Extra dinghy floats eyed for Manset

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Harbormaster Adam Thurston is looking for a 40-foot ramp in order to conduct a test for more dinghy parking at the Manset Town Dock.

“We have some extra finger floats,” Thurston told the Islander this week. “We’d like to try that out and see how it works … I’m still looking for a ramp that’s not new and [can be] very expensive.”

To ease dinghy congestion at the town dock located on Shore Road, town officials want to create an additional float using six of the town’s finger floats. Each finger float can provide up to six spaces for skiff parking, which would mean space for at least 35 more dinghies.

“We’re crammed with dinghies at all the town docks, especially at Manset,” said Thurston, adding that is where most recreational boaters enter the water. “We’d like to get something as soon as possible.”

Busy season in Southwest Harbor goes through September, according to Thurston, who isn’t sure he’ll find a ramp before then. If the town decides to install the additional float after its experiment, Thurston will need to add the structure to the town’s submerged lands lease. For the test run on the extra float, a permit by rule is requested by the town from the state.

This experiment would be to mainly address the increase in water parking for skiffs during the busy season.

“We have a just over 12-week impact of high use in Manset,” Selectman Ryan Donahue said during the July 23 meeting of the Board of Selectmen. “After that we don’t really have a big parking problem in September. We don’t really have a big dinghy problem mid-September on.”

Thurston said doesn’t expect to keep the additional float in beyond September when the season tapers off and the weather begins to change.

“We’re not sure how they would take some easterly storms,” he said about the ramp to a landing float and a bridge to the dinghy floats. “I wouldn’t want to destroy the whole works.”

Some spots on the town’s finger floats currently in place can be a challenge at low tide when they ground out, according to Thurston. Skiffs parked at those spaces need to be dragged into the water when the tide is out.

“Any options of solving dinghy space at Manset should be looked at,” Donahue said at the meeting.

In June, the Department of Marine Resources recommended a shore and harbor planning grant award of $25,000 to the town for planning and engineering of the Manset Town Dock and adjacent parcel known as the Hook property. Selectmen voted to accept the grant at their July 23 meeting.

Town Manager Justin VanDongen and Thurston are scheduled to put together a request for proposals. That request will undergo review by the Harbor Committee and the Board of Selectmen before going out to the public.

In 2017 the town purchased the Hook property for use at the Manset Town Dock, after having leased the property for more than two decades.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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