What Lies Beneath
Chamber President Takes Freezing Dive Beneath Merrimack River
On Sunday, Nov. 17, Dougan Sherwood, president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, dove into the Merrimack River. There, he investigated several locations known to have underwater impediments. He was joined by other divers and assisted by Haverhill’s harbormaster, Mike Vets.
For Sherwood, 45, this wasn’t his first time on the Merrimack. In August of 2019, led by Northern Essex Community College president Lane Glenn, he, along with local politicians and community leaders, kayaked the length of the river, spreading awareness of environmental concerns, as well as recreational and economic opportunities. ( Read the full story here >>> )
“I learned a lot on that four day, 117-mile trip,” he says. “And it piqued my personal interest to better understand the river — from environmental to recreational. I got to see the [cities and towns on the Merrimack River] from a unique perspective.”
Sherwood says that the goal of Sunday’s dive was first to determine what the obstructions are and then to understand what might be done about them to increase downtown Haverhill accessibility for boaters.
“We have some amazing restaurants lined right along the river, and more are coming. In just the past month, two more restaurants have announced plans to locate right on the riverfront.” Sherwood says. “We believe that more boaters will want to tie up at the city’s docks once they know that there’s a safe way to come and go. Identifying these obstructions is a step on the process to create safer waterways in downtown Haverhill.”
He clarifies that detailed information about the riverbed already exists. “Work has been done in recent years to map the bottom of the river in downtown Haverhill. … We have GPS coordinates of certain obstructions.” He explains that it’s one thing to have coordinates and another to find them in waters with fast currents and extremely limited visibility.
Since assuming leadership of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce in July of 2018, Sherwood has come to believe that the Merrimack River is the most important resource in the region. He is a member of the Greater Haverhill Foundation’s River Access Committee, which seeks to increase activity on the Merrimack.
The dive took place during low tide and focused on two locations: Rocks Village Bridge (where a large impediment exists) and downtown Haverhill. Sherwood plans to follow this preliminary dive with additional excursions in the coming year.