Navigating the Great Salt Pond

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 8:30pm

We often measure our busy days by how packed the ferries are when they pull into Old Harbor. The boats come in with relative ease and simplicity, always on schedule, with few, if any surprises.

Private boat traffic on the Great Salt Pond (and in both harbors) is another matter entirely. An average day sees 800 boats occupying the pond. There is no schedule, the boats are piloted by people with varying degrees of expertise, and equipment can often cause trouble. There have been mishaps both large and small on these boats, and there is a constant need to find moorings for boaters coming into the pond. It’s a giant, ever-changing jigsaw puzzle.

If the private boat traffic is variable in its needs and emergencies, the consistency with which these needs are met by the staff of the Harbors Department is not. We have published many letters this summer written by boaters thanking the staff for helping them in one way or another (including this edition of the paper), and the water traffic on Block Island flows with remarkable efficiency. The benefits of this — from helping to provide visitors with an enjoyable experience to the incredible impact this has on our island economy — cannot be overstated.

We are pleased to join the chorus of voices that have praised the Harbors Department staff, from Harbormaster Steve Land to everyone else, for the amazing job they perform for our guests and to the island itself.