Town of Nantucket, MA
Nantucket County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Nantucket 4-5-1983 by Art. 28, approved 5-9-1984; amended in its entirety 4-6-2015 ATM by Art. 79, approved 8-5-2015.[1] Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
[1]
Editor’s Note: This chapter was previously amended by the following bylaws: 4-6-1989 ATM by Art. 32, approved 7-15-1987; 5-17-1988 ATM by Art. 103, approved 9-28-1988; 4-10-1989 ATM by Arts. 110, 112, 117, 118, approved 7-24-1989; 11-13-1990 STM by Art. 48, approved 3-19-1991; 5-4-1993 ATM by Art. 52, approved 5-24-1993; 4-12-1994 ATM by Art. 69, approved 4-29-1994; 4-12-1999 ATM by Art. 69, approved 8-10-1999; 4-10-2000 ATM by Arts. 54, 55, 56, 57, approved 8-2-2000; 4-10-2002 ATM by Arts. 49, 50, 51, approved 7-31-2002; 4-15-2003 ATM by Art. 62, approved 6-30-2003; 4-30-2003 ATM by Art. 63, approved 8-27-2003; 4-12-2004 ATM by Art. 48, approved 9-3-2004; 4-4-2006 ATM by Art. 63, approved 8-2-2006; 4-8-2008 ATM by Art. 75, approved 8-18-2008; 4-5-2010 ATM by Art. 32, approved 8-5-2010.

§ 137-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
DIVER
Includes swimmers using fins and/or masks and/or snorkel tubes or self-contained underwater breathing devices and may include those diving without aids, where the circumstances are appropriate.
GRAY WATER
In Nantucket waters as defined above, gray water is a vessel’s water/soap discharge, which is derived from galley, bath, showers, dishwashing and laundry equipment.
HARBOR MASTER
Chief Harbor Master, duly empowered by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
IMMEDIATE FAMILY
Parents, grandparents, children, sister, brother, and spouse.
JET SKI
A ski propelled by machinery and designed to travel over water.
MOORING
Any space upon a waterway wherein a vessel is confined by wet slip, float, mooring or other type of docking facility.
NANTUCKET WATERWAYS or WATERWAYS
Includes all of the navigable waters within the boundaries of the Town, which shall include all harbors, rivers, bays or ponds, including waterways which, from time to time, may be temporarily nonnavigable by reason of low tides, drought or seasonal weather and water conditions.
OFFICIAL WAITING LIST
The official list of names of mooring permit applicants managed by the Town.
PERSONAL WATERCRAFT
A small vessel of less than 16 feet in length which uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump or a propeller as its primary source of motive power and that is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on the vessel rather than the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside a vessel. This term includes jet skis, wet bikes and surf jets.
PERSONS
Includes individuals, corporations, societies, associations, partnerships and trusts.
SURF JET
A surfboard propelled by machinery and designed to travel over water.
TOWN
The Town and County of Nantucket, Massachusetts.
WET BIKE
A vessel designed to travel over water, supported by skis propelled by machinery.

§ 137-2 Town wharf use regulations.

A. 
Except in an emergency, no boats shall be made fast to any of the Town's wharves, floats or piers without the permission of the Harbor Master.
B. 
No person shall leave any boat or vessel, fishing equipment, fish or any other personal property upon Town landing places, floats, wharves or pier for longer than is necessary in the act of loading or unloading the same to and from boats or vehicles.
C. 
The Town shall not be responsible for any loss or damage to boats or vessels at the Town wharves, floats, pier or moorings. Owners will be held responsible for damage caused by them or their vessels to structures and pilings and related facilities owned by the Town.
D. 
No warp or line shall be passed across the channels or any dock so as to obstruct or interfere with vessels navigating in the area.
E. 
Except in an emergency, no boats shall fuel at any of the Town's wharves, floats or piers without the permission of the Harbor Master.

§ 137-3 Use regulations.

A. 
The Board of Selectmen shall have the power to establish standard contracts and contract terms and fees for the rental of wharves, slips, docks and moorings, and any other administrative costs.
B. 
Tug boats, cargo boats and any other boats used for commercial purposes (other than charter boats and commercial fishing boats) shall not be permitted to moor at the Nantucket Town pier or wharves in Madaket, except by permission of the Board of Selectmen or Harbor Master, as appropriate.
C. 
All boats or vessels using the Town wharves shall observe all police, fire, health and sanitary regulations of the Town, and the owners or operators of such boats shall not permit acts contrary to good order, public safety or public health, including public profanity or obscene language or indecent exposure. Unnecessary noise, loud talking or playing of musical instruments between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. is not permitted. No person upon such boats shall throw garbage, paper, refuse or debris of any kind into the harbor.
D. 
No vessel or watercraft of any kind whatsoever which is unseaworthy or in badly deteriorated condition or which is likely to injure a person or damage private or public property or which might become a menace to navigation shall be permitted to moor in Town waters or tie up at the Town wharves. The Harbor Master may determine whether any watercraft is unseaworthy, dangerous or in a badly deteriorated condition to render it unsafe. Upon making such a determination, the Harbor Master shall give notice to the owner, in writing, of such determination as follows: (a) if the owner is known, then by mail or hand-delivery; (b) if the owner is unknown, then by publication in a newspaper of general circulation within the Town. If, after 10 days following the publication or written notice as provided in the preceding sentence, the owner has failed to remedy the conditions leading to the determination, the Harbor Master may take appropriate steps for removal of same. At any time, the Harbor Master, notwithstanding the foregoing, may act immediately in the event of an emergency to take appropriate steps for immediate removal of any watercraft that presents an eminent threat to life or property; provided, however, that as soon as practicable after taking such action, notice of the action taken shall be provided in the manner set forth in this section. If, after 30 days from the date of notice or publication, the owner of the removed vessel shall fail to reimburse the Town for removal costs, the vessel may then, at the discretion of the Harbor Master, be sold at public auction to cover the costs of removal. If said auction produces surplus proceeds after payment of the costs of removal, said surplus shall be held in a separate account and be paid over to the owner upon proof of ownership. This shall not be deemed to apply to vessels in immediate distress as a result of current emergencies.
E. 
No vessel or watercraft of any kind whatsoever which is painted with paints containing butyltin compounds shall be permitted to moor in Town waters or tie up at the Town wharves, whether private or public.

§ 137-4 Hazards to navigation.

Moorings, buoys, lobster pots, crab pots, eel pots or other obstacles that will cause or create a hazard to navigation shall not be placed in areas usually used as channels for navigation. In cases of doubt, the Harbor Master shall be consulted in advance before setting them in place. Hazards to navigation shall be subject to summary removal by the Harbor Master, without notice or hearing, and neither the Harbor Master nor the Town shall be responsible for any losses to the owners thereof caused by such removal.

§ 137-5 Abandonment of vessels, moorings, etc.

Except in a maritime emergency currently affecting those aboard or others in the immediate vicinity, no vessel, mooring or other object shall be deliberately abandoned, sunk or otherwise placed in waters within the Town of Nantucket where it may constitute a hazard. Any abandoned, sunk or improperly placed vessel, mooring or object so found and any vessel otherwise improperly secured, swamped, sunk, washed ashore or found in a restricted area may be ordered by the Harbor Master to be removed or relocated. The Harbor Master shall give notice to the owner, in writing, of his order as follows: (a) if the owner is known, then by mail or hand-delivery; (b) if the owner is unknown, then by publication in a newspaper of general circulation within the Town. If, after 10 days following the publication or written notice as provided in the preceding sentence, the owner has failed to remedy the conditions leading to the order, the Harbor Master may take appropriate steps for removal or relocation of same. At any time, the Harbor Master, notwithstanding the foregoing, may act immediately in the event of an emergency to take appropriate steps for immediate removal or relocation of any watercraft that presents an imminent threat to life or property; provided, however, that as soon as practicable after taking such action, notice of the action taken shall be provided in the manner set forth in this section. If, after 30 days, the owner of the removed vessel shall fail to reimburse the Town for removal or relocation costs, the vessel may then, at the discretion of the Harbor Master, be sold at public auction to cover the costs of removal or relocation. If said auction produces surplus proceeds after payment of the costs of removal, said surplus shall be held in a separate account and be paid over to the owner upon proof of ownership.

§ 137-6 Diving from wharves prohibited.

There shall be no diving from any public wharves, piers or from any bulkheads abutting any waterways of the Town.

§ 137-7 Underwater divers.

Divers using fins and/or masks and/or snorkel tubes or self-contained underwater breathing devices, except within designated and marked swimming areas, shall:
A. 
While diving, display a standard diver's flag consisting of a red field with a white diagonal stripe of a size not less than 12 inches by 15 inches.
B. 
Display such flag prominently on a float or other similar device which shall hold such flag upright and shall extend vertically a minimum distance of three feet from the surface of the water so as to be visible to passing boats.
C. 
Stay within 100 feet of the aforementioned flag or move the flag on said float or device with him while he is submerged and return to the surface within 100 feet of said flag.
D. 
No diver shall operate in properly marked or customary boat channels unless, for special purposes, permission is granted in advance by the Harbor Master. The diver shall have the responsibility to inquire of the Harbor Master about the location of customary boat channels if he is in doubt about the situation.
E. 
On approaching a diver's flag, all boats must proceed with caution and shall remain outside a one-hundred-foot radius from said diver's flag.
F. 
Divers operating at night shall be equipped with and use appropriate underwater lights, in addition to displaying the aforementioned diver's flag.

§ 137-8 Town launching ramps.

A. 
The usage of Town launching ramps shall be controlled from time to time by rules established by the Board of Selectmen and posted. These rules may include control of temporary parking of boat trailers and motor vehicles at or near the approach to each ramp.
B. 
With the exception of charter or commercial fishing boats or a storm/repair emergency, persons using Town ramps for hauling of larger boats requiring cradles shall do so only with permission, in advance, in writing, from the Harbor Master. Cradles and/or boats shall not remain on the Town ramps for more than one hour.

§ 137-9 Pollution.

A. 
The dumping or discharge of oil, treated or untreated sewage, dead fish, garbage, waste, rubbish or debris of any kind in Nantucket waterways so as to pollute the waters, shores or beaches of the Town is prohibited. The use of on-board laundry or mechanical dishwashing machinery with over-board discharge is also prohibited. All commercial piers, private and public, shall be equipped with working sewage pump-out facilities. Facilities at each pier shall be of sufficient capacity to fully service any and all vessels capable of docking.
B. 
Any violations of this section will incur penalties of $300. Each day or part thereof during which a discharge or dumping occurs shall constitute a separate violation. Subsequent violations may result in a denial of use of Town of Nantucket-owned and/or -operated port facilities or moorings. Any such denial shall be issued by the Harbormaster, after a hearing, subject to the right of the offender to an appeal to the Board of Selectmen, or, if applicable to the Department of Environmental Protection, pursuant to MGL c. 91, § 10A.

§ 137-10 Waterskiing.

A. 
Waterskiing is prohibited on all waterways of the Town, except outside of navigation channels and swimming and mooring areas on Nantucket Sound, Polpis Harbor and Madaket Harbor. Waterskiers and boats towing them shall not operate in or across navigation channels at any time.
B. 
There shall be no waterskiing within 400 feet of bathers, divers, piers, wharves, floats, other boats or of any shore. "Waterskiing" shall include motor-propelled surfboards and water bikes and the towing or manipulation of a surfboard or other similar device behind a motorboat. Waterskiing in approved areas shall only be done during daylight hours.
C. 
Motor-propelled surfboards may navigate along regular channels of navigation to reach and return from open waters where they are permitted to operate but shall not interfere with the operation of other vessels.

§ 137-11 Floats.

The placement of outhauls, temporary floats and/or rafts held by anchors or bottom moorings shall be subject to written approval of the Harbor Master. All such outhauls, floats or rafts will be identified with registration numbers assigned by the Harbor Master. Numbers assigned shall be permanently affixed to the land and seaward side of the float or raft in contrasting color and shall be a minimum of three inches in size.

§ 137-12 Occupancy of vessels.

A. 
No vessel shall be used as a residence in Nantucket harbors unless equipped with sewage holding tanks of sufficient capacity to support the occupants of the vessel.
B. 
The determination of sufficient capacity of the vessel's sewage holding tanks shall be determined by the Harbor Master in consultation with the Nantucket Health Department.
C. 
If a sewerage holding tank pump-out service boat is not available, the vessel must be capable of movement under its own motor power to a pump-out location.
D. 
If seasonal holding tank pump-out service is not available by boat or at a pier-based location, no vessel shall be used as a residence in Nantucket waters unless all of the following conditions are met:
(1) 
The vessel owner has sealed its sewerage holding tank system which has been verified by the Harbor Master;
(2) 
The vessel, when used as a residence, will be tied to a pier where toilet facilities are nearby;
(3) 
The Harbor Master has approved in writing the use of the vessel as a residence for a specified period of time and verified its location near working toilet facilities.

§ 137-13 Fish cars.

All fish cars in navigable waters of the Town shall be subject to the approval of the Harbor Master and shall be plainly marked according to law so that they shall be visible at all times. Stakes shall not be driven to be used for mooring any vessel or boat or for tying up any fish car, unless, in the judgment of the Harbor Master, their use will not be an obstruction. All cars shall be attached to a land point so that the attaching line does not exceed 10 feet beyond the mean low waterline. The Harbor Master may terminate any permission previously granted where, in his judgment, such termination is appropriate.

§ 137-14 Speed.

Within the outermost end of Jackson's Point inward and through the area defined within a line drawn from Coatue Point to the West Jetty on a two-hundred-seventy-degree magnetic heading, marked by an appropriate informational buoy and signs maintained by the Town, with the exception of designated areas for waterskiing, vessels shall be operated at the speed of which they can maintain steerage way and create a minimum wake, and in no case shall they be operated at more than posted speed limits. This rule shall not apply to vessels engaged in emergency or law enforcement operations.

§ 137-15 Severability and compatibility with other regulations.

A. 
Nothing contained herein shall be held or construed to supersede, conflict or interfere with the jurisdiction of the United States government or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, except that in case of concurrent laws or regulations in any case, it shall be intended that the stricter, more restrictive rule or regulation shall apply.
B. 
The provisions contained within this chapter are severable. If any part of this chapter is declared invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, that declaration shall not affect any other provisions of this chapter.

§ 137-16 Violations and penalties.

Whoever violates any of the provisions of this chapter or refuses or neglects to obey the lawful and reasonable orders of those empowered to enforce the same, or resists them in the discharge of their duties, shall be fined not less than $50 for the first violation and not more than $300 for each violation thereafter within the same calendar year. Where a vessel is or has been operated in violation of any provision of the chapter and the owner, operator or other responsible person cannot be found within a twenty-four-hour period or where it appears that the vessel and the person in violation will depart from the Town in order to avoid the enforcement of the penalties of this chapter, the Harbor Master may seize and hold said vessel as security and may move it to a safe place of storage, including dry land storage, until the violation has been disposed of administratively or judicially; and if a violation has been found, the costs of seizing and holding said vessel shall be assessed against the vessel, and the vessel shall be sold at public auction to pay such penalties and costs if not otherwise paid. If said auction produces surplus proceeds after payment of penalties and costs, said surplus shall be held in a separate account and be paid over to the owner of the vessel upon proof of such ownership.

§ 137-17 Enforcement.

Whoever violates any provision of this chapter, or any regulation regarding the use of Town harbors or piers, shall be subject to a fine of $100, each day constituting a separate offense. The Harbor Master, Assistant Harbor Masters and other officers assigned to enforce this chapter may, as an alternative to initiating criminal proceedings, proceed to a noncriminal disposition of any violation of this chapter pursuant to the procedures set forth in MGL c. 40, § 21D.

§ 137-18 Personal watercraft.

No person shall engage in the business of renting to the public, for public operation, any personal watercraft, jet ski, surf jet, wet bike or any motorboat that uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump or a propeller as its primary source of motive power and that is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on the vessel rather than the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside a vessel within Nantucket waterways without a license to do so from the Town of Nantucket Board of Selectmen in compliance with this section and in compliance with all federal, state or local laws pertaining to their use.
A. 
The Board of Selectmen shall adopt rules, regulations and reasonable fees for the issuance of such licenses, renewals thereof and operation of licensees, including, but not limited to:
(1) 
Adequate insurance for the protection of the public;
(2) 
An appropriately equipped chase boat required at all times;
(3) 
Personal safety equipment for the safety of users of rented equipment;
(4) 
Location of premises so as to be consistent with other water and harbor uses and with the Towns Harbor Plan;
(5) 
Loading, unloading and storage of petroleum products intended for use in personal watercraft, jet skis, surf jets or wet bikes in accordance with recommendations as may be made by the Chief of the Fire Department of the Town;
(6) 
Designated area for use consistent with navigation and other public uses.
B. 
On land owned by the Town of Nantucket, the use of, the rental of and the operation of personal watercraft shall be prohibited.
C. 
No person shall operate any personal watercraft jet ski, surf jet or wet bike within the waters comprising Nantucket Harbor, as shown on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) navigational chart Number 13241, northerly to the end of the east and west jetties or in the established navigation lane between said jetties easterly to the Head of the Harbor, in Polpis Harbor or along any portion of the shoreline of Nantucket Harbor. Said personal watercraft shall be launched from the Children's Beach boat ramp and shall navigate through Nantucket Harbor along the most direct route as marked by buoys, to Nantucket Sound.
D. 
No person shall operate any personal watercraft, jet ski, surf jet or wet bike within the waters bounded by a line drawn from "The Rock" off the "Fortieth Pole" and marked by a hazard buoy, northwesterly to the R-2 lighted bell buoy, northwesterly to the westernmost point of Muskeget Island, southeasterly to the westernmost tip of Smith's Point including the entire shorelines of Muskeget, Tuckernuck and New Smith's Point (Esther Island). Said personal watercraft shall be launched from the Walter S. Barrett and Jackson Point public access boat ramps and shall navigate through Hither Creek along the most direct route as marked by buoys, to the westernmost tip of Eel Point, thence north to Nantucket Sound or south to the Atlantic Ocean.
E. 
No person shall operate any personal watercraft, jet ski, surf jet or wet bike within or on the waters of the great ponds or any interior body of water of less than 300 acres in size on Nantucket or Tuckernuck Islands or on New Smith's Point (Esther Island).
F. 
No personal watercraft shall be transported to, or launched from, a public beach or public beach parking area, a public boat ramp or public boat ramp parking area except those named in Subsections C and E.
G. 
Exemptions. In addition to the exemptions in § 137-19, personal watercraft may be operated within the waters described in Subsections C, D and E if the personal watercraft is needed for emergency purposes when there is reasonable belief that such use is necessary to protect persons, animals or property.

§ 137-19 Exemptions.

Government personnel are exempt from § 137-18 while engaged in training exercises, emergency operations and ordinary law enforcement activities.

§ 137-20 Water kiteboarding.

A. 
No person shall engage in the business of renting to the public kiteboarding equipment to be used by such renter, within the waters of Nantucket for the activity of kiteboarding, and further no person shall engage in the business within the waters of Nantucket for the purposes of training, teaching, and/or coaching the activity of kiteboarding using actual kiteboards for use in the waters of Nantucket, without first having obtained a permit to do so from the Nantucket Board of Selectmen in compliance with this section and incompliance with all federal, state or local laws.
B. 
"Kiteboarding" is the use of a kite utilizing wind and air to lift, provide power or energy to a harnessed rider/passenger who is equipped with a board for touch down, whether such board is formally a surfboard, kite board, wake board, or other stabilizing flat object, used for the recreational purposes of kiteboarding.
C. 
The Board of Selectmen shall adopt rules and regulations and reasonable fees for the issuance of such licenses, renewals thereof and operation of licensees and for the regulation of recreational kiteboarding generally to assure the safety and convenience of the public, including but not limited to:
(1) 
Adequate insurance for the protection of the public;
(2) 
An appropriately equipped chase boat required at all times;
(3) 
Personal safety equipment for the safety of users of rented equipment;
(4) 
Avoidance of interference with other water and harbor uses;
(5) 
Loading and unloading of kiteboarding equipment.