In an earlier, now corrected, story here on the Cruisers’ Net (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=96458), we opined that under the new, now approved Monroe County Anchoring plan (part of the Florida Keys’s participation in the Florida Pilot Mooring Field program) anchoring around Key West’s Christmas Tree Island (charted as “Wisteria Island”) and on the waters west of Fleming Key was prohibited. That is the way we and others read these regulations.
However, just a few days ago, we received the following inquiry from Captain RMW:
I think your statement that anchorages won’t be allowed around Christmas tree Island and Fleming Key is incorrect and you need to modify it. It frightened me before I did more research on my own. I think these are considered “unmanaged mooring fields” by the gov’t. Without those anchorages, there would be NO place for cruisers to anchor while visiting Key West. However, there is no “managed mooring field” west of Fleming Key, so I assume there is no exclusionary “buffer zone” there, which only applies to “managed mooring fields”. The only “managed mooring field” in Key West is at Garrison Bight in the Seaplane basin, on the east side of Fleming Key. The way I read the rules would apply to Key West, is that the “buffer zone” would apply to the Seaplane basin, around the mooring field at Garrison Bight. That would make more sense, the water is shallow, and in the places where it is not, has poor purchase for anchors. Your article is suggesting that all of the anchorages around Key West would be eliminated. There seems to be no such plan in the works, as far as I can tell. Please clarify.
Well, that really sounded hopeful. We are GLAD to acknowledge mistaken interpretations, particularly when the correct take is beneficial to the cruising community. So, we got in touch with Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, our very special Florida Keys correspondent, and the founder of BARR (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights and Responsibilities, and asked her to look further into this matter. Here is her response:
The guy is correct in his statement that anchoring will be allowed off Wisteria (Christmas Tree Island) and Fleming Key. You may be thinking about the prior plans to put moorings off Wisteria, and making the entire west side of Fleming Key a sanctuary area for marine life–thus barring anchoring. That whole proposal got scrapped when the ownership of Christmas Tree Island became questionable. It appears the US Navy owns it.
Thought for a minute about what the problem was as far as confusion with KW and anchorages. The entire area basically comes under the “managed anchoring” zone category which means you can anchor there but are subject to the rules and regs as established by the Pilot Program. No time limits or anything just pumping out and commonsense stuff. The only place that is different is on the east side of Fleming Key where the mooring field is…that is now a NO ANCHORAGE buffer zone. It’s a small area and very open to rough water. Most cruisers do not use it.
And, more input from Captain RMW:
I just called the FWC yesterday and the man I spoke with there (I was connected to someone with knowledge on the topic of mooring) confirmed what I wrote to you previously. The areas west of Fleming Key are considered “managed anchorages” and will be checked for compliance with the regulations as such. That does not mean that you can’t anchor there. The man acknowledged that people live on board boats in Key West, and for many, he said, it’s “affordable housing”. The area in the seaplane basin (east of Fleming) around the city mooring field is the “buffer zone” around the “managed mooring field”, and that is where anchorages are not allowed.
As far as Key West is concerned, I don’t see any problem with these rules – they are just putting teeth into rules that were always there.
I think it’s a good thing – who wants sewage and derelict projectiles around their bedroom? Also I think there are allowances for composting toilets, etc.
One more thing, when I asked him if additional funds were allocated for enforcement, he said there are no additional personnel.
So, it would appear that even under the new Monroe County anchoring plan, anchoring will be allowed around Christmas Tree/Wisteria Island and east of Fleming Key. HAPPY DAYS! We were never so happy to be proved wrong!