Our thanks to Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net’s special Florida Key correspondent, for cluing us in on this important meeting. It would appear that at this meeting the process of formulating anchorage regulations for the Keys, as part of the new Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program, will begin, hopefully taking into account the cruiser input from the three public forums held earlier. As I understand it, the public can attend and perhaps even provide input at Marine Port Advisory meetings, so PLEASE ATTEND IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!!!
Just received this from Rich Jones. I just got back onto the boat, but wanted to get this to you right away. I would think the other Keys area meetings will be in the same time frame, probably as before…three days in a row. I’ll do more checking on it. I got this because I asked Mr. Jones to keep me informed, and he has stayed true to his word. These meetings are the meat and potatoes…should not be missed. You know I’ll be there.
MARINE AND PORT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
PURSUANT TO Board of County Commission Resolution No. 057-1991 the Marine and Port Advisory Committee of Monroe County will conduct a meeting on July 27, 2011 beginning at 6:30 PM on the second floor of the Monroe County Office, located at the Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida.
ADA ASSISTANCE: If you are a person with a disability who needs special accommodations in order to participate in this proceeding, please contact the County Administrator’s Office, by phoning (305) 292-4441, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., no later than ten (5) calendar days prior to the scheduled meeting; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call “711″.
MARINE AND PORT ADVISORY MEMBERS
Pete Worthington, Chair
Mimi Stafford, Vice-Chair
Richard Jones, Sr. Administrator
CALL TO ORDER
1. Approval of Minutes from the March 1, 2011 MPAC Meeting
2. Discussion of a US Customs Port of Entry at Marathon Airport
3. Discussion of dredging needs in the Keys
4. Discussion of Pilot Program for Anchoring & Mooring:
a) Review of the June 7-9 Stakeholder Workshops
b) Consensus building in addressing anchoring issues
c) Prepare a report to the BOCC regarding ordinance development
5. Committee Discussion
Update From Captain Charmaine As of 7/14/11
Senior Administrator, Mr. Rich Jones, is truly a valuable asset to the cruising, boating, liveaboard and entire community of Marathon and the Keys as a whole. After speaking with him by phone yesterday, he assured me there will be no write up of ordinances at the time of the meeting on the 27th. The meeting will focus on a number of issues (see Agenda above) and open for feedback and discussions involving the public: including the Pilot Program. With regard to the Pilot Program, Rich Jones and others involved very much want to take their time on this particular issue and get as much input from the community as possible before proposing any type of ordinances.
It was apparent when speaking with Mr. Jones, that the Keys should be viewed as “boater friendly” and the consensus with the Commission here is that they all very much desire that boater friendliness to be known. Florida has taken a lot of bad press with their unfriendliness towards cruisers and anchoring, with good reason. But the Keys are different!
The main issues here in the Keys are how to address the problems associated with derelict boats and vessels anchored in dangerous proximity of dragging into the mooring field during Nor’easters. I certainly agree with those as problems and feel confident they can be remedied without hinderingothers who are not part of those problems. The anchorage areas in question are very small and should be manageable without much difficulty. Homemade moorings made of engine blocks and the like are indeed a detriment to the environment throughout the Keys and also need be addressed (especially in the Boca Chica area); and ensuring proper sanitation devices are used to keep our waters clean are also major concerns. All responsible boaters have the very same concerns.
At this point, the powers that be in the Keys seem to be very aware of cruisers needing the right of navigation and the option to anchor. I am hoping the Keys will prove to be a model of how the Pilot Program sites can stay within the realm of sense rather than be used as a tool to create unnecessary nonsensical ordinances that ultimately will lead to hampering safe navigation and inconvenience cruisers and recreational boaters.
However, the public has to play an active role in what happens down here. Please attend the meeting on the 27th if you possibly can. If you cannot, then write to Rich Jones so your voice can be heard. Let he and the Commission here know you are aware they have our best interest in mind when making decisions and it is appreciated. There are problems here that will be addressed, but as I see it from those on the panel I have had the pleasure to speak with at length, one-on-one…they are listening and have the best interest of cruisers and boaters in mind. Richard Tanner, at the helm overseeing Boot Key Harbor, has been very vocal with his firsthand knowledge as a former cruiser that anchoring must always be an option here in BKH to ensure safe navigation. With Jones and Tanner highly involved in the Pilot Program process, among other advocates on the panel who also do not want to overreach, Marathon has excellent Marine and Port Advisory members. We are very fortunate to have them on our watch as cruisers, recreational boaters and liveaboards, as they are quite determined to make sound decisions in the best interest of the entire community.
Marathon will soon become a Port-of-Entry with lots of International travelers coming through to check-in. Boot Key Harbor is known all over as the friendliest Harbor in the Keys. I have a feeling it won’t be long before all of the Keys will be known as the friendliest boating destination in all of Florida.
The other Pilot Program sites should be watched with diligence. Let your voice be heard. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Iowa or California, the beautiful waters of America’s Caribbean are here for all Americans as well as travelers of the world. It is not owned by us but put in our trust for all to be able to enjoy. Help us do just that.
Thanks Charmaine for looking out for the interests of cruisers. The problem I see with all of these efforts to regulate anchoring is that they use the excuse that they just want to deal with the derelict boat problem, when in reality there are many other laws and regulations that could already be enforced to take care of those issues. What is needed is the will to enforce the existing statutes–sanitation, registration, etc.–while leaving cruisers free to go about their business. Requiring people to register, pay fees, undergo inspections, etc. in order to obtain some sort of permit to anchor is just as onerous as outlawing anchoring all together. Anchoring is about freedom to move about as one pleases, using one’s own resources, while treading lightly on our wonderful natural resources. Let’s keep it that way.
You and are on the same page. What you have stated is exactly why there is no real need for the Pilot Program. The problem issues in our Harbors and near shore waters can be dealt with by using laws which already existed prior to the enactment of the Pilot Program. The Pilot Program was put there specifically to open the door for local municipalities to regulate cruisers by way of ordinances. [The Pilot Program is exempt from the FL Statute which otherwise protects cruisers right of navigation and anchoring (FL Statute 327.60(2)].
It is quite obvious the Pilot Program’s origin comes from a very few who want no anchoring (“visual intrusions” from their waterfront homes) in their Harbors (Sarasota Bay immediately comes to mind) and hide behind other sites to give them legitimacy. Using the public’s tax dollars to implement the Pilot Program to appease a few politically connected individuals is beyond ridiculous; as not only is it dishonest in its true objectives, but a misuse of public funds better spent for the benefit of a majority of taxpayers. It stinks to high heaven!
Fortunately, I truly believe we down here in the Keys see the Pilot Program for what it is: a ruse for a very few to get what they want at the expense of the freedoms of others. We are cruiser friendly down here in the Keys, whether moored or anchored, and I do not see that changing.
Perhaps as the ruse of the Pilot Program is unraveled and more understood by the general public (footing the bill), then those who have perpetuated it will realize there could be deeper investigations into whether or not the Pilot Program was ever a necessity to reach its stated objectives. If deemed not to be a necessity, then the question will be: What then is its actual purpose? That’s when those behind it with hidden agendas will scatter and run for cover.