Now, here is an eye opening video of the debate yesterday (5/1/14) in the Florida Senate about the amendment, which was defeated, that would have allowed Florida counties to locally regulate anchorage. As you will see, members of the cruising community are certainly not cast in a favorable light by those favoring this amendment.
We urge ALL Floridian cruisers to watch this video!!! It gives what is perhaps one of the most penetrating insights I’ve seen into the mind set of those who would have the state of Florida return to the “bad old days” of local anchoring regulations. And, at least speaking for myself, this debate troubles me considerably in regards to the future of anchoring in Florida.
To watch the video, you must follow the link below, and then, hover your pointer over the bottom of the video window. A slider will appear. You must push the slider to the right, until you reach the 401:00 mark. The debate and eventual “NO” vote, occurs between times 401:00 and 411:00.
The debate is infuriating, but we all have to keep in mind that it is a tiny minority of waterfront landowners that are complaining, while the vast majority of people either don’t care about the issue or don’t know about it. All it takes is for one well-connected campaign donor to make a few phone calls and they get amendments like this, while most people who live on the water relish the views of boats at anchor. Plus, remember that 90%+ of the legislators probably know nothing about marine law or regulation as it exists, while you’ll note that those on the fish and wildlife committees have obviously studied things more thoroughly. The bad news is that it sounds like the anti-anchoring crowd is poised to strike once the Pilot Program ends.
It appeared to my ear that the man with the gavel voted the amendment down and did so because it had not been referred to committee for debate before vote — not because of the merits of the amendment.
The fact the sponsor withdrew it so quickly and without asking for a roll call was telling.
We should all keep in mind that last minute email campaigns will not suffice to prevent this eventuality — those only work when the proponents are over-confident, sloppy or unprepared. Each defeat on this is a lesson learned for those who would drive us off.
Florida Senator Smith is convinced that the normal anchored boat in FL waters is peering into residences and throwing trash into the surrounding waters. Perhaps a boater who resides in his jurisdiction should be-friend him and take him on a water tour of his local waters so he can observe the boaters peering into surrounding homes and all the trash around their boat. Maybe then he will be able to make an informed decision and not rely on the opinions of the wealthy land owners trying to eliminate everyone else’s access to the beauty of our wonderful state.
However that being said if the boating community does not clean up it’s act and help eliminate the many derelict boats in Florida waters we can expect anchoring rights issues in Florida to be challenged again and again.
I recognize the difference between a derelict boat spending months and years in front of a waterfront home and the eyesore it creates and a well maintained boat temporarily anchored in the same place. However many folks especially politicians don’t recognize this difference.
Wow, I am amazed at how inarticulate some members of the Florida Legislature are and how petty their complaints about boats are. Since the waterways are public, there should be no expectation of privacy by water front property owners, period. I would imagine that if any boater is using optical instruments to peer into houses that peeping tom laws would apply. I grew up on the water on Long Island and we frequently had boaters, including fishermen and crabbers come close to our property and we never considered filing a complaint. Occasionally a broken down boat would anchor nearby and my dad would offer to help them or call for help for them. Most of the water front property owners where we lived were also boat owners.
The people debating for restrictive anchoring regulations on this video universally cite the perceived lack of privacy by waterfront owners with a subset arguing against the additional issue of long-term anchoring vessels because of the obvious conclusion that they are dumping illegal waste into the waters. The rich waterfront owners of the state (I own waterfront in FL and once spent a lot of time getting half-sunken and derelict shrimping vessels removed from nearby waters) will eventually have their way with restricting anchoring unless the very few bad apples get booted. There must be a mechanism to define and remove the anchoring rule abusers. I would suggest the the boating community argue for time limits rather than distance limits. What difference does it make if a boater with strong optics is sitting 10 feet or over a hundred yards from some fat cat’s trophy wife’s bedroom window – the optics shorten all distances to un-curtained windows. However, the continued close presence of any vessel, trashy or flashy, is going to grate on the nerves of people who thought their views would be forever beautiful and private from the water side.
Keep in mind two things:
Senator Smith is the MINORITY LEADER.
Senator Smith’s District 31 is nearly 100% LAND-LOCKED.
This appears to have been party leadership supporting its members.
I suspect you will find the real force comes from Districts 33, 34 and 35 which border the ICW from Boynton Beach to the latitude of Homestead. It is unlikely facts will be helpful here as they don’t support the imposed outcome.
I see several folks here chiming in with the usual worries about so-called “derelicts.” First, many of these boaters are in clear violation of existing marine law such as registration, safety equipment, sewage, etc. Second, it is already illegal to anchor so as to obstruct a channel or someone’s access to a dock. Third, there are very few places, even in Florida, where it is likely this could be even a tiny problem as you simply can’t anchor very close to someone’s home–water is too shallow, too close to channel, etc. Sunset Lake in Miami Beach is one spot that comes to mind, and many of us have heard of the well-connected wealthy individual there who wants the lake to be his private backyard. Fourth, most of us legitimate transient boaters go out of our way to anchor places that are peaceful and quiet and well away from anyone. Even in crowded anchorages like North Lake Worth I am almost always anchored at least several hundred yards from shore.
Most derelict boats I’ve encountered are anchored legally but as John mentioned they are in violation of several marine laws. They have become a real problem on Florida’s west coast. A few examples are anchorages in Sarasota, Gulfport and the north end of Longboat Key.
My fear is if the boating community does not help in removing these boats, the Florida population at large will not distinguish between a temporally anchored legally outfitted boat complying with all laws and one that has been abandoned.