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The Salty Southeast
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Archive For: Anchoring Rights

  • What Cruisers Truly Bring to Tourism – An Editorial by Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd

    I have been saying for years and years that the state of Florida is playing with FIRE, when it comes to anchorage regulations, MSD boardings and midnight safety inspections. Let’s all remember that the marine industry is the second largest in the Sunshine State, second only to tourism (and the success of Florida’s “Tourist Industry,” it can be argued, is somewhat tied to the success of the “cruising industry” as well).
    Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, our very special Florida Keys Correspondent, shares her thoughts below on this very issue!

    November 4th, 2011

    What Cruisers Truly Bring to Tourism
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd
    It just dawned on me that I’ve never seen a glossy magazine cover showing a mooring field. It’s the magazine cover that piques the interest of a potential consumer, it is there to draw them in to buy it. With that said, there is no vicarious romance with mooring fields. LOL
    Boaters and cruisers are always shown having a wonderful time. Or if only a vessel or vessels are shown, the depiction is usually that of in an idyllic, exotic locale that makes the landlocked wannabes’ mouths water. That is the romance of cruising.
    All cruisers have friends and family who live vicariously through them. My website has more landlubbers who profess to me their envy at we who lead such rich and rewarding lives. It’s not a monetary stash of riches, but riches that money cannot buy: freedom, or the semblance of freedom. This is why during the winters, cruisers have no shortage of friends and family (and often just mere acquaintances) who wish to visit them. And visit they do!
    Most cruisers have blogs or websites that narrate a lot of their travels. We introduce others to places they had not thought about visiting. With us there first, we open the door for others to visit these places as well. This is an overlooked fact that landlubbers who think cruisers are just, well, cruisers sitting in their waters, do not realize. We bring more tourism to their areas each time we visit. Others love destinations to explore, especially when relatives and friends are already there and tout the friendliness, warmth, and beauty of a new-to-them community.
    Our guests fly or drive to meet up with us. They stay aboard with us a day or two, if that, and the remainder of the time are guests at local hotels and motels. We entertain them and they entertain us. We frequent local establishments and enjoy the sights. We are cruisers and tourists, yet the tourism from cruisers brings in more tourists to the area.
    Areas in Florida are contemplating placing regulations on cruisers. This truly should been seen in the bigger picture as we actually do more for these areas than is commonly perceived. In all of the continental U.S. there is no place quite like Florida in the winter. Our northern friends and relatives relish the thought of we cruisers sitting down here where it is warm and flock to us. They come where we go.
    Sitting in a mooring field is not the romance depicted on the magazine covers, and with good reason. There is a place for mooring fields as they serve a very useful purpose. However, there’s nothing quite like swinging from the hook and enjoying cocktails at sunset with those who have never experienced it. It is a romantic impression they do not forget. So much so, that many come back on their own to the areas where they first climbed aboard our vessels. We may have cruised on to another destination, but they will fly in and stay at your hotels and remember “when.”
    May those making regulatory decisions about the future of anchoring in Florida’s waters also remember “when.”
    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”
    csmithladd@marinersbarr.org

    Well said Charmaine! Over the course of many years of visiting Florida we have often had guests fly in to visit us aboard, while often staying at hotels ashore for part of their trips too. In fact, we too have stayed in hotels, rented cars, eaten at restaurants, gone to amusement parks, visited museums and zoos, purchased things in stores, and spent money on all sorts of “normal” tourist attractions while being based on our boat in Florida. However, we prefer to anchor out and we don’t go to places we can’t anchor. It is not just the mooring field that will not get our money if they force us away.
    John Kettlewell

    Well said, Charmaine. Keep it up.
    Steve and Sheila Kamp,
    S/V Carolina, Southbound

    Well said and true. I am lucky enough to own a home on a canal in Key Largo. I purchased this home so that I could sail whenever I wanted.
    As a resident, taxpayer and boater I think we are lucky to have such a vibrant live aboard community.
    I frequently stay at different anchorages and 99% of boaters are respectful and kind. They are outgoing and would give you the shirt off their back.
    Let’s never treat them (me) as second class citizens in any way, shape or form.
    Jason McPeak, S/V TwoCan, Key Largo, FL

  • Why Anchorage Restrictions and Random Boat Searches Are Hurting the Florida Marine Industry

    We have been asked, and will do so, to protect the author of the article below as a “confidential source.” All I will say is that the author is a fellow journalist, and her/his remarks deserve the most serious attention of both the cruising community and Florida governmental authorities.
    It’s sentiments like these that are driving people, particularly cruisers, away from the Sunshine State. All of us at the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ continue to be concerned about the reputation that Florida is garnering in the cruising community and beyond. I guess all that any of us can do is to keep fighting the good fight!

    For several decades we have worked with the goal of retiring back to our native state of Florida. We have purchased a home in the Sarsota area with plans to move our boat there from the Chesapeake. We have read with some dismay about the mooring fields issue that seems to be pervading the state. But we were shocked to read about the “Lights Out” boarding by a cadre of federal,, state and local law enforcement officials invading the privacy of boaters in the Sarasota area, apparently under the pretense of “Homeland Security.”
    What gives them the right to invade someone’s home just because that home floats? Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution forbid entering someone’s private residence without a search warrant? Doesn’t a boat qualify as a private residence? After all, you sleep and eat there.
    Didn’t our founding fathers stake their lives and thousands of American military personnel die to fight against such government abuses?
    A police officer cannot stop a vehicle at random just because he or she feels like it.
    It seems that Florida politicans, and law enforcement agencies, are declaring a defacto war on people who cruise that state’s waterways. Perhaps this needs national attention to let Americans decide what’s really happening to the freedoms boaters once enjoyed.
    Name Withheld by Request

  • Mourning field, By Bill Bishop

    Many, many thanks to “Marine Electronic Installer,” Captain Bill Bishop, for allowing us to reproduce his wry, witty account of Florida anchorage regulations. This amusing, but serious, article originally appeared on Captain Bill’s Blog (linked below)!

    Mourning field
    From “The Marine Installer’s Rant” – A blog about the bad things boat builders do that cost you money (http://themarineinstallersrant.blogspot.com/2011/10/mourning-field.html#more)
    By Bill Bishop

    “According to Longboat Key Police, there was a “Lights Out” boarding of all the boats anchored between Cortez and the south end of Longboat Key recently. Seventeen boats were boarded by the Longboat Police, Bradenton Beach Police, the Coast Guard as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection officers and Florida Fish and Wildlife officers, all checking for drugs, outstanding warrants, proper licenses, and proper handling of sewage.” (Editors note: US Customs officers were also involved)

    Apparently nothing of magnitude was found during the raid, at least that was noteworthy in police reports, or the press. How much fun would that have been for a transient cruiser passing through to have assorted armed law enforcement agencies rooting through your vessel in the middle of the night. Certainly this should give all of us food for thought, and it begs the point that many Florida communities are not boat friendly at all, and NIMBY rules the waves.

    I have seen enough people with easels up painting the scene above to know that some like the picturesque aspects of all the boats resting quietly at anchor, but there have been issues with a small group of live aboard, and quasi-live aboard vessels like the vessel above. It is apparent to me that it doesn’t sail anywhere despite the casual appearance of the rigging, and there is no motor. This vessel is someone’s home, even as stark as it is, and this drives some locals crazy. You hear statements like they’re homeless people, they don’t pay taxes, the boats are ugly, and there polluting the bay. There is some truth to all of this, and this sort of thing causes varied levels of consternation in local, and mostly wealthier communities. Add to this issue some vessel that is a little south of being a multi-million dollar super yacht being anchored, and despoiling, at least in their mind, some residents magnificent waterfront view. “Look Buffy, that deplorable sail boat thing is ruining our view, call the anchoring police immediately.”

    But what has really upset all of these water based communities is that the local governments have historically had little legal authority to limit non-live-aboard (cruisers) anchoring in their state controlled waters (live-aboard vessels are regulated), despite their efforts to create ordinances to do so, and it drives them nuts. The Town of Longboat Key attempted to do so with their Chapter 93. The ordinance basically says no to everything boating, but the section relating to anchoring has been shown to be in contravention with state law. I’m not specifically picking on Longboat Key, there are many other Florida municipalities that have tried to restrict anchoring by regulation, and Marco Island is another one.

    The brunt of the State of Florida statutory boating regulations are in Chapter 327. There is the old version (pre 2009), and the new version (post 2009), and an additional twist to all of this. In 2009 the section 327.22 was deleted, and portions of it were consolidated into 327.60 titled Local regulations: limitations. What happened here was local governments limitations and regulatory abilities were more clearly spelled out. The notable part of this change was that the ability to anchor your boat, in state waters, which was somewhat fuzzy in the older version of the statutes, was more clearly spelled out. What had become limited, and clarified was local governments could not pass laws regarding the:

    f) Regulating the anchoring of vessels other than live-aboard vessels outside the marked boundaries of mooring fields permitted as provided in s. 327.40

    Now like all things legal, there was some nuance here, but on the whole, if you are a cruiser passing through Florida you can anchor where you want as long as it is not a specifically marked, and state permitted location, for now, but here comes the twist.

    Let’s now meet Representative Baxter Troutman, from Florida. He is from Winter Haven in the middle of the state, was a Florida state representative (district 66) from 2002 to 2010, and was term-limited out of office. He is also the grandson of Ben Hill Griffin. Katherine Harris is also Ben Hill Griffin’s granddaughter. Representative Troutman is the sponsor of Florida Bill HB 1423 filed in March 2009, and it was co-sponsored by Representative Paige Kreegle (district 72) from Punta Gorda on Florida’s west coast.

    Buried on page 76 of 89 pages of this bill is the start of the small section you see above, with the operative line being “to explore options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-live-aboard vessels”. The FWC (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) pilot program has selected five sites for inclusion consisting of the city of Sarasota, city of St Petersburg, city of Stuart/Martin county, Monroe county/Key West/Marathon, and St. Augustine. Inclusion in this pilot programs also gives the participants the ability to created non-live-aboard anchoring regulations in the area of their jurisdiction.

    In Sarasota, the great mooring field project has not gone well. With some fanfare derelict, meaning homeless shelter boats were removed, and all of the other boats in the anchorage were pushed back from the construction area. Engineers surveyed, and pontificated, and called for helical “screw in” mooring anchors. A contractor was hired to install the first 38 anchors, and oops, the anchors didn’t hold. There was lots of finger pointing, and additional consultants were hired, and $500,000 dollars quickly evaporated. The city still has grant money left, and they will persevere. There will be a public meeting next week to discuss anchoring limitation regulations that are now possible, and I shudder. The one thing we have here is endless retired non-boaters with lots of time on their hands.

    The bottom line is this legislated pilot program is a poor way to solve problems that were manageable with current laws and regulations. Pollution problems can be solved with pump out boats like the new one we have above, which will currently come to your boat, for no charge in the for now free anchorage, and solve your holding tank issues. The city initially had set mooring fees in excess of $400 per month, regardless of size, which would be hard to swallow for a boater with a 26′ day sailor. Tentative rates are now by vessel size and range from $250 to $345 per month, and transient fees range from $18 to $25 per day, and oh yes, you must have proof of insurance to use the mooring field. These fees do come with with good amenities.

    Now that the door is cracked open, the city fathers, and mothers are chomping hard at the bit to get control of all of the anchoring in their jurisdiction, and they all lobbied hard for this.  Thou shalt not anchor within view of homes, within 1000′ of the shoreline, no anchoring off Longboat Key period, and you can only stay one night, if you can find a legal place to anchor that is not in our mooring field. You don’t want to have a “Lights Out” visit from our local constabulary do you? This is a bad idea for all that boat and cruise, I trust these municipalities about as far as I can throw them, and  I can’t pick them up. They are not boater’s friends. Keep a close eye on this issue, and participate in the local public meetings, or you will definitively end up holding the short straw.

    Comments are listed below from fellow cruisers who have reacted to Captain Bill’s story!

    Let’s keep the pressure up on FWC and these cities, we can win this.
    Pete

    Well now, I wonder are the police etc going to raid all the foreclosed and abandoned homes ?
    Just imagine, all those bugs running free, toilets not flushed, stagnant water everywhere and maybe a homeless person living there WITHOUT PAYING …oh it has to stop…even the thought ruins my view across the Bay…
    Dennis McMurtry

    Gosh, I thought this was all solved bill 327.60 I’m really tired of all this crap the cities are trying to do. I am 74 years old and have seen all I want to see of the Govt interferring with my right to sail and anchor where I choose. If I’m no mistaken, the federal govt still controls the bottom, not the cities. They may have given some of their rights to the states, but certainly not the cities.
    Some kind of common horse sense need to be displayed.
    GeneWj

    Bottom line on this article is avoid Longboat Key/Bradenton.
    When the municipal authorities note the reduced tourism traffic, then they can look around and ask, where have they all gone?
    Steve Kamp

    As one who enjoys eating the seafood from local waters, I am appalled by the “Lights Out” raids on boaters. While I agree that those who knowingly dump their duties in inland waters should be heavily fined, the reality is that amount of sewage coming from boaters is insignificant compared to what raw sewage municipalities often dump into our waterways. For Bradenton, to send their police after boaters is the ultimate Hypocrisy. Just google “raw sewage Bradenton” and the first hit is “Bradenton sewage spill sent 3.5M gallons of waste into streets, river”
    http://www.bradenton.com/2011/07/06/3327654/bradenton-sewage-break-sent-35m.html
    On page 35 of Southwinds’ October magazine is an article describing an August spill of 1.4 million gallons of raw sewage which occurred near Pensacola in an area that in June suffered from 2.2 million gallons a raw sewage spill. WOW!! That is like having nearly 7,000 boaters dump 10 gallons a raw sewage per week for an entire year!
    Paul

    I am a Sailboat Charter Captain in Stuart,FL I went to the meeting and totaly disagree with their Anchoring restrictions. The waterways should be free to cruise for all after all those cruisers are tourists and spend money here
    I sail to the Bahamas every year and I feel welcome in all the anchorages. I go out to eat buy fuel etc. so whats their problem?
    Captain Wolf

    I live in Marco Island and I support the right of boaters to anchor off the shore in front of my house while in transit, seeking shelter from inclement weather, or just plain enjoying our beautiful city. I enjoy the continuing change of scenery and observing different styles, designs and rigs of vessels visiting here. However, some inconsiderate boaters seem to enjoy gaming the system by taking up permanent residence, and creating a ‘boat slum’ in otherwise beautiful and convenient anchorages which should be a credit to the city and not an eyesore. Solving the problem of these freeloading, waste dumping, boatbums while accommodating the majority of the cruising community is a problem which will not be easily solved. The ultimate solution toward which we are all rushing will not be satisfactory for anyone.
    Bill

    Oh yea,
    I would also like to add… I know these folks (liveaboards). Yes they are poor. No, they are not “boaters”. Most work (at least part time). We did have two “crackheads” who would steal anything not chained up/locked down, but they are gone. Now it’s mostly just people storing their boats… they live ashore. Half a dozen or so liveaboards… one or two “full time cruisers (it’s all semantics)”
    Any lights out raid would have been aimed solely at harassing these folks.
    W.W.

  • Update on Florida’s Pilot Program – Marathon, FL MPAC Meeting Held

    As usual, Captain Charmaine does a wonderful job of presenting her news. It’s really good to hear that, at least in the Florida Keys, it looks as if the Pilot Mooring Field Program will NOT result in severe anchorage time restrictions!

    July 31st, 2011
    Update on Florida’s Pilot Program
    Marathon, FL MPAC Meeting Held
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd
    Each month, Monroe County’s MPAC (Marine & Port Authority Committee) meets here in Marathon. The agenda often covers a variety of topics. The meeting of 27 July, last Wednesday evening, included the Pilot Program as part of the agenda. There were very few from the public in attendance, but that is not unusual. Most do not realize the MPAC meetings are open to the public. Before sharing what occurred, please note that the next meeting of the MPAC will be held on September 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the Monroe County Government Center, 27th & Overseas Highway, 2nd floor, on Bayside (just follow the road at 27th Street to the building).
    The general consensus of the Pilot Program’s impact on the Keys is quite reassuring to cruisers. It gives me great pleasure to report that the phrase “Less is more” was uttered often by Committee members in relation to the question of whether or not to enact City ordinances. There are very concerned committee members who are doing their best to do the right thing for this wonderful community. Boating is an integral part of what makes the city of Marathon attractive to tourism. Also on the agenda was a discussion about Marathon most likely becoming a Port-of-Entry. As Americans become free to travel to and from Cuba by air and sea; Marathon becoming a Port-of-Entry represents a boon to local tourism. We are a boater and cruiser friendly community.
    It was quite interesting to hear news shared by Committee members who attended a meeting held in Orlando of representatives of all five Pilot Program sites. The sites are: St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Stuart, and Monroe County. Those who reported back were in agreement that the other four sites are not taking the “Less is more” attitude towards anchoring in the waters of their respective cities as we here of Monroe County. Two of the sites have 10-day anchoring limits already being proposed as a solution to their problems.
    Time limits are out of the question as far as cruisers are concerned. Time limits are what cause cruisers to hurry. When one is under a time limit, many things have to be considered that shouldn’t be a concern. The first concern of any captain is vessel and crew safety as it pertains to weather windows and the seaworthiness and readiness of vessel and crew. This is what the right of navigation is all about and why it is upheld by Admiralty Law. Those who think they can pass such ordinances and not end up with a plethora of lawsuits are kidding themselves. One accident caused by being under the duress of having to hurry out of a city because of time limits will put an end to such nonsense.
    Those of you who want to cruise the waters of the sites that are not as considerate as the Keys, please take the time to attend all meetings that have the Pilot Program on their agendas. If you cannot attend, please write Boat US. Boat US speaks for the rights of America’s cruisers and recreational boaters–and there is power in numbers! It is not too late to get your voice heard before decisions that will negatively impact your right to anchor in these site areas are made into ordinance. Fortunately, Florida still has the Keys. Down here, life is looked at as free and easy. The people here are more laid back and steer away from the overdoses of governmental intrusions. Sure, we have some problems down here…but the laws on the books prior to the enactment of the Pilot Program are sufficient to address such. We need not go along with those who take the stance that prohibiting anchoring is the only course of action to solve issues in their waters. Safety should always be priority one. Anchoring time limits will impede the right of navigation and no doubt prove detrimental to the safety of cruisers.
    We cannot just sit and wait to see what transpires. Instead, we all must play an active role in making sure that the decisions made are ones that are in the best interest of we who navigate the waters. Pilot Programs have a way of becoming mainstream. Is that really what you want?
    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”
    http://www.SeptemberSea.com

    The ten day limits Charmaine tells us are proposed are exactly what many cruisers feared this pilot program would lead to.
    And Charmaine is right that these types of ordinances will lead to the type of grief that led Florida to enact 327.6. We need to immediately put a stop to this sort of thing from these municipalities.
    Cruiser action and involvement will be required for this to happen.
    Wally Moran

    Further to my previous post, I give seminars at several boat shows, including two here in Canada, on traveling south on the ICW. I generally speak to around 1000 cruisers each year in Canada and it is my intention to advise them that they should contact the various authorities in FL to convey their views on anchoring restrictions, and also to consider bypassing these communities should such restrictions be put in place. Hopefully, the threat of economic loss will put these politicians on notice that we will not accept their crap. We’ve fought them before and we can do so again.
    Wally Moran

    Hi Charmaine:
    Just a note to say Thank You very much for your reports and input to the cruising communitiy as well as your efforts on our behalf. Thank you for being close to the situation.
    Hopefully we will be able to get a chance to meet you and extend our thanks in person in the Keys this Winter. We will be at the Marathon Marina on Dec 1st for the Winter.
    You have a great website that I will be going back to enjoy what you have put up. Love the Sunset gallery.
    Fair Winds and safe Cruising
    Captains Helen & Bob
    lying Cocoa Village Marina, Cocoa, FL
    M/Y ALLEZ! MT50 WB

    Greetings, Helen and Bob! Thanks so very much for your kind words and appreciation. Looking forward to meeting you both in December!
    Hugs,
    Charmaine

    Anchoring restrictions that impede the safety of myself, my crew or vessel will be met with equal restrictions on the authorities travel, housing and safety. I cannot emphasize how strongly i feel the need to express my opinion that i took an oath to defend the constitution when i joined the service in 1974. Part of the constitution deals with maritime law. any officer,judge or other official who attempts to enforce a local ordinance contrary to the constitution and against me or my vessel or crew will be met with force since the supreme court has ruled that any law or ordinance in violation of the constitution is null and void. All the local authorities have to do is back off. I did not start this fight but i sure will be there to finish it
    Tim

    Submitted on 2011/08/21 at 4:41 pm

    I was surprised to learn from these reports that local ordinances are even in the picture – my superficial impression had been that the state law was enacted to provide one, uniform statewide law for both boaters and municipalities to comply with. Thanks, Charmaine for the clarification. If my understanding is correct, a “pilot program” is just the first step – ultimately the resulting legal framework will apply throughout the state once the “pilot” phase is complete. It’s not clear to me how each jurisdiction writing it’s own law not necessarily conforming to the state law is going to play our once the pilot phase is over.
    It is good to know the current Marathon powers that be are of the less is more variety, as in many places people get involved in government because they believe government is the solution to all our ills.
    A couple of years ago we were in the Virgin Islands where they have the same derelict boat issue. In “the lagoon” on the SE shore of St. Thomas there had been similar problems, and the authorities (federal I think, rather than local) came through a few years back with the litmus test that boats had to be able to get underway in 3 hours. Those that didn’t meet the standard were removed, I think using a one time grant from Uncle Sam. There were still a lot of boats there that many of us might consider derelict but at least it’s a way to define “navigable”. Our impression is the lagoon is where folks ended up that didn’t have enough money to make it to Coral Bay.
    Anyway, keep up the good work.
    Jim Kevern, S/V Ubiquitous

    Jim,
    Thank you for your well thought out and “spot on” comments. Many boaters and cruisers are totally confused because in the State of Florida we have the “liveaboard” and “non-liveaboard” definitions that cloud the issue as to whom will be affected by the Pilot Program. The Pilot Program opened the door for CRUISERS (boats that navigate are called “Non-liveaboards” whether or not one actually lives aboard). It is so true, this Pilot Program will run as a test for two years…but we know where that will lead. Cities all over Florida are installing mooring fields as I write this. The writing is on the wall.
    We must all speak up now, write to FWC and let them know we need options, not ordinances restricting our right to anchor outside of mooring fields. Some areas are talking about 2.5-nearly a 5 mile buffer zone around their mooring fields. Clearly, the Pilot Program overrides what the public demanded they wanted: FL Statute 327.60(2) to remain intact to protect our right to anchor outside mooring fields. The Pilot Program is the back door that many do not understand. B.A.R.R. (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights & Responsibilities) has been established earlier this month to dispel the myths and get the truth out so CRUISERS will know what is happening and make their voices heard. The FWC is listening, they will do what the PUBLIC wants. Perhaps once and for all, the municipalities and areas that have a documented history of enacting illegal anchoring ordinances will finally realize they must stop. They do not know where to draw the line and are not creative enough to address the problem issues with current existing laws — instead, they want to regulate ALL boats. We do not have to allow this to occur.
    Claiborne has been very kind to tout my new Group, B.A.R.R. (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights & Responsibilities) dedicated to protecting our anchoring rights and promoting responsible boating. I am proud to have him in my corner. I’ve been quite active with the Pilot Program since the beginning, and am also very proud that my efforts here in Monroe County are bringing an understanding to those in charge that less is indeed more! Whenever I speak at public meetings or in private with the powers that be, they all know I represent all of you here at SSECN as well.
    Please join B.A.R.R., as we have power in numbers. Spread the word! – I’m working hard on the website even today and will have more information up soon. We have a great Organization that is only a couple of weeks old but has nearly 500 members. In the meantime, please use the link at the BARR website to “Join Us at the BARR” on Facebook (called “Mariner’s Barr)! We have lots of documents there to help you keep your right to anchor. Many thanks!
    Hugs,
    Charmaine

  • Florida Keys Marine Port Advisory Meeting Announced – Considering Pilot Mooring Field Program Regulations

    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!!!

    Hi Claiborne,
    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.
    Charmaine

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    AGENDA
    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
    Kent Edwards
    Phil Goodman
    William Hunter
    Paul Koisch
    Pam Martin
    Richard Tanner
    Sandy Walters
    Pat Wells

    STAFF
    Richard Jones, Sr. Administrator

    CALL TO ORDER
    PUBLIC MEETING
    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
    6. Adjournement

    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.
    Hugs,
    Charmaine

    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.
    John Kettlewell

    John,
    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.
    Charmaine

  • An Overview of the Florida Anchoring/Pilot Mooring Field Program by Captain Jay Bliss

    Captain Bliss is a member of the St. Augustine, Florida Port Commission, and has been instrumental in protecting cruisers’ anchoring rights in St. Augustine. His well reasoned article below provides a good overview of this entire issue!

    Florida’s Anchoring Pilot Program is underway. Each of five sites gets to establish local ordinances, rules, for that particular site, enforceable until July 2014.
    For the cruiser heading South, it will mean abiding by local rules in St. Augustine City Limits; State rules then pertain until he reaches Martin County and the City of Stuart. Upon leaving Stuart/Martin county he’s back to State rules down through Ft. Lauderdale and Miami (or he traverses the Okeechobee to the West coast under Stuart/Martin rules), until he enters Monroe County at Key Largo, whereupon he’s under Monroe rules all the way to the Dry Tortugas. Over on the West Coast, cities St. Petersburg and Sarasota get to establish their own rules.
    The stated purpose of this abundance of rules is to encourage the establishment of additional public mooring fields and to promote the use of existing ones. If everyone uses a public mooring field the goals of the pilot program–protect environment, enhance safety, deter derelicts, etc.– are readily achieved.
    The big picture: mooring fields provide safety (we hope), sanitation, convenience, prime location. Their prime location comes from taking free anchoring sites, part of our Navigational Servitude and waters of the Public of the United States, and improving for paying patrons.
    Boaters with less (or no) ability to pay are ruled elsewhere. The present result is the exact opposite of the goals of the Pilot Program: anchoring sprawl that adversely affects maritime environment, leads to improperly stored boats, and invites chaos. In that them vs. us mode, we get enforcement efforts that can readily escalate the ill will.
    Mooring field permits, mooring field operations, should all be asked to account for the boats they displace. That account must provide for accommodation of the displaced.
    Cities, Counties, should not be asked to create further rules that wash elements of the boating into other jurisdictions. Governments must be required to absorb the less able, the less fortunate, into the mooring field system. There lies the challenge: incentive rules for free admission, reduced admission fees into PUBLIC mooring fields. The Anchoring Pilot Program needs a paradigm shift.
    Jay Bliss
    USCG Lic. Capt.
    St.Augustine Port Commissioner Seat 5

    Is it possible to get a list of the mooring fields in Florida?
    Fred Rogerson

  • Miami Herald Newspaper Article Describes “Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach”

    Those of you have been following along on the Cruisers’ Net for the last several weeks, know we were the first press organ to break the story about Captain Wally Moran’s “Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach.” For those of you who have not read this story previously, the very short, over simplified version is that a water cop approached Captain Wally’s anchored vessel in Miami Beach’s Sunset Lake, courteously acknowledged that he did not have the right to ask him to move, but allowed as to how a nearby influential property owner had called the station, and requested that the police ask the vessel’s owner to move. And, apparently, they did so.
    Anyway, the “Miami Herald” has just published a story that details some of the chain of events which led to this conundrum, and a review of the whole situation on “Sunset Lake.” All cruisers interested in the Florida Anchoring Rights issue will want to follow this link:

    https://mail.twcbc.com/do/mail/folder/view?l=en-US&v=ib

    This link for the Miami Herald story works better.
    [LINK NO LONGER AVAILABLE] http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/02/2298337/floodlights-and-tuna-fish-miami.html#storylink=misearch
    Jim Davis

    Click Here To Read the Original “Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach” article

    Click Here To Read the “Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach (Input Received After 6/10/11)” article

  • Why Florida Anchoring Regulations Hurt the Sunshine State Marine Industry (and More!)

    The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net received the note below, and we thought it so thoughtful, we have obtained the author’s permission to reprint it here, without attribution. This missive is typical of more and more that we are receiving, that imply some cruisers are simply not going to take their boats to Florida anymore, or at least keep them there a shorter time. And, that’s why so many of us are fighting so very hard to bring sense to the Florida anchoring and MSD issues.

    Claiborne,
    I have restrained myself mightily from getting too involved in the anchoring dialog on SSECN because I’m not on scene. But two things bode ill for the ultimate outcome. First, the public meetings have been scheduled for well after cruising migrations have removed most of the truly representative cruisers from the dialog. Second, when governments seek to end-run a prohibition they do so by making access so onerous as to drive people away in disgust. It is particularly disturbing to see a cruiser apparently abetting the process as in Sarasota.
    We lived in Florida for seven years (and may again, when day-sailing is all we do). What we learned while there was its margins are either backwaters ruled by Bubba Oligarchies, or Kitsch and Glitz ruled by Plutocracies. The backwaters are disappearing and plutocracy is dominating. The Miami dust-up is a good example. And, unfortunately, your contributor’s response to it may make him feel good, but it is wrecking goodwill in an area that was short of it to start with. [My Dad was a Sheriff’s Deputy.] We have already adjusted our cruising plans to seriously de-emphasize the Keys in favor of the Bahamas. For us Florida cruising now stops around Fort Pierce. The only serious interest in cruisers south and west of there is how to run them off or suck their wallets dry. All this discussion of mooring fields and buffer zones is a local tactic for coming up with ways to do both without violating Federal law.
    The Florida tourist culture is come here and spend more money per day than you would at home and then leave. That culture is the operating under-layer of the anchoring dialog. The ultimate injury Floridians feel is, those people at anchor are not spending money. Derelict boats and derelict liveaboards are clearly an issue. But aside from the people who want to enjoy their drugs in their waterfront backyards unobserved, it all comes down to money. One disgusted cruiser working as a part-time St. Augustine marina dockmaster told us the objective was to drive everyone into a marina, onto a mooring, or out of St. Augustine waters.
    Unfortunately, (even if one could be organized) a cruiser protest focused on hitting Florida service providers in the pocket book has no future. The state tax structure favors waterfront condos over marinas* and Florida chandleries make the lion’s share of the their money off local boaters. *[Yes, there were changes, but my discussions with marina, condo and marina-condo owners indicate the changes were wiped out by recession and after two years marinas discovered they were no better off. More and more marinas are condos themselves with the “Marina” being a disinterested collector of rents for the individual slip owners.] And don’t look for help soon from SSCA. The Concerned Cruisers Committee is now essentially defunct. The Florida Open Water Society has disappeared. And many other voices in the dialog have declared victory and moved on.
    Florida will win this one — and arguably they should, it’s their state. Florida is under no obligation to do anything other than respect Federal Law. And there are already plans in three jurisdictions to use Federal environmental bottom lands protection laws (as in the Keys) to prevent anchoring otherwise allowed by Federal navigation law.
    The forum you provide is an essential part of democracy, and I honor you for it, but cruisers (nomads) are easy to divide and conquer.
    Name Withheld by Request

    Very well said and I couldn’t agree more. The saddest part of all this is that I believe it is a small minority of well-connected business owners and local citizens that drive these onerous anchoring restrictions, while the silent majority that is not well connected doesn’t even know this is happening. Most people like to look out at boats at anchor. If nothing else it adds to the scenic beauty of the harbor. The nature of those that anchor is that they are transient and therefore have no political clout in the community, if they are even around when these laws are proposed. The good news is that there are still thousands of great places that welcome those who anchor and that is where we will go!
    John Kettlewell

    Alas, Name Withheld tells it as it is. The situation is compounded when FWC’s Pilot Program has a clear aim of helping municipalities fill their mooring fields. Freedom of choice–anchor or pick up a mooring$–will disappear. There are more freedoms granted to Winnebago landyachts than there are to Cruisers. The numbers of Cruisers economically affecting towns like StAugustine is insignificant compared to the influx of tourists driving in. We’re dollar driven.
    Jay Bliss

    With all due respect to the previous posters, and John’s remarks about transients: we transients CAN make a difference, provided we act. I’ve been in two anchoring battles now – Melbourne, and now, Miami Beach. The Melbourne battle was with the city proper, the MB issue is with a private citizen who is using the police to do his dirty work.
    Melbourne bailed on its three day anchoring ‘law’ when an article I wrote about the issue appeared in a Florida regional sailing magazine.
    In Miami Beach, City Hall has informed me that Karlton will get no further support from the police – and Claiborne, sorry but I haven’t had the opportunity to announce that to your readers as yet. I’ll send you the details in an email, plus a response to Mr. Mystery, whose father was a sherrif’s deputy.
    My dad was a cop. Cops hate having to break the law because someone with political clout gets a favor. Contrary to what Mr. Mystery says, the marine police will appreciate being out from under this guy’s thumb, so they can get on with their jobs.
    The point is – there are laws, and those we elect have an obligation to see that they are enforced – and not to attempt end runs around them in whatever manner they deem appropriate. That was Melbourne.
    And there are laws, and those we elect have an obligation to see that they are not enforced so as to favour those with money and/or political clout. That was Miami Beach.
    However – and this goes for both places – I was not the first and certainly not the only person to have issues over anchoring.
    In both places tho, it appears that I was the only person with the gumption to stand up on my feet and bark at the authorities.
    That’s typical. The reason politicians and others get away with the crap they do is because – now read this carefully – WE LET THEM.
    Shall I type that slower, or did everyone get it? We’re letting these people get away with this crap. It’s our fault.
    So the next person who wants to post his or her little whine here about how terrible the authorities are to us poor cruisers – you’d better be prepared to tell us – me – what YOU – ya, YOU – plan on doing about it.
    And, by the way, for those who don’t know me – I’m not even an American, I’m a Canuck. If I can win these fights here, in YOUR country, there’s no reason you, paying taxes and with the right to vote, can’t do the same thing.
    So don’t sit here and complain. Contact your senator, congresspuppy, local councilman/woman, get your concerns known and kick some butt.
    If you’re unhappy that these meetings are scheduled when cruisers are out of town, then complain. Make it clear, put it in writing, and get it to the local media. Copy Claiborne on it so others hear about it. Copy Boat US, and the NMMA. Each of them has a stake in the issue and will help you as they can.
    And when you’ve done all of that – then come on here and complain. At least you’ll have earned the right then.
    Wally Moran – no mystery about that.

    The . . . is right, if you give a damn, and contact the powers that be, the newspapers and, if you have to ,get a lawyer you can fight the bastards and win. I have done so and have been sucessfull, you can too. This whole thing is ours to win or lose. If you care, FIGHT.
    Pete

  • Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach (Input Received After 6/10/11)

    Claiborne…to follow is my correspondence with the Chief of MB police. It does not sound good….I’ll leave it to you to post.
    Wally

    Sent: Friday, June 10, 2011 3:31 PM
    To: Noriega, Carlos
    Cc: Reeder, Tricia
    Subject: anchoring issue, Fredric Karlton
    Good afternoon Sir – By now you have received correspondence from the mayor’s office via Rebecca Wakefield concerning my complaint to the Mayor regarding anchoring in Sunset Lake.
    I’d like to take this up directly with you at this point, but first I’d like to congratulate you on the superb comportment of your marine officers. All of us on board were quite impressed and I hope that you will pass on to them my thanks for their courtesy and professionalism.
    My concern at this point is that most cruisers such as myself are ‘conditioned’ to do as the police ask – especially when the request is as politely made as in this case. However, the situation should never even come up as I’m sure you’ll agree. Someone – and I suspect I wouldn’t want the job – is going to have to tell Mr. Karlton that the police will not be responding to his calls any longer, unless there is an actual issue at hand and not just his angst at finding a boat, of all things!, anchored behind his house.
    I also think it appropriate that Mr. Karlton be informed that his behaviour in playing loud rap music and shining a strong spotlight at night on boats anchored behind his home is not appropriate. That sort of behaviour might even be considered a threat by some and I wonder if Karlton shouldn’t perhaps be cautioned about it – but I absolutely defer to you in making that particular decision. Before you make it though, may I direct you to the Cruisers Forum page where a video showing just what Karlton was doing has been posted: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f106/bullying-on-the-waterway-sunset-lake-miami-61665-3.html
    Should you wish to speak to these people, I’ll provide you with their email address*. I’m quite certain that they’ll wish to share their concerns regarding Mr. Karlton and his behaviour with you, including his threat to park his boat immediately beside theirs the next morning.
    At this point, I’m still preparing to move ahead with the July 4th Anchor Fest, as we have no real assurance that this situation is resolved or that Karlton will change his behaviour, at least as far as involving the police is concerned. If we do go ahead, I’d like to speak with your marine people about how to best handle this from a safety viewpoint so as to minimize any negative impacts – well, other than on Mr. Karlton of course, but I honestly expect him to choose to be out of town that day. I’d like to make this as positive an event as possible if it goes ahead.
    Thank you for your time and concern, I’ll look forward to hearing from you. Again, my congratulations on a professional force, you can be proud of them. And I say that as the son of a career police officer.
    Wally Moran

    * since this letter was written and first sent, these people have indicated they would be happy to speak with you if you deem in necessary.

    Chief’s Response – Mr. Moran,
    Since you have suggested in other correspondence to the Mayor’s office that politicians and police superiors may be abusing their authority with this matter as conveyed with your following statements,
    My question here is this: are the politicians of Miami Beach, and the senior police officers giving the orders and who appear to leap at the politicians beck and call, so craven, so spineless, so hungry for political largesse that they will order their front line officers to break the law? Because that is exactly what happened here – with their request, these officers were violating our rights. They knew it, and clearly didn’t like being ordered to do it.
    It’s not like these officers didn’t have more important things to do, it was a busy weekend on the water. No, they were ordered to break the law, to go after us, to get us to move on, all because one man has money and the politicians of Miami Beach (who are in his pocket) don’t have the backbone or integrity to tell him that his money doesn’t buy him that privilege. Quite frankly, if I were a voter in Miami Beach, I’d be asking some very difficult questions of the mayor and the Chief of Police.
    For those who would like to ask those questions, Mayor Bower’s email is mayorbower@miamibeachfl.gov. The Chief’s email apparently isn’t publicly available.
    I want to make it clear that I find your statement completely irresponsible, slanderous and libel. Accordingly, I will not be responding to any future communication from you. Instead, you may refer your concerns to the Mayor’s Office, City Manager’s Office or our City Attorney’s Office. Also as you are probably aware, I have been contact by the Ethics Commission with regards to your complaint. I welcome any “… difficult questions” presented to me and so that the record is set straight my e-mail is publicly available (carlosnoriega@miamibeachfl.gov) on our City website. We will continue to monitor the activity related to this matter and will aggressively pursue any criminal behavior involved, including any threats that are or have been made.
    Carlos Noriega, Chief of Police
    Office of the Chief of Police
    MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT
    1100 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
    Office: 305.673.7776 Ext. 5315
    Fax: 305.673.7065
    E-Mail: carlosnoriega@miamibeachfl.gov

    My further reply to the Chief:

    Dear Mr. Noriega – my intent was not to aggravate you, and I’m sorry both that you are incensed at my remarks and that you feel disinclined to discuss this matter with me. I understand that it’s been a difficult week for you, given the events you’ve had to deal with. I’m sure you don’t need this on top of everything else.
    However, the facts of the matter are that your marine police have, on more than one occasion and subsequent to Karlton’s complaining, come out to ‘encourage’ boaters who are legally anchored in Miami Beach, to move. That is fact – it is NOT slanderous, libelous or irresponsible.
    In fact, what IS irresponsible in my opinion is the waste of police resources – manpower, time and equipment – that are used in pandering to Mr. Karlton’s personal problems with boaters engaging in a legal pastime. If I were a taxpayer in Miami Beach, I would most certainly have issues with all of that. I also have issues with the infringement on people’s rights to engage in a legal activity which is inclusive in what is happening here.
    You happen to be the boss. You set the tone, and if what I saw on Memorial Day weekend was representative, then you are doing a good job and your men reflect that. All I’ve tried to do here is to bring out a situation that needs attending to. I’m astonished by the hostility of your response to my concerns, which represent the concerns of the many other boaters who have stopped in Miami Beach and been confronted by Karlton. I would have thought your concern would be to resolve the situation, to make it clear that Karlton does not have special privileges with the MB Police. You haven’t said that.
    I don’t know just who dispatched your officers. If it was a desk officer or staffer responding to a call and there was no influence behind it, please just say so. I can accept that and admit that my assertions were in error. In fact, I’d be quite pleased to hear that, since it would be a far simpler situation to resolve. Instead, you’ve taken huge umbrage to my remarks and that leads me to wonder if, indeed, there isn’t some complicity, some pandering towards Karlton’s concerns. What I want to hear is that it isn’t MBPD policy to be at Karlton’s every whim when he’s upset over someone engaged in a legal practice. I want to hear that boaters don’t need to be concerned that they will have to deal with a police presence while engaged in doing something they have every right to do. That’s hardly a lot to ask, or so I would have thought.
    For your information, I have deliberately not posted my original email to you while awaiting your response, out of respect for your office. I had hoped that I would be able to report back to the hundreds of cruisers who are following this issue that the MB Police had assured me that we would no longer be ‘gently harassed’, as one of them put it, by the police. As I said, I have no criticisms of your men, who were most polite, but the fact is, what they are doing is still not right. They know it, I know it, and you know it.
    I note that you have not indicated that you wish to speak to the couple who were harassed by Mr. Karlton with loud music and a bright spotlight until well into the night in May, 2011. Is this how you intend to “monitor the activity”, as regards “threats that have been made”? They felt threatened by Karlton’s actions, and have said as much to me. Do you plan to respond to that?
    Since you have indicated that you have no intention of communicating with me, I will forward this correspondence – and yours – to those you have suggested, along with my remarks on your response. I am sorry that you have not chosen to deal with this more amicably. It was never my intent to cause disagreement here and most certainly not with you.
    Sincerely,
    W. Moran
    p.s. my remark about your email was based on the consideration that a Chief’s email just might not be public, given that there are people who would abuse it. I simply didn’t see it online anywhere. There was no slight intended.

    As a “native” (born in Miami) I am ashamed of the conduct reported in this situation. I will avoid doing any business in the lower half of my old home state. My friends in North Carolina seen to appreciate my business!
    Reginald Holden

    Wally: I don’t know if it would be convenient for you, but I would suggest requesting a meeting to discuss this with the chief. Oftentimes it is difficult to accurately interpret the tone and demeanor of someone via email and letters. At that meeting you might be able to hand directly to the chief copies of the Florida statutes that are applicable to anchoring in that location. Unfortunately, I find that law enforcement–even marine law enforcement–rarely has a good comprehension of applicable boating laws, which leads to this sort of problem. Good luck!
    John Kettlewell

    I second John’s suggestion. I doubt you’ll get a face to face with Chief Noriega though. He suggested in his reply that he took great offense to Wally’s implication that someone is giving special consideration to Mr. Karlton’s complaint especially since Wally suggested it might be politically motivated.
    Chief Noriega should be more thick skinned than that or perhaps Wally’s suggestion is correct. Chief Noriega’s response was so defensive it makes one wonder. Especially since he no longer wants to communicate with Wally at all.
    Tim Pittman

    And, here’s a note from Captain Wally received 6/24/11, describing the latest developments in this ever unfolding saga.

    The city of Miami Beach agrees that cruisers choosing to anchor in Sunset Lake have a right to do so without being harassed by either local citizens and/or the police. They have expressed their concerns over the issue of cruisers being asked, improperly, to move by the police and it is being looked into. Karlton has been spoken to by the City over his behaviour with loud music and spotlights and it could well lead to his being charged in the future. The city has asked that, should Karlton continue to be disruptive, that cruisers take photos and video and contact City Hall with them.
    Wally Moran

    I’m also not rich, I make 30k a year. I don’t own a big mansion and I don’t live in Florida. But I am on the homeowner’s side. It’s obvious boaters are a problem for him. Reading the article I saw he has had several things stolen from his property. You may think it is just YOU, but to him it is over 300 of you per year, averaging just under 1 boater per day/night. A lot more in the high season. I live in a neighborhood where people park to block my driveway almost every day. It is my house and I pay for the right to my driveway and my yard. They destroy that. Think about this, for you it is one or two days, for this owner it is EVERY day. Leave him alone, you (as a group) are in the wrong.
    James

    I hope those boats all have anchor lights showing all night long as that is not a special anchorage area, and even though they are small it could be argued that it is an area where traffic is likely and therefore lights must be shown. Someone should notify the Coast Guard about that.
    John Kettlewell

  • New Idea for “Anchoring Permits” Proposed in Regards to the Sarasota, Florida Pilot Mooring Field Project

    Captain Ken DeLacy is a fellow live-aboard cruiser who has been working very had for several years in concert with other Sarasota boaters to bring about sensible mooring field/anchorage regulations which both preserve the rights of cruisers to anchor, yet address the problem of derelicts and “live aboard hulks.” In our collective opinion, his idea, outlined below, for Sarasota “Anchoring Permits” goes a long way towards solving these twin concerns. In a nutshell, as you will read, there is no time limit set for anchoring in Sarasota waters, as long as the vessel in question can pass a simple USCG Safety Inspection. This one simple act, will quickly cut out the derelicts and “live aboard hulks.”
    We believe this is an idea WELL WORTHY OF CAREFUL CONSIDERATION!

    Cruising News:
    Being a resident in Sarasota, one of the Pilot Program sites, and a concerned cruiser I made the drive down to Key Largo last Tuesday to attend the Public Workshop meeting. While I noticed about 40 cruisers in attendence only about 5 spoke. I did pitch the idea of Anchroing Permits as an alternitive to buffer zones and time limits to sort of test the waters. Some positive feed back was received by 2 cruisers, 1 condo resident who previously spoke supporting more mooring fields, and the FWC. We are looking for further thoughts on the idea and so I thought I’d paste it below.
    Thanks for any input and a special thank you to Claiborne and this network.
    Ken DeLacy

    Sarasota Anchoring Permit – draft 2
    The City of Sarasota will issue 90 day and Annual anchoring permits to all vessel owners who meet the following requirements. (90 day for cruisers and Annual Permits for cruisers/locals)
    1. a. Vessel shall obtain a USCG Aux. Vessel Safety Check (VSC) and receive either a “Yes” or “N/A” in order to receive the VSC decal. (Inspects Marine Sanitation Device, life jackets, fire extinguishers, navigation lights, etc.)
    b. Vessel shall also be required to receive a “Yes” for Items I – VI under “Recommended and Discussion Items” of the VSC. (Inspects anchors and line, bilge pump, marine radio, 1st aide kit, etc.)
    c. Vessel shall be required to navigate under it’s own power to a USCG facility, or other location which still demonstrates vessel’s ability to navigate, for VSC inspection. (USCG Aux. has assured willingness and ability to perform inspections at their dock at Centennial Park. They are volunteers – no cost to City.)
    d. Vessel shall display an up to date decal at all times. (Issued by USCG Aux. upon a passing inspection)
    2. All anchoring permit holders will be required to use pump-out services. (The VSC will require a functioning Marine Sanitation Device. The City pump-out boat which is currently servicing anchored vessels will report non compliant vessels to Marine Police.)
    3. Annual anchoring permit holders will be required to have a licensed diver inspect their anchoring system once their boat is anchored. The permit holder will be responsible for all these associated costs, and the diver must check off the following requirements. (Keeps costs away from City and placed upon the Anchoring Permit holder.)
    a. Vessel in location not adversely effecting seagrass, navigation, or another anchored vessel.
    b. Appropriate type and size line / chain used with no obvious defects.
    c. Appropriate amount of scope deployed.
    d. Anti chafe gear in place and in good condition.
    e. (1). Two anchor system set approx. 180 degrees apart. (2). Three anchor system set approx. 120 degrees part. (3). Four anchor system set approx. 90 degrees apart. (4). One anchor system not permitted.
    4. Applicant responsible for presenting VSC and Diver Inspection to Marine Police in order to receive the Anchoring Permit. Failure to do so within 30 days of arrival may result in violation of City Ordinance 07-4711(x)(x)(x).

    Shouldn’t short-term anchoring be permitted for at least a week without requiring a permit? Or will adequate moorings be available for rent? Last I heard, work had been stopped on expanding the very small mooring field.
    Will White

    The mistake I see in all of this is buying into their argument that a problem exists. The Sarasota proposal does that on steroids.
    bosunj

    What isn’t clear is what does this mean to someone who might want to anchor for a week. To go through all this rigamarole and expense for a short stay is a non-starter for us. The rules for clearing in and out of Cuba are simpler.
    Chris

    This could be the way to go as it will help with the derelict vessel problem but needs a little tweaking. the diver inspection would be a problem because if no diver corps have the right permitting they just will not offer the services which will make all the rest obsolete. there should be no third party involved but city and state otherwise there will be price gouging and corruption and we have all had enough of that
    Dave C.

    Terrible idea! You might as well just outlaw anchoring. Why should those who wish to anchor have to submit to this sort of drastic limit on their freedom? I for one consider having to fill out forms and taking tests to be totally against the spirit, and for that matter, established law of anchoring. It would absolutely guarantee I won’t visit Sarasota by water. I wouldn’t want to waste the time and money. This is a very slippery slope. Once one town gets a law like this on the books, the others with mooring fields will institute similar laws, but with different requirements. Before long we will have to register and submit forms, and of course pay fees to administer and enforce all this, to anchor anywhere. Other problems: a USCG auxiliary inspection requires equipment above what is required by law–unenforceable, and I suspect someone could have the ticket thrown out of court for this reason. Many of us don’t use holding tanks and don’t require pumpouts–I have a composting system. Having a licensed diver inspect your anchor = $$. Having someone else determine how I should be anchored is something I will not submit to. I have anchored thousands of times and I know how to anchor. This is obviously just a way to make it so much hassle that it will drive the anchorers away.
    John Kettlewell

    You HAVE to be kidding! We just spent 10 days anchored off Island Park in Sarasota. The bum boats are mostly gone already, lots of anchoring room, police towed two remaining abandoned boats away while we were there. We really enjoyed our stay, spent lots of money in their stores downtown, restaurants, etc. If this “anchoring permit” idea goes into effect we will NEVER again stop in Sarasota!!!
    I would not be willing to waste my time going into an inspection station even though my vessel meets all of the requirements just so I could anchor for a short time in Sarasota. This “anchor permit” will deter all cruisers who just want to spend a few days enjoying Sarasota from ever stopping there again. BAD idea, might as well just ban all anchoring in Sarasota waters. I would rather deal with a time limit (even a short one) than to submit to all this bureaucratic nonsense!!
    Larry Sherman

    Cruisers who want to anchor for less than 90 days don’t and shouldn’t need a permit to limit their freedom to do so.
    Non-cruisers, local residents or NOT, who want to STORE their boats at anchor for more than 90 days should be subject to oversight to protect the other cruisers using adjacent waterways from becoming victims of their neglect. An anchoring permit is a reasonable solution if you cannot STORE your boat on land.
    If the permit is a device to get derilect boats removed from sight, it will fail because you can comply with all the requirements of the permit and still have an unsightly boat.
    David Burnham

    Not sure why a two anchor system is preferred over a single good anchor. Two anchors will lead to different swing patterns and will not increase holding as the weakest link in the chain is still the worst anchor. For the transient cruiser it is a major hassle to deal with the “multi’ anchor folks.
    Stop increasing regulations and start enforcing the existing rules. Most derelicts do not have current registration or sanitation devices. Enough to violate existing regulations.
    S/V Endeavor

    I personally think USCG Aux. Vessel Safety Checks are a great idea, and we do one every year as a routine, ongoing safety program. I can support that idea in principle, and I ass/u/me it would also include the equivalent check from the US Power Squadron. One issues is that the stickers are based on a calendar year and expire in December. There needs to be a grace period recognizing that the program is an annual calendar-based program.
    I also agree with the idea that there needs to be a short term exclusion. It *is not* reasonable to require a permit for short stays; perhaps less than 14 days.
    One poster does raise an interesting point. What happens if one anchors in violation of a permit? Penalty? Fine? I wonder if a permit violation based on requirements that exceed state law and CG regulations would be enforceable? That criteria would just waste everyone’s time and energy, generate enormous dissatisfaction and resentment, and seems like it would be contrary to the spirit test.
    Finally, I agree that any ordinance needs to have a clearly defined statement of purpose and objective. If Sarasota’s is about derelict boats and derelict boats are not a problem, then there should be no ordinance.
    Jim Healy, aboard Sanctuary
    Monk 36 hull 132

    Not sure why a two anchor system is preferred over a single good anchor. Two anchors will lead to different swing patterns and will not increase holding as the weakest link in the chain is still the worst anchor. For the transient cruiser it is a major hassle to deal with the “multi’ anchor folks.
    Stop increasing regulations and start enforcing the existing rules. Most derelicts do not have current registration or sanitation devices. Enough to violate existing regulations.
    S/V Endeavor

    I too do not agree with over regulation. Particulerly when one of the city of Sarasotas complaints is the cost of enforcing current laws. However Ken’s proposal is much more cruiser frindly then plans that state no longer then 72 hours on anchor in city waters. That require the use of the proposed Marina Jacks managed mooring field after 72 hours. The city has been chosen as a state pilot program site. There will be regulations put in place. I would perfer the people pushing the mooring field not write them. To add to all of this the city claims that after there last mooring field failure. They are to invested to permenently abandon the plan. At the same time they will not rent showers, laundry facilitys, WiFi, or parking passes to cruisers or resident boat owners. Opening these services to boaters (not on Marina Jack’s docks) who can prove they have a safe navigable vessel. Could recover there loss with out adding to there debt. Aswell as bringing in more of the cruisers who would pay for those on shore luxuries. On the anchoring topic I do not care how you anchor. Just dont hit me and dont swing in that horried 200 ft 1 anchor ark. However when you pull up a ball of lovely Sarasota bay muck. Dont cry when you hit the beach or worse yet me.
    Bryan Makepeace
    S/V Albatross

  • Pilot Program Stakeholder Workshops held in the Florida Keys Summary (June, 2011)

    As many of you who have been following the anchoring issues surrounding the new Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program already know, Monroe County, which includes all of the Florida Keys, is one of the pilot sites that has been selected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC). As reported earlier here on the Cruisers’ Net, a series of three public forums were held in mid-June (2011), to allow public input into any anchorage regulations that might be established in the Florida Keys associated with the Pilot Mooring Field Program.
    Our very special Florida Keys Correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, has spearheaded representation and reporting by the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net for these three sessions. Her detailed and very insightful account of these proceedings is found below. Captain Charmaine’s article makes for “can’t miss” reading!!

    June 10, 2011

    Pilot Program Stakeholder Workshops held in the Florida Keys: Summary
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    Key Largo, held June 7th.

    Key Largo has a very small mooring field. The complaints were from a few homeowners who are being “harassed” by a small group of liveaboards (vessels that do not navigate the waters yet are inhabited) who have been moored in the same area for many years. Apparently, these undesirables have a long history of anti-social behavior and an equally long history of criminal activity and arrests. One individual has reportedly been arrested 17 times. Local law enforcement is very familiar with this small group of unsavory people. The FWC reiterated there are laws already in place to deal with such situations. This shows me that the Pilot Program in the Keys will not be swayed to be used as a tool for a few homeowners to rid waters of whom they rightfully or erroneously perceive to be “visual intrusions” or “unsavory characters.” With that said, the fact does remain that there are indeed such entities which do need addressing; but enacting ordinances restricting anchoring will unfairly impact the freedoms of all remaining responsible boaters in the process. That concept is simply unacceptable. For the most part, no one in Key Largo wanted ordinances prohibiting anchoring except a very small few who really want to get rid of what amounts to a personal problem between themselves and a particular group of liveaboards. That is not the purpose of the Pilot Program.

    Marathon, held June 8th.

    Following a slideshow presentation outlining the objectives of the pilot program and illustrating derelict boats, abandoned boats, and illegal moorings throughout the Keys, the floor was then opened to those who filled out comment cards and wished to speak. My name was called, so I was the first to speak. My focus was to be diplomatic and let them know the Pilot Program can be beneficial as long as it does not infringe on the rights of cruisers to anchor: which is the biggest concern of the SSECN cruisers as well as others I stood there to represent. I talked about Tourism dollars and its value in the Keys and how mainland Florida has a black cloud over it with its long list of documented incidences of officials unlawfully telling those wishing to anchor to move on or get their boats impounded. Then I emphasized the lack of trust in the Pilot Program and whether or not it will benefit a few while hindering the rights of the majority since the Pilot Program is exempt from adhering to the very FL Statute (327.60(2)) which protects a cruisers right to anchor. That is what troubles MOST.

    Just because The Pilot Program allows local jurisdictions to enact anchoring ordinances, are they really necessary to fufil the objectives of the pilot program (derelict, abandoned, illegally moored vessels)? Of course not! If we allow the initiation of one anchoring ordinance then there will be more to follow. This is what is most troubling of all. There must be a better way. I then brought up the possibility of promoting the mooring fields and deterring anchoring of unskilled boaters by the idea of having those who anchor have liability insurance. This way anchored boats that cause damage would be responsible to reimburse loss incurred by others whether on land or water. Perhaps it would give pause to some who think anchoring is not a big deal. Later, I mentioned that perhaps lowering the short-term rates of the mooring fields so short-timers who come here to anchor would view the option more economically reasonable on their cruising budgets. The scale for payment is basically $21/day but half that if you stay for a month. Moorings down here in the Keys are expensive. $300/month (when including water and taxes) is more than many on the mainland pay for slips!

    Rich Jones, member of the Near Shore Waters Advisory Committee, was seated at the presiding table with others from the Port Authority and City Council, seemed quite sincerely interested in these types of ideas and asked if we at SSECN would consider some type of proposed ideas to submit to the Marathon Commission. Of course I said “We’d love to!” This is why I am asking for reader input. Tell we here at SSECN what you think and what your ideas are.

    There is still quite a bit of confusion as to how the Pilot Program shall proceed: Chairman of the meeting, City of Marathon Councilmember Pete Worthington asked for clarification: “Are we to have one ordinance for all in the Pilot Program?” A valid question, because the slide program did make reference to being under a “single ordinance.” But that has an entirely different meaning, apparently as the response of Captain Tom Shipp, FWC, (quoting from my memory so it is not verbatim), “No. Each area of the Pilot Program will do things differently. But the final decision is from the people who let their local Commission know their wants. It is you (pointing at the crowd) who makes the decisions. Or perhaps you all will decide to do nothing at all.” [Make no changes and keep things the way they are]. Well the applause showed that many here in Marathon think we don’t have any huge problems like Key Largo or Key West and bigger problems to resolve in our community than that of derelict vessels.

    Many got up (all were boaters, not one homeowner voiced opposition or complaints) and voiced their concerns about some very valid subjects both during the meeting and during the Q&A session that followed. Some of the concerns from the public: ~Why is there not someone from the cruising or living aboard community involved in the ordinance proposal process?~ A derelict vessel did not begin as a derelict vessel, it once was a new boat. There will always be boats that become derelict. The thing of importance is to find a way to facilitate disposal in an economic fashion.~ When one of the Commission panel asked “Why do people anchor rather than take a mooring?” She became enlightened in many ways with responses such as: ~How would anyone feel if their home mortgage doubled, could you pay in this economy; someone who anchors and pays the City Marina for facilities pays half of what a mooring ball costs but still complies in every way with laws. ~ Many are living on fixed incomes and retired, where does the money come for them to have to move to a mooring ball?~ And the one I loved most had nothing to do with economics but that it is a dream to live aboard one’s vessel and have the freedom to traverse the waters. For many, it’s a lifestyle choice. Anchoring affords one more privacy and the feeling of freedom.

    No one here in Marathon wants to be forced onto a mooring and they don’t want anchoring ordinances at all. City of Marathon Marina and Ports Manager Richard Tanner went on the record and emphatically stated he would never get rid of anchorage in Boot Key Harbor nor would be ever be a party to anything that forces cruisers or liveaboards to take a mooring ball rather than anchor. This was HUGE for him to come out and say those words right there front and center for all to hear and see. It was a very proud moment for this writer, that’s for sure! Richard Tanner is a former liveaboard cruiser who loves this lifestyle and has enjoyed cruising the waters of the Keys and the Bahamas. He “Gets It.” He truly believes we can deal with derelict boats in some manner and not disrupt the lifestyle of those who live, sail, enjoy and respect the waters here. Tanner has done a remarkable job cleaning up Boot Key Harbor and improving the City’s Marina facilities and it shows!

    We want to uphold the rights of cruisers and other responsible boaters who live aboard their vessels and are a part of the community to be able to anchor here. The focus again is on derelict and abandoned boats, illegal moorings, as well as promoting the use of mooring fields. The vast majority of those in the Keys are not the forceful type and appreciate the freedom offered by the cruising lifestyle. I truly believe that cruisers and responsible boaters of all types will continue to have the freedom to anchor in the Keys…but we can ensure that by letting the Commissions know what we want. They will draw up proposed ordinances. At the end of the meeting, Rich Jones of the Near Shore Waters Advisory Committee said nothing would be drawn up at this point and the next meeting to be scheduled he would email anyone who wished to attend. Sure enough, a sheet of paper for email addresses was on the table by the exit as we dispersed. This writer is impressed with the people from the City of Marathon who sit on that panel. They do care. They have concerns and there were issues mentioned by those in attendance of which I am sure they had not considered. But there is no doubt in my mind they are listening and they wish to be fair. That includes those representing the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Both their representatives (Captain Tom Shipp and Officer Dupree) were attentive, knowledgeable, and informative. They do care! Officer Dupree mentioned the possibility of an Amnesty Program for those with boats they no longer want. If brought to the attention of the FWC they may help dispose of the vessel as long as the person has proof of ownership. Encouraging!

    Key West, held June 9th.

    The mooring field of Key West is the least desirable of all. Key Largo has a very small mooring field but it does offer some protection from wind and fetch. However, Key West is open to the north and the nor’easters. It is not a safe mooring field as far as being sheltered from bad weather. In that regard, I cannot imagine one being forced to use it, nor can I see those in Key West opting to enlarge it. It doesn’t get much use now and I don’t see that changing.

    The Pilot Program states its objectives to clean up illegal moorings (mostly a problem in the Boca Chica and Key West area), promote the use of the mooring fields, etc., but in my mind the biggest gain of the Pilot Program is that it allows them to regulate anchoring as a means to rid our Harbors of the undesirables and their derelict vessels. Those same derelict vessels become abandoned vessels when they lose their lives to their unhealthy lifestyle or finally move along…but then the vessel sits for someone else to come along and claim it. Much like human hermit crabs. But why should their problems impact those who are doing the right thing and are not part of the problem? It is understandable that the homeowners of Key West have a much larger problem as more derelicts are brought there every time Jimmy Buffet sings the irresponsible dream of “wasting away in Margaritaville.” Some take it to heart: we call it “Keys Disease.”

    I have not heard back from anyone who attended the meeting in Key West, but believe we all can understand the problems there and that the solutions need not extend and infringe upon law-abiding citizens and cruisers who travel there. In all the Keys, Marathon is actually what is seen as “the model.” We are in much better shape with regard to the problems seen in Key Largo and Key West. But understandably so…ask anyone in the midwest about Key Largo or Key West and they recognize it…but few have ever heard of Marathon! Though we were mentioned in the movie “Red Dragon,” few knew Marathon, FL is in the heart of the Florida Keys.

    Conclusion:

    But if not enough thought is put into finding a solution to the problems, the easiest remedy will no doubt be to restrict anchoring by everyone under some ordinance.
    We are not children and this is not kindergarten where a few children behaving badly cost the entire class their daily enjoyment of recess on the playground! We need to find a way to handle derelict vessels in the boating community.

    There are public health issues aboard these derelict vessels. It is probably at its worse in Key West and Boca Chica. Why not use the same methods we use on land to deal with these issues? Those found living in squalor and in houses that are falling apart can be dealt with on land…so why not on the water as well? Perhaps a minimum standard of living conditions can be broadened to encompass whether or not a boat is legally inhabitable. Just as a property on land can be condemned, why not a boat? Boats which are not taken care of leak. Leaks bring mold. Mold is unhealthy. Captain Marti Brown spoke at the Marathon meeting and brought up some great points about understanding those living in such an unhealthy manner. She had lived aboard her vessel for years and recently purchased a home on land so she is no longer a cruiser. However, as a professional in the nursing industry, she told of the conditions of squalor she has seen first hand on land during her times serving as a visiting home nurse. She knows first hand what the economic crisis has done to people both on land and on the water. Key West and the Keys in general is ripe for those under economic duress to flock here. We need viable solutions to the ever growing problem of derelict boats inhabited by people who are not stable and have given up on being responsible to themselves and others. When one doesn’t care about their own welfare, they often have also long given up worrying about abiding by local laws. They are at the end of their rope. Anchoring ordinances will not solve this problem.

    In the Keys, none of the panels overseeing these meetings wants to be unfair to cruisers. This is a big relief to those of us in the Keys and to those who want to cruise to the Keys, as we realize there are no other waters like the Keys in the United States. But often times the powers that be will take the easiest and fastest course of action as a means to an end, even if that steps on the rights of the law-abiding majority. That is the problem we face and in this writer’s assessment, why we have the Pilot Program and why we must keep it from unnecessarily overreaching. This is why YOUR voices and written word have to be heard and read by those who will draw up ordinances based on your input.

    I believe the officials here in the Keys “Get It.” And that’s a wonderful thing. In the meantime, remember this is just Monroe County. We in the Keys are further off the grid and are much more laid back as most of the Caribbean. Those of you who want to anchor around the Florida mainland had better get your voices or written word out there. That is where there is truly serious jeopardy to cruisers and their rights to anchor–as the Pilot Program is exempt from the very FL Statute which protects a cruisers right to anchor without being subject to ordinances outside of mooring fields. Like Sarasota! You may wake up to find zero anchoring in Sarasota one day. Stuart, Florida was named the other night as the last of the five sites. My hope is that the Keys be a model of how the Pilot Program can work to help smooth out the problem areas and leave cruisers out of the loop of anchoring regulation by not enacting unnecessary ordinances.

    We just have to keep the Pilot Program from overreaching and being manipulated by the self-serving few to the detriment of the majority. Please share your comments. If you write here at SSECN, Claiborne will be happy to forward your comments on your behalf. Please include your full name and city. You need not be a Floridian to have a say about waters put in the hands of the Public Trust for all of America and the world to “sea.”

    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”
    http://www.SeptemberSea.com

    Good reporting job Charmaine. As you said, having boaters involved in the proposal process will make us all feel better, but in how many places must this be done?
    I picked up the following from http://myfwc.com/boating/anchoring-mooring/pilot-program/
    “[FWC shal] Coordinate the review of any proposed ordinance with the department; the United States Coast Guard; the Florida Inland Navigation District or the West Coast Inland Navigation District, as appropriate; and associations or other organizations representing vessel owners or operators.”
    That seems like another key safeguard. FWC must approve and FWC must include boater organizations in the review. What organization though? Cruisersnet.net just doesn’t qualify as an organization. How about SSCA? ssca.org They have a good record on lobbying, a big membership and a big membership.
    Dick Mills

    Thank you so much for your comments, as this is what we need. In response to Dick Mills’ question: The organizations will most likely be Boat US, NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association), SSCA and similar groups. The same ones that sold us all out when we had the momentum and no Pilot Program. Instead of listening to what the public overwhelming wanted, these Groups “compromised” supposedly on our behalf. This is not what we want to see happen again. We all need to write these organizations as well. I will try to find out exactly which organizations to which FWC refers. It should not be the organizations but what the PUBLIC wants that matters. Organizations do not always act in our best interest, as politics tend to play a big part at our expense. There were a number of resignations from some of these boater advocacy groups over this very issue. Some saw that they were not acting in the best interest of boaters but caving in to politics.
    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”
    http://www.SeptemberSea.com

    I was at the meeting in Marathon and they did not seem to be able to tell us where they were going with this ordinance. This bothers me too. i put the Monroe County website on other cruising forums and urged others to email them. They should not hold these workshops in the summer when most cruisers are not in the area. The cruising community is lucky to have Charmaine as she speaks so well for us
    Dave C.

    In response to Dave C.: Thank you for your most kind comment, it is appreciated. At this point, no ordinances are being drawn up in Marathon, but they want our input. There will be followup meetings to discuss possibilities. A sheet of paper was provided for email addresses so that we could be alerted as to when the followup meetings would be held. If you wish to be added to that list, I would recommend contacting Rich Jones of the Near Shore Waters Committee via the City of Marathon website. What I would love is an online forum for public input. Most cruisers are not here in the summer and will not be able to attend these most important meetings. An online forum would be ideal. I will pass that notion on to Rich Jones. Again, many thanks Dave. Don’t give up on this and think it is a done deal. I truly believe Marathon wants to do the right thing. We have to do our part to help guide this in the right direction that is fair to all.
    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”
    http://www.SeptemberSea.com

    Thank you for the coverage of the Pilot Program Stakeholder workshops. My husband Scott and I have completed two America’s Great Circle Loops and now cruise southern waters in the winter, so we truly do have a stake in what occurs. I agree with Charmaine’s assessment that Boot Key Harbor as adminsitrated by the City of Marathon sets the quality standard for mooring fields in the Keys and anywhere else in Florida, for that matter. On the mainland, Fort Myers Beach also does a very nice job. Having stayed for prolonged periods of time anchored and on a ball in Marathon as well as trying out the balls during the nasty winter of 2010 in Key West, I support the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” theory and am deeply appreciative of Richard Tanner and staff. FYI for anyone seeking background info on the mooring fields: In Feb. and March 2011, my articles on Key West and Marathon mooring fields appeared in Southwinds magazine http://www.southwindsmagazine.com
    In Winter/Spring 2012, I will be focusing on mooring field info in Fort Myers Beach and Naples – and we also hope to pay a visit to Key Largo. See you on the water and in the meantime, please keep the updates coming!
    Cyndi Perkins

    Thanks Charmaine for a great report and for representing the cruising community. I personally prefer to anchor out for many reasons. I do not think a requirement for liability insurance is a good idea because it inevitably means that someone would have to register to anchor, filling out forms, etc. Someone would have to administer the paperwork. That someone would have to be paid. So, there would have to be a fee. And then of course someone else would have to enforce this regulation, meaning more intrusion and more fees. That is exactly the type of stuff those of us who anchor want to get away from. Frankly, for me, having to register to anchor someplace is just as effective at making me go someplace else as is forcing me to pick up a mooring. One point I would have made at the meetings is that the perception that anchoring is somehow only done by lowlifes is ridiculous. My 38-footer carries anchoring gear worth more than $4000. I don’t drag all that stuff around just for kicks–I know and trust my gear, and I prefer to use my own gear. I have personally witnessed the failure of many commercial moorings. They get abused. I don’t trust them, and obviously those that install them don’t want any liability if something goes wrong because they make you sign a waiver for the privilege of using their equipment, even though you must pay to do so. I’ve already paid for my $4000 worth of anchoring gear, thank you.
    John Kettlewell

    John:
    I agree with you. My idea of the possibility of requiring liability insurance for those who anchor was proposed as a means to an end of addressing the problem of costs associated with boats causing damage to the property of others (especially land and homeowners). This is one of the main complaints: cleanup and disposal costs of boats abandoned after storms/hurricanes. Liability insurance would address that; however, in reality, the procedural costs of implementing and enforcing such an ordinance has its issues as well.
    Moorings are not infallible because people make mistakes. I have seen firsthand many a boat break free from their mooring due to the inexperience of the person using the mooring and not protecting rode from chafe. I have also seen mooring failures. I agree with you again.
    The bottom line here is to put forth ideas that are reasonable compared to the unreasonable idea of replacing anchorages with mooring fields as a solution to problem issues. Boats which do not navigate Florida waters (we all know which ones they are) can already be subject to local ordinances. My goal is to get the powers that be to use laws already on the books to address only those real problems (derelict and abandoned boats) and not include any restrictions whatsoever on cruisers (boats that navigate). Our freedom is at stake here–as you say, the Spirit of Cruising is in jeopardy.
    Therefore, bouncing any and all ideas out here for all to think about and add their input may very well be what is necessary for all to see the fact that we don’t have to ruin the spirit and freedom of cruising to address the real problems and issues of derelict and abandoned vessels. Overreaching is not necessary. As we bring up ideas and then illustrate the impracticality of each one…we get one step closer to retaining our freedom, because the alternatives are neither reasonable or necessary to ensure the success of the objectives of the Pilot Program.
    There is no reason to inconvenience or make law-abiding, responsible boaters feel unwelcome in Florida waters. Unnecessary rules and regulations will do just that. It is not what any of us want.
    Many thanks for your input, John. You are a valuable asset to the cruising community. This type of feedback is exactly what we need (I mean that for everyone who is participating). Keep it coming, people. When we stand together we can do anything.
    Charmaine

    Keep writing your protests to boating organizations and directly to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC). There is power in numbers. We do not have to let anchoring restrictions become a reality. Even though this is a Pilot Program and the aim is to explore different options and compare them, the entire Program could be scrapped in the end. Florida does not want to be known as the “Unfriendly Boating/Cruiser State.”
    So let your voice be heard. Let the respective Pilot Program Commissions know that freedom on the water is imperative for ensuring optimal safety of crew and vessels in navigation. It also retains the true beauty of traveling by water: the last of the great freedoms in this country.
    We cannot complain later about what may ultimately impact our rights to anchor if we do not speak up against it now. It is not a done deal just yet!
    Hugs,
    Charmaine

  • Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach

    Captain Wally Moran, author of the “open letter” below, sent to the mayor of Miami Beach, is a reporter and writer for “Sail” magazine. Thanks to Captain Moran for sharing this very interesting, if a bit lengthy, note with the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net.
    After reading Wally’s missive below, you may want to refer to my earlier anchoring editorial, “Whence Come the Anchorage Regulations” (http://www.CruisersNet.net/florida-anchoring-editorial-1-whence-come-the-anchorage-regulations). In particular, check out my “#2” reason behind such regulations.

    An open letter to Miami Beach Mayor Bower:
    I know that running for office can be expensive, and that politicians often seek financing from those with the money to contribute, but at what price to the politician? And just what is the price to the people represented by that politician?
    The balance of this letter, Mayor Bower, is intended to put the onus on you to stop the abuse of rights in Miami Beach that wealthy political contributors think they have purchased when they finance a politician’s campaign, not only in the specific circumstances outlined in my letter.
    My sailing students and I had only just anchored at Sunset Lake in Miami Beach, behind the house at 2344 N. Bay Road, when the police boat came up to us. The officers aboard politely requested that we move the boat a couple of hundred yards south. They very carefully explained that we didn’t have to do this, that they had no right in law to make the request, but that they would appreciate our doing so.
    The reason for their request? We had anchored in front of the home of a man with considerable political clout, apparently purchased with substantial donations to various politicians, although the police didn’t give specifics. The man had phoned the police, probably before our anchor had finished sinking to the bottom. The officers had been ordered to respond, and did so in less than ten minutes. I’m quite certain that there are victims of crime in Miami Beach who would be astonished by the speed of this response, but as we were discovering, wealth does have its advantages.
    We and the officers had an entertaining fifteen minutes discussing the merits – or lack thereof – of the situation we found ourselves in. The officers were clearly disgusted at having to do the bidding of the man who had complained, but since they were acting on a superior’s orders, they really had no choice.
    After the officers left us, we sat for a half hour and enjoyed watching the instigator of this situation surreptitiously watching us as he pretended to clean his boat. We left after a half hour at anchor, not because of this man but out of respect for the officers, who were only doing their job – no, belay that, they were doing what they had been told to do – which was most decidedly not their job.
    My question here is this: are the politicians of Miami Beach, and the senior police officers giving the orders and who appear to leap at the politicians beck and call, so craven, so spineless, so hungry for political largesse that they will order their front line officers to break the law? Because that is exactly what happened here – with their request, these officers were violating our rights. They knew it, and clearly didn’t like being ordered to do it.
    It’s not like these officers didn’t have more important things to do, it was a busy weekend on the water. No, they were ordered to break the law, to go after us, to get us to move on, all because one man has money and the politicians of Miami Beach (who are in his pocket) don’t have the backbone or integrity to tell him that his money doesn’t buy him that privilege. Quite frankly, if I were a voter in Miami Beach, I’d be asking some very difficult questions of the mayor and the Chief of Police.
    For those who would like to ask those questions, Mayor Bower’s email is mayorbower@miamibeachfl.gov. The Chief’s email apparently isn’t publicly available.
    There is something else that we can do about this as free citizens. I’d like to invite all Miami Beach and area boaters to an ‘Anchor Fest’, to be held on July 4th, starting at 2 p.m. The Anchor Fest will be a celebration of American freedom, particularly the freedom Americans have to see all legal rights respected by our politicians.
    I’d like to see several hundred boats anchor in view of this man’s home, to help bring home to him the fact that, while he may be able to buy politicians, the Miami Beach Police do not answer to him through them, they do not violate the rights of others because he is displeased.
    I’d also like to see the politicians of Miami Beach get the message that someone with money doesn’t have the right to force police officers to break the law through political patronage. I’d like Miami Beach’s politicians to remember and understand that they answer to the voters of the city – all of them, not just ones with lots of money and attitude.
    I’d like to thank the officers for their courtesy and for the job they do for us. I know you’ll be with us at Anchor Fest in spirit.
    I’d like to see everyone have a great time at this man’s expense, for him to see that his money doesn’t buy him the right to abuse the rights of others.
    And I have a suggestion for this man: if you don’t like boats anchored where you can see them, buy a home inland. I’d suggest New Mexico or Arizona.
    I hope to see everyone at Anchor Fest. You can get more details on Facebook, just search for Anchor Fest or Anchor Fest Miami Beach.
    W. J. Moran

    I just sent off the following email to the Mayor and encourage others to do the same….
    “Mayor Bower, Would you be so kind as to respond to the reports that a wealthy land owner and political contributor is using the Miami Beach Police Department for personal use to harass boaters that anchor near his home in Sunset Lake. This is a complete abuse of power, since the order either comes from the Chief of Police or his superior. And we all know who his superior is. With tight budget constraints in almost every city today, how do you justify the cost to the citizens of Miami Beach for the Officers time and use of a boat to coddle to this one individual and ask your police officer to harass innocent boaters in clear violation of Florida State law. It is the hopes of all of the boating public that an investigation by higher authorities will provide answers if you will not. But I did feel it necessary to voice my opinion in this matter and give you the chance to respond. I await your answers.
    Sincerely, ”
    Chuck

    Ah, the man often referred to in blogs and discussions of anyone who has anchored in or near Sunset Lake. The man who also abuses his (land) neighbors rights by blasting loud, obnoxious music to try to drive cruisers away, and shines spotlights on the boats as well.
    This man has to be the single biggest waste of time for the Miami Beach Marine Unit’s officers. Anchor Fest should be a weekly event.
    Lynn Kaak

    I wish I could be at your anchor fest. Thank you for speaking out. I suggest you put the notice out on utube or twitter. That will get a lot of young ones involved. They need to be aware of their future. Once again boaters are being a target. The politicians should have their benefits and salaries cut like many of the locals are having major cuts in their every day common life. Maybe they would not be able to afford the extras in life. Like a police force.
    Kat

    Thank you for doing this Wally Moran! I have experienced this citizen first hand and know that he can be nasty when he wants to be! We will be further north for the 4th of July but we will be there in spirit!! Please post photos, we would love love love to the see them!!
    This is the email I sent today to the mayor of Miami Beach as well as the Miami Herald. I changed the citizen’s name in this posting to not put Cruiser’s Net in an awkward position of posting his name but I did not call him Citizen X in my letter to the mayor. I encourage ALL boaters who care about anchoring rights to email the mayor and to other cruisers who have first hand experience with this citizen, SPEAK UP!
    Dear Mayor Bower,
    As a cruising sailor that has enjoyed Miami Beach on several occasions on my sailboat over the past few years, I have to ask do you not understand what visiting boaters contribute to your community? By allowing your city’s police officers to essentially politely harass visiting boats anchored legally in Sunset Lake in Miami Beach you are discouraging boaters from visiting your city. Do you not realize in a recession how important tourist dollars are to your town? Do you think just because a visiting boat does not stay in a marina, we do not have money to spend? Boating is not a cheap lifestyle. Miami Beach is a great city full of interesting things to do, great places to eat, and wonderful places to shop. Trust me, when one visits Miami Beach, one spends money!
    Citizen X has repeatedly called the police about boats anchored LEGALLY in the PUBLIC waters behind his house and he should be considered a nuisance to the city’s police force. He is trying to harass private citizens (tourists mind you!) engaging in LEGAL activities and the Miami Beach PD is doing his bidding!
    I know from personal experience on two separate occasions how citizen x can be. A year ago we were anchored in front of his house as we were transiting the ICW south and he came up to our boat in his power boat and politely asked us if we would consider anchoring in front of the vacant lot instead of in front of his house. It really made no difference to us and he was polite so we moved.
    This past winter he called the police on our friends and when the police boat came out they were extremely apologetic and specifically told our friends that they had a legal right to be there and the Police visit was pretty much for show to appease “a certain neighbor”.
    That is an utterly appalling waste of police resources!! As the mayor you’d think that you would be concerned about that, not condoning it! It would be an entirely different story if these boats were doing something illegal or something to bother Mr. Karlton but boats using public waters legally is really none of citizen x’s concern is it? You would think after the first couple of phone calls the police would tell him they are not going to respond to it anymore but I am guessing someone higher up the political food chain is putting a little pressure on the police force…
    If you Google Anchor Fest Miami Beach, bully on the waterway in Miami Beach, or “citizen x’s name you will see the negative attention this story is getting on the major cruising boards across the internet. Trust me, people will stop visiting Miami Beach on a matter of principle, anchoring boaters as well as the boaters who utilize the dock space in Miami Beach, because us cruisers, we stick together.
    Hope “citizen X’s” political contributions were worth it for you.
    Nicole Chambers

    This is one incident that is becoming the norm here in Florida and will become law by way of ordinances if we don’t get busy and let our voices be heard.
    What we’re talking about here are CRUISERS. Cruisers (called “non-liveaboards” even though cruisers may indeed live aboard) and includes the recreational boater who navigates the waters cannot by regulated with regard to anchoring, according to FL Statute 327(60). The People of Florida demanded that Statute stay intact. IT DID.
    But a 13th hour FWC Pilot Program goes around that and is exempt from adhering to the Statute. As FWC posted on their site “Due to pressures from homeowners and some others….” [they added the Pilot Program and submitted it along with what the PUBLIC agreed would be revisions to the Statutes]. This was AFTER it was submitted to the Legislature: done without Public input or knowledge…a back door loophole for those who have political pull to continue to try to override the majority of what Floridians wanted. THIS is what is so scandalous about the Pilot Program.
    Five sites were to be named yet Sarasota immediately jumped the gun and put up a 72-hour anchoring limit. It was challenged and they dropped it, but everyone who knew anything knew that Sarasota would definitely be one of the five sites to participate in the Pilot Program. It is a self-serving program for a few to get what they want despite what the people have used due process to show as their choice: NO ORDINANCES ON ANCHORING for Florida cruisers! When they named the five sites, it was incredulous that one site is ALL OF MONROE COUNTY! This is what happens when people are confused and don’t know what is going on. The Pilot Program is nothing more than a way to ignore the majority and quell the whining of a few powerful minority to take away the freedom of boats in navigation, and use our tax dollars to do it! Misuse of government resources is blatant here.
    The Pilot Program is not focused on derelict boats or hulks as those vessels are already subject to regulation and have been since 2006. Cruisers and recreational boaters are the ONLY ones outside of being regulated, based on our right to navigation as per Maritime Law. We need choices and options — not anchoring ordinances! By confusing people and making them think the Pilot Program was needed to help rid harbors of derelicts and sewage is exactly what they want you to think. They can already do that! I fought from day one the Pilot Program and saw it for exactly what it was…but so many others could not see that there are people this powerful and this brazenly arrogant that they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. “How can they do that?” Well, this Miami Beach incident is a perfect example and they are and will do it unless we stand up and expose it. The Pilot Program will eventually make it legal for them to do it by way of ordinances.
    The FWC will be holding more workshops on the issue of anchoring rights for NON-LIVEABOARD VESSELS (that is all cruisers and recreational boaters whether you liveabord or not). See how confusing this is?! It is meant to be. This is so important, my good people. Get involved or lose your freedom.
    There is a Workshop at the Government Center in Marathon, FL on June 8th at 6 pm. If you cannot attend, let your voice be heard by writing. We cannot let this happen. Public trust is being manipulated and we can help our local authorities fight back against those misusing that trust with our voices saying or pens writing that we won’t stand for our rights and wants being ignored.
    Our authorities are essentially being forced to represent a few rather than the majority and the actual LAW. Just imagine what will happen if ordinances are allowed and cruisers and other recreational boaters are subject to anchoring restrictions by law. No thanks!
    One ordinance outside of mooring fields will lead to another ordinance outside of beaches, then another, etc. There is no end to anchoring ordinances for cruisers and recreational boaters if we allow them to BEGIN.
    The People of Florida said NO to them the first time and kept the Statute intact that protects our rights to anchor. This back door called the Pilot Program has got to be exposed for what it really is and SLAMMED SHUT. It is not about derelict vessels, or liveaboard hulks, it’s about YOU the boater, the cruiser, the person who navigates the waters of Florida, and enjoys dropping the hook without a visit from authorities telling you how long you can stay.
    Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd

    Well written, Capt. CSL. Yes, the Pilot Program seems to be a carte blanche for 5 sites to screw with regs between now and July 2014. After that the Legislature supposedly writes into FL law whatever has been effective. OR dumps the kitnkaboodle.
    Continued appreciation to Claiborne Y who traveled to StAugustine to specifically address StAugustine’s Pilot proposed ordinance ideas. Claiborne got his three minutes in, and then in typical small town “we’d rather hear ourselves talk” the mike got passed on. Not to be forgotten: a few years back we put MLKing behind bars. We’re more suave now, but City still gets to do things as City sees fit.
    Captain Jay Bliss
    St. Augustine Port Commissioner

    I wrote the mayor with my protests, and if we were not many miles north, we would most certainly participate in the Anchor Fest.
    Beverly Fieges

    I am a 66 year old cruiser, now in the Chesapeake for the summer and early fall, and a retired attorney having practiced privately in Miami for almost 25 years. Before that I was a trial atorney with the US Dept of Justice in Washington, DC. During the winter my wife and I often go out for overnighters and weekends and I’ll be damned if I will obey the illegal order of any officer, no matter how courteous, concerning moving from a legal anchorage. While anchored, we cause no disturbance or neuisance whatsoever. If I am arrested I will make sure that the source of the illegal order, presumably the mayor, will be prosecuted. The same is true for any homeowner causing the arrest.
    Seth Stopek

    As a long time member of the USpower Squadron , Key west aand now North Carolina, I feel its my duty to inform the resident at 2344 N Bay Rorad, Miami Beach, Sunset Lake Area that I will make  a point at our next regular meeting to encourage all our members to locate and utilize that location when in the area as a palce to anchor and party. If you are at all familar with the Key west Squadron that can be a very noisy group of sailors.
    Billy Ray

    This string is getting so lengthy, that I ‘m placing a link below for the continuing input received from 6/11/11, onward. If you are interested in this topic, don’t fail to follow this link, as you will read some very interesting correspondence between Captain Wally and the Miami Beach Chief of Police:
    Click Here To Read Input Received Concerning the “Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach” after 6/11/11

  • Important – Boat/US Releases Revised Summary of Florida Anchoring Rights!!!!

    Our good friends at Boat/US have asked the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net to help get the word out that they have just released an updated statement of Florida Anchoring Right, which are specifically designed for the use of cruisers, while they are underway. Boat/US has rendered the Cruising Community a GREAT service by formulating this document. May we humbly suggest that one and all make as much use of it as possible!


  • Anchoring Hassles in Port Charlotte (off Peace River in Edgewater Lake)

    First of all, let’s locate the anchorage where the series of events described below is centered. Edgewater Lake is accessed via a canal which cuts off the northern shores of upper Charlotte Harbor/lower Peace River, just across the way from the Punta Gorda waterfront. These waters are indeed recommended as an anchorage in both my “Cruising Guide to Western Florida” and here on the Cruisers’ Net.
    Secondly, if we believe Captain Ritchie’s assertion below that they “sail and/or maintain multiple times per week” their vessel, clearly this craft is NOT a derelict or a “live aboard hulk.”
    So, this is pretty clearly a case where the adjacent land owners simply do not want to see anchored vessels when they go out into their back yards. IN MY OPINION, THIS IS PRECISELY THE SORT OF INSTANCE THE 2009 FLORIDA STATE ANCHORING LAW WAS MEANT TO ADDRESS. According to this law, as most of you already know, LOCAL MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY AUTHORITIES HAVE NO RIGHT TO DENY ANCHORAGE ON THESE OR ANY OTHER WATERS TO ANY CRAFT (unless it is abandoned or a “live aboard hulk,” which, to be repetitive, this vessel is not).
    It’s just this sort of instance which paints all of Florida in a bad light, and why when I talk to cruising groups in the Carolinas, Georgia or the non-Floridian Gulf coast, generally the second or third query in my question and answer sessions goes something like, “Should we take our boats to Florida?”
    But, all of Florida is NOT like this. Places like Fort Myers Beach could not be more welcoming to the cruising community, and really this positive attitude towards cruisers is the rule, not the exception. However, let an incident like the Volusia County Sheriff’s office boardings of last fall happen, or what is described below, and mariners begin to have very real, very legitimate questions about whether they should avoid Floridian waters entirely.
    Well, that’s today’s unsolicited editorial. Read on and discover what prompted this stream of consciousness.

    On Tuesday, May 10, 2011, I wrote this letter to a Florida attorney who is interested in violations of Florida’s anchoring laws by local municipalities, in this case, Charlotte County.
    May 10, 2011
    Ahoy! My name is Rick Ritchie. I am a Michigan Resident staying at my mother’s house in Port Charlotte, Florida. My family and I have a 37 Irwin sailboat (registered in FL) which we sail and/or maintain multiple times per week. We anchor in Edgewater Lake, a small cove just off of North Charlotte Harbor, which is listed as an anchorage in Claiborne Young’s Cruisers’ Guide and on Cruisers.net (an online cruising guide), also designated as an anchorage on Florida’s FWC nautical chart (the one that is published for FWC for boaters). It is designated anchorage number 7 on FWC chart SGEB-61. Even the two unhappy local lake-shore landowners concede that it is an anchorage. Of course, as you know, even if it were not designated, as such, anchoring there would still be legal because it is a navigable part of Charlotte Harbor, Florida. The “anchorage” designation by FWC is just a redundancy.
    We (my family and I) have been “talked to” by the Charlotte County sheriff’s office, twice, and told to move our boat. They have told us that this navigable lake is not an anchorage. In both instances I was able to demonstrate to the officer that my boat was (and is) legally anchored. I did this by showing them the aforementioned FWC nautical chart and the reference in the cruiser’s guide. The last deputy sheriff’s parting words were that he is NOT telling us we have to move it (even though that is exactly what he told us to do at the beginning of the dialog), but that there is a time limit on the anchoring of boats in Charlotte county. My wife asked him. “what is the time limit?” and he said that he didn’t know. Then he left.
    Also, we were asked to attend a meeting of the neighborhood association (actually, just two homeowner couples showed up) to discuss my boat. The short version of the meeting is that they don’t like to look at boats anchored in “their water.” It was, actually, a gripe session where my wife and I politely listened and responded to their questions and managed to avoid rising to their baited and barbed comments and insults. One of them even offhandedly threatened us. Of course his wife said that he was not serious. (our anchor line has been cut twice while anchored there, quite probably by someone who lives nearby. We now have all chain.)
    Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, we have friendly relationships with many of the homeowners around the lake, even getting invited to use a homeowners dock for our dinghy, and another homeowner is smitten with our children and invites us into their home for beverages. So only two homeowners, it seems, are calling the sheriff and complaining. Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s office seems to dance to their tune.
    One more thing (promise): According to one of our several friends who lives on that anchorage’s shore, the sheriff’s boat has been visiting our boat on a regular basis (lately, almost daily). Today, it seems, they even tied onto it. I don’t know if they boarded it, or not. We were at my mother’s house a few miles away, at the time. That’s where we usually are if we aren’t on the water.
    This is all for your information. If you have any advise or questions please feel free to email me.
    Sincerely,
    Rick Ritchie

    More on this Charlotte Harbor Anchoring Hassle:
    May 15, 2011
    First, let me emphasize this: Deputy Katsarelas was polite during the entire phone conversation– even when I told him that he was wrong about the anchoring law. If he was unhappy about it, I couldn’t tell. He continued to be polite and professional.
    Second, I understand that this letter may find its way to the Sheriff’s office. For that reason I have been careful to be accurate in this testimony and faithful in my recreation of the events and
    quotations. Other than my speculations, which I have identified as such, this is as accurate as I can make it.
    Read on:
    My boat was just tagged as an “At-Risk of becoming derelict” vessel by Deputy Sheriff Katsarelas of the Charlotte County Sheriff Department. When I spoke with him on the phone, today, he said that the citation was based on another complaint by an Edgewater Lake homeowner. He also stated that he (Katsarelas) has never seen anybody aboard my vessel. I explained that I have been on-board my boat weekly, usually more than once per week. I also informed him that some friendly homeowners on the lake could verify this.
    [Maybe he hasn’t seen me aboard my boat because, until last week, he only patrols Edgewater Lake for a few minutes out of every month… just a guess] Specifically, the tag that he left on my boat states that my vessel has been identified as being “at risk of becoming a derelict vessel.” The reason stated on the tag is that my vessel is “neglected, improperly maintained, or is not able to be used for navigation.”
    This is untrue. As I stated in the letter to ATTY Dickerson, which you posted on Cruisersnet, my wife and I visit my boat multiple times per week to maintain and/or sail her.
    We don’t always get to sail her, but we ALWAYS are able to get out there and take care of her, start the engine, air it out, install a redundant bilge-pump, add another battery, replace
    hoses, replace anchor line with chain, etc..
    Deputy Katsarelas suggested that I moor my boat at my house instead of anchoring on the lake.
    After I explained to the Deputy that I was within my rights to anchor there, and cited the Florida statute, he informed me that the County has more strict anchoring regulations.
    And I quote from Deputy Katsarelas of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department: during today’s phone conversation:
    “The County has more binding regulations than the State.”
    “The county has the right to add to the State regulations.”
    “[County regulations] …are in-addition to State regulations”
    When I informed him that he was in error, I gave him the specific statute (327.60) which specifically states that local municipalities are prohibited from enacting , continuing in effect, or enforcing any ordinance or regulation regulating the anchoring of vessels other than live-aboards. Deputy Katsarelas then stated that he was not current on the new anchoring laws.
    Again, a quote from Deputy Katsarelas:
    “I’m not up on the new anchoring laws.”
    So I offered to give him a copy of the new regulations and a copy of Boat US’s summary of the new law. He said that I could do that if I wanted to.
    So now my boat is listed in the new State-wide database of Derilict vessels. I wonder if this might be a prelude to an accusation of vessel abandonment? Swell!!!
    I guess I will send him a copy of the statute and a copy of Boat U.S.’s summary of the anchoring laws. I suspect that it won’t help, though. Maybe it’s just because a few of them make numerous complaints, but the unhappy Edgewater Lake homeowners seem to have some sort of special influence over the sheriff’s office. I speculate that I will now be hounded by the sheriff’s office.
    It would be cool if a more official type person would send the statute and a legal opinion of it to Deputy Katsarelas and the Sheriff’s Department of Charlotte County — perhaps a member of
    the BAR.
    I wonder what the sheriff dept. has in store for me? Boardings? Safety Inspections? Home visitations? Towing my vessel?
    I wonder what the unhappy homeowners have in store for me: More anchor rode cuttings (I now have chain so it’ll have to be with bolt cutters, this time)?
    Anyway, Edgewater Lake, designated as an anchorage in the cruisers guides and FWC charts (not that it needs to be), is a little less than friendly.
    P.S. In the interest of fairness and completeness, the tag that was left on my boat also stated thatthe registration numbers are not in contrast with the hull color. To that, I have to admit that Deputy
    Katsarelas may have a point. I informed him that I will the numbers from black to white and he said that would be acceptable.
    Again, this is for your information. I hope that someone out there can make good use of it.
    Rick Ritchie

    This situation is truly unfortunate and also an opportunity. Although, I’m not a lawyer I believe it is illegal for even the police to board your boat without your invitation. I would speak to your shore side friends about setting up a video surveillance(VS). Post the boat with a sign, and file charges after the violation. At the very least, you might make it known that there is VS on your boat. Harassment of this type is unacceptable and the police should be investigating who cut you rode.
    Marc Sexton

    Now, here is a well-thought note that demands some serious consideration. Read Captain Kewley’s comments first, and then peruse my editorial remarks afterward:

    Mr Ritchie,
    I would like to offer some thought to clarify a couple of points that you make in your post.I believe that the sea floor in Edgewater Lake is owned by Charlotte County since the lake like the waterways are not natural bodies of water, indicating why the County Sheriff would be involved in policing anchored boats there. This also brings into question whether the rules on anchoring in Florida State waters apply.
    I think the crux of the issue lies with the point at which an untended boat becomes a hazard or derelict. I do not believe that the residents around Edgewater Lake object to overnight or short-term anchoring since I visit the location fairly frequently. However you use the anchorage as a long-term storage facility for your Irwin while staying with relatives miles away and apparently have done so periodically for a couple of years. Barnacles growing up your anchor rode in the past have indicated infrequent movement of your boat.
    As the 2011 Hurricane season approaches and I wonder if the residents surrounding Edgewater Lake should feel reassured that your liability coverage will be adequate to compensate them should your boat’s chain anchor rode not withstand storm conditions.I think that it is a matter of reasonable consideration for others, and storing your boat for free, anchored near someone’s backyard for months at a time certainly is inconsiderate at best.
    Clifford Kewley

    Captain Kewley raises at least three interesting questions in his note above. First, there is matter of whether Florida anchoring law applies to bottomland that is the result of man-made action, e. g. dredging. I have heard some say yes and some say no. However, I do clearly recall in my political science classes, that “Federal law supercedes state law, and state law supercedes local and county statutes.” Given that truism, one must conclude that there is at least a distinct possibility that the 2009 Florida state anchoring law applies even to bottom lands that are the result of dredging. For a more definitive answer, we must defer to the lawyers among us. If anyone practicing the legal profession would like to weigh in, and please do so, then click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.

    Secondly, there is the matter of how long should a well maintained, non-abandoned vessel that is in compliance with all safely and MSD regulations, be allowed to anchor in one place. In my 2010 editorial entitled, “Whence Come the Anchorage Regulations,” (http://www.CruisersNet.net/florida-anchoring-editorial-1-whence-come-the-anchorage-regulations), I wondered out loud:

    “Finally, that leaves the case of what I will call “responsible liveaboards,” boat owners who religiously come to the dock (or use a “honey boat”) to have their holding tanks pumped, don’t throw trash overboard, don’t make loud noise, don’t’ trespass, and keep their vessels attractive and well secured. How long should a mariner of this ilk be allowed to anchor his or her vessel in the same spot?”

    I don’t have an answer for this instance to this day. Anyone else????

    And, finally, there is the question of damage caused by anchored vessels during a violent storm or a hurricane. A legitimate concern to be sure, but in the case of Captain Ritchie, since he is clearly in close contact with his vessel, there should be ample time for him to move his craft before a hurricane hits. Thus, I tend to think this question is a non-issue!

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Edgewater Lake

    Some may question whether or not someone “should” anchor a boat for long term storage like this, but it is crystal clear that it is perfectly legal to do so according to Florida and Federal statute. The issues about a potential for hurricane damage and being “untended” are bogus–if this was the standard throughout Florida nobody could anchor or tie up anyplace for more than a few days. The sheriff is just hunting for something, anything to allow him to make this boater move along.
    John Kettlewell

    Dear Captain Young
    Thanks for stimulating a very interesting discussion and spotlighting the issue of anchoring rights. Kinda brings to mind the Paul Simon lyric in discussing apartment living,”one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor”.
    Your essay/editorial “whence come the Anchorage Regulations” and your message discusses responsible live-aboards. In the case of Mr Ritchie, substitute the term responsible long-term storage behind someone else’s home.
    I do not know the legalities of whether ownership of the sea floor determines the applicable regulation of anchoring and, hopefully some “sea lawyers will opine on the issue.
    Clif Kewley

    Dear Clifford Kewley,
    With all due respect, you seem to be confusing my boat with another one that was, in fact, abandoned on the lake and was finally removed a few months ago (by whom, I have no idea). It was a boat called the “Wild Hare” and it did, indeed, have a barnacle-ball the size of a basketball on the anchor rode. It also had a missing companionway hatch so it was completely exposed to the elements. Its hull had a barnacle-covering that made it resemple an oyster farm. The “Wild Hare” was there when I first discovered Edgewater Lake a year ago. My friends on the lake have told me that “Wild Hare” had been there for 2 years. This, however, is NOT my boat. My anchor rode has NEVER had a barnacle ball. Secondly, I have owned my boat for only 12 months, four of which I kept her at a dock on the Ackerman waterway (e.g. from November 2010 to February 2011), and several other weeks I kept her on the harbor, next to another anchored cruiser (Jim). So your assertion that I have been storing it on Edgewater Lake for “years” is mistaken. I maintain my boat, regularly, including the achor rigging, which I have had to replace… thrice… in the last year. More importantly, I SAIL MY BOAT! True, it is on the lake much more often than it is under sail, still I get to sail her reasonably often.
    So, I am now keeping a log of my visits to my boat. I don’t suppose it will make any difference to the disgruntled landowners, but I am recording what I do during each visit. And thanks to the local police, I will now have their official verification that I was on my boat to find the tag that they left, and was there on another occasion to replace the reg. numbers with more contrasting colored ones. So between the police and the friendly landowners I should easily be able to substantiate my claim of twice per week.
    So, my question to you is (this is a serious question, I have no ill-will loaded up here because I believe it was an honest mistake): How long should I stay away from Edgewater lake between anchorings; And, how long should I be able to anchor my boat there, each time?
    Please accept my apology for anything in this letter that seems less than polite. I find that the brevity of email sometimes impersonates rudeness. I do not mean to sound harsh or rude, especially to a fellow sailor.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rick Ritchie

    Mr. Ritchie,
    I am not sure of your legal right to anchor/wet store your vessel in Edgewater Lake for long periods of time. So to move the discussion along and avoid the on-line “huffing and puffing” about anchoring rights in Florida, lets change the scenario.
    Lets say that you worked long hours for many years and sacrificed to save money to enable you and your family to enjoy your favorite locale and lifestyle. A beautiful mountain community where you paid extra for a building lot to build your home with an unimpeeded view of the mountains. Nice!
    Now lets assume that a local mountain view lover from the next town decided to situate and store his motorhome on the right of way just left of your center view of the mountains, obstructing, oh maybe 10% of your view, and he WAS legally able to do so.
    Now my thought on this is that the lot owner, you, would probably not mind or be too upset if the visitor stayed for a weekend, or maybe a week but….
    If it is only about what is legal then we are in big trouble as a society.
    Clif Kewley

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Edgewater Lake

  • Major New Publication Available on Florida Anchoring

    Our sincere thanks to Captain Mary Dixon for forwarding the link below. We have read the document in question, and it IS LENGTHY and very wordy, BUT it is perhaps the last word on virtually ALL the issues surrounding the complex and emotionally charged Florida anchoring issue.

    Cruising News:
    New publication on Florida anchoring
    [LINK IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE]http://www.flseagrant.org/joomla/images/PDFs/anchoring%20away_03_09_11_full_web3.pdf
    Mary Dixon

  • Cruising Community Reaction to SSECN Anchoring Rights Editorial of 3/1/11

    It’s no surprise that we have had a storm of reaction to our Anchoring Rights Editoridal of 3/1/11 concerning the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program, and any corresponding no-anchor buffer zones. Many of the notes below are well reasoned, and make for very interesting reading!

    Bravo to all the people that have taken time and put the effort into protecting boaters in the USA who love to travel on our waterways!
    THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!
    Sam Warr

    Just a short “thank you” for your timely notification to cruisers. I’m sure that Judy and I can speak for many other cruiser/liveaboards in telling you how much we appreciate your ongoing efforts to keep us informed, and more important, where to express any opinions “for the record” Thank you!
    Judy and Dick from “St. Jude”

    For All Concerned With Florida Anchoring Rights: I noticed that the great majority of the responses have been with negative complaint and much not relavent. It is out of order for all those to compare anchoring in the northern states with the opportunities in Florida. Florida is burdened with the opportunity for people to use boats as low income housing, unlike New England or even the Chesapeake. It is impossible to discount the concerns of derelict vessels adrift and abandoned in Florida waters. As a Florida liveaboard who has been frequently anchoring in Florida waters since 1972, the problem is of great concern to me, but not without an acceptance of the problem that faces the state authorities and my own dissappointment with high risk debris on the water and on the shores.
    My first concern with solutions would be to encourage the FWC or any other authorities to enforce the existing regulations that would limit the number of high risk vessels at anchor. This would include the inspection of safety requirements such as anchor light presence and quality, including placement, timing and intensity as well as satisfactory marine sanitation devices.
    I would also consider other pressures upon anchoring rights as negotiable, such as the requirement of recorded pump out compliance or, the most fair solution, a requirement that anchoring in Florida be accompanied by liability insurance that would cover the removal or abandoned derelict vessels. It is not acceptable that the “solution” would be to eliminate the possibility of anchoring in arbitrary areas within a distance of a mooring field or including entire counties. Stewart and Nancie Force onboard Aythya since 1972
    Stewart Force

    As usual politics just makes a simple solution complex and confusing. Why don’t they simply pass a law placing a time limit on anchoring. Say thirty days and you have to move. Boats not adhering to the rules could be subject to whatever is deemed necessary. Fines, impoundment, salvage or whatever. I would think a thirty day limit, with a warning after 30 days, giving the owner 48 hours or so to move would be a reasonable and common sense approach. While this approach would work, and would eventually get rid of the derelicts, it would not generate any income for the cities/state. My biggest fear is this idea will continue to grow, and of course we all know that the mooring fields will be in the best possible anchorages. Making all who do not want to contribute to the local economy seek anchorages farther away and possibly in poor holding areas. As always, it’s just follow the money.
    Phil Prater

    I am leaving Florida and will never return.
    Ed Hart

    Our last Florida experience was in 2005. Never again will I take a boat into Florida waters. We have used Florida only to get to the Bahamas, but we now go offshore from Georgia so that we do not have to experience the state.
    M Don Surratt
    USCG Masters License

    Someone start up a support group for our anchoring rights, I will contribute!
    Capt. Sterling

    Hello Claiborne,
    I am now sans boat. The new owner of At Last when asked if he would be cruising Florida, said “No Thanks” The boat is now in the Pacific Northwest. They are allowed to anchor up there.
    Capt. Dave

    Towns all over New England have mooring fields, but in most of them you can anchor just outside the moorings as long as your swinging circle won’t interfere with the moored boats. In some very busy harbors, like Newport, there is a designated anchoring area in the middle of the harbor surrounded by moorings. It isn’t much room, but the town recognizes the need to still maintain some space for those who want to anchor.
    I have been disappointed in the mooring fields in Marathon and Ft. Myers Beach because they both essentially eliminate the entire anchoring area. It is particularly frustrating when you are there and many of the moorings are unoccupied, just taking up harbor room, and you would like to visit.
    John Kettlewell

    Hello Claiborne,
    Really appreciate your valuable contribution to the cruising community with the Cruiser’s Net. We’ve just returned to British Columbia, Canada after 8 years sailing the east coast aboard our vessel, “Meriah”.
    I know how important it is to fight the battle for Florida anchoring rights in this struggle over municipal control of the waterways. I’ve been there and had to negotiate the sometimes inconsistent local regulations.
    There is obviously a lack of appreciation for the social and economic benefits as a quickly expanding new generation of more affluent cruisers make their way into warmer waters. This is no longer the hippie migration of the 60’s and since Florida has always been a haven for retirement communities, you would think that Florida municipalities would embrace this new community of cruisers.
    The point that I would like to make has to do with education. Most Florida residents and municipalities have no idea of who the cruisers are these days and how the average cruiser conducts his or her life. There is little or no understanding of the challenges or requirements for the cruising community. So what about developing a significant and informative media presentation as an educational tool to go along with ongoing negotiations. A program such as this should go a long way in changing some of the inward looking attitudes and anxieties of local residents and their municipalities.
    Keep up the good work,
    Captain Larry Peck

    Every time this issue comes up, I ask myself, “Why do I even bother going to Florida?” I have no objection to reasonable restrictions, but when I’m made to feel unwelcome, I look for other places to spend money or visit.
    To me this seems to have become a situation like we have here in Maryland where “city expats” move to the country and complain about the farmer next door, or move to a small fishing town and complain about the smell of waterman next door.
    There has to be a way of impressing the municipal authorities of how much we do spend in their communities. I know this has become impractical today, but just prior to WW II, my father had a similar problem with his CCC Camp. He paid his troops in silver dollars and the next day the city fathers had a sudden change of heart, welcomed his presence and begged him to not do it again.
    Jim Davis

    Please do not let them put laws like those mentioned in place.We are losing our Freedom piece by piece.I will never use mooring fields and will never spend my money in their vicinity.
    Claus Gnaedig

    Thanks for the update. I live in TN and cruse the rivers but hope to travel to FL soon. I won’t be at the local meetings but will email anyone identified with my support to preserve mooring opportunities for boaters.
    It seams the real issue are the hulks and non-complient MSD. Why isn’t the FL FDEP and FWC solving this problem and leave crusers alone.
    Dan Coyle

    Buffer zones should be no larger than 1/2 mile from the edge of the mooring field depending on the shape of the waterway in question.
    Rick Cass

    Anyone who has anchored in Marathon FL. before the mooring field, knows what can happen to one of the best anchorages in the Florida Keys.
    Marvin R. Heide

    And with the narrow width of the Waterway in many Florida communities it doesn’t take much of a restriction on anchoring to essentially outlaw all anchoring. For example, I’ve seen the suggestion that no anchoring within 500 feet of a mooring field be the norm, but where would that allow you to anchor in a town like Daytona Beach? The entire width of the water that is deep enough for mooring or anchoring is probably less than 500 feet.
    John Kettlewell

    I was involved in the last attempt in Sarasota. It is a political nightmare. We will be happy to help build a collective voice on our site too.
    Sailmonster.com

    After 40 years of cruising,I conclude that removing natural anchorages and replacing them with expensive mooring fields goes against everything the cruiser is all about. We dont need balls and we rarely need marinas. Most of all we dont need ugly,boring Florida period. It is merely a stopping off point on the way to the Caribbean Islands… A straight run from Norfolk,Beaufort or Charleston makes far more sense to serious cruisers. Florida has destroyed itself from inside. Why waste good cruising dollars on inferior destinations. When all our tourist dollars vanish, the locals can fight over the remaining stopping off point.
    Its all about excessive greed and very stupid politicians who dont understand economics.
    Captain Dave Johnson

    I am against ANY no anchoring zones in Florida. Any rules can be circumvented. Played properly, anti-anchorage politicians can beat their drum to citizens in the majority……low ond medium income……..that it is unfair for their tax dollars to pay for facilities used by “rich men”; showers, docks, etcetera, and effectively gut any funding for the mooring fields. In effect, you’ll end up with no mooring field, AND a no mooring buffer zone.
    I believe any cruising boater should be able to moor ANYWHERE that does not restrict navigation. “Boat squaters” living aboard hulks can be evicted by using current Federal sewage laws, when they can be proven to be breaking them. Otherwise, rich autocrats have ZERO business deciding if another mans boat is a “proper” boat.
    Unless live aboards are breaking the law by dumping raw sewage into our waters, no one should have the power to dictate to them that they cannot anchor ANYWHERE they chose to do so.
    Compromising with the devil is still a compromise. I suggest boaters of all social strata have an “anchor up”, and cover the water in boats, as a protest against any infringement on anchoring rights.
    ARMED and ANCHORED; get used to it.
    Jim

    We cruise Florida and the east coast extensively. Thank you for keeping the cruising community informed about t the developments surrounding this issue.
    I understand both sides of the concern. For example, we cruise the St. Johns River often. There is a great anchorage behind Turkey Island, but the best spot in that anchorage is occupied by an abandoned house boat that has been there for three years. I have also seen the trash hulks in Key west and St. Augustine that I have to believe are dangerous to the occupants. On the other hand, most of the people living on these boats have low paying jobs and they have to live somewhere. We don’t support forcing people out of their homes just because their house looks like a wreck.
    I would suggest there needs to be a reasonable compromise on buffer zones around mooring fields, perhaps just enough to make it somewhat difficult for anyone to commute to shore on a regular basis. Two miles might be a good number. Having said that, I’m curious about how these buffer zones would be communicated to cruisers anmd how they would be enforced. Also, what happens if the mooring field is full and a boat arrives in the area needing a place to stop for the night?
    I completed the great loop last year, and I can tell you there is a real need for a way to clean up all the derelict boats that are strewn along our waterways. At the same time, safety of mariners shoukld trump public outrage at unsightly derelict boats. A reasonable compromise must be reached.
    I would be happy to attend any meetings in the central florida (Tampa to Daytona) area, and thanks again for your work an behalf of all cruisers.
    Cpt. Bill Root

    Thanks for the update!
    Please let us know when & where the meetings are scheduled!
    Bureaucracy at it’s finest oh how they try to justify their jobs & numbers to protect us from ourselves!
    Thanks,
    Mike & Barbara Harbin
    M/V Elan

    Why do states/municipalities wish to discourage visiting boats? People on these boats, for the most part abide by pertinent rules / laws, etc. for sanitation and safety.
    These people often purchase real estate in areas visited thus supporting that market. They also support many businesses in the areas they frequent.
    States and municipalities should have reasonable laws to prevent harm to the environment or unsafe conditions. Otherwise welcome this as an opportunity and not consider this a problem that needs to be dealt with harshly.
    Philip Conner

    So if ALL of the Keys are to be a pilot mooring field, and the buffer zone is around the mooring fields, so there is to be no anchoring anywhere in the Keys?
    Michael D’Haem

    “All of Monroe County”? That’s almost 3,000 sq mi of water! Wow. big grab!
    Tom Murphy

    I assume by the “grassroots organization, since disbanded” you mean the Southwest Florida Regional Harbor Board, which grew out of the Boaters Action and Information League (BAIL) organized by Walter Stilley. The SWFRHB was a five-year test program that included the state DEP, The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Commission, the West Coast Inland Navigation District, and Sea Grant College at the University of Florida, so it was more than a grassroots organization — it had the full backing of the state. We were able to convince all the waterfront jurisdictions from Collier County through Manatee County (EXCEPT the city of Sarasota) to withhold enforcement of their various anchoring time-limit regulations, and to submit any anchoring problems to the SWFRHB for arbitration. During the five-year period, NOT ONE problem arose over anchored vessels! (I was chairman of the SWFRHB for most of those five years.)
    Will White

    To answer Captain Will’s question, “no,” the organization that I was speaking of which disbanded was the Florida Open Water Society, or some name close to that.
    Claiborne

    Hey there Claiborne….Bobbie Blowers here, aka “voice from the past”. We are currently living aboard our motorhome while our beloved Namaste is on the hard for a prolonged seige of much needed old boat repairs.
    We are, however, currently IN Fl and would like some idea of where and when these buffer zone hearings will be. We plan to return to the Chesapeake April/May to finish our boat repairs but if timing is such that we can attend one or more of these hearings before leaving the Sunshine State, we definately will. We are not at all happy with the state of affairs for boaters in FL so anything we can do to help……..
    Bobbie

    Claiborne:
    Even in such highly organized and wealthy communities such as Balboa beach, ca and L.A. and especially at Catalina island they have restricted anchoring areas; however, they are NOT closed off by large buffer zones, they are compact and anchoring is allowed, point this out to our glorious local cities!
    respectfully
    Gene Koblick

    Dear Claiborne:
    Thanks for the 3-1-11 up date. I was not knowledgeable of the details of the hard fought battle to get the Florida Anchoring rights for those in navigation. I do keep a copy handy and available at the helm Station but so far have not had to hand it to any boarding parties. The longest time at anchor anywhere has not been more than a week. We will be looking to anchor more on the eastern seaboard after reviewing our 2010 Marina Expenses. Will be making use of Vero Beach, Fernandina Beach, St Augustine mooring fields as we trek back North from Marathon. Looking forward to receiving future updates and participating were and when we can. 20 Mile Buffer zones is an outrageous thought and having Pilot programs Exempt from Federal Law not a good idea. Sincerely appreciate your efforts on the part of the cruising boating community and us retired cruisers. All the Best
    Capt Bob
    Lying Marathon Marina
    M/Y ALLEZ!

    Please note that Captain Ken DeLacy, author of the note below, has been one of the instrumental players in trying to bring sense to the Sarasota, Florida bayfront anchoring scene!
    Claiborne,
    A job well done blowing the horn on this and alerting the masses! May I post to our local group? Also may I print and distribute as some local boaters here don’t have email?
    Ken DeLacy

    Hello Claiborne.
    Again this year I attempted to cruise Florida mainly for the supposedly warmer weather – which appears to be a thing of the past. I was promptly boarded by both Coastguard and Customs & Immigration boats in Jacksonville and for two days was in effect arrested because yet another agency – Wildlife & Fisheries – had reported they saw about 20 young Latinos getting off my boat at Jacksonville Landing! I was Number One suspect people smuggler! Turned out in the end that they were simply teenagers walking past my boat on the dock to visit the Electronics Show downtown. Funny in a way – yet not so funny in other ways. I hear many stories of boats being boarded in Florida for no valid reason – and undoubtedly with the prime intent of giving an expensive ticket to boost agency budgets. My advice to cruisers – the last sane port of call in Florida is Fernandina Beach – and even there a DNR officer with a gun surreptitiously checks out boats at the marina.
    So I promptly returned to Georgia. Nobody bothers you at St Marys – and a very nice crowd of liveaboards help each other out. The City Dock at Savannah is effectively FREE – with free power and water. The Safe Harbour Marina just south of Thunderbolt is both inexpensive and delightful – both the showers and laundry have been renovated and nice friendly people there! The police boat at Isle of Palms simply waves a greeting and an overnight stay at Thunderbolt Marina will get you a free car to get groceries or visit Savannah.
    For those en route to or from the Bahamas – bypass Florida if possible and go outside. There’s a free dock at Daufuskie Island at a bankrupt marina – no power and water – and Bluffton too on the May River is a nice safe place to moor, visit and stock up on supplies. Diesel everywhere is steadily going up – and we might well see $5 a gallon this Spring. I’m waiting for warmer weather to start soon up to Chesapeake.
    Hope you’re keeping well
    Best wishes
    Arnold

    Claiborne,
    I’m a Florida resident and serious cruiser (4-5000 miles a year). I absolutely support the need to rid our anchorages of ‘liveaboard’ derelicts. We need legislation directed to that goal, not broad brush
    prohibitions. That said, buffer zones around mooring fields (which I heartily support) need to provide only for safety and security on both sides of the field. Fifty feet is far too small, 500 feet might be OK if
    the anchored boats are well anchored and have drag alarms set. I’ve seen too many incidences of boats dropping a small hook on a short scope and falling asleep only to endanger their neighbors. It seems to happen to me every other year on my cruises.
    Chateau de Mer

    Without anchoring freedom, few sailboaters will invest the time necessary to visit many of Florida’s more distant islands. If a sailor cannot anchor and spend a few nights at the island destination, then why spend the several days just to get there? Motorboats, on the other hand, can still zip out and zip back without too much effort and spent time. Just think… pristine island beauty…. no sailboats…. just motorboats. Makes you feel warm all over, doesn’t it.
    I agree with Chateau de Mer that the mooring fields must be able to offer some safety to their moored boats. Anchors can drag and anchor line can break. It seems reasonable that a mooring field should have a small safety buffer zone around it to prevent these slipped anchors from causing damage to moored boats. 500 ft seems pretty reasonable, depending on the geography, and maybe even as high as 750 ft, if necessary. What really matters is that the state does not allow a few boataphobic municipalities to diminish most of Florida’s bountiful and beautiful waterways by extending these buffer zones beyond the necessary distance to reasonably protect the moored boats. If a buffer zone extends out more than a few hundred feet, then it seems likely that its purpose goes beyond the safety of the moored boats and has more to do with usurping the rights of the boating community, and the state.
    Rick from Port Charlotte

    Dear Mr. Young,
    Leave it to Guberment hacks to once again have their employees study, plan, and develope a program to do something they are already doing in another area!
    The FL. Fish and Game already have a management plan that works for derelict Crab Traps! They should use the same for Derelict boats and Live-aboard hulks. Just plan on a one or two week period a year for each county to have all boats removed. Any vessel in that area during the posted time frame will be declaired abandoned and removed. Problem solved! And it didn’t take two years to plan, countless meetings and countless dollers wasted on the process of law making. Not to mention taking area away from boaters that want to drop anchor.
    What do you thing?
    Mike Laskowski

    Folks, you are seeing what happens when the “carpetbaggers” show up and want things their way. Florida just elected a new Governor… Rick Scott. Its time to climb on his back about all the wasted money being spent on foolish projects… He’s a big tea party guy, and is busy slashing funds for lots of things….maybe he can slash some more wasted funds from the budgets to stop some of these silly projects.
    Rob Homan

    FLORIDA, THE OUT OF TOUCH STATE. SPEND MONEY WHERE THERE THERE IS NO PROBLEM, BUT, LAY OFF TEACHERS, BECAUSE YOU CANT PAY THEM. THE STATES WATERWAYS ARE THE MOST PATROLLED WATERS IN THE UNIVERSE, GUESS THAT IS WHERE ALL THE CRIME IS NOW. LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS CURED ALL THE CRIME ON LAND, AND HAS NOW MOVE ON THE WATER TO SEEK OUT THE NEW CRIMINAL–THE SELF SUPPORTING RETIRED BOATER, SEEKING PEACE AND QUITE. ASK CITY OFFICIAL ON FLORIDA’S WATERWAYS, IF THEY ARE AWARE OF A CRUISING BOATER CAUSING A PROBLEM PASSING THROUGH. FLORIDA NEEDS TO GET REAL, NO WONDER THE STATE IS BROKE. HOW MANY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IS THE STATE LOSING BY THEIR STUPIDITY, TRYING TO ENFORCE VICTIMLESS CRIMES, THEY HAVE CREATED. CRUISING BOATERS ARE SOME OF THE MOST RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS IN OUR COUNTRY. FLORIDA IS CUTTING ITS OWN THROAT, CRUISING BOATERS ARE BY- PASSING THE STATE. AS I SIT ON MY BOAT, AND WATCH THE PARADE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT PASS BY. COAST GUARD, SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT, DEP, FWC, CUSTOMS AND THEIR HIGH SPEED CIGARETTE BOAT, CITY POLICE BOATS, DNR. SOMETHING REAL BAD MUST BE HAPPENING ON THE WATER. AM I TARGETED, BECAUSE I AM A LIVE ABOARD CRUISER. AND YES, I EARNED MY RIGHT TO BOAT IN FLORIDA. I ‘M RETIRED FROM TWO POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN FLORIDA, A US NAVY VETERAN, AND A FLORIDA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD INFANTRY VETERAN . THIS CRAZINESS HAS TO STOP. FIGHT CRIMINALS, NOT BOATERS.
    BOB BARTHOLOW

    We agree with Bob Bartholow regarding the number of law enforcement agencies on the waters in Florida. We have just started cruising this year and we are appalled at the amount of money that these agencies spend on patrol boats. Their “boat budgets” must be astronomical, it seems like only the fastest and most expensive will do.
    We want to experience all that we can while cruising and although mooring fields are a great addition to your choices, anchoring cannot be beat for peace and beauty. The problem we see within our limited experience is, if a mooring field is filled, and there is a “buffer zone” what do you do besides move on?
    With the traffic we have seen in the mooring fields in this short time, moving on will mean cruising outside of Florida
    Jann & Gary Merrill

  • Important – Florida Anchoring Rights Struggle Enters Next Phase

    Florida Anchoring Rights Struggle Enters Next Phase
    An Editorial
    By
    Claiborne S. Young
    Last Friday, February 25, 2011, stories began to appear in the Florida press heralding the next, evolutionary step in the Florida Anchoring Rights struggle. This development was not at all unexpected, but it does presage a call to arms for the cruising community. We MUST ALL heed this call if the Floridian anchoring rights which have been earned after so much blood, sweat and tears over the last decade are to be maintained.

    Let me not keep you in suspense. The story that broke details the naming of the first three “Pilot Mooring Field Program” sites in the state of Florida. They are Sarasota, St. Petersburg and all of Monroe County, which encompasses the Florida Keys. You can read the full story at:

    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2011/feb/24/state-chooses-sites-keys-sarasota-st-pete-anchorin/

    Over the weekend, messages appeared on several other nautical mailing lists to the effect that this was a “new” development. NOT so! In fact, the naming of the pilot sites has been expected since 2009.

    To explain that statement, we must review the momentous 2009 legislative Anchoring Rights struggle. To detail that entire process would fill a small book, so please allow me to give you an executive summary.

    There were a host of pro-cruising forces working hard for the best anchoring law that could be obtained in 2009. Among these were Seven Seas Cruising Association, Boat/US, the Florida Marina Industries Association, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net and a grassroots organization, since disbanded, which came into being as a direct consequence of the Florida anchoring situation.

    This coalition of pro-cruiser forces was squared off against the Florida League of Counties and Municipalities. As you might imagine, this group wanted to retain as much local control over anchoring as possible.

    What emerged from this battle was a serious concession from the League of Counties and Municipalities that broadened the definition of what it is for a vessel to be “used for navigation.” This was the loop hole that many municipalities had used in the past, as Florida state law, even before 2009, banned local anchorage regulations for vessels “used for navigation.”

    Now, anyone who has ever been involved in the good, old US of A legislative process knows that when you get a major concession from the “other side,” you’ve got to give something. And, what the pro-cruiser forces gave was a plan for a series of pilot mooring fields. The law further charged the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), in consultation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, (FDEP), with naming the site of the pilot programs, and stated that these selections must be made by July of 2011.

    So, to anyone who has been following the Florida Anchoring Right struggle, it’s certainly no surprise, much less a shock, that the FWC has complied with the 2009 law and made its first three selections. Two more sites will be named along the Eastern Florida coastline sometime between now and this coming July.

    Well, if all this was expected, as indeed it was, by now you may be wondering, so what’s the big deal Claiborne. Well, I’ll tell you what the “big deal” may be, and to put it succinctly, that “big deal” is “buffer zones.”

    During all the debate which raged around the 2009 Florida Anchoring Law, and, in particular, the establishment of the pilot mooring field program, it came be to be generally acknowledged that, to be effective, there was going to have to be some sort of NO-ANCHORING ALLOWED buffer zones established around the pilot mooring fields.

    The argument ran that, without such buffer zones, cruisers could simply drop the hook 50 feet outside the mooring field, pay nothing, and dinghy ashore to take advantage of all the services established to support the mooring field, such as showers, dinghy docks, etc.

    Now, let me be very quick to point out, there were strong and well reasoned voices in the cruising community which did NOT accept this premise. At the height of the debate, we published an extremely thoughtful article, authored by SSECN contributor, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, in which she strongly asserted the notion that the pilot mooring fields in general, and any sort of no-anchor buffer zones in particular, were bad ideas (See http://www.CruisersNet.net/stay-vigilant). A fear that the no-anchor buffer zones might be abused was front and center in Captain Charmain’s arguments.

    And, indeed, I worried about this same thing. During a particular FWC meeting, one Florida municipality made what I thought was an outlandish statement that for a mooring field to be successful along their waterfront, waters as far as twenty miles away would need to be included in a no-anchor buffer zone.

    However, many of the pro-cruiser forces, including this writer, decided, perhaps uncomfortably so, that we were just going to have to live with the fear of bloated, no-anchor buffer zones if we were going to get the rest of the pro-boating portions of the 2009 bill enacted into law.

    And, that’s exactly what happened, and here we are in 2011, with the FWC carrying out its legislatively mandated duty of naming the mooring field pilot program sites. WHAT WE MUST ALL DO NOW IS EXERT OUR MAXIMUM EFFORTS TO MAKE SURE THE NO-ANCHOR BUFFER ZONES ESTABLISHED AROUND THESE PILOT SITES ARE A REASONABLE SIZE, AND THAT THESE BUFFER ZONES ARE NOT USED SIMPLY AS A MEANS TO INSURE THAT NO BOAT ANCHORS ANYWHERE NEAR THE COMMUNITY IN QUESTION!!!!

    Fortunately, the 2009 law provides the perfect forum for us to act. This statute specifies that the FWC “MUST” hold a series of public forums BEFORE the rules surrounding any of the mooring fields are decided on and approved! THE CRUISING COMMUNITY MUST BE WELL REPRESENTED AT ALL THESE PUBLIC FORUMS!!!! We must be heard, and we must LISTEN for any attempt to establish unreasonable buffer zones!

    The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net will do its part. As soon as the dates and sites for the various public forums are announced, we will post these stats on our web site, and send out special e-mail “Alerts.” Those of you who are members of other nautical mailing lists, Seven Seas Cruising Association, MTOA, or the AGLCA, PLEASE repost these blasts on your lists. WE NEED TO GET AS MANY CRUISERS TO THESE MEETINGS AS POSSIBLE. That point cannot be overstressed.

    Finally, let me give some advice to all cruisers, and particularly those who eventually speak at the mooring field pilot program public forums. Make no mistake about it, Florida does have a REAL problem with abandoned vessels and, what I term, “live aboard hulks.” These latter “vessels” are little more than hulls that will never move again, and on which some people “live.”

    The question is this, though! Is the best way to solve this problem by prohibiting everyone from anchoring, or only anchoring for a short period of time. Any of you who have read my earlier editorials on this subject know my answer is a resounding, “NO!” Rather, WE SHOULD EMPLOY MARINE SALVAGE LAWS AND MSD REGULATIONS TO CLEAN UP DERELICTS AND LIVE-ABOARD HULKS! For more on these suggestions, please see my earlier Anchoring Rights editorial at:

    http://www.CruisersNet.net/florida-anchoring-editorial-1-whence-come-the-anchorage-regulations

    OK, now you know about the latest when it comes to the issue of Florida Anchoring. PLEASE let us know what you think by e-mailing me at CruisingWriter@CruisersNet.net. And, most importantly, see you at the pilot field public forums!!!!

    As of today, March 2, 2011, there has already been a firestorm of responses from the cruising community concerning our editorial linked above. If you have ALREADY read the editorial, click the link below to check out the many messages we have received from fellow cruisers on this subject. If you have NOT read our editorial, please do that FIRST, and then follow the link at the end of that article to check out the response:

    PLEASE Click Here To Read the Voluminous Reaction to Our Anchoring Rights Editorial Of 3/1/11

    And, here is the official News Release from the FWC which initiated this whole discussion:

    News Release from the FWC.
    Contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585
    At its meeting Wednesday in Apalachicola, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) selected three sites for an anchoring and mooring pilot program. Two more will be chosen in April.
    Following staff recommendations, Commissioners voted to select the cities of Sarasota and St. Petersburg and Monroe County as sites for the mooring field pilot program. A mooring field is a controlled area where boaters tie their vessels to a floating buoy, which is secured to the bottom of the waterway.
    Under Florida statute, the FWC, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), must establish a pilot program regulating anchoring and mooring outside of marked public mooring fields.
    “We hope the project promotes safe public access to Florida’s waters, protects the marine environment and deters improperly stored, abandoned or derelict vessels,” said Maj. Jack Daugherty, leader of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways section.
    By July 1, 2011, the FWC must have selected all locations for the pilot project. The requirements include two on the east coast of Florida, two on the west coast and one in Monroe County, so the remaining selections must be on the east coast.
    The FWC staff began work on the program in October 2009, when it sent out letters of solicitation. Fourteen counties and municipalities responded with letters of intent to participate.
    “Our staff worked with DEP to gather data to determine appropriate sites for the project,” Daugherty said.
    They analyzed geographic characteristics of the area, services provided at the mooring field sites, usage fees and the average number of boats inside and outside of the mooring fields.
    At its December meeting, the Boating Advisory Council, which makes recommendations to the FWC and the Department of Community Affairs regarding issues affecting the boating public, advised FWC staff to move forward with the site recommendations on the west coast and in Monroe County.
    Wednesday, staff presented recommendations to the Commission on those recommended sites on the west coast and in Monroe County. Commissioners approved FWC staff-recommended sites and a request for more time to collect and analyze more data regarding anchoring and mooring on the east coast.
    FWC staff will present the data to the Boating Advisory Council in March for recommendations, and then return at the April Commission meeting with suggestions for the two remaining east coast pilot sites. The Commission also directed staff to work with the city of Stuart in an attempt to be added as a third pilot program site.
    Please visit MyFWC.com/Boating or call the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section at 850-488-5600 for more information.

  • Stay Vigilant

    And now, a different point of view from Charmaine Smith Ladd, our Florida Keys correspondent.

    March 27, 2009

    Don’t Snow Me…SHOW Me!
    HB 1423 – Florida Anchoring Rights Proposed Legislative Changes – STAY ON YOUR GUARD
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd
    Salty Southeast Cruisers Net joins with SSCA and Boat U.S. to support House Bill 1423 (with certain changes). My take on this?  In a nutshell:
    I highly suggest no one change their stance on killing House Bill 1423 until we know it has changed and changed in our favor with no strings attached or dangling daggers waiting to stab us in our unwary backs! If I’m cynical it is because I have good right to be so. I’ve seen the snow fall before…and it sure wasn’t dandruff!
    If we don’t keep up our guard, somehow this will turn around and all our positive feedback and grand momentum toward what is right will be lost. Then it is easy pickings as we are disarmed and run over with absolutely no recourse because it will then be too late to act.
    We don’t need the Pilot Programs…period! The Pilot Programs were never a part of the original proposed legislation and were never offered up for public debate. They were added after the fact, after all was said and done as a way to appease (as the FWC put it): “due to pressures caused by homeowners and some others.” So why is the Pilot Program suddenly a viable and necessary part of what needs to be done when it never was before when it was added quite underhandedly at the 13th hour?
    The derelict boat issue is addressed with the proposed law that will require ALL boats over 14 ft. to register with the State of Florida. To date, any boat without a motor, regardless of size, does NOT and never has had to register with the State of Florida. No wonder we have the derelict (abandoned) boat problem in Florida…our State created it and perpetuated it by not acting far sooner than now!
    With the abandoned boat issue RESOLVED…what is the need of Pilot Programs that will effectively interfere with one’s rights to anchor? We don’t need it and never did. We have proven we don’t need it to curtail the problem of abandoned boats and their burden on Florida’s taxpayers.  So get rid of the Pilot Program!
    Remove the Pilot Program from House Bill 1423 and we’re in business! Otherwise, we’re right back where we started. The inclusion of this backdoor bogus “Pilot” program is only there for those who wish to manipulate it for gains with their own agendas (i.e., keep the majority of boaters from anchoring in their waters).

    Remember, the Pilot Programs are EXEMPT from established law. E-X-E-M-P-T. That’s how the Pilot Program was barely noticed to begin with. Who cared…our rights to anchor were intact…what we didn’t know was that the Pilot Program would be exempt from adhering to the laws that protect our right to anchor.  Fool me once, shame on you!  Fool me twice, shame on me!  It is imperative the Pilot Program be removed altogether and I (and others) won’t be looking under every rock as if someone is trying to sneak something in and through while we’re busy celebrating our so-called victories.
    Even though I’m not from Missouri, you still have to SHOW-ME if you want me to go along with something.
    So…go ahead, SHOW ME!
    _______________________________________

    Charmaine Smith Ladd, SSECN’s Regional Correspondent of the Florida Keys, bringing you “The Low Down from Down Low.”

  • Comments From Fellow Cruisers Regarding the 11/3/10 MSD Boarding Incident in Volusia County

    It appears the officers did not ask for permission to board, which they must do and they can board if consent is not given, but they must request permission to inspect. The sheriff’s office response says nothing about asking permission.
    Here is the Florida law:
    Florida Vessels Code Section 327.56 – Vessel Safety – Safety and marine sanitation equipment inspections; qualified.
    Title XXIV VESSELS
    Chapter 327 VESSEL SAFETY
    327.56 Safety and marine sanitation equipment inspections; qualified.–
    (1) No officer shall board any vessel to make a safety or marine sanitation equipment inspection if the owner or operator is not aboard. When the owner or operator is aboard, an officer may board a vessel with consent or when the officer has probable cause or knowledge to believe that a violation of a provision of this chapter has occurred or is occurring. An officer may board a vessel when the operator refuses or is unable to display the safety or marine sanitation equipment required by law, if requested to do so by a law enforcement officer, or when the safety or marine sanitation equipment to be inspected is permanently installed and is not visible for inspection unless the officer boards the vessel.
    Steve Morrell
    Editor
    Southwinds Magazine

    Thank goodness we ICW sailors have you to thank for keeping us up to date !
    We are staying at Amelia Island Yacht Basin..Florida…and everyone here is super nice.
    The Coast Guard patrol keeps it’s boats here and they are very pleasant and have never asked to check our boat. They even join us at Saturday night get togethers.
    Luckily, we can not say enough good things about all these people !
    Thanks you for being there when we need you !!
    Ernie Roberts

    Sad!
    This is only the begining!

    More details than you probably want to know…
    ————————————————-
    Captain Guy
    100ton-Sail-Towing-Coastal
    Deliveries & Instruction-Power & Sail
    New Smyrna Beach FL USA
    386-689-5088
    ————————————————-
    s/v Island Time (Beneteau 352#277)
    AICW 845.5
    Florida Statutes
    327.53 Marine sanitation.
    (1) Every vessel 26 feet or more in length which has an enclosed cabin with berthing facilities shall, while on the waters of the state, be equipped with a toilet. On a vessel other than a houseboat, the toilet may be portable or permanently installed. Every permanently installed toilet shall be properly attached to the appropriate United States Coast Guard certified or labeled marine sanitation device.
    (2) Every houseboat shall be equipped with at least one permanently installed toilet which shall be properly connected to a United States Coast Guard certified or labeled Type III marine sanitation device. If the toilet is simultaneously connected to both a Type III marine sanitation device and to another approved marine sanitation device, the valve or other mechanism selecting between the two marine sanitation devices shall be set to direct all sewage to the Type III marine sanitation device and, while the vessel is on the waters of the state, shall be locked or otherwise secured by the boat operator, so as to prevent resetting.
    (3) Every floating structure that has an enclosed living space with berthing facilities, or working space with public access, must be equipped with a permanently installed toilet properly connected to a Type III marine sanitation device or permanently attached via plumbing to shoreside sewage disposal. No structure shall be plumbed so as to permit the discharge of sewage into the waters of the state.
    (4)(a) Raw sewage shall not be discharged from any vessel, including houseboats, or any floating structure in Florida waters. The operator of any vessel which is plumbed so that a toilet may be flushed directly into the water or so that a holding tank may be emptied into the water shall, while the vessel is on the waters of the state, set the valve or other mechanism directing the sewage so as to prevent direct discharge and lock or otherwise secure the valve so as to prevent resetting.
    (b) All waste from Type III marine sanitation devices shall be disposed in an approved sewage pumpout facility.
    More information re MSD’s from http://www.law.ufl.edu/conservation/pdf/marine_sanitation.pdf
    CENTER FOR GOVERNMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
    UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, LEVIN COLLEGE OF LAW

    Claiborne
    I sent this to the Volusia County Sheriff today
    Keep up the good work
    Richard
    Good Afternoon Sheriff Johnson,
    First have been a strong supporter of you since the time you ran for office. As a boater I am concerned to have read this today and wonder if I should be concerned as we use our boat on the ICW almost every weekend. This is from an on-line newsletter I get and it bring me a chill to think a deputy would board my boat with a weapon drawn.

    Claiborne:
    You should do everything you can to get this boarding story (see below) into the press. This is preposterous and the “officer” should be fired and relieved of his duties.This is the story of a government official run amock.
    Jamie McLane
    Wanderer’s Rest
    Kadey Krogen 48-39(5’ draft)

    Abuse of power by waterborne law enforcement officers is of concern to all citizens – drawing weapons aboard a civilian craft when no threats were made is inexcusable and in fact might be a good way to get shot. However, the laws are clear that overboard discharge valves must be secured (even with a cable tie) and the citation will probably stand. You can file charges of excessive force against an individual or group of law enforcement officers, but you must be prepared to stand up to the costs both of time and money, and it is not unheard of for accused persons to lie with the courts favoring sworn enforcement officers over civilians. Without a video of the event, you might as well go on with your life and forget it.
    Peter TenHaagen

    Claiborne:
    I am sure you have other lawyers that regularly read you website. It seems to me that Volusia County was using excess force in a major way. For example, if a deputy pulled a gun on a routine traffic stop, the ACLU would be all over it. I would recommend reporting this to the Florida Attorney General for investigation. I do view Coast Guard stops as different (long conversation, but they have a different mission)
    Thanks,
    John
    John Fort, JD
    Associate Professor
    Economics

    As a retired public information officer for Montgomery County Government in Maryland (20 years), I am appalled at how much collateral damage this is for the reputation and image of Volusia. I think the appropriate officials of the jurisdiction would like to know about this and should be informed — not hysterically, but in a matter-of-fact, but serious “you should know” way. Certainly, there is no debate about adhering to laws, but facing off citizens with weapons is frightening and only instilling of fear, which is not the proper role of government.
    I also think that the local news media would like to know this. It’s certainly appropriate for them to know and this can be done without jeopardizing any single individual, since they are used to respecting sources, including anonymous ones.
    As I said, government’s role is not to intimate people, but to act in the service of the public. Sorry for the lofty-sounding civics lesson, but that’s what my governmental experience was based on.
    If I can help in any way, I would be glad to.
    Vicki Lathom
    Wofford College

    Ahoy,
    I am working on the issue re: MSD boardings…
    FWIW my wife is a City Commissioner here in New Smyrna (Judy Reiker) and a good friend of ours just got elected to Volusia County County (Joie Alexander).
    Please have the aggrieved party give me a call and I’ll gather more details to present.
    MSD (and most other boating issues ) are CIVIL infractions and should not be subject to heavy handed actions by government officials including sherriff/city police officers.
    Attached are the FL statutes and penalties for msd infractions.
    It is simple… msd fines are 50 or 250 and NOT criminal (kinda like improper spacinf of reg numbers on a vessel)
    Regards
    Captain Guy

    Well first of all the Police were correct in siting this boat for an unsecured msd valve. The law states that you must have the handle either disconnected or tie wrapped so it can not be operated while the boat is within 3 miles of the shoreline. That being said, I do not agree with the drawn weapon while boarding the vessel thing. They should have asked for the Captain of the vessel before boarding in my opinion, and being a licensed Captain, I would have said something to them for boarding without permission from the Captain. The Captain is always in charge of said vessel, they should have known better. Sometimes over zealous Local Water Police can give everyone else a bad name, and they do what they want. I would complain to the Police Department directly about the situation or call the USCG and let them know about it. As for the valve, that one is on you, you should have known better! Simply turning it off is not good enough!
    Capt. Patrick Leddy

    Check your archives. I wrote to you about two years ago regarding a similar incident with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Dept. They boarded our vessel under similar circumstances, did not give us the courtesy of a request to board. Just jumped on our boat and rudely demanded access to our heads. We did not receive a citation as we were in compliance with all laws. The problem was with the threatening manner in which they boarded our vessel. I was below cooking breakfast when they jumped aboard and could easily have mistaken the boarding as a hostile act and taken defensive action if crew hadn’t announced they were uniformed law enforcement officers. What the heck is going on?
    Name Withheld by Request

    Does the US Coast Guard have any authority concerning matters like this as far as reviewing the incident with the law officer that done the inspection of this vessel?
    joe deschene

    SAME EXPERIENCE LESS WEAPON AND FINE.THERE WERE 4 VOLUSIA VESSELS,ONE BOARDED US WITH 3 OFFICERS AND ONE STATE POLICE TRAINING OTHERS.HE DID ALL THE TALKING. HE EMPHASIZED VALVE MUST BE LOCKED EVEN IF TURNED PROPERLY TO HOLDING TANK.”INTENT” TO USE! MINE WAS TYWRAPED.
    ALL TURNED OUT OK AFTER DYE TEST.
    IT WAS VERY INTIMIDATING AND IT FELT LIKE BULLING.WE WERE GIVEN A HEADS UP VIA EMAIL EARLIER TO BE CAREFUL AND BE LEGAL WHICH WE DO ANYWAY.
    Bill

    Well, I’ve been on both sides of this issue. As a one time law enforcement officer, and then as a liveaboard cruiser. First of all, if Capt. “X” had not satisfactorily locked his “Y” valves, he’s at the mercy of the enforcement officer on the scene, and subject to the $250 penalty.
    But, there is no excuse for the officer to have drawn his .45 while enforcing this particular infraction. And no law enforcement agency can tolerate this kind of wreckless, not to mention antagonistic approach to law enforcement.
    And, if any such agency is already aware of this kind of “heavy handed” behavior, it speaks poorly for their public relations attitude. It smacks of “Dirty Harry” policy, from the top down. You did right to have Capt. “X” spell out the facts, and have attention drawn to the entire incident.
    Sorry about the $250, Capt. “X”!!! Maybe you should consider yourself lucky the die didn’t appear outside the boat…..the penalty might have been MUCH worse!
    Dick Giddings

    I come from a law enforcement family. My father is a retired Sheriff’s Deputy. Unless this cruiser takes the citation to court, the facts of the case will never become a matter of record. If there is a “heavy-handed” fellow involved, it will only be a matter of time before someone is the victim of an accidental discharge. My father had a partner like that and my dad left the force rather than be there when his partner shot someone, quite possibly my Dad. I repeat, unless this is taken to court, the procedural violations will never become a actionable matter of legal record. This account will be treated as urban legend is made admissible at all.
    Chris

    Can you provide me with the e-mail address for the sheriff so I can ask if if I should expect the same treatment when I transit the county in January.
    tom mcleod

    Only in Fl. waters could I beleive this could/would happen! You wonder just where some of these “law enforcement” people come from. I have been cruising between South Carolina and the Key’s for about seven years now and havent had any problems anywhere until I get in Fl.I’ve been stopped a number of times while in my dinghy to see if I have a whisle on board.I must say that(so far) I have never had a gun pointed at me. That officer,and I use the term losely, should be fired on the spot,if for no other reason,just being stupid!!
    Vernon Roumillat

    You should write a letter to the County Sheriff and the County Chairman explaining what was done to you. Copy those letters to local newspaper as a letter to the editor. Thanks for sharing.
    David Rollison

    This is indeed disturbing and we have just sent a request to Sheriff Ben Johnson of the Volusia County Sheriff’s office asking for a response. If anyone else would care to email him he can be reached at, BJohnson@vcso.us . We will post his reply.
    Chuck

    Thank you for posting this warning.
    Nothing excuses the storm-trooper tactics of these goons who throw their weight around while hiding behind their badges. I hope this unfortunate boater files a complaint (the name of the officer in question is probably on the citation) and appeals his fine. Perhaps there’s a legal foundation that will help him cover court costs. At the very least, I hope he registers his complaint with the local news media.
    However, if these waters in Volusia County have been legally designated as a No Discharge Zone, then merely closing the overboard discharge valve does not constitute compliance with the law. As I understand it (and I’m not a lawyer), the discharge valve must be secured, either with a padlock, by removing the seacock handle or by installing a “permanent wire tie.”
    Now that boaters are forewarned, please be sure to “secure” your overboard discharge before entering no-discharge zones.
    Joe Myerson

    As I understand the Patriot Act officers can pretty much do as they wish with recreational vessels (sure not the way our forefathers lived).
    That said our discharge valves are always locked inside of 3 miles. No reason not to and it ends MSD discussions; though the officer in question likely would have found some other infraction to justify his visit.
    Barry Hammerberg

    Pretty typical of the North Florida Sheriffs on the water. While this sounds like a harrowing experience to have in our own country, you’re lucky that they didn’t damage anything else. Many are assigned to the water with no real experience or training in vessel operation. One of the worst waking events I ever saw was done by a Sheriff’s boat from a county just north of your incident.
    Abuse of power and trumped up charges seem to be the order of the day. I hope you get a more intelligent action in court when you plead the case.
    Best of luck.
    JM. [a licensed captain, and former SeaTow franchise owner.]

    Florida Laws: FL Statutes – Title XXIV Vessels Section 327.01 Short title.
    4)(a) Raw sewage shall not be discharged from any vessel, including houseboats, or any floating structure in Florida waters. The operator of any vessel which is plumbed so that a toilet may be flushed directly into the water or so that a holding tank may be emptied into the water shall, while the vessel is on the waters of the state, set the valve or other mechanism directing the sewage so as to prevent direct discharge and lock or otherwise secure the valve so as to prevent resetting.
    (5) Every vessel owner, operator, and occupant shall comply with United States Coast Guard regulations pertaining to marine sanitation devices and with United States Environmental Protection Agency regulations pertaining to areas in which the discharge of sewage, treated or untreated, is prohibited.
    Both FL laws and USCG requirements just say to be secured in suh a way to prevent resetting (opening) – they do not have to be locked unless the vessel is in for example the FL Keys according to FL own Laws as I read them. And the USCG regs say that the handle(s) being removed meets their requirements.
    Donato J

    Suggest you hire a lawyer and file suit under violation of human rights, if what you say is true, you just might be able to buy a cruise ship with the award.
    Also, let local press know, this stuff cannot go unpunished.
    Dennis McMurtry

    I now have another place where I will keep my money in my pocket and will pass through when I get there.
    John Sagel

    This sort of crap is dangerous and totally uncalled for. It is so outrageous that if given wide publicity will be stopped by the local authority out of sheer embarassment.
    A question, what is considered legal valve securing, Ty wrap, padlock, wire wrap?
    Bruce Stewart

    We had a situation the same but with-out the drawn guns.
    Last year coming north. No permission to board my wife was in pajamas.. We had a padlock over the breaker to the forward head so it could not be used (Elec only). He said the law says the thru hull had to be locked. $250 fine and when he left under full power, waked a small fishing boat to almost swamping conditions
    Steve

    Sounds like an OVERZEALOUS (Jerk), COWBOY Deputy that should be FIRED before someone really gets hurt. I’m no lawyer either, BUT under the “Stand Your Ground” FL law, unless the deputy requested to come aboard, showed some positive identification – HE COULD HAVE LEGALLY BEEN SHOT! Anyone can buy a uniform, so that means nothing!
    FL Resident!

    We were boarded last year but were not threatened with a gun! The officer was pompous but courteous. We were warned by a fellow cruiser that what they really want to see is a wire securing the handle of the Y-valve with a keyed padlock on it. Once the officer saw the lock, he was very pleased and left us alone. We recommend that everyone cruising through Florida make sure they have a padlock (not a wire tie) on their Y-valve.
    Harriet & Skip S/V Moondance

    Do we know where the boarding officers came from? Volusia Sheriffs, Florida WildLife, Edgewater Marine Police, CG ?? I would like to send a letter to ben Johnson, Vplusia Sheriff or call him if they were the baording officers.
    Richard Holtz

    I was closing in on that vessel yesterday morning guess as the boarding came to an end and LEOs hopes back on the sheriff boat, made a uturn and headed back north. They didn’t board me or the other vessels behind. I didn’t know where the boarding started but it ended in the northern part of mosquito lagoon around mm860
    I wonder why sheriff deputies would do an MSD boarding weapon drawn
    Pascal

    Get a GOOD defense attorney – one with good teeth!! and bust these guys’ butts – totally uncalled for, if presented correctly by the captain
    Bill Burn

    Claiborne,
    I just furthered your notice to the mayor and city commissioners here in New Smyrna Beach so they could be aware of what their fellow governmental officials are doing. An incident like this, even though not happening ‘officially’ in our city, can bring harm on our community. Hopefully they will be able to seek out their counterparts in government and address this issue.
    Peter Satterlee

    We were boarded on the way down by the Coast Guard for a safety check though the head was the focus. The very calm officer said that few people realize (including self ) that secured means with a lock or plastic tie wrap that cannot easily be undone. Shuting off the valve alone does not satisfy the intent of the law. By the way, they had hands on weapons but none were drawn and they allowed us to tie up in Beaufort, NC before they came aboard.
    Rick Robinson

    I was boarded while underway just south of New Symrna Beach having just come in from Ponce Inlet two years ago and given similar treatment although no guns were drawn.
    Rick

    The threatened use of deadly physical force for a toilet check is way out of line and the state attorney general should see that the officer is brought up on charges and any such boarding should be prohibited.
    The officer should be personally responsible for such a violent threat and charged accordingly.
    John Cleary

    It has probably been about three years now that I have heard of this same exact situation, boarding while underway without permission, guns drawn, dye in the head & flushed to see if there is any discharge & very unprofessional officers. I had passed a sailboat (I have a power boat) that had just been inspected about a mile in front of me going the same direction. The family on the sailboat, with a couple of teenagers were scared stiff. In fact they were so scared that they furled their sails & dropped anchor because they were too distraut to continue. That was about three years ago. At the marina where I keep my boat, south of the area indicated, I have heard of the same thing happening to boats that have passed through the same area. I have my handle for my holding tank padlocked in the down position so that there will be no discharge. It would be interesting to see what Boat U.S. has to say because somewhere, I think, (I’m not sure where) I read that within the 3 mile limit there was an ordinance making it mandatory to have the discharge handle locked, but I could be wrong.
    Bill Williamson

    CONDUCT SUCH AS HAS BEEN DESCRIBED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT, ANYWHERE IS OUTRAGEOUS. THIS IS A GROSS VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS IN THIS COUNTRY. HOPEFULLY THE SKIPPER OBTAINED NAME, RANK AND BADGE NUMBERS OF OFFICERS INVOLVED. THIS ONE SHOULD GO ALL THE WAY TO THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF THE STATE OF FLRIDA. NOTHING SPEAKS LOUDER TO THE CURRENT POLICIES OF INDISCRIMINATE ENFORCEMENT OF LAWS IN THE US THAN THIS EVENT.
    Roland Norris

    If Volusia County is aware of this heavy handed officer, shame on them for keeping him. This is outrageous in the US! I hope this is pursued by the injured party.
    Jan Ordway

    Our craft was boarded by the Volusia County Sheriff’s department during daylight hours south of Datona late October 2008. Proper hailing and pre-boarding protocol was observed by the officers. While one officer boarded the other was doing a superb job of standing off and not touching our vessel with his vessel.
    The boarding officer asked if we had a marine head and I replied we had a 5 gallon porta-poti. He asked if he could go below and see it. Since we were motoring at idle and I was at the tiller and our boat is only25′ I indicated the location of the enclosed head and invited him to take a look. He went below, opened the head door and did a mild double take. He said, as if talking to the porta-poti, ‘Well, that was easy’ He closed the head door and returned to the cockpit. He thanked me and we exchanged ‘Have a good day’. He then stepped onto the police launch, which never made contact with our boat, and they motored off to the next boat behind us and boarded them. We had time to observe them make one more boarding before the bridge opened and we proceeded on.
    Louis F. Spagna

    I hold a coast guard masters license, but I am not aware of any legal requirement for securing your “Y” valves or your thru hulls. It appears to me that there was no violation in the situation described.
    Aubrey Vaughan

    I posted this in the SSCA ‘destinations’ forum.

    This has been going on for a few YEARS. The ‘rumors are becoming more commonplace’ from more than a few cruisers passing through Volusia County, Florida on the AICW. Ive been intimidated/boarded in Volusia Country several times; BUT…..

    I had the almost the SAME thing happen to me in Nov 08 on the AICW a few miles north of New Smyrna.
    I first saw a center console boat coming directly *head-on* at extreme high speed in a NO WAKE/MANATEE zone. They came close aboard to apparently/OBVIOUSLY to read my homeport, etc. while covering me with some spray, the “VOLUSIA COUNTY SHERIFF” boat then did an immediate 180 & then came alongside, and loudly demanded to know if I had guns or weapons aboard and to keep my hands where they could see them at all times, that I should proceed at dead slow, one deputy ***SLIPPED HIS SERVICE WEAPON FROM HIS HOLSTER*** in ***plain view***, BRIEFLY BRANDISHED IT, then replaced it and stated he was coming aboard. Their boat then BUMPED hard into mine due to crossing the wake from their boat when they first passed me. He climbed up and without any further word, almost pushing my wife out of the way, proceeded down the companion way to the head (wife following him). He then dumped dye into the head, and continued to flush – UNTIL THE HOLDING TANK CONTENTS BEGAN TO COME OUT THE VENT. He then came back up and loudly and arrogantly lectured us that not having a locked overboard valve in VOLUSIA COUNTY would result in a $250(?) fine (all the while ‘playing’ with his holstered weapon) …. and with no further word or explanation the Sheriffs boat which was following at my stern, again harshly bumped into my side and the ***OFFICIAL VOLUSIA COUNTY deputy sheriff ****THUG****crossed back to the Sheriff’s boat and then left. Im not afraid of guns, etc. as Im a ardent hunter/shooter; but, I have to tell you that this SOB made my sphincter tingle with his *armed intimidation*.
    My advice: Stay out of Volusia Country, Fl (AICW) if you dont want extreme HARASSMENT & (ARMED) INTIMIDATION.
    Rich Hampel

    Comments posted below were received after the Cruisers’ Net published the response from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department:

    With 38 years of a former life in law enforcement, this is a serious situation IF related fully and accurately. Many cases are distorted or lack all the facts. I suspect that the officers had some sort of intelligence matching the description of this boat coming in from off shore and boarded with that thought. The sanitary inspection is simply a “prostitute in a nuns habit” to justify their heavy handed actions and the fine an attempt to disarm any complaint e.g. just a disgruntled offender. There certainly is a law enforcement brotherhood/fraternalism of self protection because of the nature of the work. However, the “he said she said” scenario that favors the officer’s version breaks down quickly when multiple complaints are lodged from unrelated sources. It is very important to lodge a complaint
    with the hierarchy of authority within the jurisdiction of occurrence. It doesn’t hurt to CC the US Attorney General referencing a potential denial of civil rights so that a record can be federally made of the incident should a pattern develop with in the local jurisdiction. The Feds have the authority to investigate/take action against local authorities for a pattern of civil rights abuses and have done so in the past. Individual officer heavy handedness is generally non discriminatory and should be dealt with before tragic result e.g. unintentional discharge of a weapon. Multiple sources always carry much greater weight.
    Joe

    We were boarded 2 yrs ago on the same stretch of the ICW and had a very similar experience. Fortunately our Y-valves were in the proper position. 2 officers boarded us and 2 stayed in the Sheriff’s patrol boat. Dye was inserted as described and the toilet pumped. We did not have any wire ties or locks on the valves… after some discussion they gave us a warning. It scared the hell out of us when they pulled up along side and demanded that no one leave their eye sight. It was just my wife and me and we have made the trip about a half dozen times. No where else have we been treated like that.
    Ben Beattie

    This is absurd. The Volusia County town fathers should be made aware of this Nazi type of action. “Heavy handed” is a polite way of covering up an officer with a serious problem. Internal affairs should be alerted. Law enforcers are paid by us, the public, to serve and protect. Not threaten and attack.
    Jim Brown

    The story sounds terrible. However, I had a long telephone conversation with an officer of the Sheriff’s Department today. As always, there are two sides to the story. I don’t want to get in the middle, but I am satisfied there is not a huge problem for cruisers transiting Volusia County. Just make sure there is some restraint, nominal or otherwise, on the through hull fitting.
    Frank Eisenhart

    Was it a documented vessel or just state registered? If it was documented, does that sherif even have the authority to board? If it is a liveaboard home, they need a search warrant. They cannot just jump aboard?
    Mike

    The same kind of thing has been happening to people all over the place. Police have become more and more belligerent. If people think that it’s only a few cops that are at fault, just wait until any of them, even the worst of the bunch, is prosecuted or brought before an investigatory board and the rest of the force, nearly 100% will stand behind and support them.
    But the camera is the new gun, and exposure of the actions of these roaches will cause them much grief. The cameras that watch us all the time also watch them, and record their actions against innocent citizens. It so frightens them that in Maryland they passed a law that makes it illegal to take video of any police officer. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done surreptitiously and put on utube or some other place. Exposure of their criminal acts will cause more people to withdraw support, and a critical tipping point will arrive at some time where they will lose all respect.
    I read in the comments section “Certainly, there is no debate about adhering to laws, but facing off citizens with weapons is frightening and only instilling of fear, which is not the proper role of government.” I know this may sound crazy to a lot of people but the only way the government can force compliance is to instill fear. This is done by all kinds of means, humiliation, threats of incarceration, torture by taser, and ultimately by fear of death by gunfire. As far as adhering to laws, there are 70,000 pages added to the federal register every year, three columns of legalese on every page. About 1500 pages a week we are supposed to read and know. And this is just federal, there is also state and local. People simply cannot be expected to keep up with so much “stuff” even if they wanted to. It has been said that almost all of us commit three felonies every day in one way or another. What is the government doing except instilling fear in the populace.
    Exposure and the internet are the answer to this. At a certain point it will become apparent that our government is out of control and does not represent us, and never did, and is illegitimate. Then we will have a chance of regaining our liberty, if we can do away with our addiction to coercive government.
    Gene Thadenek

    Thank you for posting the “rest of the story”. When all is said and done, I trust you will publish an “alert” clarification in the next newsletter with the same enthusiasm shown in the last.
    Bobby Mo

    Claiborne,
    Is this a no discharge zone? If not then what are the locals going to do if someone with a Lectra San unit comes along? It does not seem that these guys are in any mood to listen re different types of MSD,s
    Stephen Starling

    Since law enforcement personnel can’t stop your car or enter your home without some sort of provocation, I’m wondering why the spirit of those laws don’t translate to the waterway and our floating homes?
    It seems that people who in the normal course of living have a healthy respect others property and human rights, would extend more courtesy to passing yachtsmen.
    Bob DeGroot

    I, too, was boarded by the Volusia County Sheriff’s deputies only a couple of hours after the boarding described in the original post, presumably by the same three officers. Their craft was plainly identified and handled in a professional manner. The officers were courteous, fast in their inspection, and did not even delay our passage through the drawbridge.
    Particularly considering that a Fish and Wildlife Officer was shot earlier this year on this stretch of coast while persuing his lawful duties, Mr. Davidson’s description of the events and comments are perfectly justified as, in my opinion, were the officer’s actions.
    There is no reason to avoid this beautiful area of the coast; and those who obey the law have nothing to fear from law enforcement in this or any other Florida county.
    ANDREW GYGI M.D

    There is only one way to fight these vigilantes. . . where it counts . . . personally I am keeping a journal on all such reported incidents and will make it a point not to spend one penny in there area. I am very fortunate so far and this has not happened to me personally, but I will support my fellow boaters and not support those communities who allow this to happen.
    To treat law abiding citizens / visitors as criminals is outrageous and the problem starts and stops at the top. These officers are doing what their bosses want them to do.
    Diana Ruelens

    We need to Sue these rat . . ., they are NOT within their rights!
    I will chip in for sure.
    Capt. Sterling

    This factual story is not about a toliet, but about bullying. Which I feel happens too often in Fla waters. Something needs to be done!
    A few years ago we were in Ft Lauderdale and were treated rudely and threaten to have our vessel seized. All this because the Police thought we had past the 48 hr anchoring in Lake Silver. We informed the officer that we were within our legal rights as a boat in “navigation” to anchor in Lake Silver for the posted time, as we were crossing to the Bahamas. The officer took our phone number down, and later that day, Sgt. Pallen called us to inform us that he would be there at 6pm to seize our boat and arrest my husband. My husband replied “under what authority? Sgt. Pallen screamed that it was under his authority to tow our boat. Needless to say he never showed up, however just the terrible treatment of this officer keeps me away from Ft Lauderdale. Bully treatment has to stop in all forms. They are watching us for any hint of violations, who is watching them when they violate our civil rights? I am sure MSD issues would have been raised as a reason for further harassment had the confirmation proceeded.
    BTW: Sgt. Pallen has been investigated several times.
    Patricia Adamson

    If you EVER, on a boat, in your car, in your home, or on the street, blatantly refuse to follow the direct order of a law enforcement officer, you have asked for whatever treatment you receive! Police officers are NOT required to stand by unarmed when a civilian acts in a peculiar manner. Refusing to remain on deck, as requested, and running into the cabin is clearly a provocative act and no one should be upset that a gun was drawn. I suppose there is the possibility that the 3 offciers are lying about what occured but that seems pretty farfetched.
    Sally Miller

    Sadly, this is just another example of the Cartman complex that far too many law enforcement officers have acquired in the last few years.
    As a 40+ year tug boat captain, I’ve been boarded many times over the years. Until the last few years, the boarding officers were always respectful and courteous. In recent years, the whole attitude of law enforcement has changed to heavy handed, “YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITY.”, just look at me wrong and I will arrest or shoot you.
    I’ve seen the attitude develop, that the citizen is the enemy, throughout law enforcement. They fear little or no oversight for abuses and know the worst repercussion will only be a few paid days off.
    Captain Turk

    Having read this, I am not surprised and would never believe any statements by the Sheriffs Department.
    Kevin

    Claiborne,
    Thank you for publishing the statement by the representative of the Sheriff’s Office. Now there is a new “light” shed on the incident. If the crew of the subject boat truly defied the order to “Stay in sight” (a reasonable request) and acted as described, the officer definitely had enough reason to suspect some sort of foul play and possibly a threat to himself or his fellow officers. For now, I’m back to siding with the law enforcement officer, and awaiting further elucidation from Capt. “X”. Again, thank you for attempting to present both sides of this very emotional issue.
    Dick Giddings

    Clarifications…

    As I read the Statutes:
    Valves must be secured while in FL waters (MSD Type III)
    Valves must be secured in NO-Discharge Zones (MSD Type I & II).
    Documentation vs. state reg is irellevant.
    To the Captain (Aubrey Vaughan) that stated there are no MSD laws, re-read CFR’s and Federal Clean Water Act as well as FL and most other State Statutes; they all mimic the Federal act. Fines go to the State for clean water actions like pump-out grants, etc. and not to the locals.
    Owner was not in compliance. That is not the issue… the heavy-ahded actions of many police officers is the real issue (DON’T TASE ME BRO comes to mind).
    There is no restriction on boarding any vessel transiting any state’s or federal waters. I was boarded by USCG midway between West End Bahamas and Palm Beach. Clearly international waters.
    Capt. Guy

    Last year at this time sailboat friends (seniors) were boarded (did not ask permission) at New Smyrna Beach. No guns drawn, but officers were rude and nasty to them. Violation of closed, but not locked valve (die did not go into water). They sent in their $250; town returned check at told them to send another check for $88. They don’t know why the lesser amount. It left them with bad taste of law enforcement officers.
    Nancy Bartell

    Looks like being boarded is much like being stopped by an officer on the road. The best you can do is remain calm and respectful.
    My nephew is a county police officer and he says that the most frightening thing for him to do is approaching a car he has pulled over. He never knows what he’s going to find when he walks up to the window of that car.
    However, this is no excuse for unprofessional or threatening behavior on the part of an officer of the law.
    Unfortunately, the best advice, in addition to being in compliance with regulations, seems: be very, very cool if boarding takes place.
    Vicki Lathom

    I have been stopped fpr inspection by the USCG twice. Both times they were armed and had a fairly large weapon on their bow. In BOTH cases the USCG ASKED PERMISSION to board. They DID NOT draw their weapons. The Sheriff obviously needs to take a course on MARITIME LAW!!!! And the local Press/TV should investigate this deputies record – I would bet this is not his first complaint! A police officer in Cape Coral was just dismissed for similar “strong arm’ tactics. I know they don’t like to hear it, and they’ve heard it before BUT THEY WORK FOR US!!!!
    August Trometer

    All… this is what we look for doing “Courtesy Checks.” The following is what the USCG tells us to look for, so I believe this is good guidance. This was written by a fellow boater in response to the same question.
    Quote…….Here is what a boating course in Florida says about holding tank compliance:
    Preventing Discharge
    When operating a vessel on a body of water where the discharge of treated or untreated sewage is prohibited, such as No Discharge Zones, the operator must secure the device in a manner that prevents any discharge. Some acceptable methods are:
    Padlocking overboard discharge valves in the closed position, using a non-releasable wire tie to hold overboard discharge valves in the closed position.
    Closing overboard discharge valves and removing the handle.
    Locking the door, with padlock or key lock, to the space enclosing the toilets (for Type I, Type II only)……Unquote
    Aboard our boat, I personally use plastic tie wraps through holes drilled in the handles so that the handle is locked in the proper no discharge position. BTW… in some places these “rules” are construed to mean that any “Y” valve in the line must be locked to only permit flow to the holding tank, or to the deck pumpout. Some systems have two “Y” valves between the head and the overboard.
    As an aside…. Florida regulations permit “any” Florida official to board your boat at any time they chose in order to check and ensure that you are not pumping over the side. It doesn’t technically even need to be law enforcement. It even gets better… Florida authorities can stop you offshore, and even beyond state waters, IF they think you’re headed to a Florida port or coastal waters. How about that! This is an old discussion in Florida that has been discussed now for years – since they passed these regs. It is doubtful that the regs would completely stand-up to a serious court challenge, but to the best of my knowledge there has never been a serious challenge. However, in many, many states the Fish & Game, Wildlife, Sheriff, and Municipal Police have the authority to board your boat and check for safety gear and holding tanks when they want to; in port, at anchor and underway. No “probable cause” is needed. In short, they often “share” jurisdiction with the USCG and if you’re transiting strictly state controlled waters they have sole jurisdiction. So, you want to play nice with local law. The drawn and pointed weapons is another deal entirely. That I do not understand, but perhaps they believed that it would take deadly force to keep the skipper from trying to scurry about and align/lock the system properly. Coming below with drawn and pointed weapons means to me that they perceived a real and present criminal/violent threat to them. I wasn’t there and don’t know the exact circumstances that prompted such action. USCG usually asks to see the crew before they come aboard so they are observed by an alert and ready deck crew. I was once boarded 90 miles off California and the cutter did have it’s machine gun manned and ready, but the crew that came over did not have weapons drawn even at 0100 in the morning. As with a traffic stop, when the Man says to do something; you do. Have a great day. Don R, m/v Andante, moored Daytona Beach, Fl, Volusia County.
    Roman

    Dear Sherrif Johnson,
    Think about it – you are babysitting a sewage problem – not a criminal activity that warrants a drawn gun and an unannounced boarding!!!
    Why not simply announce your intention to board and at the same time announce your intention to inspect the MSD system? Where can a sail boat or trawler go? What if the skipper “locks” or “secures” the MSD valve upon notice of intention to board? If so, as a result of your announcement, you have sent your message. Or, you can give a citation if he has no lock!!
    If you are looking for drugs, announce your intentions to board and announce that you are looking for drugs!! You will see these boat owners and crew, on sail boats and trawlers, act in a very responsible manner – because they know what to expect!! Are you using the MSD issue to do drug inspections? Separate the two inspections – drug and MSD – with proper policy and procedures.
    Just because you have the right to board without cause, does not mean you should board someones boat without announcing your intentions!! Remember, you are demanding entry into their private home – not asking – as you should. Should you get a search warrant for every boat boarding? Think about it, your actions could cause your agency to be headed in that direction.
    Help solve the problem and do not simply use all your force to overzealously enforce the sewage law!!
    Reprimand the officer if he has a pattern of this behavior, apologize to the boating community, and establish a proper boarding policy in writing that everyone can see.
    Again, these are private boats and a private home while the owner and crew are on the boat. Help solve the sewage problem and not exacerbate the issue.
    Louis M. Wade, Jr.

    I know that the USCG and US Customs have the unfettered right to board and search a vessel under any circumstances and this authority dates back to the Prohibition Era. I am unaware that boats are different from automobiles and, therefore, I would think that permission or probable cause is necessary to board and search. But then, I was directed to this ambiguous Florida Q&A online:
    “Are marine sanitation devices subject to inspection?
    Yes. When the owner or operator is aboard, an officer may board a vessel with consent or if there is probable cause or knowledge to believe that a violation has occurred or is occurring. An officer may also board a vessel if the operator refuses or is unable to display the safety or marine sanitation equipment.”
    Being a non-lawyer, I am going to assume that like some North Carolina laws, this was written poorly to create a gray area where officers can do what they want. I do think that it violates our 4th Amendment rights. Even drug runners get their rights respected better.
    If a pistol was aimed at the captain’s chest, it’s stupid. The “threat” was supposed to be in a cabin where it is alleged that a crew member was opening and closing drawers. That may be sufficient cause to draw a sidearm and keep it at low or high ready, but you do not point it at an unarmed, passive person’s chest.
    Ron Rogers

    Given the prior postings on this subject, I found the following citation for the Florida statutes, Title XXIV Section 327 shown below rather interesting.
    Kevin
    327.56 Safety and marine sanitation equipment inspections; qualified.
    (1) No officer shall board any vessel to make a safety or marine sanitation equipment inspection if the owner or operator is not aboard. When the owner or operator is aboard, an officer may board a vessel with consent or when the officer has probable cause or knowledge to believe that a violation of a provision of this chapter has occurred or is occurring. An officer may board a vessel when the operator refuses or is unable to display the safety or marine sanitation equipment required by law, if requested to do so by a law enforcement officer, or when the safety or marine sanitation equipment to be
    inspected is permanently installed and is not visible for inspection unless the officer boards the vessel.

    Personal experience after many years of sailing… USCG and harbor police have always hailed on VHF16 switched to a working channel and exchanged intentions. If they are boarding I tell them they will be met at the (pilot) ladder by an officer who will escort the boarding party leader to the captain’s office to state their official business. Without the Master’s authorization they will need to contact the President of the United States since this is a U.S. Flag vessel and cannot be boarded by foreigners.
    You can guess how well that goes over… the point being I run this ship – if you want to come aboard then its at my pleasure not yours. If you don’t like it we can go to a U.S. Port and appear before a judge and work things out.
    Should you draw your weapon or release the safety clasp I will take that as a willful act of aggression and respond accordingly. You have now been warned. At your peril.
    Joseph

    I have twice cruised to Florida, from Lake Ontario. Fortunately, I have never encountered this situation.
    What boaters need to know:
    1 – Is the requirement to “secure” a through valve a county or Florida state requirement.
    2 – The meaning of “secure” must be defined.
    3 – How will the county/state communicate this requirement to boaters? Will they post signs at the border on the AICW and all inlets from the ocean, so that the requirement is made known?
    4 – How anxious are Florida State and Volusia County, to have transient boaters visit? This type of action will keep out of state boaters from coming and spending their money there.
    Jim Ebmeyer

    IT seems to me that the boat owner could better train and instruct his crew in keeping a better lookout. After 25 years of boating harbor/marine police do not come unannounced and jump aboard boats that are being operated in a proper way… what in the heck was the person(s) in charge of the watch doing? Undoubtedly not paying attention with eyes, ears or all available means (radar etc).
    I’d be getting a new crew and posting standing orders – strict? Ya-sure ya-betcha – the world is changing and I take responsibility for my own boat as owner and operator – no one else.
    Next I’d be re-thinking my actions regarding the existing laws – either follow them else rally the troops to get them changed – locked valves are easy enough – just do it.
    Phil

    NOT ALL OF THE FACTS ARE PRESENT
    Some facts appears to be fabricated… until its clear who did what and why I’m on the side of the vessel owner who undoubtedly is a ‘good joe’ just moving his boat.
    I think the police did NOT properly identify themself, ask how many aboard, ask all persons to come ondeck for a night boarding. Had they done that on a VHF channel for the world to hear they might have been received aboard in a more business like manner.
    To be prepared is to be forewarned.
    Keep the details coming…
    Jeffry

    Jim,
    Please read the statutes as presented in many times in this thread…
    it is a federal law, also enacted by the individual states (a bifurcated enforcement).
    Secure is clearly defined (so as to prevent resetting to the open position)…
    It is communicated through all boating safety courses and well documented.
    Few in this thread expressed a concern with the requirement… it the alleged heavy handedness of the officers.
    Capt. Guy

    Joseph;
    Volusia is not on the High seas or a foreign port… the President has given all local officials the right to baord vessels upon their waters.
    Capt. Guy

    Remember, the captain was down below cooking bacon, he was not on deck. The cop came down to him, gun drawn!
    Now am I going to beleive the captain…or the cops who more are and more getting out of control!
    Jack Hart

    “an officer may board a vessel with consent or when the officer has probable cause or knowledge to believe that a violation of a provision of this chapter has occurred or is occurring.” Where, exactly, was this probable cause, the mere existance of the boat on the water? Unless they smell discharge or see discharge, there is no “Probable cause” They are just fishing…..with guns. I wonder how pleased they would be if someone showed up to their homes to inspect for violations of toilet size….over 1.6 gallons per flush…gotta fine ya, oh, and look, I gotta gun! Probable cause, uh, well, you have a bathroom don’t ya?
    Can anything I say be used against me in any way today?
    Uh yea……
    Do I have a right not to speak with you?
    Uh yea……
    No warrant No search No probable cause….Have a nice day.
    Matthew

    The sheriff’s office has apparently quickly absolved the officers of any wrongdoing (as per their press release.) Did they interview the complaining party or just their officers? By the way, I can’t remember a police department ever admitting they did anything wrong.
    Bill Stuart

    Wow. What excitment!!! I sent the first posting to the manager of Volusia County. His response was basically stating I needed to check the response from the county. There are many good points that have been made. One, the several reports of abusive conduct by police is disconcerting. Two, if the sheriff’s report is correct that the owner dove below after being made aware of police presence he is lucky he was not shot. What is missing are “teachable moments”. Given the number of incidents of alledged heavy handedness, maybe all of the officers/county officials should read these posts so they can gain different perpsective on these inspections. After I got a speeding ticket a few months back I had a most delightful discussion with the officer and we both left laughing. Politeness goes a very very long way. We can all be allies and work for clean water. And, boaters note, I have no desire to boat through someone elses wastes so LOCK THE STUPID VALVE ( I am sure my ford lehman does not cool well with feces clogging the strainer). nough said.
    Lon

    If we all quit spending money in their county (Volushia) change will come very quickly, and hopefully this “rogue cop” will be looking for a job. I transit this area four or five times a year and this is not the first story of this kind I’ve heard. These people have a problem and refuse to fix it. So, I just wave as I go by and give NO THOUGHT to stopping.
    Bob

    I find it interesting that the Captain of the vessel who was given a $250 citation and started this firestorm of controversy, now wants it all to end stating “I’ve made my case, and the Sheriff’s office has made theirs”. This seems to me like nothing more than a frustrated boater who is upset that they were caught and issued a $250 ticket.
    As a resident of Volusia County and an active boater for over 30 years I appreciate the way our local law enforcement maintain our waterways for both safety and environmental reasons. With such a heavy influx of boaters coming south for the winter, I feel this type of procedure is very necessary in our area to maintain the cleanliness of our very fragile ecosystem. Several times I have been stopped and my boat checked for proper equipment and to make sure any fish we have caught are within the legal limits of the local regulations.
    I have never had a bad incident with these officers, but then again, I have always complied with their requests and treated them with the respect I believe they deserve.
    I guess maybe I was just raised differently. I was taught to respect law enforcement and to obey the law. Maybe if I had just ignored an order, I would also have gotten a ticket….funny thing…I fortunately, never have.
    People, these officers are just doing their job, and trying to keep our area safe and our environment clean…. I hope you will all continue to visit and enjoy our area as you pass thru… but please understand, this is our home and we need to keep it as pristine as possible. Let’s all work together to be part of the solution, not part of the problem…
    Kayama

    After reading many of the responses and the sheriff’s office response, I am convinced that the crux of the matter is that they did not ask for permission to board. For the police to come up alongside and ask permission is, as noted in many emails, required by Florida law. Asking for permission serves a great purpose. It opens a dialogue of calmness (hopefully) between the police and the crew – as long as the police treat law-abiding citizens with the respect they deserve. First of all the police can only come aboard (unless there is probable cause for other activities) to inspect those required items that they cannot inspect from their boat and not boarding the other boat. All papers and life jackets, etc, can be brought up top, but one must go on board to inspect the toilet. The officer must ask to come on board and for what reason and it is important that the captain grant permission for the specific purpose, although the captain does not have to grant permission. But even if he does not give permission, the police can still board ONLY for the purpose they need. I recommend that the captain answer, if he does not want the officer to come onboard, “I prefer you don’t.” It would also be good to say, if the officer does insist on coming onboard for the specific reason, the captain would be wise to enumerate and reinforce that reason.
    Only the captain should be allowed to answer that question and if the police come alongside the boat and ask for permission to board, they should first ask for the captain, and if he is not on deck, it is best, of course, if the crew answer that the captain has to answer that and call for the captain. If the police have any sense, they will allow the crew to get the captain if he is not on deck.
    It appears to me, in this case, that the police did not ask for permission, but just started to board. Even the sheriff’s representative stated that they don’t need permission, but he did not state, even though the captain said they did not ask for permission, that they asked. If he knew the law, he would have stated right off, whether it was true or not, that they asked for permission. But he didn’t. More than likely, the police did not ask and I am sure they – and the sheriff’s representative – did not know their legal limitations and requirements. Without knowing that, they obviously failed in their moral and common sense requirements of treating the boaters with respect. After all, they weren’t entering a crack house.
    Once they boarded the boat without asking, and thereby breaking the law, drawing their guns becomes a separate and inconsequential issue. Even it was stupid.
    Let’s see if the sheriff’s office admits their guilt. That would be rare indeed. Of course, many police officer’s out there – but not all, for sure – believe they have the right and power to do anything they want, whenever they want, because they have a badge.
    Steve Morrell
    Editor
    SOUTHWINDS Magazine.
    editor@southwindsmagazine.com

    If (IF) the vessel was “in transit” on the ICW, than the “local” sheriff’s Office HAS NO RIGHT Under Law to board the vessel, without Probable Cause or a warrant.
    They may, perform an interdiction whereby an FWC or a Federal Agency is called to the vessel, to board and inspect.
    Otherwise they are in violation of State and Federal Law.
    Been there done that…
    Listen up Local Law Enforcement. I fully understand you have a job to do…BUT if you decide to board a vessel under the color of Law, then you best be right.
    If (IF) it had been me, and I was “in transit” on the ICW, any attemt to board my vessel by someone (other than FWC or a Federal Agency) will be me as with any other Trespasser or Pirate! No one will like the out come as I WILL Protect my vessel and crew.
    Jim Lowry

    To me there are still a lot of holes in both sides of the story. I agree that Florida Marine Police and Sheriffs Patrols have more than their share of “Cowboys”, but that does not reduce the common sense requirements on us to be aware of what is going on near our boat and the crew keeping the captain informed. Also when approached by a police/law enforcement vessel one should be as cooperative as possible and not give them any cause for alarm. As to his drawing a gun, I don’t blame him, assuming the Sheriff’s story is correct. Don’t forget that many cruising boats are more heavily armed than the police and he is anxious about his personal safety.
    While most of us are law abiding and try to stay abreast of the legal requirement for our boats, it is very clear that there are a lot of people out there that either do not know what is required, or care. Just think about the nuber of times that you have been near someone who shows no comprehension of the Rules of the Road or common sense. Also many of the comments above show total ignorance of the Federal requirements to secure the head discharge.
    Bottom line; Even if he is a heavy handed SOB it is in our own interest to make it as painless as possible. Complain later but don’t add to the situation as it occurs.
    Jim Davis

    Sounds like plenty of ambiguity to go around. However, I would also say it sounds like Volusia County has a couple of hotdogs who wanna be bad@ss cops. Never a good thing. A gun and a badge on someone who has poor judgement or lacks maturity is an accident waiting to happen.
    I think I will just avoid FLA alltogether, or at least Volusia County. Maybe when the county officials realize how much damage their reputation has/is suffering they will insist something be done to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future.
    An aside: Some time back a friend who lived in a somewhat secluded area and who had reason to be concerned about his well being had a run-in w/ a cop. An UNMARKED car, w/ a plainclothes officer came to his house and back his lane. The cop was investigating something (unrelated to my buddy) and drove past multiple NO TRESSPASSING signs and got out of the car, knocked on the door and got no answer. My buddy was in his shop and heard the car, peeked out to see who the hell was at his house, didn’t recognize the stranger. What happened next almost got someone killed.
    The cop had heard noises when he got out of the car (buddy in the shop) and after getting no reply at the door started walking around the house. NEVER IDENTIFIED himself. Turned a corner and walked right into the business end of a .45. Cop started to try to draw his own weapon and was quickly dissuaded from THAT act!
    Was made to lie down on the ground, searched and allowed up once he was disarmed and his badge produced. Cop then tried to tell my buddy he’d be arrested for assault on a LEO, etcetcetc. Buddy told him great, here’s a cell phone, call your boss and explain what you were doing on my property w/o a warrant, w/o identifying yourself and walking around my property.
    Oh, and BTW I’ll be filing a complaint on your actions.
    AFA I know nothing ever came of either parties’ issues.
    Cop was lucky he didn’t get his head blown off.
    David

    This is exactly why I moved to Australia.
    Panaseaya

    Good morning
    I cant help but wonder………would the cops involved tell the public relations person if the had acted inproperly? Whats next…..They kick in the front door of your waterfront home, stick some dye in your toilet to see if it flows to the river? Just boarding the boat in the manner in which they in this county is improper, unprovoked, no cause or complaint. My wife and I as many of you have traveled extensively on the eastern US waters, and this is by fare the most overenforced area we have encountered.Even in the no discharge areas of upstate New York and Canada where I boated my entire life have we ever been boarded for compliance.These guys are cowboys on a personal crusade.Not law enforcement just doing there job.
    Meg

    As a former prosecutor I can say with a lot of experience that “official reports” are always drafted to protect the agency and to put any citizen is a bad light. This tendency is directly proportional to the degree of “authority” used by the officers to create fear and compliance. The fact that the PR arm of the Volusia County Sheriff’s office is engaged leads me to trust the boater over the agency in this case.
    Rick

    I believe that it would be prudent to “stand off” and wait till everyone on board was accounted for, if your worry was safety not jumping on board and rushing in. I was boarded from the rear quarter. My wife was steering in her underwear. My first notice was her yelling someone is getting on the boat. I looked out a port and saw what I thought was a official boat, otherwise I would have come out with a repelling boarders attitude. That would not have been good for either party. On a second note I asked if she could get dressed and the officer said he had seen people in their underwear before.
    New Smyrna Beach

    We’ve been boarded by the potty patrol in the New Smyrna Beach area at least once (perhaps twice – memory fades for non-events). The officials were courteous, didn’t impede our navigation, and knew what they were doing (they were aware of LectraSan devices and how they worked – unlike the young FWC officer who came aboard in our marina a few months back). I’d always give their version of events the benefit of the doubt, but there’s something that doesn’t ring true in the explanation relayed by the public relations staff of the sheriff’s department.
    Why would any boater, faced with a boarding involving three law enforcement officers, suddenly bolt for the companionway only to go
    below and start rattling around drawers thereby giving the officer an “excuse” for drawing his weapon and aiming it at the boater? I’m having a little trouble with that version of the events. Not that it couldn’t happen, but I think it is unlikely! I could understand it if the officer had said he was suddenly aware that there was a second person (the first being the helmsman) down below making a lot of noise that he had not been informed about when boarding the vessel. This is actually more likely and is consistent with the version portrayed by the boater, but it isn’t the scenario that the PR people relayed.
    Unfortunately, we can speculate all we want and jump to any number of conclusions without knowing all the facts and without having the
    opportunity to cross-examine any of the witnesses. We’ll never know unless we start hearing of similar instances and complaints are filed.
    If there’s a rogue officer out there, it won’t be long before we hear about it. As someone on the list just said, it’s important for any
    aggrieved boater to file a complaint with the officials (and to challenge any “ticket” in court).
    Bob McLeran and Judy Young

    Most states have water patrol officers legally permitted and required by state law to board boats to check vessel registrations, safety compliance, enough fire extinguishers and lifejackets etc, and MSD compliance. in your home, you cannot be subject to search without ‘probable cause ‘ (ie visible marijuana plants in your window, stolen goods visible in your garage, etc.) but on boats the rules are different..some states even require that your holding tank valve be WIRED shut, not just temporarily shut off.. just be careful out there…
    Mitch

    Below, with Captain Wade’s permission, we have reprinted an important exchange of notes between this skipper and the Volusia County Sheriff’s department:

    Mr. Wade,
    My name is Dana White, I am the Captain in charge of our Special Service Section which includes the Marine Unit. Your e-mail was one of many that was forwarded to me by Sheriff Johnson. I won’t even go into the legalities of the boarding since it appears that you clearly understand the scope of authority regarding that issue. The Captain of the vessel was properly hailed by the patrol vessel. He was clearly aware of their intentions to board his vessel for an MSD Inspection and complied with their orders to throttle back. Both occupants of the vessel were topside in the cockpit area of the vessel. As the patrol vessel came alongside the two deputies completed an uneventful normal boarding. No weapons were drawn at all. Lets keep in mind that both occupants of the vessel were told to stay topside before and during the boarding process. Immediately upon their boarding one of the occupants ran below deck into the cabin area of the vessel. At that point one of the boarding deputies stayed topside while the other deputy checked to see why the other occupant abruptly ran into the cabin.
    As the deputy entered the cabin area, he observed the occupant running from the bow area toward the aft cabin. The occupant ran past the deputy who was still giving him orders to come topside. The occupant entered into the aft cabin area of the vessel which was out of sight from the deputy. The deputy heard what sounded like drawers or doors opening and closing while the occupant was still out of sight. It was at this point the deputy drew his weapon keeping it at his side. The deputy again gave verbal orders to the occupant to come topside. The deputy did a quick peek of the companionway and cabin using the bulkhead as cover. He made visual contact with the occupant and observed empty hands. At that point the deputy secured his weapon in his holster which was the only time the occupant observed an un-holstered weapon. At no time was a weapon pointed at anybody on the vessel. I can only hope this gives you a clearer picture of why the deputy safely drew his weapon. Law enforcement officers don’t have the luxury to assume, but if we did, a safe assumption would be that the occupant of the vessel was closing valves and not tending to his morning beacon like stated in his blog.
    Our agency takes great pride in how we interact with the public in all situations. As often is the case, there’s more to this story than what was conveniently stated by the Captain who received a $250.00 Dollar ticket. We are by no means overzealous in our enforcement efforts and will not be apologizing for our actions. I hope this information gives you a clearer picture of what factually happened onboard the vessel. Please feel free to contact me if you need any more information on this incident.
    Sincerely,
    Captain Dana White
    Volusia County Sheriffs Office
    Special Services Section

    Your response is appreciated and I wish that you did not have to explain your agency actions. My concern comes from the several boardings in your county that are reflected upon by the many writers in this particular issue. Please, go online and read the many responses – good and bad. Also, there are many boardings taking place throughout the USA by several agencies. Many have been written about – good and bad.
    As you are aware, there are many rules, policies, and practices (to put it loosly in public terms – “laws”) relative to entering a home. There are no written policies and there is no training for the average boater to understand boardings.
    The result of not understanding how a boarding is to take place is that many people, both sides, express their resulting actions in terms of their training. Most boaters have no training and express their actions in a confusing and conflicting way. The officer, because of his training, can express his actions in a “perfect – by the book” way.
    I would suggest that you serve as a model and issue a policy and procedure that can be reviewed (consider it training) and understood by the boating community. We, serious and concerned boaters, will see that the subject of boarding is adequately discussed on our blogs, in our association newsletters, and at our rendezvous and meetings. There are thousands of members and I promise you – they will take it seriously.
    I would suggest that your agency take “public training about boardings” on as a project. Apply for some grant money and get your agency some recognition. Serve the public by offering your insight into the necessary training and understanding that the boaters need about boardings. Otherwise, you will be facing this issue many more times and it will only result in bad feelings on both sides.
    We consider our boats to be our homes. Our boats are boarded some several times on a trip of just a few miles or a few thousand miles. Most of the time we have done nothing wrong, but we are subjected to boardings to which we are not trained.
    Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
    Louis M. Wade, Jr.

    And, here are some more words we should all listen to, written in light of the new Sheriff’s Department response above, from Captain Steve Morrell, editor and publisher of “Southwinds” magazine.

    It is becoming more apparent that the police were wrong in this case by their official responses. In neither response, both from Gary Davidson and now Capt. Dana White, was there any comment that permission was asked to board – a requirement specifically stated in the written law that they must ask. They can still board if the Captain doesn’t not give permission, but it is specific that they must ask. Capt. White says “He was clearly aware of their intentions to board his vessel for an MSD Inspection…”. If that isn’t clear avoidance of omiting whether they asked, then nothing is. If neither police comments mention this, it is becoming very obvious that they did not ask. How long before they claim they did ask? The next letter from them, after not saying so in the first two? Possibly, but they have already missed the obvious by omission and this is that it is the act of asking permission that is the crux of the matter. Most likely, they didn’t ask and are trying to get around that fact with doublespeak, hoping boaters will not catch it. But why are they not stating the most important aspect of their legal standing? For two possible reasons: They either don’t know the law or are trying to get around their error. Coming clean on which is the case is their only viable option.
    Steve Morrell
    Editor
    Southwinds Magazine

    I would further like to add that the response by the Sheriff’s office is totally incorrect. Only the US Coast Guard is permitted to board without permission according to the U.S. Supreme Court. All navigable waterways are within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, unless inland or the Great Lakes. I will reemphasize that if the Coast Guard were not derelict in their duties, this incident would not have occurred
    Ken

    This practice from the “locals” has been going on for years in Florida, I’m sorry to say. I have to wonder if the boarding party were deputies fired in Marathon and found another sucker Sheriff to hire them where the incident took place.
    I’m a little confused as to where this transgression occurred. At 7 knots I would imagine it was still off shore. As a lawyer I still maintain that these wannabe cowboys of the sea are acting outside their authority.
    I’m sure you will remember, Claiborne, back in the day when all the trouble was going on in Stewart over anchoring, that the Coast Guard has neglected their duty in regulating the waterways for decades now. If they actually assumed their legal responsibilities we wouldn’t have the problem with the “cowboys” with their watercraft.
    It’s always easier to assault the innocent as to take on the criminal. Criminals might fight back.
    Kenneth C. Stump, Esq.

    I was boarded by the Volusia County deputies on 10/27 as we were staged with several other boats waiting to go under the New Smyrna bascule bridge. We were dealing with wind and some current, and the deputies boarded us just as the bridge was about to open, so that I had to turn the helm over to my wife who took the boat under the bridge, while I escorted the officers below. I was surprised that they were not considerate enough to wait until we cleared the bridge before they approaced us, and that certainly added to the tenseness of the situation.
    I showed the officer my diverter valve which was correctly valved to the holding tank, but cannot be secured because of extremely poor access. The officer agreed that it would be almost impossible to secure the valve with a lock or wire tie, but said that was not his problem. I explained that I had records of having pumped out the previous day and 4 times in the previous four weeks. He issued me a $250 citation.
    The officer stated ” I spend three months in the spring and three months if the fall doing nothing but stopping boats going north or south”. I concluded that Volusia County is operating a “toilet trap” that is just like a speed trap, and that their primary interest is to raise revenue rather than to insure the cleanliness of the waters. It seems that this law has given them the perfect tool to generate funds for their raises and toys, while getting to spend their days boating, rather than doing the unpleasant work of serious crime prevention.
    My take on the requirement for permission to board is that a boat is just like ones home on land. Boarding the deck is not an invasion of privacy, and if all crew members are on deck, it is not unreasonable to require all to stay on deck until the officer is escourted below.
    However, a crew member below could be sleeping, undressed, showering, or adding to the holding tank contents. That person must be allowed to prepare for visitors and then grant permission for entry. If an officer violates this, he is guilty of invasion of privacy and should be subject to disciplinary action or worse.
    A written policy should be published for dealing with this, so that all can understand their rights and limitations.
    I was able to petition the judge with my pump out records and photos of my diverter valve compartment showing the access problem and the fine was lowered from $250 to $100. I am installing a lock on the compartment door to hopefully achieve compliance with the securing requirement. I must say that this requirement does little to prevent overboard discharge, since the captain and unlock and operate the valve at will (but then logic has never been a requirement for government regulations).
    William Lackey SV Jezabel

    The incident, as well as the “Information Officer’s” attempt to portray what amounts to armed tax collection as something much less sinister is indicative of the divide that exists between our “armed enforcement agencies” and the general public.
    Appearances and practices suggest that the motto reading “to protect and serve” is a relic of the past, unless the target of this “protection” is considered to be government coffers.
    As for me, I will not antagonize, but, nor will I ever trust my well being to any representative of our government. I would strongly question the information officer’s assertion that “However, it should be clearly understood that no provocation is required, or even permission needed, for law enforcement to board a craft for the purposes of conducting a lawful inspection”.
    I daresay that absent of reasonable cause, a law enforcement officer cannot arbitrarily stop a motor vehicle, neither are they permitted to enter one’s home for the purpose of “performing a legal inspection”. This violates the constitutional tenet of “freedom from unlawful search and seizure”.
    Unfortunately, most of the victims of this heavy-handed, unwarranted “revenue generation disguised as enforcement” would rather pay the money and get on their way than to fight the good fight, and the local governments who engage in this despicable abuse of authority are only too well aware of this predilection, and count on it to continue to illegally fatten their coffers by fining innocent citizens.
    With behavior like this – is there any wonder in ANYONE’s mind that people absolutely abhor most law enforcement?
    Just a guy in the Chesapeake

    Sounds to me like Volusia County Sheriff’s Office needs an attitude adjustment. It’s “Protect and Serve” not Regulate and Dominate. They should be ashamed for acting like just another bunch of revenue generating Jackbooted Thugs.
    And their PIO’s excuse about the horrors of transient boat sewage is….well…..sewage. Even if every boat out there pumped over every time they used it they still wouldn’t be a drop in the honey bucket compared to land based dogs, lawn runoff and sewage treatment plant overflows.
    This is just horse crap. They should be ashamed of themselves.
    Hal

    At one time self governing and accepting responsibility was the norm and fewer laws were needed. The current trend seems to be to create more laws to cover each and every idiot and enforce those laws on everyone without common sense being applied.
    Based on the situation described and records of previous pumpouts, SV Jezabel could have received a warning citiation to rectify the marginal issue of difficult access to the valve and added the access lock.
    Penalize the masses without just cause is wrong.
    There are ways to nab the violators so nail them to the wall, but quit the harrassment.
    Search with actual probable cause and not because they can.
    The highway trooper and towing a visible load scinario does not fit here.
    The land of the use to be free.
    Steve

    There are three solutions to this situation
    1Go viral with this story bringing this to national attention as it invoves not only our rights as boaters but our constitutional rights as Americans
    2 every one with technology should photo video and record the reckless actions of rogue and rude Marine patrol and sherrifs officers engaged in this kind of conduct
    3 A total economic boycott on boaters transiting voulusa county no marinas no gas no resturaunts no nothing With enough pain of no dolars spent in this recession they will need more than 250 dollar citations to support their local govermentLet the local business owners who have the political means change the situation with an untrained undisciplined and frankly dangerous police organization
    barring that a full court legal press by citizens and boating organizations and the ACLU.
    Bill Roberts

    I will avoid Volusia County and spend my money else where. Aggressive meter maids cost Businesses on shore and on the water.
    Aboi

  • Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net Anchoring Rights Editorial Reprise

    Whence Come The Anchorage Regulations
    And
    What Do We Do About Them, “The 95 – 5 Rule”

    A Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net Editorial
    By
    Claiborne S. Young

    Almost everywhere I go, one question keeps popping up time after time; some variation of, “Claiborne, where are all these Florida anchorage regulations coming from?” Well, I am going to attempt to answer that question within this article/editorial, AND why I think most of these proposed prohibitions are unnecessary and probably harmful.

    Let me quickly acknowledge that I most certainly do not know all, when it comes to this complex issue. As always, we strongly encourage Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net visitors to weigh in with their knowledge and opinions. I have received some of the most eye opening data on Florida anchoring regulations/rights from my fellow cruisers. Please e-mail your comments or opinions to CruisingWriter@CruisersNet.net, or click the “Contribute Cruising News” link found near the top, center of most Net pages.

    So, with that out of the way, here goes. First, let’s dispose of two less than savory reasons why Floridian anchorage regulations have made an appearance, stretching all the way back to the early 1990’s.

    1. Local and county governmental officials see anchorage regulations as a way to expand their department’s authority, or, in bureaucrat-ese, “expand their turf.”

    2. There are a group of very wealthy Floridians, who, by virtue of their finances, have more than their fair share of political influence. And, they simply do not want to walk out in their backyards, and see anchored boats on the water. I once heard one property owner of this ilk testify that whenever he was on the water, he ALWAYS saw cruising craft dumping untreated sewage and trash overboard. Talk about a bald faced lie if I ever heard one!

    Those favoring anchorage regulation for one of the above two reasons are beneath my contempt, and that of the entire cruising community. Haven’t we had enough of self-serving government officials and overreaching, wealthy property owners? Enough said!

    Then, there are concerns about “noise pollution” and trespassing. Who among us has not dropped the hook in some quiet corner of the world, only to have another vessel show up across the way, and proceed to play loud music into the small hours. Not a fun night.

    I, myself, have watched, on rare occasions, as less than sanguine cruisers pull their dinghies onto someone’s back yard, and then gaily go off to the grocery store, as if it was their right to land the dink wherever they pleased. No wonder some waterside property owners have erected large “No Trespassing” signs.

    In populated regions, noise pollution and trespassing are real problems. However, I have a very simple solution for these two anchorage concerns.

    There are already trespassing and “disturbing the peace”/noise pollution laws on the books of virtually every municipality and county in America. One local water cop enforcing these regulations should solve the problem nicely.

    And, that brings us to the issue which I think is front and center in what I will term as the “honest” attempts to regulate anchorage (as opposed to the “dishonest” #1 and #2 reasons listed above). Can you guess what this issue might be?

    I won’t keep you in suspense. Abandoned vessels and what I will term, live-aboard “hulks,” are, without any question in my tiny mind, the #1 threat to anchoring rights throughout Florida for the rest of us. We’ve all seen vessels at anchor which have been sitting in the same spot for months on end, without anyone being aboard. And then, most of us have also gazed in wonder at “boats” which look as if they are going to sink any moment, and then we see someone come on deck. Have you, like me, asked yourself, “Does someone actually live on that thing?”

    Abandoned vessels and live-aboard hulks are safety and health risks, not to mention being more than a little bit unsightly. They often break free during bad weather, and impact other vessels or private property. And, as to the untreated waste being dumped overboard from the hulks, best not to think too closely on that topic.

    Think this isn’t a serious issue? Consider the two e-mails below which I received shortly after publishing my last “Anchorage Rights/Regulations Analysis:”

    Dear Claiborne,
    Thanks for the update and more than that, the great service you provide boaters. On the subject of anchoring rights however, I feel you and others in the cruising community need to take a more balanced stand.
    I live near Sarasota so see almost on a daily basis the derelict or near-derelict boats moored off the city waterfront. They are ugly, dangerous – occasionally coming adrift in bad weather – and in many cases unoccupied. For those that live aboard I suspect the concept of a pump out is totally alien. Then try anchoring overnight in the Boca Grande basin. My wife and I were there a couple of months ago and, contrary to your 2006 article it seemed virtually all occupied by “long term” cruisers ( I use the term charitably), many in dilapidated condition. Again, I wonder about frequency of pump out for some of these boats.
    Most of us are responsible cruisers, for whom a limitation of several days, perhaps a week, in one location is not a large imposition. I feel we would be better served by meeting local communities half way and working towards a compromise that retains the ability of the cruising majority to cruise, while dealing with the minority that give all of us a bad name.
    Peter Morris

    Or, this one:

    Hi Claiborne,
    I am an advocate for anchoring rights. But I have to point out that many places in California have had severe restrictions on anchoring for some time. Long Beach Harbor used to allow overnight anchoring behind some oil platforms but that “right” was taken away a number of years ago. Marina Del Rey, Redando Beach, and San Pedro have no anchoring. Newport Beach has a small restricted area, but you are not allowed to leave the boat unattended. Dana Point also has this restriction. San Diego has restricted anchorages, and most require a permit to use. Even Catalina Island has defacto lack of anchorages, by the massive mooring fields and harbor masters who will not allow anchoring in many parts of the harbors–so that at the Isthmus and Avalon, you have to anchor in more than 100 feet, and often in areas of poor holding and subject to weather.
    I did discuss the anchoring situation with our local marine resource officer in Pensacola, and there is no plan for restriction, as long as the vessel is outside of the navigable channel. I asked about the mooring field, and was told that the stipulations put on this were so great by the state that they would not be practical economically–I tend to agree. I do believe it is more for control, than to provide a service or help the mariner.
    Regards,
    Bob Austin

    And, speaking from my own experience, I will never forget the first day we came steaming into Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor back in the late 1990’s, to begin research for my and Morgan Stinemetz’s “Cruising the Florida Keys.” The numbers of sunken and semi-sunken boats were astounding! And, so much raw sewage was being dumped overboard, only those completely out of their minds would have stuck their big toe in the water.

    Of course, today, things are very, very different in Boot Key Harbor. It has been cleaned up, a large mooring field has been established, and the city of Marathon has put excellent shoreside facilities in place. BUT, that gets into the issue of mooring fields, which is the subject of my next anchoring editorial, not this one.

    Let’s pause here for a moment to recall a bit of relevant history. Back in the early 1990’s anchoring rights and regulations were already a problem in Florida, particularly in the city of Stuart. A group sprang into being known alternately as the “Coalition of Concerned Boaters” and the “National Water Rights Association.” I was intimately involved with this organization for several years.

    During one of the group’s conferences, we were presented with what may still be the only well-done, truly scientific survey of cruisers in the Florida Keys. After exhaustive research, Dr. Gus Antoinelly (spelling?), of the University of Miami, concluded, among other things, that only 7% of the boat owners in the Florida Keys were, to use his terminology, “Mavericks.” You may freely think of “Mavericks” as those who attempt to “live off the land,” and are subject to anchoring in one spot for long, long periods of time, probably without too much reference to MSD regulations.

    Now, I would argue that the laissez-faire lifestyle in the Florida Keys, which, by the way, accounts for much of the charm while cruising these fascinating waters, tends to encourage “Mavericks.” Thus, I would contend that in other parts of Florida, “Mavericks” probably make up 5% (or less) of the cruising population. That’s an important number to remember as we move into what I see as the solutions for abandoned vessels and live-aboard hulks!

    Unfortunately, encouraged by nefarious reasons #1 and #2 (see above), many communities in Florida have chosen to confront the problem of abandoned boats and live-aboard hulks by establishing anchoring limits of 24, 48 or 72 hours FOR EVERYONE. Put another way, towns and cities of this genre are penalizing 95% of the cruising community to try and rid themselves of the 5% they don’t want.

    Particularly in the case of Florida, THAT’S PLAYING WITH FIRE! Everyone please remember that in the Sunshine State, the marine industry is second in importance only to tourism. Cruisers, even those who almost never anchor, HATE anchorage regulations. And, that leads to e-mails like this:

    Claiborne:
    I have been coming to Florida since 1959. I have vacationed here for years. For 13 years I was in charge of a company outing. For 13 years we came to Florida spending lots of money. We were always treated very well. This year my wife and I retired and fulfilled a long dream of taking our sail boat to Florida to get away from Buffalo winters. It was strange that all the way down fellow cruisers would comment that they were not going to cruise in Florida because the “rich people do not want you to use their waters”. They were going to go over to the Bahamas where they were welcomed. Well I have cruised for over 2400 hundred miles on our trip and was not bothered by anybody until I crossed the Florida boarder. We have been stopped 3 times, boarded and  inspected once, and just routine stops on the other two occasions. A fellow cruiser, that I received an e-mail from, said that he was on shore and when he returned to his boat, the police were there and left a note telling him to leave the area. We have spent thousand of dollars in Florida, I know that the economy is not the best, but if I had a marina or had a business along the the ICW I would be a little upset on how the state of Florida is treating their guests and vacationers. I see the harbors littered with derelict boats and see why this is a concern. But if you are in a, in most cases, an expensive boat I would think that you would not be considered a nuisance but more a good business venture. We were in the Vero Beach area. We were just passing through and ended up spending 2 weeks. This area goes out of the way to promote business with the cruising community. I would like to stay in the Florida area, but wonder if it’s worth it. Hope things can turn around and it’s not to late.

    So, “what’s the answer, Claiborne,” you may be asking about now! Believe, it or else, I’ve got one.

    First, in regards to abandoned vessels, has no city or county governmental official in Florida heard of “salvage laws.” Let’s again be very clear that I am NOT a lawyer, much less a maritime lawyer, but it is my understanding that if a vessel is left abandoned for thirty days or so, it can be declared as salvage and sold at public auction. A few actions like that, and I have a deep suspicion that all the abandoned vessels which still have owners would be removed in short order.

    Too vague for you? Then Florida should do what South Carolina has just done, namely, pass a specific law which mandates that after giving generous notice, vessels abandoned for more than thirty days will be impounded and sold. What a good idea, and notice, this does NOT impact anchoring rights for any boat owners except those who leave their vessels unoccupied for longer than 30 days. And, how many responsible mariners are going to leave their boat uninspected at anchor for a month or longer. (more on the new South Carolina law SOON)

    So, what about liveaboard hulks? I can solve that problem as well. Federal and state MSD (Marine Sanitation Device) regulations are the answer.

    Again, as a NON-LAWYER, it is my understanding of Federal MSD regulations, that if the USCG has even reasonable suspicion untreated sewage is being dumped overboard, a $10,000.00 fine can be imposed. And, the state of Florida ALREADY has even tougher MSD regulations than the Federal government. So, the FWC in the guise of the Florida Marine Patrol, can inspect hulks for MSD violations as well. Clearly, if a vessel has been sitting in the same spot for months on end, it has either long ago filled its holding tank to capacity, or exhausted its batteries, should there be a Lectra-San type device aboard. That seems like more that reasonable suspicion to me to impose stiff MSD fines!

    Just let a few $10,000.00 fines be issued, and see how long it takes the live-aboard hulks to be moved, or permanently abandoned. If this latter action comes about, refer to my solution above for derelicts.

    The beauty of both these solutions is that they can go forward under existing Florida state and Federal laws, with no additional legislation necessary, and with no other anchoring prohibitions! Put that one in your pipe and smoke it a bit.

    Finally, that leaves the case of what I will call “responsible liveaboards,” boat owners who religiously come to the dock (or use a “honey boat”) to have their holding tanks pumped, don’t throw trash overboard, don’t make loud noise, don’t’ trespass, and keep their vessels attractive and well secured. How long should a mariner of this ilk be allowed to anchor his or her vessel in the same spot?

    I must admit that I don’t have an answer. Perhaps some of you could weigh in on this issue.

    Of course, one part of this equation that I have not discussed, is increasing population, both on land and on the water. While in the current economic climate, you may look askance at me when I discuss “increasing water population,” over the long haul, the numbers of boats on Florida’s coastal waters have increased. Coupled with declining public dockage, a case can be made, and well made, for some other sort of readily available means to store privately owned vessels, in a safe and secure environment. Thus, we enter the whole issue of mooring fields. However, and your eyes will be glad to hear it, that is the subject of my next anchoring editorial, not this one.

    Issues are getting confused here. A “liveaboard” boat in the State of Florida can be regulated outside of mooring fields. This has been this way since 2006. A “liveaboard” is a boat that does not move, is used strictly as a residence or place of business and does not navigate waters. The law already has given local communities the power to handle these vessels. They are NOT the issue.
    What we’re talking about are CRUISERS. Cruisers (called “non-liveaboards” even though cruisers may indeed live aboard full time or part time) cannot by regulated with regard to anchoring, according to FL Statute 327(60). The People of Florida demanded that Statute stay intact. But the Pilot Program goes around that and is exempt from adhering to the Statute. As FWC posted on their site “Due to pressures from homeowners and some others….” [they added the Pilot Program and submitted it along with what the PUBLIC agreed would be revisions to the Statutes]. This was done without Public input or knowledge…a back door loophole for those who have political pull to continue to try to override the majority. THIS is what is so scandalous about the Pilot Program.
    Five sites were to be named yet Sarasota immediately jumped the gun and put up a 72-hour anchoring limit. It was challenged and they dropped it, but everyone who knew anything knew that Sarasota would definitely be one of the five sites to participate in the Pilot Program. It is a self-serving program for a few to get what they want despite what the people have used due process to show as their choice: NO ORDINANCES ON ANCHORING for Florida cruisers! Another thing: When they named the five sites, it was incredulous that one site is ALL OF MONROE COUNTY! This is what happens when people are confused and don’t know what is going on. The Pilot Program is nothing more than a way to quell the whining of a few powerful people, take away the freedom of boats in navigation, and use our tax dollars to do it.
    The FWC will be holding more workshops on this issue. There is one at the Government Center in Marathon, FL on June 8th at 6 pm. If you cannot attend, let your voice be heard by writing. We cannot let this happen. Public trust is being manipulated and we can help our local authorities fight back against those misusing them with our voices saying we won’t stand for our rights and wants being ignored.
    One ordinance outside of mooring fields will lead to another ordinance outside of beaches, etc. There is no end to anchoring ordinances for cruisers if we allow them to BEGIN.
    I have enjoyed cruising the Florida coast and think it would be a great setback for everyone if anchoring in front of private property was restricted.
    Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd

    Consider the vast quantity of land owned and operated by major concerns (hotels, restaurants, and property developers) that could quickly eliminate large swaths of available anchorage for boaters.
    I am not so worried about abandoned boats, as that is truly a separate question.
    The live aboard hulk should be easy to resolve…
    Jack Simmons

    I like the idea mentioned above in reference to enforcing the current laws on the books. I would also propose, and this one will probably be met with controversy, a cruising permit fee of say $150 annually. The money raised by this fee (tax) could be used for enforcement. I would bet that derelict boat owners and irresponsible livaboards (the 5%) would not pay the permit fee and could be easily identified and dealt with within the current regulations.
    John Schwab

    I agree that enforcement of existing regulations concerning polution control would eliminate virtually all of the derelict live-aboards. As I understand it, there are already laws/rules/regulations granting the state the right to inspect/fine/etc. I believe local authorities have the ability to enforce state and federal regulations, do they not? Consistent local enforcement will drive away “Mavericks”. The inconvenience of multiple inspections, ticketing, fines, and jail time would discourage squatting. These regulations can also be the springboard for dealing with many of the abandoned boats, particularly those sinking and contributing polution that way.
    As for removal of abandoned boats, unfortunately one of the requirements is funding. It costs way more to retrieve the abandoned boat and dispose of it than can be taken in by auctioning or salvaging the boat. Consqently local authorities cannot afford to do it even if they want to.
    Therefor, a private “foundation” needs to be created to raise funds to be used for dealing with the costs of removing abandoned boats. Interested cruisers, marine businesses (local, national, international), “wealthy” local residents tired of looking at the derelicts, and any other interested parties could contribute to this foundation. It should be tax exempt to help encourage contributions. It could provide grants or matching funds to local communities, appropriate groups and organizations for use in abating the cost of dealing with this problem. If desired, the foundation coud handle “earmarking” funds i.e. funds raised in Stuart could be allocated to dealing with problems in that county only if the contributors requested that restriction, etc.
    Someone will immediately jump in with the “idea” we should handle this with tax money. Our systems are already overtaxed. We don’t have enough taxes to do all the things others want them to do as it is, and we don’t need additional or new taxes. Besides, there is something immoral about requiring everyone to contribute to anything held sacred by a few.
    We as a cruising community are perpetually lauded for being generous. We are, as are most all Americans. We just need to approach this problem from the standpoint of how might we solve it instead of “there’s nothing we can do about it”. And nobody should be allowed to complain about a problem without suggesting some possible solution.
    Reggie Good

    Similar problems in North Carolina! I’ve spent about 30 years cruising Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Long Island Sound. Depending on a given harbor, Yacht Clubs, Commercial Marinas, nearby property owners, and sometime town officials set out moorings, ususally with a harbormaster who assigns a space that won’t interfere with the swing of already-installed moorings. With 8′ tides, and 20-30 ft. deep harbors, this system has proven over the last 100 years to work fairly well.
    North Carolina has banned ALL mooring installation except for 2 special cases:1) a city or town may designate an area as a mooring field, and install moorings on a grid pattern, and charge a nightly fee for them(becomes outrageous if you want to keep your boat in the harbor for the season) 2) a waterfront property owner is allowed 4 moorings fer each 100 yds of waterfront he owns. Most have no moorings, but many have lifts. I live on a man-made canal off the Pungo River, and the sandbar at the mouth can prevent my boat from getting over it after a long blow from the West.
    About a year into using it, a CAMA officer came across it, and mailed me a $35,000 fine! Since the aterfront property inland of the moorng was a canal, there was no way for me to purchase 100 yards of it. My attorney finally settledthe case by getting an affidavit from the 2 property owners on either side of the canal to forgo installing 1 of their permitted 4 moorings. (They never had any intention of installing moorings anyway)
    All-in-all, this policy is very detrimental to beginning boaters, or to those who cannot afford to tie up $ in 100 yds. of frontage in order to install a boat mooring. Most of New England would be out of the boating business if they imposed N.C. style restrictions.
    Doug Green

    Well said, Claiborne! I have always felt that many/most government regulations “punish” the vast majority for the problems caused by a small minority.
    Your proposal makes great sense, although I suspect that it may take a lot of time and money to enforce the derelict and MSD violations. Even if that is true, it would still be better for all concerned than the “prohibit everyone” approach.
    Thanks for your great website and service to the cruising community
    Duane Ising

    Claiborne,
    The biggest issue with the impoundment of abandoned vessels is the absolute lock that USCG documentation has on the ownership of a boat. It takes upwards of 6 months in court for the IRS to establish their ownership of, and therefore ability to sell, a documented boat. A local municipality would be heavily burdened by the litigation required to be able to re-sell a boat they had taken custody of. I know a person who have found a vessel washed up on a beach and had no option but to negotiate with the owner who abandoned it in order to get the paperwork in place to register the boat himself. So even if there were a boat no one was claiming, it presents a big problem.
    Much local anchoring legislation is federally illegal – I was boarded last year by Miami Beach police when I anchored there and was told that while I might ultimately win in court, it might take years and bankrupt me. They were asking me to agree to a 7 day limit on my stay with generous provisions for extensions due to weather, mechanical difficulties, or medical emergencies that might postpone my departure. I had to agree that they were between a rock and a hard place over this because of pressure from waterfront land owners who were tired of paying high tax bills to stare at others who were not. So a friendly compromise in Miami Beach – in Georgia there is a 30 day annual limit on living aboard; at anchor, on a mooring, or in a marina. That doesn’t sound like it would hold up in federal court, but it doesn’t stop Georgia from enforcing it.
    I know if I’m boarded and my “Y” valve is not locked or wire tied to the holding tank position, and if my overboard mascerator discharge thru-hull is not wire tied closed, I’m subject to an expensive summons. The MSD laws will stand up in any court, so I agree that would be the best place to enforce existing laws to see if the problem can’t be substantially resolved that way.
    Peter TenHaagen

    As a Florida liveaboard, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of enforcing holding tank regulations as an easy way to deal with the derilict boat populations. However it has to be convenient to get your boat pumped and this is not always the case.
    We boaters are most likely willing to pay much more than $5.00 to get our boats pumped if it can be done on a timely basis. I would suggest that we reasearch how we can turn the honey boat business over to private industry who are able to make a profit, perhaps with government susidies. Maybe SeaTow and TowBoat US would relish a use for their boats when awaiting a tow job. Maybe the local government should BUY the waste from private honey boats.
    Please shield my name so I can continue to get pumped, Eh?
    H. M.

    Unscientific Observations….
    We happened to take a tour of Boot Key Harbor in Marathon yesterday. It has one huge Mooring Field and I understand that “things are much better than they used to be” here. The city apparently will pump out any boats requesting this service in and around the harbor.
    On our tour I noticed that there are many boats outside of this field anchored for a variety of reasons I would call some abandoned or damaged wrecks, others in storage, some very nice boats, some obvious short term transients, other live-aboards, and some “live-aboard hulks”. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder most boaters would be able to categorize boats if given a list and looking at the condition of boats. Gray area boats could be inspected more closely!
    One can get a sense of how long they have been present by the twisted rodes and slime buildup on lines and hulls. I was struck that the majority of these “questionable” boats in my mind were FL registered.
    I would hope the interpretation of existing laws can be used to address the concerns that boaters and non-boaters have on boats anchored or moored for long periods of time, those situations that seem to be of the most concern in this anchoring issue.
    I have yet to stay on a mooring ball and like to anchor out, rarely not being able to find a place we like. We’ve now traveled from the top of Lake Huron to the Keys and have rarely seen areas or boats that should create related concerns. That said, I accept that there are many such boats and areas that as witnessed by our brief on-water tour at BKH.
    Nature’s purification in the Northland is the winter ice that usually prevents very long term moorings.
    I would be interested in seeing a list of the more friendly places….one of the postings mentioned that they liked Vero Beach for example….while others mentioned being boarded by police and asked to move on! Where is that happening?
    Thanks, Jim

    The above comments make sense. Why are we penalized for the 5% of the scumbags?
    Capt. King

    A couple yrs ago while traveling south we anchored south of lift bridge in Ft Pierce. Several other boats there and a couple were in bad shape.. No dinghy and boats had lots of growth. The next day SW winds blew hard. I was worried about this one boat and soon saw it draggin down toward us. After the fire drill was done we had a small dent, the others boat was luckily anchored again without draging to the bridge.. The CG showed up and boarded the other sail boat.. No one there of course. Boat US showed up and commented that he had to tow that boat off th mud after every wind storm..
    Something has to be done about boats that are a constant nuisance. A eye sore to the cruising community.
    CRAIG FARNSWORTH

    So so tired of all of this BS by pompous property owners. It however is not ,unique to Fl or CA marine issues.
    We have people who build an expensive home and barn 300 feet from a train track knowing the issues up front. Every day a freight comes and parks in front of their home blocking access to their drive and view of the back 40 for 6 hours. All hell breaks loose.
    Same goes for the fool who builds his home near an airport and after a while tires of the noise.
    Every single person complaining in anyway about the varied marine traffic, knew, without exception, the issues and the score going in, up front. They made their choice, and now want it like Burger King, their way.
    They not only knew the situation, they knew up front what the taxes were also.
    I have no sympathy what so ever for those land owners. This is coming from someone who lives on the water and welcomes, and helps all coming by water in my area. They are typically better people than those complaining.
    The boat people do not polute nearly to the degree of those dumping lawn and plant fert, weed killer, etc. into the water. Their yard run off is not measured either, and is destroying other things too.
    If you don’t like it move!
    My home is worth plenty, but I chose to be here knowing all potential consequences. The water is free owned by none shared by all.
    POPEYE

    The above articles are right to the point and illistrate an easy solution the Florida’s dilemna. What I think is happening is the typical lazy approach of law enforcement to ticket the boats passing through whenever possible to generate a cash flow. Looks like they are enforcing the law. Boaters pay the fine and go on their way. They don’t want to chase after the derelicts because it may be difficult to find the owner or, the owner may be some local guy the cops know and sympathize with. Boats from the north look like fair game with deep pockets.
    jim burke

    You list MSD as the enforcable violation for trash boats. I would choose anchor light. To check a MSD the officer would have either have to catch the violator in the act of pumping overboard or go aboard, add dye to the head, flush, and see the dye apear in the water. An anchor light violation citation could be made by simply cruising the anchorage after dark, noting the boats without lights, and glueing the ticket to the boat beside the compaionway.
    Bill Murdoch

    Claiborne,
    I have, as both a Florida Resident and an “extended cruiser/liveaboard….watched this issue with some interest.
    I find the comments by Jay Marko to be a tad “disingenuous” and the reason I say that…. is because anyone above the age of 7 knows that if you are caught dumping untreated waste into Florida waters you are in for trouble. Trespassing on someones property….be it a vacant lot is illegal, and discharge of bilge water containing anything but water is illegal as well… My question to Mr. Marko would be: WHY have you and your neighbors not called the local Sheriff regarding the trespassing, and why not the FWC regarding the disposal or pumping over of waste and other chemicals??? Seems to me he sounds a bit like someone who wants to make noise and not see a boat anywhere anyway. I find it difficult to believe that he and his neighbors (who could afford waterfront property on sailboat water) couldn’t get the attention of enforcement authorities to correct the situation. Sorry, I don’t buy his story….
    B.C. Adams makes “vague assertions”….. and it sounds like he or she, like so many others….LITERALLY FAILS to understand that their property line ENDS at the seawall or high tide mark on navigable waters…. It legally does not matter that they bought the property for “the view”….their legally entitled view ENDS at the aforementioned points. How long a boat is anchored in one spot is of no concern to them as long as the boat or the boater is not in danger or causing problems that are addressed by law. While it is quite possible that thievery is taking place….how do they know it is a “boater” doing it?? It could just as easily be their neighbor doing it, or their neighbors son or just about anyone. If they can afford a “Private Marina”, one would think that they could afford some kind of security, even if its automatic lights or even a security guard or two.
    I personally find abandoned and junked vessels hazardous….. and the current laws make it difficult to get rid of sunken boats. Punta Gorda had a running battle with a local fisherman for a number of years over his sunken boat…. Maybe the issue should be laid at the feet of the lawmakers in DC to clean up that section of the laws and make it easier to get these things taken care of…..
    I am strongly considering taking my boat and retirement to another place…outside this country….because I’m sick and tired of arrogant people who claim to own what they don’t and demand to have things their way….. Florida used to be a great place to live and in some places it still is…but I can tell you….the shine has dulled badly in others….
    Rob Homan

    How come the State has the right to allow livaboards at anchor who are in navigation, but severley restricts the time allowed for the same boat if at a Marina, seems conflicted.
    Dennis McMurtry

    I have been fortunate enough to sail all the waters from the St. Lawrence to the Mexican border and well as the Bahamas.
    I know Live in SW Florida(25 yrs) and have watched as a few attempt to spoil cruising. Yes, there are a few derilect boats. I see the same ones year after year. There actually are so few, I’m amazed that the local enforcement agencies can’t be bothered with enforcing existing laws and eliminating them.
    In Charlotte county I spent many months going to the marine meetings and came to the conclusion that it was actually a very small group of complainers(4 or 5) and that they had little knowledge of cruising sailboats and the wildest imaginations and fabrications.
    If not for the state anchoring laws they would have kept everyone of “thier” harbor and “thier” surrounding waters. Thanks to all groups that fought for the anchor law.
    Robert Burney

    Most of the comments here remind me of the good old US Congress. What everyone needs is more and more laws removing freedom from some while granting more freedom to others. This is usually determined by which group generates the most money for the politicians.
    I like the method used by the Indians best. No one owns the water, no one owns the land. First come, first served. How simple and straight forward. It removes the driving force behind this whole issue, which is greed.
    It is a given, that when one chooses to build near water there will be boats, those that we like and those that we don’t.
    There are certainly boaters at these anchorages that find some waterfront homes beautiful and others an eyesore, which detract from the natural beauty of the area. Beauty is in the eyes of, well you know. Does that give the boater the right to have the ugly or unkept home seized in 30 days and sold.
    The home owner certainly polutes with roundup and lawn feed and the like. How about it, bring on the EPA, check into the runoff from these poluters too. In the Keys a study has already revealed that the land dwellers polution far exceeds that of the boaters. Look it up, it is well documented.
    It is not really about polution at all, it is about the money and the greed and always is.
    The boats were here first and every single home owner knew this, without a shadow of a doubt, going in.
    To the home owner I say, suck it up or move, after all that is exactly what you want and expect the boater to do.
    Popeye

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