Mooring Regulations

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How to Apply for a Mooring

Mooring Permit applications are available on this website or from the Cape Elizabeth Town Hall or Public Safety Office.  All information that is requested on the form MUST be provided prior to receiving approval.  You may contact the Harbormaster by phone, email or letter.

Waiting Lists

Process - Demand for moorings in the waters around Cape Elizabeth is so high, it is necessary for the harbormaster's office to maintain a list of boat owners who are waiting on mooring permits. As moorings become available, they are allocated to the applicant with a suitable boat who has been waiting longest with preference to commercial, governmental applicants as required by state of Maine law. Separate waiting lists are maintained for each location, and applicants can apply for more than one location at a time.
Please contact Public Safety, 207-767-3323, if you would like to know the status of the waiting list

Renewal Notices - Each January, the harbormaster's office reviews applicants’ renewal applications and accepts the fee to remain on the waiting list. Failure to submit the current year application or pay fees will cause the applicant to be removed from the list.

Joining a waiting list - Applicants wishing to join a waiting list should indicate the desired area or areas on the application/registration form.

Mooring Inspections

All moorings MUST be inspected at Annual intervals prior to the renewal of any mooring permit. Annual Mooring Inspections are due each year by June 15.

The Harbormaster does NOT Inspect Moorings! (This would be a conflict of interest)  The Harbormaster does reserve the right to verify or oversee the inspections.

All Inspections must be performed by an APPROVED INSPECTOR. A list of authorized inspectors is available on this website or from the Cape Elizabeth Town Hall or Public Safety Office.

Permit holders must report the date of inspections and the name of the inspector on the Mooring Application form and retain copies of inspection reports. This is for the permit holder’s protection in event of legal action or claim arising out of damages caused by failure of the Mooring Systems.

Mooring Standards

The design, sizing, and selection of mooring gear is subject to approval by the Harbormaster. Design and construction will be accepted without review or inspection if the gear is installed by one of the following:

  1. A mooring installer approved by the Portland Harbor Commission or harbormaster as listed on the Portland Harbormaster website
  2. Other individual or firm approved by the Harbormaster.  Approval will require meeting the required standards and showing proof of insurance.
  3. Moorings self-installed must be equal or greater strength than these standards listed on the town website or available from the Cape Elizabeth Town Hall or Public Safety Office Harbormaster or from the Portland Harbormaster website.

Approval will require meeting the required standards and showing proof of insurance.

Gear that does not conform to the guidance standards will NOT be approved by the Harbormaster and must be removed from the waters of Cape Elizabeth.

Chain Length

All Moorings installed in the following coves shall not have a total chain length more than two and one half times the Mean High Water depth.
Kettle Cove
Crescent Beach
Staples Cove
Maiden Cove

New Mooring Permits

New mooring permits will be issued not more than 14 days prior to the installation date specified on the application. A mooring permit must be in hand before gear is placed. All mooring installers in the area have been notified of this requirement and will ask to see the permit. Installation of mooring gear without a permit is subject to fines under the town ordinance.

Mooring gear must be installed and the final location reported within thirty days of the permit issue date or July one, whichever is later. Reasonable extensions will be granted for weather and other factors but failure to request an extension and non-installation of gear will result in notification that the permit is void and the mooring fee will not be refunded.

Permits and fees are for calendar years. The first year's permit and fee will cover the balance of the year in which the permit is issued. Renewal is required before January 1 of the next year; not twelve months after the permit issue date. There will be no refunds for gear removed and permits surrendered.

Moorings installed between September first and year end will be permitted through the following year and a renewal fee and application will not be required for the year following the installation.

Mooring Permit Renewals

Mooring permits must be renewed annually before December 31. The Combined mooring permit application/ renewal form must be fully completed and returned with the next years fee between September 1 and the end of the year. It is the permit holders responsibility to renew. No bills are mailed.

You may obtain a Combined Mooring Permit Application/Renewal Form by clicking here.

Gear for moorings with elapsed permits is to be removed from the water within 14 days of the end of the permit period. Reasonable extensions will be granted if you contact the Harbormaster.

New Installation Procedures

Mooring locations will be assigned on a "first come, first served" basis at the time the mooring goes in the water. Spot assignment will be provisional until the gear is actually placed and may need to be revised to accommodate prior installations.

Applications must be accompanied by a check for the mooring fee and will not be accepted until after a mooring installer is selected and an installation date determined. If the application is withdrawn prior to issuance of a permit or a permit cannot be issued for other reasons, the check will be returned. Once a permit is issued, the fee will be non-refundable.

Applications for new moorings will become inactive sixty days after receipt by the Harbormaster or July first, whichever date is later. The application and check will be returned at the end of this time period if a permit has not been issued.

Permit Transfers, Rental, and Sale

You may not transfer your mooring permit to another person, rent your mooring, or use it as basis for setting property rental or sale prices. Property renters may use your mooring as long as the rental price is the same as for renters who do not elect to do so.

The Harbormaster will facilitate issuance of new permits for gear in place to family members, property buyers, or sale of mooring gear in place whenever it does not conflict with fairness or statutes. Issuance of these new permits cannot be assumed however and must not be advertised. If you sell a house "with mooring" and the buyer later finds that a permit cannot be obtained and the gear must be removed, you could find yourself the subject of a legal action for misrepresentation of the property by the buyer.

You may surrender a permit in one mooring location and move it to a new location without paying an additional fee for that year. These moves must be approved in advance by the Harbormaster who will issue a new permit.

Other Things You Should Know About Moorings

Other Things You Should Know About Moorings

1. A mooring permit authorizes you to place your privately owned anchor and chain on publicly owned bottom and obstruct the public waters above it. This permission is granted annually by approval of a Town of Cape Elizabeth Mooring Registration/Permit - they are available at the Police Department, the Town Hall, or on the Town website, or by email. (They will no longer be mass-mailed.) and may be revoked for due cause. It does not provide you with any title to the space or authorize you to transfer, rent, or sublet the permit without the approval of the Harbormaster.

2. The town ordinance follows state and federal recommendations that all mooring buoys must be White with a Blue horizontal band clearly visible above the waterline. The mooring number must be painted above the blue line. 

All buoys must comply with these requirements.

All buoys must be numbered

Red and Orange balls are Not allowed!
Red or orange balls are indistinguishable from lifesaving equipment to search and rescue aircraft and frequently delay searches when not occupied. This is particularly an issue on the Cape where so many moorings are not in identifiable harbors and near lanes of heavy boating traffic.

Mooring buoys constructed of unprotected foam block that can fracture and shed plastic particles are Not allowed!

Metal Barrels or Balls, Metal Wheel Rims with Tires are Not Allowed as the create hazards to Navigation.

Winter Sticks shall be constructed of a either Flexible or Frangible material.

3. Painting your vessel's name and/or the owner's name or both on your buoy will make it less likely to be picked up by a transient boater whose vessel may be larger than yours and which could drag or damage the gear. This can also save you the unpleasantness of having to ask someone to move when you return to find your mooring occupied.

4. You will occasionally see ads for boats or houses “with deepwater mooring”. You may advertise a house or boat “with mooring” but, if you should make it clear before signing a sales contract that the phrase covers the gear only. If you fail to do this it may potentially become a problem when the new owner finds out that he does not actually have a permit for the mooring spot. If you would like the new owner of your house or vessel to have your mooring spot, you should have them submit an application before the sale (and after signing a sales contract, if any). If there is no waiting list and the vessel is appropriate for the gear and the spot, this request likely will be accommodated.  If there is a waiting list for moorings in that area or other restrictions due to various reasons the new permit may not be issued. You may not make the price of the house or vessel contingent on a successful transfer of permit or realize any financial gain from it.

In cases where a mooring lies within the frontage of a dwelling that is being transferred within a family, the Harbormaster will make every effort to maintain the continuity of use. This cannot be assumed however and should be discussed with the Harbormaster in advance
of the transfer.

5. Moorings permits are specific to the vessel named at the time of application. It is a violation of the town ordinance to permit another vessel to use your mooring without permission from the Harbormaster. This permission may be assumed for friends, guests, or renters using your mooring while visiting if your vessel is elsewhere. In the case of renters, you may not charge a separate fee for use of the mooring unless it is registered as a rental mooring.

If visiting vessels are to be unattended for more than 24 hours and are larger than the vessel assigned to the mooring, you should check with the harbormaster. Be cognizant of the liability of permitting use of your mooring by a vessel larger than it was designed for especially if the weather is bad.

All use of a recreational mooring by a another vessel for a period longer than two weeks must be cleared in advance with the Harbormaster.

Commercial fishermen with moorings listed as primarily commercial on the mooring application may put any vessel that is being used by them on their mooring without prior permission, provided that it is not substantially larger than the vessel originally assigned.

All additional commercial vessels expected to routinely use a specific mooring should be registered with the Harbormaster.

6. Any mooring not used for 30 consecutive days in a year may be considered abandoned. The Harbormaster will not be tracking or verifying mooring usage. However, if it is brought to the Harbormaster’s attention that someone is being denied the opportunity to moor their vessel by the presence of an unused mooring, or one that is being held by loaning to another vessel, the permit holder may be presented with a choice between using or surrendering the permit.

7. You may not rent, lease, or accept any compensation for use of your mooring unless permission to do is specifically given and recorded by the Harbormaster.

8. Mooring tenders/Skiffs/dinghies: Must have owner's name, telephone number and mooring number on the transom. Mooring tenders/Skiffs/dinghies should not exceed 20' overall length.  Mooring tenders/Skiffs/dinghies must be secured when left onshore.

Speed and Wake
No person shall drive or operate any boat or vessel in the mooring areas, for which a mooring plan has been established, in such a manner as to cause a wash, wake or wakes that disturb or damage any wharf, float, anchored or moored dock, boat or vessel or at any speed that endangers any person or property.
Water Skiing
No person shall operate a boat towing a surfboard, water skis, inflated inner tube, or similar device within a mooring area.
It is against Maine law to consume intoxicating liquor in any public place. This pertains to all facilities belonging to the Town, including but not limited to, all properties, docks, floats and picnic areas.
Title 38 Section 284 (Operating Under the Influence of Drugs or Liquor):
Whomever operates any watercraft, vessel, water skis, surfboard, similar device or motorboat, however propelled, upon the tidewaters of any municipality or upon any of the offshore waters within the jurisdiction of the State while intoxicated or under the influence of any narcotic, shall be guilty of a Class E crime.
Maine Title 38: Waters and Navigation

In case of Emergency, Dial 9-1-1 if on landline, (207) 846-3112 by cellular phone, OR hail the United States Coast Guard on VHF Marine Radio Channel 16 (156.800 MHz).

General Information
Randy Richardson
Phone Numbers
207-767-3323 207-671-2821
Fax: 207-767-0681
Emergencies: Dial 911
325 Ocean House Road
Cape Elizabeth ,

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm