Mooring Rules / Regs & By-Laws Revised July 2013


(Revised July 2013)



These rules and regulations are adopted by the Harbormaster and approved by the Board of Selectmen acting pursuant to the By-Laws of the Town of Scituate, Section 30920, M.G.L. Ch. 102., section 21 et seq., MGL Ch. 91, section 10A, M.G.L. Ch. 43B, section 13 and 310 Code of Massachusetts Regulation 9.07 and any other applicable legal authority.

A. Mooring – Means a place where buoyant vessels, lobster-cars, floats, or rafts are secured to the bottom of a water body and the mooring tackle used to secure the vessel by permit from the Harbormaster.

B. Mooring Space – Means a space in the harbor in which mooring tackle may be installed and a boat or other float moored upon the issuance of an annual permit by the Harbormaster.

C. Mooring Tackle – Means the block, chain, buoy, pennant and any other equipment used to moor a boat, lobster-car, float, or raft.

D. Commercial (fishing) vessel – Means any vessel as determined by the Harbormaster principally engaged in fishing and sale of catch.


PURPOSE: The purpose of this procedure is to ensure the fair and equitable assignment of annual permits from a waiting list for the placement and temporary use of bottom anchored moorings, floats, or rafts. This assignment procedure relates to individual commercial and recreational moorings. This procedure is consistent with harbor planning goals. This waiting list procedure shall not discriminate against any citizen on the basis of residency, race, religion, sex, age, disability or other illegal distinction.

A. General
An applicant for a permit for the placement of moorings, floats, or rafts held by bottom-anchor, in vacant or new mooring space in Scituate waterways (as defined in Scituate By-Law Section 30910) shall complete and file the Town of Scituate Application For Mooring Location and Registration Form with the Harbormaster. The applicant must indicate the boat size range on the application. A one-time application fee of $20.00 must accompany the application. These applications must be renewed in person, by mail, by fax, or by email annually between August 1st and December 31st or applicant will lose his/her place on the list. There will be a grace period from January 1st through January 31st during which time an applicant can pay a $50.00 late fee and be re-instated to the mooring waiting list, retaining their original date of application. Applications not reinstated by January 31st will remain off the waiting list. Completed applications will be processed within fifteen days of receipt by the Harbormaster. Placement of the application on the waiting list constitutes action by the Harbormaster.

B. Mooring Assignment Method
The following method will be used for mooring assignment. Commercial (fishing) and recreational vessel waiting lists will be established and managed by the Harbormaster. As new or vacant moorings become available, the Harbormaster will offer the mooring to the next applicant in the appropriate waiting list. Priority will be given to the applicant within a waiting list with the earliest date and time of application and appropriate size range for mooring space available.

(1) The applicant’s position on the waiting list is determined by the date of the initial application.

(2) Amendment of Application. Boat size, and other pertinent data on file, can be amended on an Application Form in writing with the applicant retaining priority on the waiting list based on the date of the initial application.

(3) If an applicant on a waiting list refuses a mooring space offered by the Harbormaster, the applicant remains prioritized on the list based on initial date of application.

(4) Request for Upgrading of Existing Mooring. At any time during the year a mooring permittee may request reassignment based on proposed changes in boat size. The Harbormaster will determine if the proposed vessel can fit on the existing mooring. If not, the permittee’ s application will be taken for the new boat size and placed on the waiting list based on date and time of submittal. A fee of $20.00 must accompany the application. The permittee may continue to renew the existing mooring permit with the existing boat on an annual basis until a permit is granted for a new mooring location.

(5) Newly assigned moorings shall be inspected by the Harbormaster, or his designated agent within thirty (30) days of acceptance, except those moorings assigned after Oct 15th will be inspected by May 15th of the following year.

 (6) No individual can be assigned a mooring, or a slip in Cole Parkway Marina or Scituate Marine Park Marina, unless they are 18

C. Registration of Newly Assigned Mooring Permit

(1) Upon acceptance of a newly assigned mooring, the permittee must complete the registration process within thirty (30) days.  Registration includes:

  • Payment for mooring.
  • Completed, signed New Mooring Assignment Form.
  • Approved mooring inspection form.
  • Proof of paid boat excise.
  • Copy of boat title on file.

(2) The permittee’s vessel must be placed on the mooring by July 1st of the boating season following the one in which a mooring permit was assigned or the mooring permit will be forfeited. The date for placing the vessel on the mooring may be extended by the Harbormaster, but in no case extended beyond that year’s boating season ending November 1st.

(3) The new permittee has the option, but no obligation, to purchase mooring ground tackle from the previous permit holder.

(4) If the ground tackle is not purchased by the new permittee the previous permittee must remove the ground tackle at his/her own expense. If the ground tackle is not removed within two weeks it will be considered a public nuisance and the Harbormaster may remove it after notice to the previous permittee and at the previous permittee’s expense.


A. All moorings shall be registered with the Harbormaster each year. Permittees who fail to register their mooring are subject to penalties provided in By-Laws of the Town of Scituate, Section 31000.

(1) An identification sticker bearing the mooring permit number will be issued to each registered mooring holder upon completion of the annual registration process. This sticker must be attached to the outside of the hull of the boat, aft on the port side, prior to placing a vessel on a mooring. Failure to display said sticker will result in a penalty as provided in the By-Laws of the Town of Scituate, Section 31000.

(2) Proof of boat excise tax payment must be provided to the Harbormaster as part of the registration process.

B.  Mooring permits and mooring applications are not transferable except to the permit/mooring applicant holder’s spouse.

C. The payment of a mooring registration fee does not give the permit holder any right, or claim, to any particular location. It does give him/her the right to a location in Scituate waterways and a proof of authorization for a mooring that is suitable for the boat specified on file at the Harbormaster’s office.

D. Permittees leaving their moorings for seven or more consecutive days must notify the Harbormaster of their estimated departure and return dates.

E. Without written permission of the Harbormaster, no mooring permit shall be renewed unless the boat owner has regularly moored his/her boat in Scituate Waterways during the previous calendar year.

F. Permittees who register moorings that are lost, non-compliant, and/or are not usable in their present state, shall have their registrations voided and not renewed. Any mooring that is not visible by August 1st shall be considered abandoned, unless recently (1 week) lost, and the space allocated to those on the waiting list.

G. No mooring may be rented for any period of time. No mooring shall be utilized by a boat not registered to that mooring permittee for a period in excess of seven days. However, that any yacht club or boat club or other non-profit organization having membership of at least fifteen persons may register not more than five moorings for the use of transient guests. These moorings shall be located outside the Federal Project Mooring Areas. Occupancy of such guest mooring for more than seven consecutive days by any one vessel shall be presumptive evidence of violation thereof. Temporary mooring assignments may be made by the Harbormaster from the waiting list for any mooring that is not being used by the permittee with his/her boat on file with the Harbormaster. The owner of the boat on the mooring as of July 1 shall be assessed an excise tax for any year(s) the boat is on the mooring.

H. Any permittee who has not used his/her mooring for two consecutive calendar years shall forfeit his/her permit.


A. Each mooring buoy shall be painted white with a horizontal blue stripe around it and marked with the permit holder’s name and mooring registration number of sufficient size to be legible from the helm of a Harbormaster patrol boat. In addition, the registered boat length shall be enclosed in a minimum 3” diameter circle.

B. Moorings that are not properly marked as stated above are subject to removal as being illegal. A charge of $50 will be assessed to the owner for removal regardless if the mooring is returned to its location or not.

C. The length of the mooring pennant on moorings equipped with boxes, or floats attached to the mooring chain shall not exceed ten feet from the box chock to the float, unless express permission from the Harbormaster is granted.

D. All moorings shall have affixed to the chain approximately two feet from the top, a tag permanently marked with the mooring number.

E. Mooring weights and specifications are listed below:


 Weight of Size Length 
Class Mooring Chain Chain 
Class of BoatBlock Pennant Pennant 
(1) to less than 16’ Min. 1000 lb. ½” Galvanized 15'/15' 
 Granite Block or reinforced with 1” eyebolt 1/2"  Nylon 
(2) 16' to less 2000 lbs. 1/2" Galvanized 25'/15' 
than 26' Granite Block with 5/8" Nylon  
 1 1/4" eyebolt  
(3) 26' to less 3000 lbs. 5/8” Galvanized 25'/20' 
than 33' Granite Block with 3/4" Nylon  
 1 1/4" eyebolt  
(4) 33’ to less 4000 lbs. ¾” Galvanized 25’/20’ 
Than 40’ Granite Block with ¾” Nylon  
 1 ¼” eyebolt  
(5) 40’ and Over 5,000 lbs. 7/8” Galvanized 25’/25’ 

Granite Block with

1 ¼” eyebolt 



All chains, shackles, eyebolts and all related hardware shall be hot-dipped galvanized.
Shackles shall be properly wired to prevent the pin from backing out. With permission of the Harbormaster, a concrete block may be substituted for granite.

* Maximum length may be changed subject to Harbormaster approval.


A. No mooring, after being set shall be moved or in any way be changed without advanced approval of the Harbormaster.

B. Mooring permit holders are forbidden to change the size of a boat on their mooring without advanced approval of the Harbormaster.

C. The care, maintenance, and registration of moorings are the responsibility of the permittee.

D. Winter logs shall be removed by May 15th of each year and replaced by a suitable buoy. The winter logs shall not be replaced before October 15th of each year. Those logs not removed by May 15th shall be considered a menace to navigation and will be removed by the Harbormaster with no addition of a floating buoy. The top two feet of the winter logs shall be painted white and marked with the mooring number.

E. Commencing July 1, 2004 all moorings shall be inspected on a three-year basis under the direct supervision of the Harbormaster and/or his designated agents up to and including the lifting of the mooring itself, if conditions warrant. A mooring inspection report describing the existing condition of the mooring and any corrective measures taken shall be filed with the Harbormaster within seven days of said inspection.  Inspection reports will not be accepted after seven days of inspection.

F. All mooring lifters shall be registered and inspected annually with no fee attached.

G. All mooring service companies shall be certified annually by the Harbormaster.


A. Whoever violates any provisions of these Rules and Regulations shall be penalized as provided in the By-Laws of the Town of Scituate, Section 31000.

Scituate Harbormaster
Scituate Board of Selectmen

Approved June 5, 1979
Revised February 21, 1984
Revised April 1993
Revised June 4, 1997
Revised September 9, 1997
Revised December 16, 1997
Revised May 21, 1998
Revised July 2004

Revised April 2012

Revised July 2013




In construing this by-law the following words shall have the meaning herein given unless a contrary intention clearly appears.

“Scituate Harbor” – the waters between the flashing red light on Cedar Point breakwater and the flag pole at the Scituate Coast Guard building on First Cliff and all the waters inside this line.

“Scituate Waterways” – the waters within the limits of Scituate Harbor and that portion of the North River and South River lying within the town of Scituate and all other waterways within the jurisdiction of the Town of Scituate; as defined in N.O.A.A. map dated February 1979.

“Harbormaster” – shall mean Harbormaster and Assistant Harbormasters duly appointed by the Town Administrator.

“Boat” – includes every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

“Persons” – shall include individuals, corporations, societies, associations and partnerships.

“Skin Divers” – shall include swimmers using fins and/or mask and/or snorkel tubes or self-contained underwater breathing devices.

“Commercial Fisherman” – An individual holding a Federal or State commercial ground fish, lobster and/or scallop license whose principal means of employment is fishing and the sale of catch.


A. The purpose of this section is to preserve the public peace, good order and welfare; to preserve and protect the coastal waters within the jurisdiction of the Town of Scituate and all beaches, flats, tidelands and submerged lands lying seaward of the line of mean high water, and to prevent encroachments therein; to promote, preserve and protect the exercise and enjoyment of the public rights of fishing, fowling, and navigation; to so regulate the use of said coastal waters as to protect and promote the public health, safety, convenience and enjoyment thereof.

B. Mooring Permits: No person shall moor any boat or shall place any block, chain, pennant or other mooring device within the limits of Scituate waterways without first obtaining a Mooring Permit from the Harbormaster.

Such permit must be obtained for each calendar year and a mooring fee, set by the Selectmen, shall be paid for said permit to the Harbormaster on a form prescribed by the Selectmen. The application shall set forth the name and address of the owner, the size and type of the boat to be moored, the size and type of mooring, and if the mooring is already in the water, the location thereof with sufficient details to enable the Harbormaster to locate it. No person shall own more than one mooring, except a Commercial Fisherman, as defined in Section 30910 (Definitions), and an owner of a Certified Mooring Service who may own up to two (2) moorings for the purpose of mooring Commercial (fishing) Vessels owned by said Commercial Fisherman or Commercial Vessels used in the operation of certified Mooring Service.  Furthermore, a Commercial Fisherman, as defined in Section 30910 (Definitions), may also own one (1) additional mooring for the purpose of mooring a recreational vessel owned by said Commercial Fisherman, or take any other action relative thereto.   No mooring shall be rented.  Provided, however, that any yacht club or boat club, or other non-profit organization having a membership of at least fifteen persons may own not more than five moorings for the use of transient guests. Occupancy of such guest mooring for more than seven consecutive days by any one vessel shall be presumptive evidence of violation thereof. The Harbormaster shall not issue mooring permits or slip rentals to persons who have delinquent excise taxes. 

Subject to the Town of Scituate Mooring Rules and Regulations and Waterways By-Laws, Subsection Mooring Rules and Regulations (H), a mooring owned by a Commercial Fisherman as defined in Section 30910 (Definitions), with the approval of the Harbormaster, may be used to moor a Commercial Fishing Vessel owned by another Commercial Fisherman for up to two years.

C. The Harbormaster shall prepare regulations governing the use of moorings, applications for mooring permits, the size and specifications for moorings, their hardware and pennants. All such regulations shall be submitted to the Selectmen for approval. Upon approval the regulations shall be published once in a newspaper published in the town and shall be posted for seven consecutive days at the Harbormaster’s office and at the Town Clerk’s office and shall become effective upon expiration of said seven days. Copies of such regulations shall be available upon request at the Town Clerk’s office and the Harbormaster’s office. Such regulations may be amended from time to time in the same manner.

D. Any hazard to navigation or property, or any mooring placed within the limits of Scituate Waterways in violation of the foregoing provisions may be removed by the Harbormaster at the expense of the owner.

E. As far as practical, the Harbormaster shall require all commercial boats to be moored in a common area.


A. No person carrying passengers for hire shall embark or disembark such passengers from any boat at the town landings without permission of the Harbormaster.

B. No person shall tie or secure any boat to any town-owned dock, pier or float for more than sixty minutes without first obtaining tie-up permit from the Harbormaster. Such permit may be issued on a daily, seasonal or calendar basis and a tie-up fee, set by the Selectmen, shall be paid to the Harbormaster or other agent authorized by the Town Administrator. The Harbormaster shall prepare regulations governing the use of such town facilities and applications for tie-up permits. All such regulations shall be submitted to the Selectmen for approval subject to procedural requirements of Section 39020C above. Nothing herein shall prohibit the Harbormaster from issuing a tie-up permit for no fee for any disabled vessel or any transient vessel requiring temporary refuge in Scituate Harbor.

C. No person shall clean or scale fish on town float or piers.

D. No person shall leave any boating or fishing equipment or any personal property upon the town landing places, floats, or piers for longer than is reasonably necessary in the act of loading or unloading same, to or from boats or vehicles without written permission of the Harbormaster.

E. No person shall swim or dive from town-owned piers or floats unless enrolled in organizational instruction permitted by the Harbormaster.

F. No major repairs or complete maintenance work shall be done at town piers, docks or floats without permission of the Harbormaster.

G. The town is not responsible for any loss or damage to boats at town piers, docks or floats. Owners will be held responsible for damage to structures and pilings owned by the Town.

H. No boat shall be left in dead storage at the town pier.


No boat shall exceed a speed of six nautical miles per hour or cause a disturbing wake within the confines of Scituate Harbor, North, South and Gulph Rivers.


Skin diving shall be permitted in Scituate Harbor only for the purpose of maintenance of boats, moorings, floats, piers, ground tackle and channel markers, and only with permission of the Harbormaster.

All skin divers shall:
- Display an approved diver’s flag.
- Display such a flag on a float or other similar device holding flag upright at a height sufficient to be visible to passing boats, but in any event, not less than three feet.
- Tow the aforesaid float and flag with him while he is submerged in the water and surface thereunder, unless for commercial purposes, permission is granted in writing by the Harbormaster to otherwise display flags for the protection of divers in Scituate Harbor.

No skin diver shall operate in Scituate Harbor and North and South Rivers except from a boat and attended by another person.


No person shall operate a boat in Scituate Harbor while towing water skiers, aquaplanes or other similar devices except in connection with water carnivals and exhibitions authorized by the Selectmen, or in an area designated by the Selectmen. No person shall operate such boat or equipment within 150 feet of any swimmer or at any of the beaches of Scituate.


Discharging or depositing, or causing to be thrown overboard, oil, refuse, waste, treated or untreated sewerage into the harbor, waterways or marinas is prohibited. All marinas will display this regulation on their wharf or ramp so as to be in the uninterrupted view of persons using this facility and to be of size to be read at a reasonable distance.


Sailing classes will be allowed to race within the Scituate Harbor area when under the jurisdiction of an authorized race committee recognized by the Harbormaster. Such boats shall not have courses laid out which use government marks for turning buoys or use fairways as a leg of the race course. Such boats shall respect the maneuvering problems of larger vessels in the harbor.


The proper usage of the town launching ramps shall be determined by the Selectmen. This shall include the proper parking of trailers and motor vehicles at the approach to the ramp. Persons using town ramps for hauling of larger boats requiring cradles shall apply to the Harbormaster for permission. Such cradles and/or boats shall not remain on the town ramps for more than one tide.


Whoever violates any provision of this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted under 30920C. hereof, and whoever fails to obey the lawful and reasonable orders of the Harbormaster, or resists him in the execution of his duties shall be fined up to $100.00 and/or may have their mooring, dockage, or commercial access privileges revoked. This chapter shall be enforced by the Harbormaster.