A fishing tradition keelhauled in Chatham

A fishing tradition keelhauled in Chatham – The Boston Globe

Dinghy Wars erupt in Chatham. We have a problem here in Cotuit – but it’s not dinghies per se — we’ve got knuckleheads parking full boats in the grass.

“Locals say it is about Chatham’s soul being eroded by newcomers with thick wallets, newcomers whom they refer to as “wash-ashores.””The problem that I have with it is, these people come down here and say, ‘Oh, look. Isn’t it cute? Isn’t it wonderful? Look at that cute little fisherman out there working hard,’ ” said Sean Summers, a Chatham native and local selectman. “Then they buy in and say: ‘We’re going to do things my way now.’ “

Comes down to one flaw in the Commonwealth’s laws. Property owners own their beach all way way down to the water. Most states they own to the high tide mark. This makes for a massive pain in the neck and constant battle over rights. I predict — in my lifetime — a repeal of the low water ownership and a rollback to the highwater mark. Until then, watch the washashores break out the bolt cutters and start putting the dinghies on their beach some place else.

Me? I chain mine to a chainlink fence on a public beach and get there in the middle of March to stake out my spot. Sooner or later I guess I’ll have to get a permit for that too.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “A fishing tradition keelhauled in Chatham”

  1. What you write about was the #1 motivation for why my folks sold their house on Ocean View and it seems that they are not alone amongst their friends, for many of them have also left.

    Granted we were only summerfolk for many of the years that we owned the house (1974 to 2004) but my parents had lived there full time for a few years before deciding to sell.

    In their words it was the “mega-money” that was moving in that had changed Cotuit so much, that they simply didn’t want to live there anymore or even keep a place at all.

    Money certainly does not buy class!

    We were by no means new to Cotuit, as my Great Grandmother had a house on Shell Lane since the 1920s which was only recently sold outside of the family.

    Unfortunately, so many of the people that are buying in Cotuit simply don’t realize that their actions are responsible for ruining what it is that they fell in love with.

    As much as I love Cotuit, I know that I can never come home again for it will never be the same.

    I will certainly visit, if only to see the crazy antics of the “mega money”.

    After much investigation, my folks moved to Tuckerton, NJ which in many ways resembles Cotuit from so many years ago. It is still a working seaport with a rich seafaring history and it will be years before the developers make their mark.

    Thank you David, first for being one of the last bastions of “Old Cotuit” and second for always fighting the good fight!

    You Blog is certainly my favorite.

  2. We have a very similar problem in Sarasota,Fl. with old sailboats.
    It has been a small problem with indigent persons living on them and then when the storms come through they wash ashore and the city has to pay to remove them.
    Now the city is using this as leverage to remove the free moring field and put in its place a pay per day field that would cost $450/month to tie up.
    This is a violation of Fl.law and anchorage rights but the city says “sue us “.
    Makes me crazy!
    Good luck on your fight!
    If you have any fishing photos from your area please feel free to post them on our boaters social site, http://www.boatingobsession.com
    Thanks Again,

  3. Wow, you’ve got me scratching my head. We own waterfront property and I have no clue if we have rights to the water or the high water mark. Thanks for getting me off my rear end to find out.

    Good luck with your fight.

    River Walleye Fishing

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