More Updates: 2020 Florida Anchoring Restrictions – CALL TO ACTION by Kim Russo
Our thanks to Kim Russo of America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association for this urgent plea for support of anchoring rights in Florida. And thanks to Tom Hale for his sample letter to legislators.
Cruisers Net joins AGLCA in a CALL TO ACTION. The issue of anchoring rights has been a battle with Florida’s Legislature for years. Enter “anchoring rights” in our Homepage Search Window for background on past anti-anchoring legislation in Florida and write to the officials listed below.
An enormous thank you to all the boaters, and especially to the AGLCA members, who attended the Jacksonville Water Commission meeting today. The Commission passed a resolution by a vote of 9-1 to oppose SB 606/HB 417! This is huge, because the sponsor of SB 606 is from the Jacksonville area.
According to the accounts of the meeting I’ve received, the Commission agreed that the issue is derelict boats and will recommend in their resolution that there be effective enforcement of derelict boats rules, a budget to accomplish this, and authority for local agencies to enforce them.
The Jacksonville Water Commission’s opposition to the bills will be very helpful in fighting then in Tallahassee. We have made a difference!
Again, many thanks to those who attended, and to Daneen Reed and Ron Beckstrom for reaching out to me after the meeting!
America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association
We are still in need of three things from Loopers (and other boaters you know) to help curtail the assault on overnight anchoring in Florida:
1) We need boaters to email and call the members of the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee before 3:00 p.m. on Monday, January 13th when the bill to eliminate overnight anchoring in several places has its first hearing. The links below lead to the members’ webpages. Each has a button to email the Senator and a phone number. Please email me to let me know if you have done this. I’d like to get a handle on how many have participated.
2) If we have anyone in the Tallahassee area, we are asking you to attend the committee hearing on January 13th at 3:30 p.m. It would be important to have a strong showing of support early in this process. If you can attend, please email or call so I can put you in touch with our lobbyist to coordinate our efforts.
3) We are still seeking boaters to attend the Jacksonville Water Commission meeting January 15th at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall, 117 W. Duval Street (Council Chambers). Jacksonville is the origin of the current bill, and showing our opposition at the meeting will be helpful. Please let me know if you plan to attend this meeting.
The key message to get across in all three types of contact we’re requesting is that passing SB 606 punishes all boaters by taking away their freedom to anchor because of the actions of a few who are in violation of existing laws. Laws are already in place to prevent littering, sewage discharge, and derelict vessels. Those should be enforced before new laws are passed.
Thank you for your help!
America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association
As has been an unfortunate tradition the last few years, and as we expected this year, we once again need to fight off municipalities trying to add themselves to the existing carve-outs in Florida where overnight anchoring is prohibited.
The ability to regulate anchoring in Florida is reserved for the state legislature. In 2016, a bill passed carving out a few waterways in South Florida as anchoring limitation areas. These “carve outs” are listed in section 327.4108 of the Florida Statutes. Since then, each year, municipalities (through their state legislative delegation) try to file and pass a bill to add themselves to this list. This year, the first to step up to the plate is the Jacksonville area.
A bill has been filed to prohibit overnight anchoring in the Ortega River and the Cedar River in Duval County. The bill is attached and is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Monday, January 13th. We need members to email and call the members of the Senate Environmental & Natural Resources Committee in advance of that hearing to share their thoughts on this bill. The committee members are listed below. Their names are linked to their webpage, which lists their phone numbers and each has a button to email the Senator.
Please be respectful, professional, and succinct in sharing your thoughts. Following are a few bullet points that you may want to consider for your comments if you agree with them.
-The problem in Florida is not anchored boats, it’s abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs)
-The are already laws and regulations on the books to deal with ADVs. The solution is enforcement, not additional laws
-Responsible boaters are being prohibited from anchoring due to the actions of the few who abandon their boats on our waterways or allow them to become derelict
-Prohibiting anchoring hurts the local economy and the waterfront businesses. Boaters will spend their money in areas where they feel welcomed.
As you may know, AGLCA is working with a coalition that includes Marine Trawler Owners’ Association (MTOA), Defever Cruisers, and Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) to fight these infringements of boaters’ rights. We are still fundraising to cover this year’s costs for professional representation in Tallahassee. AGLCA’s staff spends countless hours on our advocacy efforts, but we do not use general funds to support specific issues. If you are concerned about the ability to anchor in Florida, please consider contributing.
As always, please feel free to contact me with comments or questions.
America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association
Here is the letter I sent to each of the named senators and congressmen.
I am writing today to comment on Senate Bill 606 (and its companion bill, House Bill 417) which seeks to add the Ortega River and the Cedar River to anchoring limitation areas where overnight anchoring is prohibited.
My wife and I are registered voters in Clay county. We are avid boaters and full-time cruisers who spend the winter on the boat in Florida and summer in New England. We spend about 200 nights per year in marinas with an average stay of 5 nights. The rest of the year we are at anchor or on a mooring where we stay on average 48 hours. In a typical year we stay at marinas in the Ortega River one or two times, going to and from Sanford FL.
I have been actively boating since 1961. I am retired after spending my career in the marine industry designing, building and repairing boats. I have operated boatyards and marinas in Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia. I achieved my first USCG license in 1969. I have been actively boating since 1961.
The Cedar River is so narrow that exiting FL law 327.4109 already prohibits anchoring there. A 40′ boat on 5:1 scope requires 90 feet of scope based upon the NOAA chart depth in Cedar Creek. Including the boat length, this boat swings on a radius of 130 feet. To stay 150 feet off the shore and docks requires (90+40+150=280) 280 feet from the anchor point to docks and shore. Because the boat swings around the anchor point, a total radius of 560 feet is necessary to anchor this boat in compliance with existing Florida statutes 327.4109. Cedar Creek is narrow enough that the existing Laws already prohibit anchoring, so for Cedar Creek, no new legislation is required. Cedar Creek is an issue of enforcement of existing laws.
In Ortega River, on the other hand there are places which permit anchoring under state law. As a long time, cruiser, we choose our anchorage carefully based upon the expected weather . Between the John Mathews Bridge and Doctors Lake. This is about 20 miles and at our speed will take us about 2.5 hours. We have anchored only once in the Ortega River. It was late in the day and bad weather was expected. We were very glad for the safety and protection we found in the Ortega River anchorage. The next day we had a pump out at Ortega Landing, and we were gone. The existing 150-foot set back required by FL Statutes 327.4109 law creates a more than adequate passage for other vessels to pass an anchored boat.
I do not believe that transient boats anchoring for a few days in the Ortega River create any undue hazards and I see no justification for this change. Based upon our experience on the water and in Ortega River this new anchoring restriction is not necessary and existing Florida laws cover every necessary eventuality.