The role of a seasonal deputy harbormaster encompasses every single moving part of an active harbor port-of-call, from simply tossing a line to a boater tying up to a dock, to pulling capsized boaters out of heavy seas. Handling the ropes, so to speak, as Mattapoisett’s deputy harbormasters for the 2021 season have been Mattapoisett natives Luke Mello, Adam Perkins and Cooper Newton and Marion resident John Delehanty.
A brief 2020 job description posted by Harbormaster Jamie McIntosh when the Mattapoisett Harbormaster’s Department was expanded does not capture the complete picture of what the young staff members have encountered during a summer season at the historic wharves located next to Shipyard Park.
The job posting lists that applicants must have a Massachusetts Driver’s License, CPR or first-responder certificate, the understanding that a CORI/SORI search will be undertaken, and that a pre-employment medical exam and drug testing will be required. But that’s just the beginning.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, boat operation, knowledge of local geography, ability to work nights, weekends, and holidays to provide and operate a pump-out boat and on-shore facility, maintain and operate a seasonal wharf office, perform upkeep of public access docks and wharves, including access areas and facilities, and display a knowledge of boating regulations. Last, but not least, responsibilities include the ability to engage in physical activities, lifting up to 75 pounds, and to work in all types of weather conditions.
When one considers that the young people holding these positions are primarily teens or college students, one realizes just how amazing a group they form.
“They are educated and can think on their feet,” said McIntosh, proud of a group that provides the level of community and customer services expected while keeping safety first and foremost. Ensuring that the deputies work well together is no small task. “We’ve become more of a family than a team,” McIntosh said, noting that while the deputies may not always agree with one another, they are always ready to “have each other’s backs” and get the job done.
Mello recently joked that he has the longest commute time to the job (his family home abuts Shipyard Park). The new Quinnipiac University freshman has been a constant on the wharves since he was a very small child. “He has progressed tremendously in his capabilities from maintenance to boat operations,” McIntosh stated.
For Mello, the best part of the job is “talking to all the people.” Those relationship skills will serve him well in the coming years, especially when you consider that he hopes to study cybersecurity or prelaw.
Perkins will be completing his education at Massachusetts Maritime Academy this fall. He plans to pursue facility management, his major since entering the academy. He said that he’d like to find employment with companies such as Tesla or other highly technical industries. Of the three summers Perkins has spent working as a deputy harbormaster, he said, “I feel grateful; we give our heart and soul to help people.”
Newton will be taking a gap year come August 30. That’s when he’ll push off from Mattapoisett waters in his own sailboat named Why Worry, a 27-foot Bristol that he found in Maine and has lovingly restored himself. He’ll be charting a course to Anguilla with hopes of arriving there for race week. When asked how his experience on the Mattapoisett wharves has been, he responded, “I’ll be back. This is the coolest summer job ever!” Of the many areas of responsibility that the deputies have to embrace, Newton believes customer service is high on the list.
Delehanty was preparing to leave for Fitchburg State University when he told The Wanderer that he has worked two seasons as a deputy harbormaster, saying, “Every day is different.” From repairing docks to pulling people out of the water, “You’ve got to be ready for anything,” Delehanty said, speaking warmly of his relationship with the other deputies. “You can talk to those guys openly without fear, even if they don’t agree with you.”
And what was McIntosh like as a boss? “He is awesome, easy going but passionate,” Delehanty said. As he prepares for life beyond Mattapoisett and a possible future career in law enforcement, this young man will always remember being part of the team that recently helped rescue capsized boaters off Cleveland’s Ledge. “You do whatever you have to do to get them out of the water.”
McIntosh is well aware that this group of deputies has set the bar high for any others wishing to work in the Harbormaster’s Department. The skills learned and experiences shared through debriefing after each incident handled by the department can be applied throughout their lifetime, MacIntosh says.
“They are really project managers; they wear many hats,” he said.
Whether the deputies are working the shellfish program, public safety, sanitation, or protecting the environment, each element of the job is a learning experience. “They have done it all and done it well,” McIntosh said. “They haven’t been out on the beach or out cruising around the harbor. They’ve been working, doing a fantastic job – service to the town.”
By Marilou Newell