Court lets Sam Adams moor his boat in the tidal flats off Manchester-by-the Sea

The Massachusetts Appeals Court today ordered a Manchester-by-the-Sea man to pay Samuel Adams $145 for taking out his boat mooring from a tidal flat near his house.

The court rejected Richard Spillane's assertion he owned the part of the flats where Adams and another boat owner moored their boats one day and that that gave him the right to simply go out and cut Adams's mooring because the sight of the boats offended him.

Although Spillane's lawyer produced a 1902 deed that showed ownership, Adams trumped that with a 1640 land grant from the town of Salem granting the flats to what is now the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea. "In the absence of countervailing evidence would be correct, but here they were confronted with a claim predating theirs by several centuries," the court concluded.

The court also rejected Spillane's attempt to define the low-water line - used to show where property owners' rights end - by sending out a guy with sticks to measure the actual points at which the water receded. The court ruled it was sticking with bounds set by federal surveyors:

Boundaries should be capable of determination with relative ease, rather than greatly subject, as here, to weather and the phases of the moon.

Complete ruling.

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