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Archive For: WEST FL – All Cruising News

  • Good Words for Crows Nest Marina, Gulf ICW Statute Mile 58.5

    Crows Nest Marina - Click for Chartview

    Crows Nest Marina lies southeast of Venice Pass’s marker #5, just a stone’s throw from the inlet’s intersection with the Western Florida ICW. While we have always found the marina acceptable,the real attraction here is the on-site restaurant. It’s superb!!!!!

    We stayed for two days. Try to get as far from the inlet as possible because of wakes. Otherwise, clean bathrooms and laundry. Courtsey bikes are there. $2 per foot with Boat US.
    John Pholeric

    Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Crows Nest Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Crows Nest Marina

  • A Request for Route Recommendations, Fort Myers to Homestead (Biscayne Bay)

    Here is a another fellow boater looking for local knowledge and suggestions. His journey will encompass navigating the waters of Southwestern Florida past Naples, then Marco Island, then past the Ten Thousand Island region, and finally past Cape Sable, eventually ending up in the Florida Keys. At this point, a northward turn via the FLK Inside Route, will take him to his goal on the Eastern Florida shoreline in Biscayne Bay.
    As of 2/25/13, Captain Kris has received some excellent advice from Captains Donovan and Bell below

    I’m planning or rather need to go from Fort Myers to Black Point marina in Homestead [south of Miami on the mainland shores of Biscayne Bay – editor]. Was reading the postings and looking at the chart and have a few questions regarding the posts.
    The comment “winter waves” – should I expect high seas in February? I generally like deep water so was planning to stay somewhat deep but I saw some posts that said charts are wrong.
    Cape Sable shoals – is this difficult to navigate?
    Boat. 34ft sail, 4.0 draft, 52’8 must height. 27 horse diesel.
    Experience moderate. Looks like I enter the channel just south of east cape. couple questions:
    1. What stops do you recommend?
    2. Does the inter-coastal run cleanly all the way up from the inside or do I need to go outside?
    3. Heading towards Marathon looks interesting because the water is deeper.
    I appreciate any advice.

    You will need to go outside at least until Gordon Pass at Naples where you can anchor in Port Royal or go downtown for a mooring or dockage. From there, inside to Marco is doable with the right tide as is inside to coon Key, but it is tricky in spots, so outside is easier. You can anchor in Factory Bay or Smokehouse Bay or dock in Marco. Cape Sable Shoals are not to be taken lightly so, if you go outside, you need to go pretty far south before turning Eastward (you can “jump the light ‘). There are other anchorages before Little Shark, but I haven’t used them and they would depend on the strength and direction of the winds. Anything at or above 20 from any other direction than North will be uncomfortable and we get lots of fronts this time of year.. From Little Shark it’s a straight run down to Marathon. Of course, you could do an “allnighter” directly from Ft. Myers.

    You can anchor a mile inside Gordens Pass, then at Factory Bay in Marco. You can safely cut cape Ramano at the lime stone channels and anchor in calm water up the left hand fork heading towards Everglades City then a easy run to Boot Key Harbor. Email me if you want route, anchorage way point and draft information. We have a five foot draft 41 Hunter that has been on this route at least eight times. Email info is for info from 41 Hunter.
    Dave Bell

  • Report from Fishermens Wharf Marina Park, Gulf ICW Statute Mile 57

    Fishermens Wharf Marina Park - Click for Chartview

    South of Venice Inlet, Fishermens Wharf-Marker 4 Marina lines the northeastern shores of the Western Florida ICW, just northwest of the Hatchett Creek Bridge, and southeast of marker #4. This facility has been in a semi-finished state for years now, and we are not surprised to hear about its uncertain future in the message below.

    We were happy to dock and dine, and pay the 2.00/ft overnight rate. Interesting place, lightly used and even more lightly maintained – serious guano farm, electricity and water not run to the slips, pumpout not working. OTOH it was peaceful and quiet, short walk to town where a jazz band played on a Tuesday afternoon.
    There may be changes afoot. We overheard the restaurant manager talking on the phone about an auction of the restaurant. There is also the probability of hard financial times for the marina, which would explain its disheveled state. I hope they can work things out. I’m sure the restaurant will be recapitalized. The outlook for the marina is less certain.
    Don Wiggin

    We were there the night the restaurant closed, about 2 weeks ago, the whole site went into receivership for approx 2 weeks and then the new owners supposedly take over.
    This apparently will not release the permit for the Marina to be completed, the word was that the County overruled the City and said the City should not have issued the permit and will not approve the Marina without massive changes,,so I heard..time will tell…
    Dennis McMurtry

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Fishermens Wharf Marina Park

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Fishermens Wharf Marina Park

  • Report from Little Shark River, South of Marco Island, SW Florida Coastline

    Mouth of Little Shark River - Click for Chartview

    Little Shark River pierces the southwestern Florida coastline between Cape Sable and the Ten Thousand Isalnd region (Indian Key and Everglades City). The SSECN recommends three anchorages in our “Western Florida Anchorage Directory, but there are actually several dozen spots you might choose to drop the hook.
    Most of the reviews we have received here concerning a night spent on the waters of Little Shark have been positive, BUT the experience described below by “Swing Set” is not unique. When the wind dies on a warm night, the mosquitoes here are beyond bloodthirsty!
    As for the strong currents mentioned by Swing Set, that is the norm for this portion of the Southwestern Florida coastline. Be SURE your hook is well set before heading below for a well-earned toddy!

    We couldn’t get out of the Little Shark River fast enough. We got a good hook, but the currents are swift and the tidal range is extreme. A catamaran that came in behind us had a lot of trouble getting an anchor to set due to a hard bottom. We set one anchor and used an anchor alarm, but probably should have set two because of the tidal current changes. The water is just plain nasty and make sure you have plenty of bug spray when the sun starts to set. Next time we’ll pass this one up unless weather dictates otherwise.
    Swing Set

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For the Little Shark River Outer Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Little Shark River Outer Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For the Little Shark River Southern Fork Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Little Shark River Southern Fork Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For the Little Shark River Upper Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Little Shark River Upper Anchorage

  • A Good Visit to Everglades City and the Rod and Gun Club (Western Florida Coastline, South of Marco Island)

     Everglades City, accessed via the Indian Key – Barron River channel, south of Marco Island and Coon Key Pass, is a slice of OLD Florida. This is what the Sunshine State looked like as a boy when I was spending winters here in the 1950’s and early 60’s.
    The only real place for cruising size craft to dock in Everglades City is the Rod and Gun Club. This historic structure features its own marina and on-site restaurant.
    The channel leading from Indian Key to Everglades City gets rather shallow in places at low water. Captains piloting vessels drawing more than 4 feet or more may want to time their passage for mid to high tide.

    We left Naples on Saturday the 26th, bypassed Marco Island and the Cape Romano Shoals, and then turned in through the Ten Thousand Islands to Everglades City and the famous Rod and Gun Club, where unbeknown to us a wedding was about to begin on the grounds. In fact, the father of the bride very graciously caught a line for us (since they don’t monitor VHF and didn’t answer the phone upon our approach). What a neat little town and a worthwhile stopover. We did hit bottom once (we draw 3.5 – 4 ft. depending on how much fuel and water is weighing us down) on our way back out the channel the next morning at low tide.
    Sharon and Ken Vogel
    Gold Loopers
    M/V Docker’s Inn

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For the Rod and Gun Club

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Rod and Gun Club

  • Navigating From Marco Island/Goodland and Coon Key Pass to Everglades City (Southwestern Florida Coastline)

     As southwestern Florida cruising veterans will tell you, there is an UNOFFICIAL waterway which runs behind Marco Island, and eventually, all the way north to Gordon Pass and Naples. The “unofficial” part means that this passage is NOT part of the Western Florida ICW and is therefore not maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
    The shallowest spot on this unofficial Waterway lies near its southern terminus, hard by the southern tip of Marco Island, which is occupied by the fast developing (but still interesting) village of Goodland. Here, you can easily encounter 4 1/2 foot soundings right in the middle of the channel at low water.
    Also, a bit farther to the north, where the channel passes under the (northern) Marco Island Bridge, there is an UNBELIEVABLE “L” turn in the channel, just southeast of the span. You MUST pass marker #26 to its eastern and southern sides, or your vessel’s keel WILL find the bottom!!!!!
    The southernmost point of this “unofficial Waterway” is known as Coon Key Pass. Cruising craft must traverse the “shallow spot” near Goodland, and then cruise through Coon Key Pass, if they are southbound to Everglades City, Little Shark River or the Florida Keys via this “unofficial waterway route.” Of course, you can avoid all of this by staying offshore, being sure to stay well clear the vast Cape Romano Shoals, and then continuing south.
    The messages below pertain to cruising south from Marco Island/Goodland, via Coon Key Pass.

    What is the water depth? It looks very shallow. We are heading to Marco on Wednesday and could go to Goodland on our way to Everglades City…IF there is water!
    One September

    We’ve been thru Marco to Goodland several times in our boat which drafts 4 ft and haven’t had a problem. The most challenging spots were just after leaving the Marco Bridge (toward Goodland) and when exiting from Goodland back to the Gulf at Coon Key. Pay attention to the tides and charts and it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s our preferred route to avoid Cape Romano Shoals.
    Steve and Gina Smith
    M/V Island Time

    We draw 42″. Go at high tide, or close to it. It’s a soft bottom.
    Swing Set

    The moon is full, now. Even though the tidal amplitude isn’t much we discovered that inches count!. After poking around south of Cape Romano we decided that the charts were not accurate enough to go into some of the places that warn of 4 feet or less at MLW. Consequently, we headed directly to Marathon because we were in the area at full moon tide and the tide cycle was wrong for us to make a daylight entry into some of the places south of Goodland. We went into Goodland in a friend’s outboard runabout below half tide. At one point the channel was narrow and too shallow to get Sequel in and out, safely. We opted for the Little Marco River and Capri Pass and, at that, there is an uncharted bar on the right of the pass entering the Little Marco where an island blew away in the last hurricane.
    Joe aboard M/V Sequel

    Two great anchorages on the way to Marathon are Russel Pass outside of Everglades City and Little Shark River. We found them to be one of the nicest anchorages to be at for an overnight stop.
    Michael Rizzo

    Have made the run from marco to everglades city outside many times, in both bad and good weather. if you trust your gps and the depth sounder you can pick your way through the shoals with no problem, once you have done it its a piece a cake. I draw 5.5 feet.
    Nick Chavasse

    Don’t forget about the 55′ bridge from Marco to Goodland.

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Goodland and Coon Key Pass

  • Turtle Cove Marina (Tarpon Springs, FL on the Anclote River)

     Anclote Key, Anclote River and the charming community of Tarpon Springs lies astride the northern terminus of the Western Florida ICW. So, this is either the jumping off point when headed north across the waterwayless Big Bend region of Western Florida, or the first possible stop when cruising south from Carrabelle, Dog Island or Apalachicola.
    Turtle Cove is one of the newest marinas in Tarpon Springs. We had occasion to visit here in February of 2012, and were favorably impressed. Most of the dockage for transient craft is located on an artificial island jutting out into the creek, and connected to the mainland by a narrow, but auto accessible neck. Neat concept!
    I might also add that all the downtown Tarpon Springs attractions, including the MANY superb Greek style restaurants are within easy walking distance, and there is a fresh seafood market literally next door to Turtle Cove. Yummmmmm!

    Sea Biscuit here for several nights. We draw 4.6 feet, and in our case, we can only come and go at, or near, high tide. We almost sit on the bottom in our slip, but not quite. A very nice marina, we like it, just that the water depth at low tide is probably about 3 to 3.5 feet total depth at lower tides during the approach, 5 to 6 at higher tides. Easily doable, but requires a slow and careful approach, which is necessary anyway due to busy traffic, close quarters, and some narrow channels. Enjoy, as the hospitality is tops! Perfect location and excellent security.
    Sea Biscuit, Defever 44

    Visited the first week of Feb. Nice marina w/ floating docks. Looong walk to laundry and showers. New showers planned near docks. Problem being water depth. I draw 57″. At MLLW I had 32″ under boat (by lead line). Probably the shallowest dock in the marina. Poor choice by dockmaster. Great location to visit sponge dock area with restaurants and shops (two blocks) and also the downtown with cathedral, upscale antique shops and historical buildings. Approach channel had 6′ spots near high tide. Timing is important for deeper draft craft.
    Has Royer

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Turtle Cove Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Turtle Cove Marina

  • TowBoatUS Tampa Bay Earns “Tower Of The Year” Award

    This just in from our good friends at TowBoat/US. Looks like the Tampa Bay franchise of this very popular service is really up to snuff!
    Notice this franchise has satellite operations on the Western Florida coastline, from Tampa Bay north through the Big Bend region!

    CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla., January 29, 2013 — An on-the-water towboat company that helps Gulf Coast boaters get home safely was singled out for its professionalism at the BoatUS Towing Services Annual Conference recently held in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Tower of the Year honors went to TowBoatUS Tampa Bay, which is owned and operated by Capt. Larry Tieman and Capt. Clayton Tieman. The company has eight locations along the Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay to Cedar Key, including St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Hudson, Homosassa River, Crystal River and Yankeetown.

    The company also received two additional awards – the BoatUS Membership Achievement Award for selling the most BoatUS memberships in the entire fleet, and was honored with the BoatUS Dispatchers Choice Award, given by the dispatching staff at the BoatUS 24-hour call centers for providing members with fast response and utmost professionalism during the dispatch process.

    “We have grown our business to become the largest BoatUS towing service provider in the United States and we are very proud of our accomplishments,” said Capt. Larry Tieman. “With fourteen boats and sixteen captains, we handle over 2,500 requests a year for on-the-water assistance. If you’re broken down or run out of gas near shore, we’re very proud that we can get a bright red towboat with a professional captain to your location in usually an hour or less,” he added.

    “The Tieman’s operation is the standard bearer that many in our towing fleet look up to, showing others how to run a successful on-the-water towing business in one of the busiest regions of the country,” said BoatUS Vice President and Director of Towing Services Adam Wheeler. “And they do it professionally, with the great care that our members deserve, and always with a positive attitude.”

    BoatUS Towing Services offers an “unlimited” towing plan for Florida boaters for just $149 a year, which includes BoatUS membership. Without a towing plan, the national average out-of-pocket cost for a tow is about $600. For membership and towing information visit or call 800-888-4869.

  • Invitation from the Management of Burnt Store Marina (Charlotte Harbor – Western Florida coastline)

     This super friendly and welcoming note originally appeared on the AGLCA forum, but I’m sure the marina management would be happy to welcome all cruisers. We have edited out the text that applies only to AGLCA members.

    Just wanted to post a note to let you know that we are still here and waiting for you to come by for a visit. Our marina still has the lowest fuel prices in the area and can accommodate boats up to 100ft. We have WiFi available for transient boaters as well as laundry facilities, pump outs, fuel and ice.
    For those who love basking in the sun we have a heated pool and hot tub available at no extra charge and also a fitness center with tennis courts. We also have beautiful grounds to walk and welcome pets.
    Golf is also available and we will transport you to and from the golf course.
    We have two restaurants on site at the marina and one at the golf course, all of which are open to the public.
    Feel free to visit our website at and call us at 941-637-0083 for any questions or additional information.
    We wish you a safe and healthy [cruising] season and hope to see you at Burnt Store Marina.
    Peggy Wark

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Burnt Store Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Burnt Store Marina

  • Praise for Calusa Island Marina (Marco Island, Western Florida Coastline)

     Calusa Island Marina is our FAVORITE facility on Marco Island. And, not the least reason for this good feeling is that Little Bar Restaurant (239-394-5663) and Stan’s Idle Hour (239-394-3041) are within easy walking distance. The food at Little Bar is superb, and a VERY good time is usually had by all at Stans, particularly on the weekend.
    You will also find the management at Calusa Island Marina very responsive to the needs to cruisers. Give them a try!!!

    Just want to put in a good word for the folks at Calusa Island Marina, Goodland, FL. It is sunny and warm among the mangrove islands just at the edge of the 10,000 Islands. Cheryl, Andrew, Larry and dockmaster, Don, are
    friendly, welcoming and very helpful. So if you are still on your way south (or coming north) a stop here is well worth it.
    Judith and Paul

    We’ve been by Calusa many times; we love the area! But, it is shallow, and particularly in the mornings with the prevailing diurnal tides of the SW Coast. From the Coon Key Channel, what’s your “local knowledge” advice on
    getting onto the marina? And also, did you “partake” at Stan’s?
    Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary

    It is a really neat run up the back door to there from Marco. Marina is neat. Shallow water is true, but with our 4′ draft, we made it just fine. It is a nice, short run from there to Everglades City, but take the east side of the last island when you leave and not the channel. Locals will tell you how.
    John & Sue Winter

    Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For

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

  • Making a Dinghy Legal in Florida

    A very interesting discussion has been taking place this week on the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association ( about the requirements for legally operating a dinghy in the Sunshine State. This is useful reading for all who cruise in Floridian waters.
    Incidentally, the entire Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net bunch continues to highly recommend membership in the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association. What a GREAT bunch of fellow cruisers!

    Our boat the “Ariverderci” she made it to Fort Myers beach from MN in Dec of 2012.
    We will be getting back to her in Feb to continue on out Great loop Adventure.
    We are having dinghy and davits attached to our swim deck while we are away. We did not really need one on the way down beacuse tieds were not a problem. We simply beached the boat and have done this for years.
    Well that has changed. A dinghy should be a lot of fun put we sure do not want to break any laws while using it.
    Can any one tell us if we need navigation lights on a motorized dinghy under 9′ long. I can’t find anything that say I do, but I want to be safe.
    Also under Florida boating regs we found a web site that said boats under 16′ needed 3 Visual distress signals approved for night time use. Can some-one name 3 for me? Hand held VHF radio? Flash light? I don’t know if they qualify and that’s only two.
    We will be looking for your ideas and suggestions on lights and visual distress signals for boats under 16′

    Under 16′ – For lighting, you only need one all-around light when operating sunset to sunrise, or in restricted visibility. For distress signals, nothing is required unless you are on coastal (not inland) waters
    See this link:
    Don’t forget to register your dinghy with proper state, probably the same state as your primary boat.
    Ron & Jan Matuska

    Do not confuse the requirements for a NON-POWERED vessel with those of a vessel that is powered. Powered vessels REQUIRE navigation lights after dark. Non-powered vessels DO NOT (except for a lantern, flashlight, etc). A dinghy is a vessel!! Get out your navigation rules, dust them off and look throught them. Don’t stop reading when you find the answer you want, read the whole section, the rule may change when applied to your situation. Remember, Federal Laws can trump local laws.
    Distress signals are described in the Navigation Rule book. Specifically, rule 37. Additionally look at annex IV to the Nav rules, you will find 15 or more. For lights, look at rule 23 and 25 and make sure you follow either international or inland rules as appropriate.
    Larry Kreissler

    I am a Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Inspector and would refer you to a few web pages for your information.
    The first one is This website allows you to look at the different states and their laws. As there are surprising differences between states, you need to be aware of and comply
    with different state laws as you proceed around the loop. This company is the publisher of the various state law books that are distributed by the states. Printed copies of these books are available from your nearest Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadron who also conduct Vessel Safety Checks.
    I would strongly urge you to get a FREE Vessel Safety Check. Each examiner is qualified to perform the inspection and will issue you a decal if your vessel passes the exam. Some insurance companies might give you a discount on your insurance for passing the exam – check with them. To schedule a Vessel Safety Check with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, just go to and click on “Vessel Safety Check” in the left hand column. Here you will find a “virtual VSC” so you can make sure you have
    all the required equipment. Once you have done this, you can schedule a VSC with a local examiner through this website. For the US Power Squadron, go to and follow a similar procedure. While passing the exam and display of the decal is not a get out of jail free card, you may still be boarded by the Coast Guard or local law enforcement to conduct a safety check as this is their probable cause for stopping you. If they are doing random boardings and see the decal, they may decide to bypass you and move on to someone who is not displaying the decal.
    Different states will have their own web sites, so please also refer to those for hopefully, the most up to date information.
    Visual Distress Signal carriage requirements depend on the body of water you
    operate on and whether you operate only during daylight, or potentially could operate at night or in limited visibility conditions. Because of the wide variety of time of day, conditions, and locations where you may use
    your dingy, I would equip it to the highest standard – coastal and night operations. This is completely different than daylight only – inland. Personally, I carry the Orion Skyblazer handheld flares in a pocket on my life jacket while aboard my dingy. They meet day and night requirements, coastal and inland requirements, are relatively cheap, and are very compact.
    I have no pecuniary interest in making this recommendation – only one of a satisfied customer. Various localities may have additional requirements or restrictions. An example of this is the Corps of Engineers lakes in Georgia.
    They discourage the use of the pistol type pyrotechnic launchers (notice I did not say guns) as they launch a flare high enough and with enough range that it could come down on shore and potentially start a forest fire. I
    also have a B-1 fire extinguisher, a Danforth style anchor (made for PWC) and a screw type beach anchor along with 50 feet of anchor line, and a couple of dock lines.
    Navigation lighting requirements are Federal and will apply to you regardless of your location. Various states may have additional requirements. On my dingy, I have removable navigation lights with bases that are glued to the tube on the bow, and glued and bolted to the top of the engine at the stern. While the anchors and anchor line are not part of the legally required equipment, it certainly makes my dingy more useful and safer. It is not difficult or expensive to make your dingy compliant and legally usable in all locations under all conditions.
    Even if all of this was not required by various state and federal laws, you want to see and be seen, hear and be heard. This makes you safer on the water and greatly decreases the chances that you will have an accident.
    Thanks for asking the question as I am sure there are others who will read this and take appropriate action to make their Loop safer and to be legal wherever they go.
    Dave & Nan Ellen Fuller

    As Dave pointed out, powered vessels REQUIRE navigation lights after dark. And like Dave, I too have removable navigation lights with bases that are glued to the tube on the bow, and bolted to the top of the engine at the stern.
    Also, be sure to have on board a life jacket for each person on board. An inflatable vest in a pouch worn on the waist is a convenient choice. And a whistle or other audible device is needed too. And a daytime distress signal too. An anchor can save you from having a current sweep your dinghy into harms way, should your outboard conk out — although it’s not required.
    USCG and water cops with time on their hands find dinghies easy prey for these violations. And in some places you’re more likely to be cited after sunset.
    Nighttime dingy transits in busy, confined areas like Key West can be rather dangerous if a dingy does not display the proper navigation lights. The on shore lights and other vessels hamper visibility, increasing the possibility that a dinghy can be run over by a larger vessel.

    The Fullers state that, “I have removable navigation lights with bases that are glued to the tube on the bow, and glued and bolted to the top of the engine at the stern.” I see many all-round anchor/range lights on top of outboards which are clearly in violation of COLREGS. If that light cannot be seen all around, over the heads of passengers or the boat’s superstructure, it is illegal and unsafe.
    Capt. Jim Acheson

    As Dave pointed out, powered vessels REQUIRE navigation lights after dark. And like Dave, I too have removable navigation lights with bases that are glued to the tube on the bow, and bolted to the top of the engine at the stern.

    Also, be sure to have on board a life jacket for each person on board. An inflatable vest in a pouch worn on the waist is a convenient choice. And a whistle or other audible device is needed too. And a daytime distress signal too. An anchor can save you from having a current sweep your dinghy into harms way, should your outboard conk out — although it’s not required.

    USCG and water cops with time on their hands find dinghies easy prey for these violations. And in some places you’re more likely to be cited after sunset.

    Nighttime dingy transits in busy, confined areas like Key West can be rather dangerous if a dingy does not display the proper navigation lights. The on shore lights and other vessels hamper visibility, increasing the possibility that a dinghy can be run over by a larger vessel.

  • Important – Florida Boat Registration Questions Answered

    Recently, we published an article about the issue of whether Federally Documented vessels entering Florida need/must also be state registered in Florida, or some other state (see In a follow-up reference to this article, as part of our SSECN Alert of 1/18/13, we posed two specific questions:

    1. Are Federally Documented vessels which are NOT ALSO state registered, in violation of Florida state law, if said vessels stays in Floridian waters LESS THAN 90 DAYS?

    2. Are owners of Federally Documented vessels, whose home port resides in a state that refuses to state register Federally Documented vessels, and, therefore, their vessels are not state registered, in violation of Florida state law.

    Well, thanks to my friend, fellow nautical/cruising guide author, and frequent SSECN contributor, Captain John Kettlewell, these questions have been answered, though FEW will like the answers.
    John took it upon himself to contact Captain Tom Shipp of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC). This is the principal state agency responsible for enforcing Florida boat registration regulations, so, if anyone should know the answers, it’s them. Here is what Captain Kettlewell discovered:

    Captain Tom Shipp of the Florida FWC has replied to my question about what reciprocity there is for a CG documented vessel from out of state that does not also have a state registration. As you know, quite a few states do not require CG documented vessels to also be registered with the state. Off hand, I believe this is the case in Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
    In short, the answer is that every boat entering Florida waters must have a state registration even if it is CG documented. Parts of his message follow:

    You are correct that the “grace period” would not apply to those vessels. Although those other states may not require registration for documented vessels I would encourage each vessel owner to inquire of their individual home state if they could voluntarily register their vessel.
    A vessel, federally documented or not, that is not covered by a registration from another state or by the USCG in a state without a federally approved numbering system, is not provided that 90 day reciprocity time and would need to register with DHSMV.
    Captain Tom Shipp
    FWC / DLE / Boating and Waterways
    620 South Meridian Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
    Phone: (850) 617-9563
    Fax: (850) 488-9284

    John J. Kettlewell

    So, to interpret a bit, the answers are, Federally Documented vessels which are NOT ALSO state registered are in violation of Florida state law, the second they pass into Florida. There is NO 90 day grace period.
    And, even if your vessel’s home port is located in a state that refuses to state register Federally Documented vessels, you are still in violation of Florida state law as soon as you pass into Floridian waters. In this instance, you would probably have to pay to register your boat in Florida.
    As I said, few will like these answers, but this is the information that has come to light. The entire cruising community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Captain Kettlewell for digging out this info!
    MANY THANKS Captain John!

    The idea that Maine would register my boat for me in the absence of a state system just so I could take it into Florida legally would be the best laugh of the week if it did not highlight the pathetic situation in Florida.
    The lack of any common sense or hint of practical thinking on the part of boating policy makers in the state on nearly every issue affecting cruisers is beyond imagination. It makes me think there must be something in the water down there.
    In the highly unlikely event that I ever take my boat into Florida again, I will be sure I have enough drinking water to last until I leave. I wouldn’t want to risk ending up so stupid.
    Roger Long

    Well isn’t this just great! I would like to see the law that this is based upon and the Florida FWC’s written interpretation of that law. I can’t imagine that this doesn’t interfere with another state’s right or the US government’s right to regulate commerce. Any Constitutional lawyers out there who would like to weigh-in on this subject?
    Gregory Ward

    In California they do not even have a form (and they have forms for everything) for registering a federal documented boat. We are planning on doing the loop in 2014 and this is something that I need resolved or at least a path to keep me legal.
    Dave Dove

    Claiborne answers: Captain Dave, well the easiest thing to do is to register your boat with the state of Florida. You can do this by getting in touch with the Florida DMV. See the note below for a fee schedule to do this. Yes, I know it rankles, to say the least, but, as I say, this is the path of least resistance.
    Unfortunately, as I understand it, you must register your vessel initially in person, by going to a Florida county tax office. Here is a web site that pretty much covers the entire procedure:

    If you click on the “county tax collector’s office link,” you can find the nearest office to where you are located. You can also follow another link, print out a Florida boat registration form, and take the completed for with you.

    And, another good web site for Florida Boating and Registration Information:

    These are the current fees from the Florida DMV for boat registration if you stay beyond the 90 day “free” period or have no state registration from another state:
    Registration fees vary by the length of the vessel, as follows:

    Class A-1 (vessels less than 12′ and all motorized canoes): $12.25Class
    A-2 (12 feet to 15 feet): $23
    Class 1 (16 feet to 25 feet): $35.50
    Class 2 (26 feet to 39 feet): $85
    Class 3 (40 feet to 64 feet): $134.50
    Class 4 (65 feet to 109 feet): $159.50
    Class 5 (110 feet or longer): $196.50
    Please note that some counties may tack on additional fees.

    Some states, other than Florida, allow you to state register your boat even if it is documented–in fact, some states, like Rhode Island, require it. It might be worth it for someone cruising to survey states on their route and determine which one might be easiest and cheapest to register in, but watch out for becoming liable for local property and excise taxes! Just for kicks, I looked up vessel registration information for North Carolina. If your boat is C.G. documented you can’t title it, and if you can’t title it you can’t register it with the state.
    John Kettlewell

    Well I will just keep my boat out of Fla. They don’t need the money I would have spent there this summer. I will stop short and spend the money in GA.
    Capt. Bill Shearon

    If I register in FL because I CAN’T in NC, do I have to pay sales tax to FL because NC did not charge any for used boat?
    DK Leisure

    This is another example of our elected officals at there best. What in the world are they thinking? Anchoring issues, no wake zones, manatee zones, long waits for bridges, high marina costs and now this.
    We have taken our boat to FL for the last five winters. With the price of fuel, marinas and the extra maintenance it is not an inexpensive trip. For what it costs for a round trip between NC and Fl we can fly or drive and stay in a motel for less.
    On the other hand, we have heat on the boat and can cruise from VA to GA in the colder months. During this time of year, the waters are not crowded, there are less crab trabs and marinas are cheap. Aside from the temperature, whats not to like?
    The more I think about it, the more reasons that I can find to skip FL. I believe that our boat has seen its last trip to FL.
    David Boxmeyer

    One item of consideration….if the boat entering the state of Florida is 30 years old or older, and meets the requirements, that boat may be eligible for registration as an “antique vessel”…. the registration fees are so low that you would pay for two years…just for the fun of it. Otherwise, look into the sojourners permit….which is less expensive.
    Rob Hobman

    This is a stubid law, If every state on the east coast required this, traveling from maine to florida would require registering in 14 states. lets get real.

    I very much hesitate to muddy the waters even more on this complex issue, as the premise of this posting is the message above from Captain Tom Shipp of the FWC. And, let’s remember that this is the principal agency empowered to enforce Florida boat registration laws. The infamous “Venice Water Nazi” was an FWC officer!
    However, some SSECN readers are finding information which seems to contradict Captain Shipp’s statement. So, in the interest of trying to air as many views as possible, we have published these sorts of messages below.
    At the suggestion of long-time contributor, Captain Jim Healy, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is going to seek a definitive answer on all these boat registration questions from the Florida Attorney General’s office. We will get a certified paper letter off to them very soon. Just don’t hold your breath for the speed of a reply!

    This is confusing. I went to the web site and exemptions are shown below:
    U.S. government-owned vessels.
    Vessels used strictly as lifeboats.
    Non-resident boats used on Florida’s waterways for 90 days or less.”
    It makes no mention of an out-of-state registration requirement. This appears to be different from the information provided by Capt. Tom Shipp.
    Richard Massey

    To add fuel to the fire, I paid $23 for the tax collectors legal advise via their web page.
    Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:52 PM
    To: Customer Support Internet E-Mail
    Cc: WebMail
    Subject: WEB: Property Taxes
    I have a federal documented boat and California do not issue registrations for federal boats. I am going to be moving thru Florida waters for less than 90 days. Florida requires that all boats be registered Any idea of how to proceed to insure that I am in compliance with Florida law

    Dear Mr. Dove,
    Since you will be in Florida waters for less than 90 days, you are not required to obtain a Florida registration.
    Karen Taylor
    Customer Support Department

    Gentlemen, some of you are complaining about NOTHING!!
    If you bring your boat to Florida…and are in FL waters for less than 90 days…then you do nothing. You are home free! In fact if you are constantly on the move…I doubt anyone would bother you.
    The State of Florida is sensitive about boat registrations because “there is absolutely no property tax on boats, just as there is no income tax” in FL. But if you are here for over 90 days…by state law you are required to register the vessel…or you can get a “sojourners permit”…..

    If you think Florida is bad…stay in GA or SC too long…and see what kind of tax bill you get from the state.
    I hate to say it…but for people who own pricey boats, y’all complain a lot about nothing….
    Rob Homan

    Cruising News:
    I have a documented boat with a tax paid NY home port, I keep the boat in Maryland and are required to register the boat in MD With their DNC for a nominal fee. This registration does not issue the “bow numbers” but a 2 yr decal. Will this paid state registration make FL happy?
    Bruce Stewart

    Bruce Stewart, yes you are covered by that registration decal for up to 90 days in Florida.
    John Kettlewell

    Claiborne answers – Captain Stewart, I strongly believe that your Maryland registration, WILL satisfy the Florida requirements, even though you do not have a bow number. Now, you may certainly be stopped, and asked to prove your vessel is Maryland registered, but one the proper paperwork is produced, that should do it.

    There’s a jumble of misinformation in the last few comments. First the website is not an official Florida site. Reread what Captain Shipp of Florida’s FWC, the agency that enforces these laws, wrote: “A vessel, federally documented or not, that is not covered by a registration from another state or by the USCG in a state without a federally approved numbering system, is not provided that 90 day reciprocity time and would need to register with DHSMV.”
    I have no idea what tax collector gave you the wrong advice, but the information is incorrect.
    Documented vessels need to also be state registered in Florida. There is no 90-day grace period unless your boat is state registered some place.
    John Kettlewell

    A note on Florida’s exemption for documented vessels from a state without an approved numbering system – there are none! According to the USCG’s website, every state has an approved numbering system, so don’t bother trying to research if your state doesn’t have an approved numbering system. See Federal Register/Vol 77, No. 60/Wednesday, March 28, 2012/Rules and Regulations 18689, “Changes to Standard Numbering System, Vessel Identification System, and Boating Accident Report Database – IV. Background”.
    Also, be aware that to qualify for Florida’s “antique vessel” status your boat must have an engine which is of the same manufacture and model as the original engine. This disqualifies many 30 year and older boats!
    Gregory Ward

    So, let me get this straight? Under this interpretation, wouldn’t every single commercial vessel that is documented under federal law (and not registered in a state) also have to comply with this supposed regulation?
    I’m betting that FWC is not boarding and writing up cruise ships, and tankers, that are porting in Florida to drop off or take on passengers that do not have their state registration.
    I’d like to see a FL Attorney General’s opinion on this. I’ve seen too many non-lawyers put out really bad information to be convinced this is the law just based on one person who works for FWC’s opinion.
    R. Holiman

    Bob Carter

  • GREAT Advice About Cruising Western Florida’s Big Bend Region

    I have lost count of the number of times I’ve said this, but it bears repeating. If you get a dozen veteran cruisers together, you will get at least twenty different opinions about how best to cross Western Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region. For those who have never cruised these waters, the Western Florida’s ICW’s northern terminus is at Anclote Key, while the Northern Gulf ICW does not begin its east to west trek until one reaches Dog Island and the charming village of Carrabelle.
    In between is better than a hundred miles of coastline, with a LARGE shelf of shallow water jutting for miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. These shallows are pierced at fairly regular intervals by man-made channels, leading to the Big Bend rivers such as the Crystal, the Withlacoochee, the Suwanee and the Steinhatchee. Some of these entrance passages are fairly reliable, while others are not.
    So, rather than follow the Big Bend coastline, staying several miles offshore, some mariners choose to cut the corner, and head (northbound) directly for Dog Island or Panama City.
    Whichever route you choose, there ARE challanges. Some day I must relate the story of the most disastrous yacht deliver in which I ever participated, all of which took place in the Big Bend region. But that’s another story for another day.
    For now, let’s all give a good listen to the excellent advice offered by veteran cruiser Captain Bob Duthie below. His words are well worth your time!

    I enjoyed reading this post as it sounded similar to our experience crossing the gulf. The unforecasted winds in the gulf on our trip blew up at night unlike what we were used to everywhere else where the winds tend to die down at night. On our crossing the night winds came from the north-east. There are a few things that might make a more comfortable crossing compared to the course that Muddy Waters took. We did the crossing in a 36 Grand Banks with no stabilizers. We had 4 adults aboard and changed the watch after dark every hour. The autopilot did all the steering and we planned a straight line course without any deviations.
    1. Leave from Carrabelle and go staight to Tarpon Springs which is 168 miles vs 180 miles for Appalcahcola to Clearwater. This means less time on the gulf.
    2. Stay 50 miles from shore in deep water to avoid all the crab pots that are found 20 miles from shore. Don’t follow the Big Bend.
    3. With north-east or north-west winds you will be rolling uncomfortably. Since you are 50 miles out, you can turn to the east so the winds are now on the bow/stern or one quarter. This reduces or eliminates the rolling.
    Slow down from 8 mph to 5 mph since you don’t want to get too close to shore at night and the slower speed makes it easier to take the waves. The up and down motion is much easier for people and all the stuff inside than rolling. The autopilot also can maintain a straight course.
    4. I estimated the highest wave at 8 ft when the bow platform was buried once into a wave with green water coming over and along the decks.
    5. At 5:00AM the sun came up and the wind died down. At about 10 miles off Cedar Key we changed course and headed for Tarpon Springs. The strings of crab pots were now easy to see.
    6. Overall it took us 24 hours vs a planned 18 hours and we went 25 miles further due to the change in course.

  • Sanibel Island Marina (WF ICW, Statute Mile 0)

    Here’s a very brief word from a long-time SSECN contributor about Sanibel Island Marina. This facility is located near the island’s southern tip (Point Ybel), and within walking distance of the lighthouse. I would also add to Captain Alan’s notes, don’t miss a meal at Gramma Dot’s Restaurant, on the marina grounds!

    Sanibel Island Marina is next. Walk to the lighthouse beach and collect shells. Try a cuban sandwich at East End deli.
    Alan Lloyd
    Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Sanibel Island Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Sanibel Island Marina

  • Cabbage Key Inn and Marina (Western Florida ICW, St. M. 21.5)

    If you have not visited Cabbage Key at least once, you have missed one of the most unique cruising opportunities offered by the Western Florida coastline. The marina is just average, but the food, particularly in the evenings, is good, and you just have to see the “unique” dining room wallpaper for yourself!

    Continue the ICW to ‘Green 61’ where you find the channel to Cabbage Key restaurant. Stop for lunch or stay overnight. If overnight plan to arrive after the busy lunch period. Take a clean dollar bill to add your name to the wall.
    Alan Lloyd
    Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Cabbage Key Inn and Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Cabbage Key Inn and Marina

  • More on Pelican Bay Anchorages (hard by Cayo Costa Island/State Park), Western Florida ICW Statute Mile 25

    Not only is Pelican Bay one of the best series of anchorages on the western coastline of the Sunshine State, but it is also one of the most discussed. Back on 11/12/12 (we published a whole series of messages about this overnight haven, and its adjacent Florida State Park – see
    But, as I’ve often said, there’s no such thing as too much information when you are on the water, so there are two more observations concerning this anchorage copied from the AGLCA forum.

    Alan is absolutely correct about Pelican Bay; it’s one of the premier anchorages you will find anywhere. However, “local knowledge” is important getting in there. Neither the approach to the bay, nor its entrance channel, are marked. So, ass/u/ming you are southbound on the G-ICW, turn west at a point south of G “75,” and about 200′ north of R “74.” Note that just off the shoreline, there is a Florida Speed Sign visible. Head toward that sign. Just before you reach the sign, turn SW and follow the line of the beach on Cayo Costa Island there, holding your course parallel to the beach and holding the shore close by to stbd at 50′ – 75′. Yes, a boat length or slightly more off the beach line. That “channel” carries 9′ of water, but it shoals very rapidly to the south, to 3′ or less. Many, many unwary boats go aground there. When you have passed by the beach, you will
    see the Cayo Costa State Park docks at your 11 o’clock, at a distance of about 1/2 to 3/4 miles. Aim at those docks, and set a rhumb line to them until you are past the shallowest water. There are slips there, with no services, but cruising boats generally can’t use them. Only the very outermost slips carry sufficient water depth. The dock tee heads are reserved for tour boats, of which there are several that ply those waters. Plan to anchor. The bottom is sand, and the holding is excellent.
    The gulf coast of Florida has diurnal tides; that is, one high and one low per day. Water depths are lowest in the morning and moderate to high in the mid-to-late afternoon. The tidal range at Pelican Bay is only about 2′. The rhumb line from the beach to the State Park docks will get down to 5-1/2′ at MLLW. By the time you get to the docks, you’ll see 6-1/2′ or more. There is a deep pool correctly charted on the current charts that carries 9′, which is the deepest water in the bay. Some older charts that are still widely circulated do not show that 9′ pool correctly. If you do not see that deep pool, you do not have the current charts of the basin. The basin is actually a “pass” between Cayo Costa Island to the west and Punta Blanco Island to the east. To the south from Pelican Bay, the water appears visually to be open; but, it is shoal, and not navigable by cruising draft boats. The only access back to the G-ICW from Pelican Bay is the one to the north of Punta Blanco Island, described above.
    Armed with this “local knowledge,” you will find Pelican Bay to be a delightful, well protected anchorage with a lot to see and do.
    Hope this is useful.

    There are two really good anchorages near Boca Grande entrance to Charlotte Harbor. The second is Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa. This is one of our favorites. Many people avoid it because of the shoal at the entrance. Just hug the beach – stay 25-50 feet off the beach and you will be in 6-9 feet of water. We draw 4.5 feet and anchor here a lot. The beach and park at Cayo Costa are great and again the park is only accessible by boat.
    Marty & Jerry Richardson

    Pelican Bay is right in my backyard, and I have been there a number of times. The descriptions above are reasonable, although the details change often.
    However, the discussion about tides is not correct. The tides in this part of the world cycle from diurnal to semidiurnal twice each month. The diurnal tides are near full moon and new moon, while the semidiurnal tides are near the first and third quarters. There is also an important annual component. The lowest tides tend to be mid-day in the winter and mid-night in the summer.
    There are no simple rules that can be conveniently remembered. Even thought the average tidal range is only a couple of feet, tide tables are essential if depth is important to you.
    Gene Fuller
    Punta Gorda

    The nun has now been replaced with a post R74. We were just there 1/20/13.
    Frank Cushing

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Pelican Bay Outer Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Pelican Bay Park Service Dock Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Pelican Bay – Punta Blanca Island Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Pelican Bay

  • “Druggies” Using Crab Pots In the Gulf of Mexico??????

    OK, folks, everyone has to take a look at this series of messages just copied from the AGLCA forum. All I can add is that this reminds me very much of the lyrics of one of my favorite 1960’s songs:

    “It’s a strange, strong world we live in, Master Jack!”

    Memsahib was stopped by Homeland Security for a routine document check about 10 miles south of Tarpon Springs. The Coasties didn’t even come aboard — we just handed them our papers and that was it. But it was a nice day and they hung around talking about the boat and the trip. etc.
    One of my comments was that I couldn’t understand the economics of the stone crab business because on our Gulf crossing we started seeing pots 32-35 miles out of Tarpon in 50 feet of water. How could anyone afford to fish those traps? The boss security guy became very, very interested and asked if they were rows or singles (singles and pairs), whether there was evidence of any otherpot lines in the area (no), whether we saw any suspicious boats (no — just that night’s Looper Flotilla). Seems that planes are dropping drugs way out and marking them with crab pot floats so nobody thinks anything about it.
    Thanks to a rendezvous with Catmandu to dodge pots, we were exactly on the rhumb line to Buoy R4, so I was able to give them a pretty accurate description of where the pots were, but I didn’t have my tracking feature turned on, so couldn’t give them a GPS fix.
    I would strongly suggest that if any future crossers see single spots way out in deep water, that they plug in a waypoint and phone it in when you land. Also, that’s another good reason to reach Crabland well after dawn,
    since running into a black Cigarette boat full of drug fishermen wouldn’t be any more fun than snagging a pot line.

    For what’s it worth, when we came across last week, the crab pots appeared to be in straight lines, typical of normal fishing style. When we saw a single, we sometimes had to really look for its mates but normally saw them. Also, we observed typical lobster boats working those traps. That said, everyone should stay alert to suspecious activity. Cruisers are the best eyes and ears for Homeland Security and they know it.
    Stay safe,

    Tom’s right, what appear to be isolated pots could well be in lines so far apart that they are hard to spot. Still, I felt badly that I couldn’t give them a good fix, and hope any ohters spotting really dodgy ones will do so.

  • A New Wrinkle in the Florida Sojouners Permit/FL Registration Discussion

    (Editor’s Note as of 1/23/13 – Two of the prinipal questions posed in the article below have been answered in a later published posting here on the SSECN. See We are leaving this older article in place for awhile, as it contains additional information, particularly in regards to “antique” Florida boat registration).

    Recently, we published yet another discussion of the Florida Sojourners Permit here on the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net (see As part of our introductory remarks, one of the reasons we cited for obtaining such a permit was:

    “1. If your vessel is registered in another state besides Florida, you can operate in Floridian water for up to 90 days without a problem. HOWEVER, if your vessel is Federally Documented, and NOT ALSO state registered, you MUST register it with the state of Florida, or you may be ticketed immediately upon entering Floridian waters. Or, put another way, Federally Documented vessels MUST ALSO be state registered (either with Florida or another state), or you face the possibility of a ticket.
    By the way, it’s this onerous feature of Florida state law that used to allow the “Venice Water Nazi” to ticket boats coming and going in the city of Venice.”

    Well, a new wrinkle has surfaced since we published this report, which originally appeared on the forum. One of this list’s enterprising members unearthed the Florida statute that controls this situation, and here it is:

    328.58 Reciprocity of nonresident or alien vessels.—The owner of any vessel already covered by a registration number in full force and effect which has been awarded by:
    (1) Another state pursuant to a federally approved numbering system of another state;
    (2) The United States Coast Guard in a state without a federally approved numbering system; or
    (3) The United States Coast Guard for a federally documented vessel with a valid registration in full force and effect from another state,
    shall record the number with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles prior to operating, using, or storing the vessel on the waters of this state in excess of the 90-day reciprocity period provided for in this chapter. Such recordation shall be pursuant to the procedure required for the award of an original registration number, except that no additional or substitute registration number shall be issued if the vessel owner maintains the previously awarded registration number in full force and effect.
    History.—s. 1, ch. 59-399; s. 1, ch. 65-361; s. 6, ch. 84-184; s. 57, ch. 96-413; s. 16, ch. 99-289; s. 25, ch. 2009-86.
    Note.—Former s. 371.081; s. 327.16.

    Now, IF YOU READ THIS CAREFULLY, it would appear that if you have a Federally documented vessel, and IF your vessel’s home port is in a state that refuses to state register Federally documented vessels, your vessel is excused from the requirement of having to have some sort of state registration while navigating in Floridian waters.

    It is a fact that certain states do indeed refuse to state register Federally documented vessels. The state of Maine is an example.

    So, consider this message which first called our attention to this possible exception:

    I repeated your information about not having a state registration for a documented vessel being a ticketable offence in Florida on my blog and got shot down. You should check this post which has the cite:

    The specific wording is:
    328.58 Reciprocity of nonresident or alien vessels.—The owner of any vessel already covered by a registration number in full force and effect which has been awarded by:
    (1) Another state pursuant to a federally approved numbering system of another state;
    (2) The United States Coast Guard in a state without a federally approved numbering system; or
    Italics added.

    I know this doesn’t mean that know nothing jackboots aren’t issuing tickets in ignorance of their own laws but it does mean cruisers with documented vessel have a leg to stand on if they are from a state like Maine.
    I still wouldn’t take this as absolute gospel without a lawyer. For example, Maine does have a number system for non-documented vessels and I assume it it federally approved. The state does not have registration for documented vessels other than local excise tax and a decal. I’ll bet you could spend five figures arguing this in court in FL if you decided to contest a ticket.
    It’s getting so you can’t cruise intra-state without a lawyer on retainer.
    Roger Long
    S/V Strider

    So, what does all this mean? If you have a Federally documented vessel, whose home port is located in a state that does not allow state registration of said vessel, does that indeed mean you can legally operate in Florida waters for up to 90 days WITHOUT your vessel being registered in any state???? Quite frankly, we do NOT yet have a definitive answer to that, but we are working on it!

    Any of you out there who are attorneys, particularly if you practice in Florida, we would WELCOME your input!!! Please follow the “Click Here to Submit Cruising News” link on the upper right of this, and all (except Chart View) SSECN pages, and share your information.

    One final point, even if this is a correct interpretation of Florida state law, that does not mean that some on-the-water “county mountie” who barely knows that the bow is the pointy end of the boat, may not write you a ticket anyway if your vessel is not state registered.

    As noted above, we’ll keep working on this thorny “only in Florida” problem!

    And, just in case you didn’t think this is a MURKY issue, we received these thoughts from fellow nautical author, and long time Florida cruiser, Captain John Kettlewell:

    Florida has always interpreted this as requiring your boat to have a “registration” in some state, whether or not it is “documented.” In 328.58 the sentence labeled (2) refers to the practice in the past that the Coast Guard provided state registration numbers and services in a couple of states that had no state registration program. I am not certain if any states still do not have a “registration” program, but it used to be this way in New Hampshire and Alaska, for example. The sentence labeled (3) is the one that pertains to most documented boats, and states clearly that even if you have CG documentation you must have a state registration to operated in Florida. The Venice “water Nazi” used to be quite explicit about these when he ticketed someone. The confusion comes because the terms “registration” and “documentation” mean different things.
    John J. Kettlewell

    Meanwhile, here is some seemingly contradictory info from Captain Ted Guy, maritime lawyer in Stuart, Florida, and past president of the Treasure Coast Marine Industries Association:

    For LESS than 90 days, no Documented vessel requires paying Florida tax or “registration”.
    W.E. Ted Guy, Jr.

    Ted, my understanding has been that law enforcement understands the law to mean even a documented vessel must have a state registration from some state to operate on Florida waters for those 90 days, even if your home state does not require you to register a documented vessel.
    John Kettlewell

    Are there any vessels that are “grandfathered” from this regulation? For instance, a documented 1965 vessel that has been in Florida since 1970 and continuously operated in Florida waters.
    sv Karen from Chicago

    Karen, there is no “grandfathering,” but if your boat is 30 years old it qualifies as an antique vessel and it is very cheap to register it in Florida–something like $5 per year in most counties. Here is a link to information on that:
    John Kettlewell

    Here is a VERY GOOD question. Anyone got an answer?

    Would someone please define “90-day period”.

    Is it 90 consecutive days?
    Is it 90 days in a calendar year (1/1 – 12/31)?
    Is it 90 days in a 365 day period?
    Is it 90 days, period.
    Jeff Graham

    Now, here’s a really GOOD idea. We’ll get right on it!

    Perhaps you, or Larry, could write on SEECN letterhead to the Florida Attorney General and ask for a legal “opinion” that applies to USCG Documented Vessels from states that do not register vessels. I know in NY an Attorney General’s “opinion” carries the force of law in any NYS court of competent jurisdiction. It would be “enlightening” to see what Pam Bondi has to say about this, and her opinion would bind courts and future administrations in the absence of intervening legislative action. The request must be rather specifically worded. Perhaps Ted Guy could help craft it.
    Whatdya think?

    Another twist. I live in a state which requires surrender of federal documentation if you wish to register a federally documented vessel in that state. However, they did not require me to surrender mine when I registered my boat. Therefore I have a current state registration and a current federal documentation. I guess I get to pay double in Florida?!

    Claiborne answers – No, Reggie, I think you are OK. If your vessel is state registered in any state, then you are compliant with Florida state law, at least for stays less than 90 days! A stay of more than 90 days means you will have to acquire a Sojourners Permit!

    Could it be that you’d surrender your USCG COD (a US Government Certificate of Title) if you wanted to “TITLE” it in your home state? Titling and registration are *not* the same thing, legally, although they are often done together, and some states will process them together. This is a case where boats are very different from cars, and the automobile model does *not* apply to boats. You can not “Title” a car with any US government agency, such as we do with the Coast Guard for boats. Because of a quirk in that process, I actually wound up with both a State of Maryland Certificate of Title and a USCG COD for Sanctuary.
    Jim Healy, aboard Sanctuary

    I printed out and read through the antique exception. If I understand it correctly, the vessel must first be registered in Florida, and then the registratio can be changed to antique.

  • Report and Comments on Bradenton Beach Anchorage (Western Florida ICW, Statute Mile 87)

     The anchorage under discussion below lies just south of the Cortez Bridge, west of the ICW.
    Two important notes need to be considered when evaluating this anchor down spot. First, successful entry can be very tricky for first-timers, AND the city of Bradenton Beach has twice tried to regulate this anchorage, first by creating a mooring field, and later by city registration of boats. Both attempts failed, but who knows what may happen here in the future!

    I am writing this as I am anchored here today (the first time in four years). I have always found this to be a great anchorage due to the fact that it has just about everything for onshore that a cruising sailor would want. A beach, a fair number of good places to eat and drink, a free trolley to take you up and down the beach to get to West Marine and the grocery stores and other places to eat and drink (circle K convenience store is just a block away).
    I have never had a problem navigating the pier entrance (draw 4 feet) but the first time I grounded when I tried to enter the anchorage directly off the ICW and hit the shoal. So go in as directed.
    There are still some derelict boats, one is sunk. It is somewhat noisy mostly from the road traffic going over the bridge or pier fisherman. The anchorage is shallow and the charts do a fairly accurate job of showing the depth. Holding is mud and I have dragged a little bit is a 20 knot blow. As for the the winds out of the south east, this is a lot better than jewfish key anchorage. However, any winds coming from the south or northeast, above 20 knots, I would find another anchorage.
    For the politics here, I had a conversation with a local town rep and they said the problem was not the cruising sailors, it was some of the local anchored live aboards that were creating some police issues and had some assorted conflicts amongst each other as well as some theft. The town was trying reduce those issues by putting in a mooring field…. . However, the town cannot do it as this is part of the ICW.
    As far as I am concerned, people need a place to live and in this economy, this offers an economic refuge in relative paradise. But, people have to be responsible for their selves and their assets and respectful of others and the environment too. Unfortunately, because some people do not follow this, that cruisers and local live aboards suffer from this tide of regulation.

    Yep, and complain about the junk boats and their owners and you will be labelled “politicaly incorrect” keep going, all of the rights of the hard working will be gifted to the non caring, layabout drug smoking forgiven , who will, take away all your fun and enjoyment. Proof of the pudding…
    Dennis McMurtry

    As a local, I regularly traverse this section of the ICW heading to/from Tampa Bay or the Manatee River. Seems that after the creation of the Marina Jack mooring field, some members of that “Floating Junk Flotilla” moved North. Cortez folks may be more tolerant, probably not over time.
    Blake Whitney

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Bradenton Beach Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Bradenton Beach Anchorage

  • Compliments for Legacy Harbor Marina, Fort Myers Waterfront, on the Okeechobee Waterway

    239 461-0775 Legacy Harbour Marina entrance is located on the Okeechobee Waterway East of Marker #49 on the Caloosahatchee River. The Marina is situated two blocks from historic downtown Fort Myers and three blocks from the historic Edison-Ford Winter Estates. The Marina's 131-Slips range in size from 40 feet to 80 feet and can accommodate Transient Boats of 100 feet plus. The large Fairways make our slips easily accessible. Our slips are surrounded by one of the largest 'floating breakwaters' on the Gulf of Mexico. The floating docks are state-of-the-art. Legacy Harbour Marina is a full-featured facility with all the modern conveniences of home including pump-out station, heated pool, fitness center, full electric metered at the slip, cable TV, laundry, air-conditioned showers and wireless Internet connections available. The Boaters' Lounge is available for relaxing after a cruise or for private parties. The view from the lounge is spectacular! Our grounds are beautifully manicured and provide great strolling along the river with benches, Chickee Hut, and excellent access to all of historic Fort Myers. Please take a few moments to browse our website and see for yourself what our  beautiful boating facility can offer you the next time you are cruising in Southwest Florida.

    Legacy Harbor Marina - Click for Chartview

    Well, of course, Legacy Harbour Marina is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!!! Legacy Harbour Marina entrance is located on the Okeechobee Waterway East of Marker #49 on the Caloosahatchee River.

    We are at Legacy Harbour in Fort Myers, been here for six weeks now. Folks here are very friendly. Note that some marinas do not allow livaboards. We are one block from Publix, walking distance to Edison Winter Home, many downtown restaurants and the new waterfront that opened last month.
    Alan Lloyd

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Legacy Harbour Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Legacy Harbour Marina

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