SALEM — The surprise nor'easter that slammed the region Wednesday night and Thursday morning proved especially hazardous to Salem Willows and to boats that haven't yet been removed from Salem Harbor.

Five boats were stranded or sunk around Derby Wharf, three more off of the Beverly end of Bridge Street and one more by Willow Avenue, where a boat "jumped over the sewer line" that emerges from the water, city Harbormaster Bill McHugh said Thursday morning.

"Right now, anything that's left is salvage," McHugh said. "Even if it's going to be refloated when it's high and dry, it's a salvage operation."

The boats along Derby Wharf "look like they'll be able to be refloated or lifted and placed in the water," McHugh said. "There are three over on Bridge Street behind Bill and Bob's, and the hulls have been compromised."

McHugh said several salvage contractors are at work in Salem Harbor Thursday to recover or relocate the boats.

The storm also left a trail of damage at Salem Willows, where the park's famed pier was ravaged again. Previous storm damage at the pier had just been repaired last year in a $65,000 project. 

"The high tide was just about 2 in the morning, and it wasn't a predominantly high tide," McHugh said, "but with the way the sea came rolling in, there was a surge."

On Thursday, several boards in the pier appeared popped up and damaged by the storm. 

But McHugh said the city is in the state's construction pipeline for a new pier. Timelines aren't solid yet, but McHugh said the pier replacement could start next year.

"As far as repairing this one, I don't want to make a determination at this point," McHugh said. "The pier construction — for a new pier — will take some time. It's a pretty good-sized structure, so there's some permitting that has to happen. Things have begun with the state and the city."

Contact Salem reporter Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or Follow him on Facebook at or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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