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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers

Cruisers’ Letter to Sarasota County Sheriff’s Dept. Concerning Blackburn Bay Anchoring Incident Pays Off

Earlier, we posted a letter copy here on the Cruisers’ Net of a missive sent from Captain Arthur Richard, to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s department, concerning a less than happy meeting with a deputy, while anchored on the waters of Blackburn Bay (see As you will see, Captain Richard’s note got a favorable reply, and it undoubtedly clued everyone in the sheriff’s department to the latest Florida state laws concerning anchorage.

Reference my earlier report on Anchoring in Blackburn Bay, Sarasota County, FL. It seems that our anchoring rights in Sarasota County, FL are in accordance with
Florida law. Apparently I experienced and ill-informed, overzealous part time deputy Sheriff.
I received the following response from the Sarasota County, FL Sheriff’s Office”

From: Richard Mottola
Subject: RE:Anchoring in Blackburn Bay
Date: December 19, 2011 10:31:25 AM EST
Mr. Richard,
This is Captain Mottola from the Sheriff’s Office. The Marine Unit is one of the
areas under my command (Special Operations Bureau). I checked with our two
full-time boat captains and neither recalls speaking with you about this. It
could very well be that you spoke with one of our part-time captains. I could
most likely determine this if you could provide a date and time of the contact.
Despite that, it appears you are correct in your interpretation of the statutes
I can only surmise that the captain you spoke with, for some reason, believed
you were actually living aboard your vessel and therefore assumed that county
ordinance 130-42 may have applied. Otherwise, it would not be applicable.
County Statute 130-42. Mooring of Vessels used as dwelling units:
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions (861-4049) – Or you
may contact Captain Shipp with the Florida Wildlife Commission (Southwest Region
Thank you.

Arthur Richard

And, with the comments below received after publication of the above article, the plot thickens CONSIDERABLY! Looks like the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department is using their own version of what constitutes a “live aboard vessel,” and, by the way, this definition is in contravention of Flroida state law!!!

I would like to make a comment and pose a few questions pertaining to this important subject and more specifically my recent experiences anchoring on Blackburn Bay. I have been visited by the Sarasota county Sheriffs Dept. Marine unit on 3 occasions once when my vessel was not even actually present for apparently violating the 24 hour time limit for live aboard vessels, this most recent warning requires that I move my vessel by December 22 2011 or be subject to fines of 250 to 500 dollars a day. The Deputy asked me with issue of this most recent warning if I understood the reason why he had delivered it, to which I again replied something to the effect that, and to the very best of my knowledge and understanding of the applicable Florida State Statutes regarding anchoring outside of approved mooring fields and the definition of a live aboard vessel, that I have actually never been in violation of any of these law’s. He became visibly agitated and spoke to me as if I were an insubordinate child indicating that it had absolutely nothing to do with the Florida State statutes, I thanked him and said goodbye, I am very thankful that he left. My sailboat is in fact anchored outside of any mooring field and is a fully navigable vessel with all required safety gear. Can anyone comment on the enforceability of these muni-codes in light of the Florida State Statutes regarding anchoring?
Cap’n Ron

The county code referenced, strictly interpreted, is favorable to people who live in houses and cruise for extended vacations. For those of us for whom our boat is our home, the code invites us to leave in 48 hours.
Nice of the Sheriff to be civil, though.

Below you will find more from Captain Richard, with his reply to the Sheriff’s department, and their subsequent message to him:

Captain Mottola,
Thank your for your response to my inquiry. A Sarasota Sheriff boat visit to my vessel in Blackburn Bay occured on the afternoon of November 30, 2011. The Sheriff’s boat remained at least 10 yards from my vessel, and I was not boarded. The operator of the Sheriff’s boat did not give his name, nor request mine.
I am pleased to find that my anchoring in Blackburn Bay was not in violation of county ordinances. It would be beneficial to the boating community if all of your officers were made aware of this.
Thank you,
Arthur M. Richard

From Captain Mottola (Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office):
My pleasure, and yes we are ensuring that ALL boat captains are made aware so that we do not have any further misunderstandings. Happy Holidays!

Chris: That is incorrect. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are living aboard for more than 48 hours. As long as you vessel is used for navigation and not solely as a residence you are not a liveaboard by Florida law, which trumps any local ordinances. Florida statute says this:
327.02 Definitions of terms used in this chapter and in chapter 328.—As used in this chapter and in chapter 328, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning, the term:
(17)“Live-aboard vessel” means:
a) Any vessel used solely as a residence and not for navigation;
b) Any vessel represented as a place of business, or a professional or other commercial enterprise; or
c) Any vessel for which a declaration of domicile has been filed pursuant to s. 222.17.
John Kettlewell

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