We posted an earlier article here on the Cruisers’ Net, linked below, which seemed to indicate that anchorage regulations might be in the offing for the popular “Basin Anchorage” near the charming village of Boca Grande, on Gasparilla Island. At the time, I editorialized that any such regulations would be contrary to Florida State Law UNLESS it could be shown the bottom land in the “basin” was privately owned. Based on the note below from Lieutenant Jim Brown, it looks as if someone may be trying to establish private ownership claims.
This has been circulated by the Punta Gorda boater’s Alliance.
The waters of Boca Grande are far clearer than is the issue of Jurisdiction and Anchoring in the Boca Grand Bayou. The issue of Boca Grand Bayou pivots on whether or not they are “Waters of the State”. Waters of the State are all navigable waters which existed at the time of statehood. They include the area from the mean high mark seaward. The problem with the Boca Grand Bayou, are the maps of this era, which are at best poor and show very little detail. Further compounding this problem is the fact that dredging took place in 1926 and possibly earlier, at least in the area of the 5th Street docks. Waters of the state do not include any private lands made navigable by artificial means such as dredging. The Florida DEP has some submerged land leases in the northern end of the Bayou and claim ownership there, but cannot confirm ownership as state land for areas of the southern end. The ownership of the water in the southern end is unclear (fifth street dock excluded) and may very well be owned by private interests. If it is privately owned then that party could regulate who used it. If it is owned by the state then state/county boating laws would apply.
There are no county ordinances regulating anchoring at this location, but F.S.S. 327.44 relates to anchoring when it interferes with navigation. With this being said, the jurisdiction for enforcement would fall upon the Lee County Sheriff’s Officer, Law Enforcement Officers of the FWC and the United States Coast Guard. I have found a web site that gives a good look at the whole picture of anchoring. http://nsgl.gso.uri.edu/flsgp/flsgpt99001.pdf I hope this helps you out. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at 239-850-9076. Should you uncover any further information on this matter please let me know.
Lieutenant Jim Brown
Lee County Sheriff’s Office