I would like to start a conversation and try to force some changes. I have two problems I have noticed with Florida mooring fields. One is they seem to be placing the boundary marks for the field in a much larger area than they need to, making good anchoring space unusable. The two I have noticed this at are St Augustine and Titusville. The other issue is some are charging the same rate for a mooring as they are for just dinghy dockage. Examples being Marathon and Vero Beach. I don’t think we should have to pay the same fee for less services. If you are anchored that is one more mooring open for them to rent therefore the price should reflect that. They have a lot of money invested in those mooring and the price should be less if you are not using one. They are either undercharging mooring customers or overcharging anchored customers. I hope I am not just ranting and others agree with me. Any comments would be good, and I would like if anyone has any ideas of how to change this. With Florida’s past issues with anchoring I hope this is not a way for them restrict our anchoring. This net seems to get things out there and get people motivated. You do A great service to the cruising community and I thank you.
Mike ODonnell SV Bay Tripper
For both Marathon & Vero Beach, anchoring is either limited or not permitted. What those prices tell me is they REALLY want you to take a mooring. If you don’t like it, don’t stop there.
Thanks for the comment. I have gone by and not stopped in the past because of the mooring field, until I found there is still lots of good anchoring room. Vero Beach tried to outlaw anchoring but the court took that down. The mooring field is regularly full and you need to raft three boats together which doesn’t work for me with two young kids. I don’t think anyone wants to pay for a mooring and have a baby in the boat next to them wake them 5 times during the night. I anchored in vero for at least two weeks last year while provisioning for the winter. The marina told me we were not welcome there unless we rent a mooring whether we used the mooring or not. But there are a few other places to tye a dingy in the area so its still a good stop. I was willing to pay them $10 per day for just dingy dockage and no mooring, but they would not do anything less than the full rate. So they got no money from me instead. They could have made a few hundred dollars more and rented the mooring I was not using. There loss not mine.
I’ll just plan my future trips in Florida so that I don’t have to stop at any place with one of these crappy mooring fields.
Until all the places in Florida who don’t want tourist money are gone, it’s easy to just avoid these places. Every decision in Florida government (I used to live there) is made with a calculator. We just need to make sure the places who make these decisions regret it when they add the numbers up in a few years.
Another complaint I have is the requirement in the Key West mooring field to put one months deposit down. I only had a debit card so they took 600 and change to move in and once I left it took over 2 weeks for the money to be returned. The facilities were decent enough though.
I have no problem paying the mooring fee for Vero, Fernandina and St. Augustine, but it would really help if these areas were also designated as no wake zones covering the entire limits of the mooring field and not just the marina. Sitting on a mooring in St. Augustine only to be waked by passing powerboats including those belonging to Homeland Security really grates me.
To me it’s simple. Anchoring is a cruising skill that I like to use and perfect, just like many others. It is an enjoyable part of cruising that is an important part of the experience to me. So, I go where I can anchor, and I don’t go where I am forced to take a mooring or else the moorings and dockage so restrict the anchoring area as to make it undesirable or unsafe. My money is spent where I can anchor out. Taking away my ability to anchor is like telling me I am not allowed to raise sails on my sailboat because the powers that be want me to purchase diesel fuel. Plus, money I am forced to spend on a mooring is also money that is not available to be spent by me in local restaurants and shops, and it shortens my stay in a town. In most cases, mooring fields are all about the money, despite the insane justifications made for them with regard to derelict boats, etc. I have personally managed to anchor just outside of the vast Marathon mooring field during the summer season when the moorings were doing the city no good as they were empty growing barnacles. They were simply blocking the harbor anchorage area, meaning those of us who want to anchor were only staying for a short time and then heading elsewhere.
By the way, as a follow up to my comments above, it should be noted that most of these mooring fields end up being big money losers for the communities that put them in. Most of the Florida fields are paid for by the taxpayers, and then the collected fees almost never cover expenses so the taxpayers end up paying again. Even the giant field at Marathon has only been kept afloat through the injection of hundreds of thousands of dollars from local taxpayers. Maintenance is therefore often neglected or postponed, and I know of several cases of moorings being declared unsafe in Florida. However, there is no standard of inspection required–you are depending for the safety of your boat on the skill, vigilance, and budget of municipal employees, often hired at low wages. I have personally observed unsafe practices being utilized in the construction of some mooring components in a major field–I wouldn’t trust my boat to such practices.
Your right about them not making enough money on the moorings. Marathon told me they raised the dinghy dock fee because they have been undercharging the mooring customers and need to make up for it. Does that make any sense? They don’t want to raise the mooring rate because when they installed the field they told people it would be kept affordable. Again, charging the same price for less services would not be tolerated in any other business.
Mooring fields create another option for cruisers to access marina facilities and communities at a lower price than transient slip fee rates. Some even provide pump out service on the mooring. There are less worries about adequate spacing and anchors dragging. In rough weather, I prefer a mooring ball to being in an anchorage. When I am ready to go, it is nice to drop lines and take off. I agree municipal marinas should, for a fee, provide access to their facilities even if you choose to anchor…and many do. I have paid fees in Marathon while waiting for a mooring to open. I have paid fees in Ft. Lauderdale to use the dinghy dock and marina facilities while anchoring in Lake Sylvia. The charge was almost as much as the mooring field, but we did have access to the marina dinghy dock, showers, laundry, lounge, etc. Members of the cruising community should be encouraging communities to invest in attracting cruisers. Providing convenient dinghy access to restaurants and businesses is a must to attract cruisers. Providing marinas and mooring field options with access to marina facilities and community services in my opinion should be encouraged, not complained about.
In regard to what Kevin Koehl wrote about providing affordable access, I agree to a point. However, as a serious cruiser, I already have to purchase, install, and maintain thousands of dollars worth of anchoring gear. I didn’t purchase all that gear to just drag it around with me on my boat–I would rather utilize this thousands of dollars worth of equipment which I know and trust, and costs me nothing additional per day. I have anchored in everything up to hurricanes, so I feel safe and secure when on my own gear. Paying a fee to use gear that I have no knowledge of, have not seen installed, and have not maintained is not a seamanlike way to manage my boat.
Moorings are a great way to prevent damage to coral reefs, example being the virgin islands. I have used the marathon moorings, and find the price reasonable, the services good, and you do not have to worry about the idiot that does not know how to anchor. Anchoring etiquette has disappeared from the seas. I always ask the vessels that i will be close to how much rode and what type they have out before i anchor. But all that said, i would prefer to sit on the hook in a nice anchorage then be in a slip.
Nick Chavasse. sv war depart.
The Ft. Myers Beach mooring field was a pleasant stay with decent facilities provided. The dinghy dock is just a couple blocks from downtown attractions. A bargain for $13/night compared to $2.50/ft transient slips. It’s the way to go to pack many boats into a small area.