Florida Pilot Mooring Fields Program Being Challenged in US Federal Court
This story is potentially one of the most important ever published on the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net in regards to anchoring on Floridian waters. It has the potential to change EVERYTHING! That may not happen, but there is some reason to believe it might.
This news begins with a challenge in US Federal court to St. Augustine, Florida’s anchoring and mooring policies, as set forth under the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program. However, this entire matter actually goes far deeper than a challenge to the Mooring Fields Program. In fact, it is a challenge to the rights of any state, county or local government to regulate anchorage on “navigable waters” in any way, shape or form. As I understand Captain MacDougall’s argument, only the US Federal government has this authority, and this right is guaranteed by Federal law and at least hinted at in the US Constitution!
Going back to the 1990’s, and the old, now long defunct, “Coalition of Concerned Boaters,” many have said, including attorneys within this old group, that the real key was to challenge ALL Florida state and local anchorage regulations in Federal court. The problem was that no-one has had both the will and/or financial resources to undertake such a challenge, AT LEAST UNTIL NOW!
All that has changed, with the Federal suit brought against the city of St. Augustine by Captain Michael `Wolfy’ MacDougall. By following the link below to a well written story in the “St. Augustine Record,” you can find out much, much more about this still unfolding drama.
And, before giving you this link, let me just note that one of the SSECN’s newest SPONSORS, Port of Call, St. Augustine (http://www.portofcallsa.com/) is also heavily involved in trying to have all Florida anchoring regulations negated via Federal authority. You can read more from Port of Call St. Augustine concerning this issue at:
And, to peruse the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED article in the “St. Augustine Record,” please follow this link:
As we’ve said above, this is VERY INTERESTING news, no matter which side of the Florida anchoring rights debate you occupy. We would like to hear what YOU, the members of the cruising community, think about this US Federal court case. Please make use of the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, or send e-mail directly to CruisersNet@triad.twcbc.com.
I’d like to remark on this article, since I was quoted in it and now having read it and the comments accompanying it, can add the following:
Had the Pilot Program’s actual intent been as stated, a lot more cruisers such as myself would have supported it. However, its clear intention was to move boaters from areas where they have historically anchored if such activity bothered wealthy homeowners.
Another of its unspoken goals was to generate income where none was before, by ‘˜monetizing’ the act of anchoring. Unfortunately, and this can be born out by the experiences of the largest mooring field in Florida, Marathon, anchoring fields do not pay ‘“ they cost the municipality. That has been a long established fact. Marathon has sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars into its mooring field, all taxpayer ‘“ not boater ‘“ funded.
But the main goal for most municipalities was to get rid of their derelicts ‘“ people with drug and substance abuse problems, mental issues, or simply poverty. Such lovely folks you are ‘“ instead of choosing to help these folks, who truly need it, you just shoo them on to the next jurisdiction. Proud of yourselves I trust?
However, you’ve also lumped myself and thousands of other cruisers in with your social welfare problem, by laying the same rules on us. The fact is, even the FWC noted that the real problem with derelicts was as I’ve just noted ‘“ poverty, substance abuse, etc.
I’m so sorry that so many people in Florida cannot see the difference.
I sailed in the Navy then the Merchant Marine for over 30 yrs. I learn 2 to sail a sailboat! Now that so much attention has come to our sport and lifestyle because of a small percentage of nasty kooks, I am at a loss as to how I’m supposed to perceive myself! Thanks Capt Wally, we will be seeing you around!Merry Christmas!
Captain Jerry Robbins
I agree with all above and would like to add that the Fwcs list of goals for their pilot program includes `Promote Public access to waters of the state’ so how does limiting anchoring in some areas do this, it seems contradictory. I am sorry but derelict boats will always be a problem in our society. Just because someone abandons or wrecks a car on the side of the road or throw trash we do not prohibit cars from driving on the road do we. Our waterways need the Fwc to start looking at the real dangers to the Waterways of this state, pollution from agriculture including golf courses. We need to regulate runoff from land based sources. I have already spent close to 1000 dollars retrofitting my small sailboat for a legal holding tank system while I sit in my townhome in Broward County and watch all the chemicals sprayed on the golf course behind me end up draining into a canal that goes out to sea. Wake up Fwc and start doing something about this.
Thank you Captain Wolfey. I will be sending a donation for your court costs and encourage others to do so. There are laws to deal with derelict vessels and the money is there. Its just a matter of priorities. I feel its really scary when the people who are supposed to be enforcing laws are involved this deeply in creating the legislation,ie.. FWC especially when theyre breaking higher laws. Who are the real criminals?
Compliments of the Season to you also Claiborne.
All these regulations we cruising people have to put up with are mainly on behalf of marinas trying to fill their slips in a poor economy – and towns trying to get income to augment their budgets. The net result is a far lower number of cruising boats on the water than was the case some 6 years ago.
Many owners are trying to sell their boats – though only if prepared to accept low offers. Others have decided best not to cruise and save the money for whatever else might be coming down the pike. And still others are sick and tired of being boarded by all kinds of agencies trying to find a reason to give us a ticket. The irony is that many marinas today are finding it hard to make a living let alone a profit. They should be REDUCING their prices not increasing .
Glad you have added charts etc for the St Johns River. You might recall that I am the person who first built Green Cove Springs Marina – which I sold out my ownership some 20 odd years ago under precisely similar conditions – that is a Recession which always badly hits anything to do with boats. We also had to deal with Environmental Agencies which at times was a nightmare.
Now that too is much worse – very difficult for a marina to expand or even make improvements – always some official from some agency holding up approval etc.
Oh well – we are possibly a dying breed – at least until the American economy improves.
Best wishes to you
If you would like to donate $100 or more to this legal fight and get full credit of $100 toward a Vacation in the Tropical Florida Keys, that includes a cottage and a 22’ sailboat send a check to Key Lime sailing club & Cottages 101425 Overseas HWY #922 Key Largo Florida 33037 and in the memo put Anchoring Rights Fight. I will forward the funds raised and credit each Person back $100 to a future stay at Key Lime Sailing club & Cottages. Note: Credit is Limited to $100 but Please send more if you can. Lets keep our waters Free for us to `Roam about’.
Paul, Key Lime Sailing Club
It is a shame that the promoters of this anti-anchoring law ignore the actual words written into the law that say it must promote access to the waters of the state. Outlawing people from anchoring in places they have always anchored does not promote access. And, as Wally points out, the derelicts have not disappeared’“just been forced elsewhere, which in some cases I suspect is ashore in the same community but now sleeping on park benches and in shelters. And too it is interesting how certain well-connected political interests have benefited from the injection of public tax dollars to create mooring facilities that then create private profits. The cost of installing a Florida mooring field is many times what it costs in other parts of the country, and then the revenues almost never cover the long-term costs. The taxpayer pays again. Meanwhile, cruisers head elsewhere.