Florida legislation banning overnight anchoring in certain areas popular with cruising boaters takes effect July 1, 2016. It will be illegal for any vessel to be at anchored any time during the period between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise in the areas noted, with some exceptions. READ MORE!
Areas where overnight anchoring will be banned starting July 1, 2016. Four areas in Miami Beach (left) and Middle River in Fort Lauderdale (right). Graphic and interpretation: Mike Ahart, News Editor, WaterwayGuide.com
Waterway Guide sent the above graphic to law enforcement for confirmation of the areas, particularly the sections between certain islands along the Venetial Causeway. The area designations have been confirmed by members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Miami Beach Police Marine Patrol. “Your “tip to tip” interpretation (of the banned areas between the islands) is an interpretation we share,” wrote Capt. Tom Shipp of FWC in an email response. “In our training we show Officers map slides with the areas affected by the statute “circled” for reference…we then discuss the applicability issues, including the boundaries.”
“I spoke with our Captain who oversees (the Marine Patrol) operations – the graphic you provided appears to be correct,” said Ernesto Rodriguez, Public Information Officer for the Miami Beach Police Department.
“There will be no special enforcement per se…we will be dealing with any folks in violation on a case by case basis and enforce the Florida State statute to the best of our ability,” said Rodriguez.
Currently, there are several small sailing dinghies in Sunset Lake anchored adjacent to the residence of Fredric Karlton – a vocal advocate of anchoring bans in Miami Beach. In a public workshop held by the State Affairs Committee of the Florida House of Representatives on October 8, 2015, Karlton stated that he anchored the boats there to restrict others from the ability to anchor near his house. According to the new law, Karlton must remove the boats or risk citations. “The owner of those (boats) has already been spoken to and is aware of the law, and we hope there will be compliance by the time this takes effect,” said Officer Rodriguez.
According to Rodriguez, one other sailboat is anchored in the soon-to-be banned areas between the Venetian Islands, and Miami Beach Police is attempting to get in contact with owners.
Each of the other banned areas is adjacent to the residences of other vocal advocates of anchoring bans. The section of Middle River in Fort Lauderdale is adjacent to the family home of a co-sponsor of the legislation, Rep. George Moraitis, Jr.
The Anchoring Limitation Areas bill was approved by Florida Governor Rick Scott on March 24, 2016. Many boating and cruising advocacy groups were against the legislation, and had representatives speak at each of the hearings during the 2016 Florida Legislative Session, including the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA), America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA), BoatUS, and the Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA).
Boaters and cruisers have expressed concern with losing these particular anchorages, but many are more concerned that other safe anchorages will be added to the ban year after year in municipalities all over Florida, and in other states.
The provisions of the law will sunset if and when new legislation is enacted as a result of the recommendations from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Anchoring & Mooring Pilot Program – its report is due to be submitted to the Florida legislature by January 2017.
According to the legislation, starting July 1, 2016, it will be illegal to anchor at any time during the period between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise in the areas noted, with exceptions outlined below:
The section of Middle River lying between Northeast 21st Court and the Intracoastal Waterway in Broward County. (Middle River is one of the very few viable anchorages for cruising-sized boats in the Fort Lauderdale area.)
Sunset Lake in Miami-Dade County. (This Miami Beach anchorage is popular for cruisers waiting for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas, and in the past afforded easy access to Miami Beach for services and provisioning. The City of Miami Beach recently passed an amendment to an ordinance which now makes it unlawful to tie a dinghy to the canal wall to visit the city, leaving only limited dinghy access – see related WaterwayGuide.com article: Miami Beach cracks down on dinghy access. Miami Beach has also been issuing warnings and citations to vessels anchored more than seven days “within city limits,” citing a 2005 municipal code which considers such vessels as “live-aboards” even if they are being used for active cruising – see related WaterwayGuide.com article: Miami Beach cracks down on anchored vessels).
The sections of Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County lying between Rivo Alto Island and Di Lido Island, San Marino Island and San Marco Island, and San Marco Island and Biscayne Island (these areas are also considered in the jurisdiction of Miami Beach).
If the vessel suffers a mechanical failure that poses an unreasonable risk of harm to the vessel or the persons onboard unless the vessel anchors. The vessel may anchor for 3 business days or until the vessel is repaired, whichever occurs first.
If imminent or existing weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel pose an unreasonable risk of harm to the vessel or the persons onboard unless the vessel anchors. The vessel may anchor until weather conditions no longer pose such risk. During a hurricane or tropical storm, weather conditions are deemed to no longer pose an unreasonable risk of harm when the hurricane or tropical storm warning affecting the area has expired.
During events described in statute 327.48 or other special events, including, but not limited to, public music performances, local government waterfront activities, or fireworks displays. A vessel may anchor for the lesser of the duration of the special event or 3 days.
Vessels owned or operated by a governmental entity for law enforcement, firefighting, military, or rescue purposes.
Construction or dredging vessels on an active job site.
Vessels actively engaged in commercial fishing.
Vessels engaged in recreational fishing if the persons onboard are actively tending hook and line fishing gear or nets.
The bill provides that “any person cited for a violation of any provision of this subsection shall be deemed to be charged with a noncriminal infraction, shall be cited for such an infraction, and shall be cited to appear before the county court. The civil penalty for any such infraction is $50, except as otherwise provided in this section. Any person who fails to appear or otherwise properly respond to a uniform boating citation shall, in addition to the charge relating to the violation of the boating laws of this state, be charged with the offense of failing to respond to such citation and, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A written warning to this effect shall be provided at the time such uniform boating citation is issued.”
SSCA, MTOA and AGLCA formed the Boater’s Heritage Freedom PAC to raise funds to contribute to legislators who are for preserving anchoring rights. All Florida legislators are running for election this fall and the campaigns are in full swing. “We need to support our legislative supporters with our pocketbooks, so please act now,” stated Phillip Werndli, Chairman of the PAC. “When the election is over, it will be too late. If you are a Florida resident, you can also help by attending local candidate forums to urge them to support boater’s rights. There will be a strong fight this next (Florida legislative) session and we need the members to know we are a force.”