Photo Gallery: Rock Harbor re-imagined

Feb 27, 2024 | A Day in Photos

Space to dock commercial vessels is at a premium at Rock Harbor. It isn’t unusual for a captain to move another’s boat so he can get out.

The commercial dock at Rock Harbor in Orleans needs reconstruction: three vessels have snagged and sank, ladders that extend from the pier are dangerous, and tight quarters mean the boats have to raft three or four deep. The town is poised to change all that with an upcoming construction project that will be presented to town meeting voters in May. Project planning has been underway for years and permits are in place. A state-funded Seaport Economic Council grant has helped fund the design, and with support from voters, a portion of construction can also receive funding. Check out this gallery to existing conditions on the commercial side of the pier and artist renderings of proposed improvements.

Harbormaster Nathan Sears gives members of the finance committee a tour of Rock Harbor. He had earlier jumped up and down on the unloading dock to show how weak it was.

Here is an image, from consultant Foth Engineering, which shows the planned loading and unloading area. Currently there is no hoist, so fishermen need to lug their catch.

Harbormaster Nathan Sears tells finance committee members and selectmen about the permitted Rock Harbor project. One of the reasons it received necessary permits is because 20 feet of pavement is being removed – giving back watersheet to the state. The concrete barriers behind Sears are to prevent vehicle access because the bulkhead can’t support the additional weight.

In this image from Foth Engineering, one can see how pavement was removed, leaving room for commercial vessels. Gangways are also visible. The ladders used now by commercial fishermen are a safety concern.

Some of the infrastructure is so rickety that it is jury-rigged together, but lack of space means fishermen still need to use the pilings beyond it. In addition to fostering the Blue Economy, Sears said the town needs to take care of its property.

The plans include an observation area for the public to watch boats come in.

Rock Harbor already draws crowds, people come to see world-famous sunsets as well as the fishing boats.

Unlike recreational boats, commercial vessels can be found at Rock Harbor all year long – working in all kinds of weather. Courtesy photo.


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