Changes afloat: Belfast readies for a busy summer at the harbor

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted April 18, 2012, at 6:57 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — As Belfast gears up for a busy summer on the water — including a brief August visit from the H.M.S. Bounty — city officials are hoping to make the inner harbor safer and better organized for all the boats that are expected to come to town.

Traffic in the harbor has grown considerably since Front Street Shipyard opened a year ago at the site of the former Stinson Sardine property.

“There are larger vessels coming, and more of them,” Belfast Harbor Master Katherine Pickering said to the Belfast City Council at Tuesday night’s regular meeting. “My goal is to create safer navigation in the inner harbor.”

One of the largest of those vessels will be the replica of the square-rigged tall ship that became infamous when Fletcher Christian instigated a 1789 mutiny against Captain William Bligh in the South Pacific. The original Bounty was burned off Pitcairn Island but the version that is coming to Belfast was built in 1960 from original ship’s drawings and used in the 1962 MGM film “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando.

Pickering said the Bounty, which has never before come to Belfast although it was restored a few years ago in Boothbay Harbor, is always a draw for onlookers.

“It’s a cool-looking boat,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

Because local officials knew that the harbor has been getting busier in recent seasons, Pickering and the members of the Harbor Committee have been working for more than a year to make a comprehensive plan for the inner harbor, which extends from the breakwater to the footbridge.

Front Street Shipyard, Belfast Boatyard, the city landing and the fishermen’s docks all are located within this area.

Pickering said the committee has suggested that private navigational aids be added to help mark the established channel, that the “turning basins” for boats to maneuver be better defined and kept clear, that moorings be organized according to user groups and vessel size, and that the size of vessels on single point moorings be restricted to a maximum of 40 feet.

Last summer, she said there were at least a couple instances when boats hit each other and other times when boats came very close to grounding out in the shallow water off the channel.

“I’m concerned there are going to be navigational issues this summer,” she told the councilors.

Key features of the harbor committee’s proposal, which was in its first reading before the council, are:

• The removal of recreational moorings from the inner harbor.

• The gathering of fishing boats into one or more specific areas and other commercial moorings in other areas.

• Maintaining the open channel.

• A moratorium on additional moorings or floats.

The council also voted to authorize the reconstruction of the fishermen’s area at City Landing, a project that is estimated to cost $165,000. The work would allow the city’s 25 or so licensed lobstermen to be able to work more efficiently, Pickering said. The project could be funded from several sources, including a $200,000 performance guarantee secured from a former owner of the Stinson property, a harbor improvement trust or a Small Harbor Improvement grant from the state.

Councilors unanimously voted to pursue applying for a $120,000 grant from the state.

“The changes will be good for the fishermen,” Pickering said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/18/news/midcoast/changes-afloat-belfast-readies-for-a-busy-summer-at-the-harbor/ printed on July 22, 2014