we are a foreign flag vessel with a valid cruising licsense. And were approached 2 days ago by an officer from the corps of engineers, and told that boaters are no longer allowed to anchor in the Okeechobee waterway for more than one night, after which they must leave the officers jurysdiction (Franklin lock to St. Lucie Lock) or move on to a marina. Remaining unconvinced by this officers explanation we emailed the corps HQ and have now received written confirmation that the corps view the waterway only as a means to transit one side to the other and that anyone staying longer than “overnight” will be given a ticket/citation.
Has anyone any thoughts to share?
A Non For Now
What is the deal with anchoring in the Caloosahatchee river? I have heard that the core of enginers are harassing boaters.
Several months back we reported that boaters were receiving citations from the Corps of Engineers for anchoring along the Okeechobee Waterway. At that time we never received an adequate answer from the South Florida Operations Office as to whether this was common practice. Now once again we are receiving reports that boaters are being told by Corps of Engineers patrol boats that anyone anchoring for more than 24 hours will be given a citation. You must move to a marina or on to the next jurisdiction and not just a short distance to satisfy the requirements. We would suggest that if anyone would like to get details or voice any concerns, that you contact the South Florida Operations Office at (863) 983-8101.
Many boats cruising the Okeechobee Waterway have been confused by what might seem to be new anchoring limits being enforced by the US Army Corps of Engineers. According to Robert Schnell, Assistant Chief, South Florida Operations, officers have been instructed to enforce a “one-night-only” policy for anchoring, and have told the boaters that they must continue down the waterway or find a marina or other facility.
According to Schnell, the policy has been around since 2000: “Title 36 – Rules and Regulations Governing Public Use of Corps of Engineers Water Resources Development Projects, Section 327.3 – Vessels,” specifically the two sections below:
327.3(f) Unless otherwise permitted by Federal, state or local law, vessels or other watercraft, while moored in commercial facilities, community or corporate docks, or at any fixed or permanent mooring point, may only be used for overnight occupancy when such use is incidental to recreational boating. Vessels or other watercraft are not to be used as a place of habitation or residence.
327.3(h) Vessels shall not be attached or anchored to structures such as locks, dams, buoys or other structures unless authorized by the District Commander. All vessels when not in actual use shall be removed from project lands and waters unless securely moored or stored at designated areas approved by the District Commander. The placing of floating or stationary mooring facilities on, adjacent to, or interfering with a buoy, channel marker or other navigational aid is prohibited.
The Corps South Florida Operations’ interpretation of these rules greatly overstep the verbiage, in my opinion:
- Anchoring in state and federal waters is “otherwise permitted”
- Anchoring in a river, lake or oxbow does not qualify as “in commercial facilities
- Overnight occupancy is incidental to recreational boating
- A vessel occupied at anchor is “in actual use”
I contacted the Corps in other areas to understand their local policies and get their interpretations of Title 36. Similar Corps projects on the inland waterways do not limit anchoring to one night, although lengthy stays are discouraged. Some areas have policies specific to their recreation area, but these are not covered in Title 36.
Waterway Guide’s Southern Edition 2012 does not mention anchoring limits along the Okeechobee Waterway, but we will update it in the next printing, if applicable. Meanwhile, expect to be asked to “move along” after anchoring along the Okeechobee Waterway, or risk a citation and fine, at least until this Corps office gets its policy straight.
During the week of June 11, 2012, I saw Gov. Rick Scott visiting Roland Martin Marina talking about jobs for Central Florida. I suggest everyone writing the Gov to inform him why OUR river is not the recreation paradise it should be. The ACOE must be brought under control. Recreational boaters must wait for commercial or coast guard boats to pass through the lock “if they WISH” to go through alone!!! This can result in HOURS of delay and resultant safety hazard for us regular people.
I also propose a “green” project that you might write about. It involves removing the sugar cane train bridge which limits vessel height to 49 feet. Recycle the rusty iron. Remove the tilt open railroad bridge from Ft. Myers which has been abandoned for years in the open position. Sand blast, paint and reinstall, replacing the sugar cane train bridge. This allows sailboats to pass from East to West coasts! It would also eliminate the continual obstruction to vessel passage when subject bridge breaks down in the lowered position allowing only 7 feet of clearance! This is good for Florida recreation, good for jobs in central Florida and a move forward.
Steven R. Crane
Tickets are still being issued. This was a day after the tropical storm came through.
Steve Largent [9/1/2012]
We transited the Okeechobee WW this spring  and anchored on the offshoot north and east of the Moore Haven lock, which is shown on cruising guides as a good anchorage. Our sailboat was parallel to the east side and well out of the channel, off of the Waterway itself. A local marine patrol officer came by and said we were blocking the waterway and would have to move. He said that this area would be full of boats early in the morning. He suggested we tie up to the barge dolphins, which we did, not wanting to risk a ticket. However, this would seem to violate the proscription against attaching the boat to structures without permission from the COE. By the way, early the next morning, we saw one, count ‘em, one, boat on the waterway.
Copy the regulations from the thread above and keep on your boat. If you are dealing with an officer, note the persons name and what agency he is working for. Next, ask the regulation that he thinks you are violation because you have a copy of all that you think apply, on board and you dont think you are violating them. So, maybe there is a new one that you do not have. Offer the officer a copy or offer to let him read yours with the comments included. If a vessel is anchored it is in operation is a good point. If you are on a mooring or at a dock, you may be living there. The laws are obviously intended to shoo away liveaboards. If you are on vacation maybe telling the officer you are trying to enjoy Florida tourism would help. You should feel free to send letters (yes mail) to State tourism offices and copy the Governor. Florida is interested in tourism and jobs, especially in the central part.
Now, look up every lock on the waterway and find out who is in charge. Send them a letter and ask what their policy is in their area. There is nothing in the laws stated in this thread that allows authorities to limit anchoring to any specific number of days. Do not let bureaucrats invent their own laws. Exceeding their authority allows you to contact the state attorney and file breach of peace. Enjoy your cruise.
I got a ticket from a park ranger from the Franklin lock. The name is Phil Hart. I was anchored but he wrote it that I was moored ( lie 1 ) for more than 12 days ( lie 2 ) There is a free dock in La belle you can stay at for 3 day and off for 8 days. This I did 3 on 8 off for sometime. This guy knew this, but lied anyway. I have the dock masters and a sign in sheet to back this up.
The FWC states that all surface water in the state is Fl. water, and the 2009 law says we can anchor anywere in state waters. This guy told me that the Okeechobee is federal water. Any lawyers looking for a case??
While I was doing research for an admiralty case against the Florida Pilot Program for Anchoring…..which is completely different than the issue with the corps….I found this interesting statement regarding exactly who regulates the surface waters of Florida.
The second paragraph advises exactly who regulates these waters. The state of Florida is not on the list …except for pollution control. This action by the corps on the Okeechobee may be inconvenient , but it actually supports our case against the state’s pilot program ie. the only authority who can regulate anchoring is the Corps itself…if they see fit…not any state alone…not on the ICW or the tidal tributaries that lead into it. Please keeps us informed. If it makes you feel any better, this will literally help us defeat the state program which is far, far more restrictive on recreational boaters.