Falmouth float system delay puts crimp in boating season

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FALMOUTH — Although Memorial Day is traditionally seen as the start of summer, it seems like anything but summer at Town Landing, where something is missing: floats.

That’s because the harbor’s float system was destroyed in a strong storm that battered the coast of southern Maine last October. Replacements are still being built by Custom Float Services of South Portland. 

“I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this trying time,” Harbormaster Alan Twombley said in a recent email sent to users of Town Landing. “I realize it is inconvenient for everyone, but we will get through it together.”

Owners of boats moored at Town Landing use the float system for easier access to their vessels, including the ability to tie up for loading and unloading.

And, since Falmouth’s harbor houses the largest recreational anchorage north of Marblehead, Massachusetts, demand is high, particularly for float space.

Twombley said this week that due to both a strong hurricane season and the October storm, “communities up and down the East Coast lost floats, which has put a strain on the availability of the materials needed to build them.”

He said Falmouth also “got behind the eight ball,” in terms of ordering the new floats because it first had to wait for insurance reimbursement and Federal Emergency Management Agency money.

In addition, because it’s a municipality spending public funds, Falmouth had to go through a bid process for the new floats, which further delayed Twombley’s ability to order the replacements.

“People have been asking when the new floats will be in, but they’ve also been really understanding,” Twombley said. “I hope that by the Fourth of July we’ll have between 75 and 80 percent of the floats installed.”

Twombley said the high summer season for boating often doesn’t start until the holiday, so “hopefully (the lack of floats) won’t have too much of an impact. At the summer peak, we should be all set.”

To assist boaters, he said Custom Float Services has installed a temporary gangway free of charge to the town. “They’re really doing everything they can to help out,” he added.

The plan, Twombley said, is for Custom Float to install Falmouth’s new float system “piecemeal as they’re built and ready to go.”

In his recent email, Twombley told users of Town Landing that Custom Float plans to “begin building the pump-out floats at the end of next week. Once those are finished, they are going to deliver them to our facility and provide us with a temporary gangway so we can use them while the remainder of the floats are built and installed as available.”

Due to the lack of floats, Twombley is prohibiting dinghies not owned by a commercial fisherman or the two mooring companies, who maintain boats in the harbor, from being tied up on the available floats.

“We will have town dinghies available for you to use, but they must be returned to the floats and not left on your mooring,” he said in the email.

In addition, “Boats are not allowed to be tied up and left unattended on the floats. There will be limited space and we need to make sure everyone who needs the floats will have access to them.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

There is only one temporary gangway installed at Falmouth’s Town Landing, following destruction of the entire float system by a late fall wind and rain storm. Harbormaster Alan Twombley said it may be Fourth of July or later before more floats become available.

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