Town of Portsmouth, RI
Newport County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Portsmouth 4-9-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-4-9. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the intent of this chapter to establish regulations for the use of the public waters within the jurisdiction of the Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and to ensure that this limited area available for use is preserved for present and future generations.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
APPROVED INSPECTOR
Any person approved as an inspector of tackle by the Harbormaster.
ASSISTANT HARBORMASTER
Those Portsmouth police officers or special officers appointed by the Chief of Police to assist the Harbormaster in the performance of his duties.
BOAT
Includes ships, vessels, or any other type of watercraft.
BOAT OWNER
Any owner of a boat.
COMMERCIAL MOORING
Any mooring installed for the purpose of leasing or renting said mooring or for use by a business invitee in connection with the operation of the permit holder's business.
GUEST MOORING
A mooring granted to a Town resident for use by his/her guests.
HARBORMASTER
The Harbormaster appointed by the Administrator and approved by the Town Council.
MOORING
The mooring space and ground tackle required to permanently anchor a boat.
MOORING AREA
Those portions of the Town waters identified on the Harbormaster's chart for the purpose of mooring boats.
MOORING ASSIGNMENT APPEAL COMMITTEE
Consist of three persons appointed by the Town Council. The Harbormaster shall be a nonvoting member of said Committee.
MOORING SPACE
The area of water required to permanently anchor a boat.
NONRESIDENT
Any individual, business, or corporation which does not meet the definition of a "resident."
PERSON
Includes individuals, corporations, societies, associations, and partnerships.
PRIVATE MOORING
Any mooring registered to a person and used exclusively for his own purposes.
PULLEY LINE
A system of pulleys arranged between a depth of five feet of water (mean low water) or less and the shore for the purpose of anchoring a dinghy.
REGISTERED MOORING HOLDER
The holder of an approved mooring space assigned to him/her by the Harbormaster.
RESIDENT
Any person above the age of majority who owns real property in the Town of Portsmouth or any person who can establish he/she is or will be a resident of a house or apartment in the Town of Portsmouth for no less than three months in any one calendar year.
STATE MOORING
Any mooring in the Town waters installed and maintained by the state.
TOWN WATERS
The public waters within the jurisdiction of the Town of Portsmouth.
The Town Council of the Town of Portsmouth may set, by resolution, the maximum number of moorings allowed within the identified mooring areas. The Harbormaster shall have full power and authority to direct the placement of all moorings within the Town waters.
A. 
No person shall place or cause to be placed a mooring within Town waters without receiving a mooring permit for the placement thereof by the Town, issued in strict compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Any such mooring placed without the approval of the Harbormaster may be removed, and any such expenses incurred shall be charged to such person placing the mooring. The Harbormaster shall direct the placement of the mooring tackle. The Harbormaster may order the removal of any mooring which in his or her discretion constitutes a hazard to navigation, a danger to the public or a violation of the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
The Harbormaster, having due regard to the draft of each vessel and the facility of navigation, shall designate upon a chart of Town waters all mooring areas approved as such by the Town Council, and to such chart the Harbormaster shall affix or append a list or key designating the name and address of the owner of each vessel and the size and type thereof and/or remaining vacancies. The Harbormaster shall file such a chart in the office of the Town Clerk and shall thereafter maintain the same current and accurate. The Harbormaster shall also maintain a current and accurate copy of said chart in a place reasonably accessible to mariners for their convenience in consulting the same during hours when the Town Clerk's office would not normally be open. The Harbormaster shall, on or before June 15 or each year, make a complete and accurate revision of both the original master copy and copy thereof. All record of mooring permits shall be kept on file for three years after expiration thereof, at which time the records may be destroyed and the permit number, if expired, may be reassigned.
C. 
If mooring space is available, the Harbormaster shall issue to each boat owner a license to use a mooring space within a mooring area. Said license shall be properly keyed to such chart as identified above and shall expire on the first day of April in each succeeding year after its issuance. The Harbormaster shall, during the month of February of each year, cause reregistration forms to be mailed or delivered to all person's who were registered holders at the end of the prior year, at the address then listed on their last registration or reregistration application. It shall be the burden of the registered holder to notify the Harbormaster of any change of address. It shall be the duty of the Harbormaster to ensure that such mooring space is maintained at the spot designated by the Harbormaster upon the chart and in said license and not elsewhere. The Harbormaster may remove the mooring or vessel, or both, at his discretion and may charge the expense of so doing to the person so placing the mooring or maintaining anchorage in a location other than as designated by the Harbormaster.
D. 
All renewal applications for private mooring spaces must be accompanied by a true copy of the current subject boat registration. Such applications shall be accompanied by the appropriate fee. All applications shall be accompanied by a list of all persons or vessels, with a description of such vessels, which the mooring owner anticipates and authorizes to make use of the mooring or raft to vessels making use of said mooring during the period for which the permit is issued. Those applicants who do not own a boat at time of renewal application may have until June 1 to submit the new boat registration, provided they shall timely file an otherwise complete renewal application and pay the required fee. Failure to subsequently provide the boat registration shall render the permit subject to forfeiture.
E. 
All requests for new mooring space shall be made by submitting an application provided by the Harbormaster, containing all information required, and a copy of the subject boat registration, addressed to the Portsmouth Harbormaster, Portsmouth Police Department, P.O. Box 767, East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI, 02871. All such applications should be completely filled out and submitted with the appropriate fee.
F. 
The Harbormaster may remove from any public wharf, dock or pier in Town waters any vessel not engaged in receiving or discharging cargo or passengers. The Harbormaster may also determine the extent, time and manner of accommodation respecting the position of vessels which should be extended by the owners or master thereof to each other and to require such accommodation to be extended.
G. 
The Harbormaster may remove from any mooring any vessel other than the vessel owned by the registered holder of that mooring.
H. 
Mooring specifications in this chapter shall not pertain to pulley lines; however, any such systems shall fall under the Harbormaster's jurisdiction.
I. 
The Harbormaster may remove from any mooring any vessel other than the vessel owned by the registered holder of that mooring or any vessel otherwise in violation of the terms of this chapter.
J. 
Any annual renewal of a mooring permit, commercial or otherwise, if granted, shall be assessed a late fee of $100 if the reregistration form is not filed with the Harbormaster on or before April 1 of the respective year.
[Amended 11-13-2007 by Ord. No. 2007-11-13]
A. 
Any application for a commercial mooring shall be approved if said mooring was in place prior to June 27, 1986. Commercial moorings shall be renewed on a yearly basis. Commercial moorings not in existence on June 27, 1986, shall be permitted only in Town waters immediately adjacent to the upland waterfront business property owned by the applicant.
B. 
All applications for commercial mooring permits shall contain the following information:
(1) 
Name of business, owner's name, address and business telephone;
(2) 
Name, address and telephone of business manager, if different from above;
(3) 
Number of moorings requested;
(4) 
Mooring fields in which moorings would be located;
(5) 
Description of facilities available for off loading, parking and provision of sanitary facilities.
C. 
No person, other than a licensed marina operator, shall be granted more than five commercial moorings.
D. 
Each commercial mooring holder must submit an annual report by April 1 of each year detailing all vessels which utilized said moorings during the previous year, broken down by mooring, setting forth the vessel name, registration number, length in feet and breadth, draft, type and number of sleeping berths.
E. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as preventing a registered mooring holder from leasing ground tackle from a commercial enterprise.
A. 
Only mushroom anchors or cement blocks with reinforcing rods and connecting eyes that have a base at least 1/2 the width of the block will be acceptable.
B. 
All shackles will be properly seized.
C. 
All shackles, swivels and other hardware will be proportionate in size to the chain.
D. 
The total scope of the mooring should be three times the depth of the water at high tide. The bottom and top chain shall each consist of half the length of chain.
E. 
It is recommended that the pennant be shackled into the top chain below the buoy so that the buoy does not carry the strain.
F. 
The maximum length of the pennant shall be 2 1/2 times the distance from the bow chock to the water plus the distance from the bow chock to the cleat. Where chafing may occur, adequate chafe gear should be used.
G. 
Minimum mooring specifications.
Pennants
LOA
(feet)
Mushroom
(pounds)
Bottom Chain
(inches)
Top Chain
(inches)
Nylon/ Dacron
(inches)
Stainless Wire
(inches)
Under 16
75
3/8
5/16
1/2
1/4
16 to 19
150
3/8
5/16
1/2
1/4
20 to 22
200
1/2
5/16
5/8
1/4
23 to 25
250
1/2
5/16
3/4
1/4
26 to 30
300
5/8
3/8
3/4
1/4
31 to 35
400
5/8
3/8
3/4
3/8
36 to 40
500
3/4
1/2
7/8
3/8
41 to 50
600
3/4
1/2
1
1/2
51 to 65
750
1
1/2
1 1/4
1/2
Vessels over 65 feet shall comply with the Harbormaster's directions.
H. 
Any change in these minimum mooring requirements should be in favor of heavier mushrooms and bottom chains.
I. 
Cement clumps may be allowed at 10 times the weight required for anchors with digging qualities.
No person shall be issued a license for a mooring space unless said person provides proof of reasonable access to said mooring across public property or private property with consent of the owner thereof, including adequate provision for parking of vehicles.
[Amended 11-13-2007 by Ord. No. 2007-11-13; 1-13-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-01-13]
Mooring registration fees shall be defined on a yearly basis by the Town Council.
All assignments of mooring space shall be made by the Harbormaster. Moorings shall be assigned in chronological order of receipt of a completed application. Any appeals to assignment of mooring space shall be made in writing to the Mooring Assignment Appeals Committee, c/o Town Clerk, P.O. Box 155, Portsmouth, RI, with a copy to the Harbormaster. The Mooring Assignment Appeals Committee shall resolve the appeal.
The Harbormaster shall maintain a waiting list of applications for mooring spaces. Moorings will be granted in a ratio of not less than five Portsmouth residents to each nonresident in all cases of assignment of mooring spaces from waiting lists.
A. 
Any registered holder shall be deemed to have forfeited his registered mooring space by reason of the following:
(1) 
Removal of tackle and notification to the Harbormaster that the space is available.
(2) 
Failure to reregister for such space by April 1 of any season.
(3) 
Failure to replace any piece of mooring tackle not complying with the mooring tackle standards hereinafter set forth within 14 days after being advised by the Harbormaster of noncompliance.
(4) 
Failure to resurface or replace mooring within 60 days after being advised by the Harbormaster that the mooring is in need of attention.
(5) 
Failure to mark said space with an appropriate winter mooring spar.
(6) 
Failure to comply with any of the requirements of this chapter.
(7) 
Failure to mark said space with an appropriate winter mooring spar as required by § 215-12 hereof.
B. 
Forfeiture of mooring space may be appealed to the Mooring Assignment Appeals Committee.
Any registered holder of mooring space who is abandoning his mooring space and owns the ground tackle of that mooring space may offer to sell the tackle occupying such space to the next person assigned to said mooring space. If such tackle is not sold or rented, it shall be removed by the registered mooring holder. The next person assigned to such space is under no obligation to buy or rent the mooring tackle from the previous holder of that mooring space or the owner of the ground tackle of that mooring space. Failure to remove such tackle upon notification may require the Harbormaster to remove said tackle at the expense of the owner of the tackle.
Winter mooring spars shall be set in all mooring spaces for which the ball has been removed. Spars shall be set prior to December 1 of each year, but in no event prior to October 1, and shall be readily visible in a vertical position above the water at all times and shall be removed not later than June 1 of the next succeeding year.
A. 
No vessel will be allowed to anchor in Town waters utilizing her own ground tackle and be left unattended. The owner or operator and party may go ashore, but shall not leave the area. They shall be available to tend to the vessel in the event of heavy weather.
B. 
When anchoring in a mooring area, it shall be the anchored vessel's responsibility to remain clear of all moored vessels, taking into account all possible changes of wind or tide situation.
Rafting on a single mooring shall be allowed as a temporary accommodation if it does not interfere with adjacent single moorings or anchorages. Owners of boats in a raft shall be available to tend to the vessels in the event of heavy weather. Rafting shall be limited to three boats in addition to the boat properly registered to the subject mooring. Any rafted vessel shall be of a size not exceeding that of the boat properly registered to that mooring. It is the responsibility of the registered mooring holder to ensure that the outermost boats drop anchor to avoid dragging the mooring or encroaching on other mooring spaces or navigational channels.
A. 
Each mooring in Town waters will be assigned a number by the Harbormaster. This number will be displayed in contrasting color on each mooring buoy, pickup buoy, and winter marker in block letters at least four inches in height.
B. 
The Harbormaster may remove any unnumbered mooring, buoy, ball or other like marker. In the event the Harbormaster discovers an unnumbered mooring, buoy, ball or marker, he/she shall attach thereto a tag ordering the owner thereof to submit to the Harbormaster the information concerning the owner thereof and vessel making use thereof. If no response is received within 14 days, the Harbormaster may remove said mooring, buoy, ball or marker.
Guest moorings issued under the previous ordinance shall be renewed on a yearly basis. Owners of residential waterfront properties may be allowed one guest mooring to be located in waters immediately adjacent to upland residential waterfront property owned by the applicant. Private, nonguest moorings of other residents shall be given priority over guest moorings in regards to placement. For good cause shown, more than one guest mooring may be allowed upon application to the Mooring Assignment Appeals Committee.
A. 
The registered holder of a mooring shall maintain his mooring in a safe condition. Any chain, shackle, swivel or other component which has become warped or worn by 1/3 of its normal diameter shall be replaced. Failure to maintain a safe mooring hereunder shall be cause for revocation of said mooring by the Harbormaster. The Harbormaster or his designated agents may inspect any mooring at any time to determine compliance with this section.
B. 
In all cases, the holder of a mooring registration shall have his mooring inspected by a qualified inspector at least once every two years from the date the mooring is set. He/she shall notify the Harbormaster in writing of the date the inspection was performed and shall arrange for a written report of said inspection to be submitted to the Harbormaster by the inspector, setting forth the specifications of the mooring. Each such report shall contain a certification by the inspector that he/she has familiarized himself/herself with this chapter and the mooring specifications prescribed herein. A mooring inspector must hold a certificate as a certified SCUBA diver and must be familiar with the minimum mooring and mooring tackle specifications of this chapter.
A. 
No vessels of any description shall be navigated or operated at a speed in excess of five miles per hour, or in such a manner to cause an excessive wake, within the following areas:
(1) 
Within the waters of the Portsmouth Basin, so called, being that expanse of water between Portsmouth and Tiverton, south of the Navigational Aid, Can 17, and north of the Stone Bridge Abutment.
(2) 
That expanse of water in Potter's Cove between Navigational Aid Nun Buoy 4 and the shore.
(3) 
That expanse of water in Blue Bill Cove north of Hen Island and south of Spectacle Island, between the escape bridge and the state boat ramp.
B. 
Penalties for violation of this section and § 215-19 hereof shall be as follows:
(1) 
Speed of vessels:
(a) 
First offense: $50.
(b) 
Second offense: $75.
(c) 
Third offense: $100.
(2) 
Waterskiing and other violations: $50.
A. 
Except as otherwise set forth herein, waterskiing and/or the operation of personal watercraft are prohibited in the following areas; provided, however, vessels with water-skiers may commence operation within 200 feet of a shoreline at such speed and course (preferably perpendicular to the shoreline) as may be reasonably necessary to commence a run and may operate within said two-hundred-foot area incidental to finishing a run, provided said operation is performed in a safe and prudent manner with due regard for the safety and welfare of swimmers, divers, moored or anchored vessels and the skier:
(1) 
Portsmouth Basin.
(2) 
Blue Bell Cove, north of Hen Island and south of Spectacle Island.
(3) 
Within 200 feet of any shoreline.
B. 
Personal watercraft may operate within said prescribed areas only at the slowest speed at which the craft can be operated and maintain steerage way.
C. 
Waterskiing and the operation of personal watercraft must be practiced in conformance with the requirements of R.I.G.L. § 46-27-2 et seq.
A. 
No person shall skin or scuba dive within 50 yards of the channels in the Portsmouth Basin without the expressed consent of the Harbormaster.
B. 
All persons diving in the Town waters shall properly mark their diving areas.
A. 
Every person who shall violate the provisions of this chapter, every owner, master or person in charge of any vessel who shall neglect or refuse to obey the directions of the Harbormaster in matters within the authority of the Harbormaster and every person who shall resist or oppose such Harbormaster in the execution of his duties shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not exceeding $100 for each offense.
B. 
Each day that such neglect or refusal to obey shall continue after notice thereof is given by the Harbormaster to an owner, master or person in charge of such vessel or mooring deemed to be in violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.
C. 
Any person who shall remove from a location assigned by the Harbormaster any moorings belonging to another without the authority of the owner and Harbormaster shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not exceeding $100 for each offense.
D. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to secure a vessel to the Town dock at Sand Point on Prudence Island, otherwise known as the "rescue dock," and leave same unattended. Any person violating this provision shall, upon conviction thereof, by fined not less than $50.
[Added 4-27-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-04-27]
The Harbormaster, pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 46-4-6.13, shall have the authority to collect any fines levied under the authority of this chapter by mail, not exceeding $100.