7532
FAX (508)430-7535
VHF Channel 16, 68
harbor@town.harwich.ma.us
Lat: N 41 ° 40 ' 10.24'' ( 41.669510° )
Lon: W 70 ° 03' 32.88'' ( -70.059134°)

Click to go to Official Town of Harwich website Harbormaster Tom Leach at Saquatucket Harbor Municipal Marina
This website contains interactive menus which provide information in our office. You can also use this site and a credit card to conduct business with the Harbormasters Office. We are also the Harwich Natural Resources Department, promoting shellfish area protection and propagation, estuary & pond water quality monitoring, herring run management and the operation of Allen Harbor, Wychmere Harbor, Herring River, Round Cove and Saquatucket Municipal Marina. Harwich is a Federal No-Discharge Area.

Click for Harwich Live conditions COASTAL MARINE FORECAST Click for Stage Harbor every 15 minute conditions Click for Barnstable County Forecast


Possession of river herring (alewives) in Massachussetts prohibited through 2008

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    Click to see clip of how Cape Cod & Islands were formedThe Harbormasters Office is on a mission to end the illegal practice of tossing tuna heads over-the-side in the harbor. Please report offenders to this Office.
    We live in a great spot at the elbow
    of Cape Cod.It's cooler in the summer
    and warmer then the rest of New
    England in the winter. This extends
    our sailing and fishing season and
    makes golf and even surfing year
    round a possibility.


    Taking a spin in the shellfish wardens' kayak (now patrol G-72). Yes even Tom capsized the first time out! Wear your life jacket! Click to see Kayak Safety Bill in the Legislature.

    SAFE KAYAKING IS NO ACCIDENT

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    Click to see photos of Allen Harbor dredging project November 2004


Click to see live Harbor Cam----Go Patriots--[

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Harbormaster Tom Leach says thank you for going slow inside our channels. Remember it's OK to glide in neutral if you can't make your boat idle slow enough. We are a Federal No Discharge Area. Click to find out the National Clean Boating Campaign. Click for Field Guides


Our contract season for recreational boats at Saquatucket Harbor comes to an end on November 15th. Therefore, all recreational boats must be out of the marina by then. Thanks for a great season!

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We're in the News

Harbormasters Department mild winter (01/18/05)
State Closes Herring Runs to 2009 (12/08/05)
Harbor Payment Schedule Ratified (11/17/05)
Slips may be attached to Sale (11/15/05)
Crew is Plucked From Island In Gale (11/15/05)
Harbor Assistant critical after Hit-And-Run (10/25/05)
Lobstermen rescued by Harwich boater (9/09/05)
Harwich man survives shipwreck (8/23/05)

Look, but don't touch

Herring run open for fish, but not for takers HARWICH - (5/1/04) The herring ladder that provides a vital spawning bridge between the town reservoir and the Herring River is open for business once again. The recently completed $35,000 renovation adds about 20 feet of concrete sluiceway to the ladder, which herring advocates hope will make it easier for herring to travel up against the flow of rushing water. The additional length may also some day be a boon to those looking to snag some herring, but for the next three years the run is officially closed to the taking of fish. Selectmen closed the run in January after Harbormaster Tom Leach told the board that the number of herring had dropped to the lowest levels in recent memory. "I'm preparing a bulletin or handout to explain to people why the run is closed," Leach said last week. He added that herring wardens will hand out the flier to visitors, some of whom are accustomed to using the small fish for bait. "There are a handful of fishermen who are going to arrive and be upset," he said.

To prevent the temptation of poaching, the Natural Resources Department has installed a new gate at the Depot Road entrance to the run. The gate will remain locked during the week, and will be open to visitors during the weekends. Herring wardens will be on duty to ensure that the fish remain where they belong. "This is a critical moment," Leach said. He warned that the town could lose the run entirely if it is not given an opportunity to rebuild. Repairs to the run, which has been in place for nearly 30 years, have been planned for several years. The Herring River end of the run was severely rusted, sometimes trapping herring as they attempted to migrate up the ladder. Questions about state funding and control of the run, however, delayed a decision on moving forward with the work until last year.

Leach originally requested a reduction in the number of herring that people could take from the run, but when selectmen learned the scope of the problem, they asked Leach if an immediate closure may be more effective. Leach drafted up a new recommendation, which the board approved unanimously. At the time, Leach cited three consecutive years of severe drought as one possible explanation for the reduced numbers. But, he said, a recent study indicates that large scale offshore fishermen who drag nets behind their vessels may also be part of the problem. "I received a call from Cape Cod Hook Fishermen's Association, and they said that there is now evidence that the seiners do take the herring as a bi-catch," Leach said. "That's one of the things that the sports fishermen have been critical of, but up to now, there was no solid evidence." Some local tuna fishermen have speculated that the lack of herring may be a contributing factor in the dearth of tuna in recent years. Herring are one of the tuna's dietary staples. Leach acknowledged that fewer herring could be part of that problem. "They are one big step in the food chain," he said. "If the lowest level is missing or depleted, everything else depends upon that. It's going to make some dramatic changes."

By Scott Dalton/ sdalton@cnc.com
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

More herring run news


State public safety committee to again hear kayak safety bill 2005 version April 27th

Harbormasters and the public will again testify at the State House April 27th for Kayak Safety. (l to r) Jay Wilbur (Vineyard Haven), Paul Milone (Weymouth), State Rep. Shirley Gomes, Tom Leach (Harwich), Stuart Smith (Chatham). Photo credit Mark Molloy (4/20/04).
BOSTON - (4/12/05) State Representative Shirley Gomes (R) will present the Mary Jagoda - Sarah Aronoff Kayak Safety Bill (H-1934) Wednesday (4/27/05) to the State House Public Safety Committee. The bipartisan bill has been re-filed and is co-sponsored by Robert O'Leary (D) in the Senate, requires kayakers to wear their life jackets while participating in the sport. Supporters are urged to write Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, Chairman, Joint Committee on Public Safety, State House, Boston, MA 02133.

The bill if passed would amend state law which currently allows kayakers to not have to wear a personal flotation device between May 15 and September 15. The bill is named after, Mary Jagoda and Sarah Aronoff, who drowned in Nantucket Sound while kayaking from Ayer Lane, Harwich Port in October 2003.

Gomes and the harbormasters are planning to make some key points about the proposal and kayaking:

  • Massachusetts Harbormasters (MHA) are insisting on this as a special requirement specific for kayakers as they regularly see kayakers outside the protection of the harbor but very rarely see canoes in open water. Kayaks are not toys and require special safety standards.
  • Although an attached compass, and whistle have been removed in the 2005 version, owing to much argument among legislators, there seems a strong consensus that always wearing a life jacket is a prerequisite to being prepared, a no-brainer.
  • The existing law (says kayakers to not have to wear a PFD from May 15 - September 15) does not consider the lag in seasonal ocean temperature change. NOAA records show seawater temperature in Nantucket Sound in June is as cold as the end of October, and its temperature on the North Shore barely cracks 60°F at the height of summer. Survival time in water at 60°F is as little as 1 hour.
  • A life jacket is far more difficult to don (sometimes impossible) while in the water. A life jacket will only work if it is worn and slows down the effects of hypothermia because the victim does not expend valuable energy staying afloat that the body can use to stay warm. Slowing down hypothermia increases survival time and chances for rescue.
  • Its ironic that current law does not require wearing a PFD while kayaking in the summertime when 90% of kayak use takes place or owners lend their boats to friends. The current law effectively exposes an unwarey public to capsize related dangers .
  • After a kayak capsize, recreational kayaks which do not have adequate flotation are impossible to re-enter for all but the expert nor are they useful as a life raft as they are awash.
  • Only having an accessible PFD onboard is not best operating practice, as during a capsize it is likely the passenger, kayak, life jacket and paddle will float away from each other.
  • Kayak deaths in the northeast in 2002 eclipsed canoe fatalities as the mushrooming sport transcends generations. The Firestone tires on Ford Explorers killed 200 people in rollovers between 1993 and 2002. During that same period, canoes and kayaks took a thousand US victims.
  • More people will be exposed to its dangers as kayak sales (350,000 units nationally last year) are skyrocketing in the United States fastest growing water sport. For young or old, there is no swimming experience requirement to participate.
  • New designs in life jackets for extreme comfort make wearing them very practical. The most experienced kayakers recognize the importance of the PFD and wear their life jackets all the time.
  • In addition to all three Harbormasters Associations, retailers and kayak rental shops are supporting the amendment.
  • This sport is interstate, thus the numbers of kayakers car-topping these portable boats into Massachusetts is real, and getting the word out important.
  • These boats are commonly resold or through yard sales are recycled to novice or untrained users who often are oblivious to their danger or do not take the time to understand the dangers associated with kayaking, unlike a the opportunity a new buyer has with the retailer.
  • The proposed safety standard is a small measure of little inconvenience but will go a long way to saving untold lives in the future.

    Boat Excise Tax Payments Now Tied To Dockage And Moorings

    HARWICH — (02/10/05) Deadbeat boaters who have not paid vessel excise tax stand to lose their slip and mooring locations if amends are not made before the end of the month. The town is seeking to raise more revenue and ensure people are paying the boat excise tax. Several weeks ago Selectman Robert Peterson told his board he learned the town of Nantucket assures payment by tying collection to the issuance of slips and mooring sites. It was an idea that took immediate hold in Harwich. Harbormaster Thomas Leach was in the process of collecting revenues for dockage and mooring permits for the upcoming boating season, and working with deputy assessor David Scannell, put together a list of boaters who are delinquent in payment. This was not an easy task. Leach pointed out in 2001 and 2002, the town did not send out boat excise tax bills, but the following year sought to collect taxes for the three-year period. Some boaters obliged the town while others ignored the three-year payment request. Those people who remain delinquent in payment, Leach said, are getting their dockage lease or mooring permit checks returned, and being told they must correct this deficiency, correct any inaccuracies in recordkeeping or lose rights to boating amenities. “A lot of people are calling about the boat excise tax,” Leach said on Monday. “We’ve sent about 30 checks back. Some people haven’t paid multiple times.” The deadline is rapidly approaching, the harbormaster said, pointing out deposits for slips must be made by March 1. If the excise tax is outstanding, checks are returned to the boaters. They must rectify delinquent tax bills and submit payment once again for slips and moorings. Many people wait until close to that date to submit their deposit and the deadline could slip past if they have checks returned and need to pay outstanding an excise tax
    Excise Tax Information

    Shirley Gomes Secures State Funds For New Saquatucket Harbor Boat Ramp and Parking Lot

    HARWICH (09/15/04) It doesn’t hurt to ask.
    Just ask Harbormaster Thomas Leach, who received notice on Friday from State Representative Shirley Gomes, R- Harwich, the town has landed $430,000 in the state supplemental budget for a new boat ramp and repaving of the east parking lot at Saquatucket Harbor. The town now awaits Gov. Mitt Romney’s signature on the appropriations. Leach had been bothered by an announcement the town of Wellfleet was getting $400,000 from the supplemental budget to build a new boat ramp. He raised the issue before selectmen a month ago, pointing out the town has a contract with the State Access Board to rebuild the ramp in Saquatucket Harbor, but the commonwealth has yet to meet that obligation. As part of the agreement, Leach pointed out, the town funded the resurfacing of the west parking lot and expanded parking by 20 spaces in 2002. In addition, he said, Town Engineer Joseph Borgesi filed a plan for replacement of the ramp which serves all interests of boaters, commercial fishermen and emergency vehicles on the elbow of the Cape.

    Leach said the west side resurfacing cost $90,000 and was sold to voters based on the commitment of the commonwealth to resurface and reconstruct the boat ramp on the east side. But Leach said, Jack Shepard, director of the state public access board, had told the harbormaster his budget had been flattened, and Shepard recommended several alternative funding sources. Those sources included seeking funding in a supplemental budget, working toward more state bond funds or pressuring Gov. Romney for state funding as the town of Wellfleet did. Wellfleet received a commitment to be placed on the top of the state access board funding list last month and the supplemental budget now contains $400,000 for a boat ramp in that community, according to Gomes.

    She paid for herself right there,” Leach said of Gomes’ quick action when made aware of the funding need to complete the Harwich project through a letter from the harbormaster sent on Aug. 20.

    I’m impressed by Shirley (Gomes’) ability to do this,” added Town Administrator Wayne Melville when learning of the funding on Friday. “We are all grateful for Representative Gomes’ leadership and assistance in this matter of repairing a longstanding maintenance problem.” The funds, according to Gomes, will be used for “repair of the east parking lot and installation of storm drainage vaults and the replacement of the public access boat ramp.” Gomes said the money will be available this fall, pointing out there is usually an emergency preamble attached to supplemental budgets allowing the funds to be immediately accessed. Leach said the 33-year-old ramp and its design have been problematic. He said the middle of the ramp was repaired in 2002, but the lower end has continued to be severely damaged by undermining and ground frost. Leach said the lower end has a 15 to 23 degree break and regularly causes small boat trailers to hang up. It is a constant source of complaints. The harbormaster said the new design would increase the slope and eliminate the break.

    (by Bill Galvin, Cape Cod Chronicle 9/16/04)

    Harwich Mounts Water Study Task Force

    HARWICH - For the past three summers, Frank Sampson and his group of 50 volunteers have been collecting water quality data from the town's estuaries, to study high levels of nitrogen in town water. Though their data has been helpful, Sampson said more needs to be done regarding water testing before the town can map out an action plan to handle its wastewater problems. That's why Sampson, the Harwich Water Quality Task Force chairman, is urging Harwich officials to support a town meeting article that would allocate $234,500 for a water study, which would better quantify nitrogen levels before water scientists begin to treat the problem. "What the town really needs is a wastewater business plan in place before we can move forward," he said.

    Should the nitrogen study win approval, it would be a first for Harwich. The main goal of the study would be to determine the appropriate levels of nitrogen town water can sustain, so scientists will know how much they need to clean up. Sampson said they need precise data so the town doesn't overestimate or underestimate treatment needs, errors which could cost the town millions of dollars in the future. The study would be in collaboration with the Massachusetts Estuary Project of Southeastern Massachusetts, an ongoing water quality study of roughly 90 bodies of water, sponsored by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Sampson estimated that Harwich's study would take about three years to complete.

    Nitrogen makes for good fertilizer but if there's too much it can kill life in an ecosystem. The nitrogen that gets into the water comes from wastewater via septic systems and treatment plants, storm water runoff, and fertilizer used on lawns and in landscaping. Sampson estimated that 75 to 90 percent of the excess nitrogen in Harwich comes from wastewater. Brian Howes, a UMass-Dartmouth professor and director of the estuaries project, said that too much nitrogen in embayments will have serious ramifications if left untreated. "There is a fine line when dealing with the acceptable levels of nitrogen," Howes said. "When that line is crossed, that's when things start to get worse." First, algae blooms and sea lettuce, which thrive on nitrogen, begin to grow, choking other plant and animal life. Water will also become murkier, Howes said. "Then the eelgrass beds will start to go away," he added. "And that's when the habitat quality really starts to degrade." Scallop beds and other shellfish habitats would be seriously damaged. Seabirds would be forced to find new homes. Increased nitrogen levels depress oxygen levels, which can lead to fish kills. "It would not be pleasant to see 1,000 dead fish strewn along shoreline," Howes said.

    In that worst case scenario, the group that will be most affected is waterfront homeowners, Howes said. "If the waters become aesthetically unpleasant, people will want to invest in homes in more desirable locations." Because the nitrogen problem can lead to larger problems if ignored, Sampson said he is hoping to generate support from residents and town officials. Though selectmen have yet to vote as to whether they want to include this article at town meeting, Selectman Cyd Zeigler said he supports the effort. "It is clear we need to address these wastewater issues promptly and I think it should be up to the voters to decide," he said. Zeigler said he would support a debt or capital exclusion for the funds.
    (Published: February 21, 2004)

    Assistant Harbormaster Proft gets Scuba Award

    HARWICH - (2/6/04) Harwich's Assistant Harbormaster Heinz Proft with 521 dives has qualified as a Gold Diver with Scuba School International the "world's most elite water explorers". Proft logged the dives from the time he began scuba diving in 1983 in the lakes of Minnesota. As a grad student at Virginia Institute of Marine Science (William & Mary) he studied spiny lobster behavior in the Florida Keys. His diving work followed at the Marine Biological Laboratory in the squid research dive group. He has accomplished a variety of night dives, wreck dives, cave dives and underwater geological drilling (core sampling) and diving in the Exumas, Turks & Caicos Islands, Jamaica and US and British Virgin Islands. Proft's diving experience includes his deepest dive in the Exuma Sound, a wall dive to 182 feet.

    He has spent the last six years as assistant harbormaster for Harwich where he continues to use his diving skills from time to time investigating moorings, shellfish habitat, finding channel obstructions, pond reclaimation and his love for the bubbler (de-icing system) at Saquatuucket Harbor. Proft received a uniform pin for his lifetime achievement from from SSI.

    Harwich puts all moorings back under Harbormaster, ends age 18 prohibition

    HARWICH - (02/09/04) The selectmen have voted their version of a new Harbor Management Plan in an effort to create a unified policy for regulating moorings. The entirely rewritten policy is the product of months of discussions between town officials, local boatyard owners, lawyers and residents who are determined to create a policy that is fair to both the public and private sectors.

    Officials, trying to determine how to best grant the public access to the water, have figured out how the town's moorings should be managed. In the past, boatyards and yacht clubs have controlled roughly 156 of the town's 508 moorings. Under the new program, private boatyards will no longer have control over rental moorings. The new plan puts the former rental moorings under control of the harboraster. The plan also sets a townwide waiting list, segmented by geographic location and managed by Harbor Master Tom Leach. Harwich harbor management plan frequently asked questions - FAQ.

    No longer will boatyards be able to offer vacant moorings. The document holds many other sweeping changes to the way Harwich controls its waterfront, these include "use-it-or-lose-it" policy on moorings, annual inspections, new categories for mooring servicing agent/inspectors, boat transportation agents, and increased user fees. Two boat yards will have the chance to add up to six work moorings over time. A maneuver to set an age 18 requirement to be on any waiting list has been withdrawn from the plan.

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