Falmouth harbor swimmers urged to use 'common sense'

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FALMOUTH — The Harbor Committee will not take any action this year on concerns about swimming at the town anchorage, but the group will monitor the situation next year and educate swimmers about the dangers.

Harbormaster Alan Twombley said the issue was briefly addressed during the committee’s regular meeting on Oct. 24, after several lobstermen approached him with concerns about early-morning swimmers.

Those swimmers, who Twombley said appear to be a dedicated group of athletes training for competitive meets, are sometimes in the water as early as 4:30 a.m. during the summer and are difficult to spot from the wheelhouse of a lobster boat, he said.

It’s a question of both safety and liability, he said.

“Who would ultimately be responsible if somebody was swimming through the anchorage at dawn, and there’s a lobsterman on his way out that doesn’t see him?” Twombley said. “Usually it’s the boat operator, but at the same time, should they be expected to see someone swimming through the middle of the anchorage in low light?”

Twombley said he hasn’t personally encountered the swimmers, because they’re generally gone by the time he arrives to work at 7:30 a.m.

The committee’s concern wasn’t aimed only at people who swim from the beach, but at boaters who swim to and from their moored vessels who may also be putting themselves at risk, Twombley said.

Currently, there are no town ordinances to prohibit people from swimming in the anchorage, but an ordinance does prohibit swimming off town floats.

For now, the committee has decided against proposing any ordinances.

“It’s one of those conundrums. How much do you legislate the ways people use the ocean?” Twombley said. “Common sense should prevail that you don’t swim through an anchorage at dawn.”

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.