Well, it has indeed changed. We were there on 29 Apr 2010. The only two unoccupied moorings were near the channel, subject to traffic wakes and the significant current so we went in back to anchor. Our 27-footer with all chain rode is ideal for pocket anchorages. In the late afternoon a boat labelled “harbormaster’ came around from the marina and told us the municipality has made Las Olas a no anchoring zone. I questioned this as the three cruising guides we have aboard all say anchoring is allowed for 24 hours, asking when the rules changed. He did not know, saying Lake Sylvie was the nearest designated anchorage where anchored boats can stay for up to 72 hours.
He said I should either pick up one of the front moorings or move to Lake Sylvie. I told him we were passage-making and would be off first thing in the morning and asked if he was ordering us to leave. He said he was only advising what the marine police would tell us to do if they came around. Feeling that was unlikely considering the advanced hour, we stayed.
The next morning we left early. While waiting for the Las Olas bridge to open, the harbormaster boat came around again with a different person aboard who said he knew we wanted to save money but that anchoring was not allowed. I said we were willing to pay for a mooring if an acceptable mooring had been available but to leave a comfortable anchorage for an uncomfortable mooring didn’t make much sense
The expanding mooring fields in Florida have advantages for cruisers but are motivated by what municipalities want, not designed for cruisers’ needs. The Las Olas field is first come first serve, with no reservation system. What happens if you arrive late and there are no moorings? Only the rare mooring field has a bum boat or welcomes checking in by cell phone, requiring launching your dinghy and many times enduring a wet ride. Las Olas sends around a boat, but that is also a rarity.
Cruisers are not free of blame. They buy boats bigger than they can afford to cruise in without nickel and diming municipalities, earning the “grotty yachtie” label. Visitors to Florida are the local cash crop and locals need to harvest us to some extent. Arriving with lockers full of provisions, we spend relatively little locally.
On the other hand, Floridians gouge transients whilst wooing long term stayers with deep discounts, clogging facilities designed for cruising, seemingly competing with those offering land based accommodations. It may make sense to charge more for a hotel short stay, with linen and room cleaning requirements, but not for dockage where the laundry and dirt leave with the boat! Boats are designed for moving, not for living aboard in one place for extended periods. We should not be encouraged to become “boat potatoes”, either by pricing policies or by free anchorages with unlimited staying periods.
On the south coast of England when we cruised there, it was common to charge a daily anchoring fee. This, and an imposed time limit may be ways to deal with the detritus that inevitably fills up anchorages in warm climes, those without a ‘killing frost’. We are all being forced to pay for it in some way or other.
Fair winds and following seas,
S/Y “Discovery II”, Vancouver 27
Submitted on 2010/05/10 at 12:35am
While I have respect for Discovery II crew’s opinions (sharing your opinion is a great thing!), I would just like to say that our trip through Ft. Lauderdale was a bit different. I’m not an expert by any means on Ft. Lauderdale, so please correct me if I make an incorrect statement.
Sylvia Lake is a fine anchorage (now that you can use it) and it’s nice to have the option of the mooring field. With regards to the “expanding mooring fields in Florida” – yes, that is something to be watched closely, but the Ft. Lauderdale “field” (if you want to call it such) has been there for quite some time. During the last several years with municipalities fighting cruisers and liveaboards over anchoring rights, boats were rapidly kicked out of Sylvia Lake. With the latest regulations, it’s back to being a viable anchorage.
If you are looking to stay a bit longer, Cooley’s Landing up the New River (a Ft. Lauderdale city owned marina) is a good place to go. We stayed there for a couple of weeks before heading to Key Biscayne and then the Bahamas. While there, we were able to spend lots of money on the local economy (provisioning, boat repairs, museums, mass transit, restaurants, etc.). The people at Cooley’s were great and the facilities were good. As long as you time your docking to be at slack tide (the current rips through this area so other times are tricky), it’s a nice place to be. You can certainly see some pretty crazy megayachts being tandem towed by bow and stern coming through the narrow river.
Alternatively, the New River Docks (also owned by Ft. Lauderdale) are slightly less expensive, but you have the opportunity to give back to the community by making friends with the people who sleep/live in the park (and there are some interesting people there – and I’m not saying that in a bad way).
Yes, both options are a bit more than the moorings, but they are reasonably priced alternatives that can be reserved in advance. And you always have Lake Sylvia.