An Overview of the Florida Anchoring/Pilot Mooring Field Program by Captain Jay Bliss
Captain Bliss is a member of the St. Augustine, Florida Port Commission, and has been instrumental in protecting cruisers’ anchoring rights in St. Augustine. His well reasoned article below provides a good overview of this entire issue!
Florida’s Anchoring Pilot Program is underway. Each of five sites gets to establish local ordinances, rules, for that particular site, enforceable until July 2014.
For the cruiser heading South, it will mean abiding by local rules in St. Augustine City Limits; State rules then pertain until he reaches Martin County and the City of Stuart. Upon leaving Stuart/Martin county he’s back to State rules down through Ft. Lauderdale and Miami (or he traverses the Okeechobee to the West coast under Stuart/Martin rules), until he enters Monroe County at Key Largo, whereupon he’s under Monroe rules all the way to the Dry Tortugas. Over on the West Coast, cities St. Petersburg and Sarasota get to establish their own rules.
The stated purpose of this abundance of rules is to encourage the establishment of additional public mooring fields and to promote the use of existing ones. If everyone uses a public mooring field the goals of the pilot program–protect environment, enhance safety, deter derelicts, etc.– are readily achieved.
The big picture: mooring fields provide safety (we hope), sanitation, convenience, prime location. Their prime location comes from taking free anchoring sites, part of our Navigational Servitude and waters of the Public of the United States, and improving for paying patrons.
Boaters with less (or no) ability to pay are ruled elsewhere. The present result is the exact opposite of the goals of the Pilot Program: anchoring sprawl that adversely affects maritime environment, leads to improperly stored boats, and invites chaos. In that them vs. us mode, we get enforcement efforts that can readily escalate the ill will.
Mooring field permits, mooring field operations, should all be asked to account for the boats they displace. That account must provide for accommodation of the displaced.
Cities, Counties, should not be asked to create further rules that wash elements of the boating into other jurisdictions. Governments must be required to absorb the less able, the less fortunate, into the mooring field system. There lies the challenge: incentive rules for free admission, reduced admission fees into PUBLIC mooring fields. The Anchoring Pilot Program needs a paradigm shift.
USCG Lic. Capt.
St.Augustine Port Commissioner Seat 5
Is it possible to get a list of the mooring fields in Florida?